Those who love biblical prophecy claim the Biblical prophecies about Israel that were spoken by the prophets after the Babylonian exile are yet to be fulfilled and we in this generation have been witnesses of some of these fulfilments.
I speak of an earlier time when Christians thought the last days were upon them. The Christians of that era were warned to be alert and moreover to be "eagerly" waiting for the Coming Messiah - this refers to a second time.
Bible scholar Dionysius Exiguus lived in the sixth century. He carefully calculated that the Church Age was to conclude in the year 1000AD. Dionysius Exiguus was a scholar of repute and his prophetic writings and understanding of the Bible were well publicised and heartedly believed.
Generation after generation read his writings and were conversant with his teaching and prophetic utterances and as the new millennium drew near which was to commence in 1001, so too did the excitement across the Christian world.
Thirty years prior to that millennium dawning (971AD), a vast array of literature appeared on Bible prophecy, and this naturally led to widespread fear and anxiety throughout every part of the Christian world.
It was a fearful time, and in that thirty year period leading up to 1001, many people of good faith worried that the 'End of the World' was upon them, there would come upon the face of the earth fearful calamities, after which would come a terrifying judgement.
But that was the thirty years prior to 1001 and my arithmetic tells me that was something like 1002 years ago.
The same Scriptural texts we hear today were adjudged to be prophetic and equally applicable to that time. The Coming of the Lord would be preceded by wars and rumours of wars, debauchery, immorality, lack of a fear of the Lord, denying Christ's return .....
As the eleventh century (the new millennium) wore on without fulfillment of these prophecies, the idea was promulgated that Christ could not return until the land of Israel was secured into Christian hands. All the other prophecies were deemed fulfilled only for the prophetic word to be consummated upon Israel being re-established, and this time in Christian hands.
This was the philosophical background to what became the series of 'The Crusades', possibly the worst stain in the history of Christendom. They left a trail of bitterness with Muslims that remains a "living" sore in the world today.
The West was seen as the great aggressor. To every Muslim in the Middle East, The Crusades are an event of 'yesterday' (not unlike the Martin Luther Reformation for Protestants) and the wounds for some, are ready to break out at any time.
The Crusaders had high ideals and courage, but at times with cruelty, greed and narrow self righteousness. Many Crusaders seem to have held the view that nothing could be done with the infidels except to exterminate them, or at best, to reduce them to permanent slavery.
There were voices of protest; for example, Roger Bacon said, The Crusades were a futile folly.
There were five Crusades and a disastrous Children's Crusade (this is the Pied Piper story). They extended for almost 200 years and only for a brief period was Jerusalem in the hands of 'The Crusaders'. Even Richard the Lionheart, (Robin Hood era) failed to retake Jerusalem.
Then as now, all these years later, the Holy Land remains at the centre of the Chritian's thinking when prayerfully pondering about the 'last days'.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html