Mistaken Bible prophecy can become very costly, and provides the example of the Crusades that became the catch cry to return the Holy Land into the hands of the Christians. The idea had been pumulgated that the return of the Lord could not occur until Israel was secure in Christian hands.
This gives rise, to the sorts of data associated with Biblical prophecy that is very often preached in many churches today. Over the last one hundred years this kind of prophetic preaching has been common place.
I recall a lady in her 60's then, who candidly reported how her father, a dedicated lay preacher and all things conversant on the End Times, had wall charts and table displays that showed "how and where" great armies would come from such as the north, and the south and from the east.
This was typical of the era as it is very often still represented in many churches today. Last Days preaching seems to be a reciting of the signs of the times, and are indisputably explained such as:
One is taken, another left (some call it the Rapture)
The Great Tribulation is around the corner,
The mark of the Beast will come upon every person,
The reign of the Antichrist will be terrible beyond belief,
The revival of the Roman Empire will be upon the nations,
The Battle of Armageddon will kill almost everyone,
The initiation of the 1000 year Millennium
The eloquence of such preachers hold congregations temporarily spellbound, and with the authority of supporting verses and statistics, they refer to the maps, charts, power-points and chronological timelines as described above.
Many an audience has left such talks a little confused, such as the relationship between ancient prophecies and modern phenomena (everything from killer bees, coded Government financial tracking systems, an ID chip on every forehead, etc).
The problem is that many Christians are genuinely looking to raise their families as Christians, and looking for guidance, which they do not find in such preaching, rather it is running to the hills or hoarding up tin food, anything but Christian teaching for the following generation.
For example, I heard comments such as - 'I'm not sure how helpful all this is to me and my children. I am looking to Scripture for wisdom and direction as well as for comfort,' and 'I wish I understood better why this happens in the Middle East and how the Bible applies without the speculation.'
If this type of presentation leaves many people bewildered, why should we study Bible Prophecy at all? The answer appears to be one word - "Israel".
I believe that the coming of the Last Days seems to have one pre-condition, that God will bring the Jewish peoples back to their Land, and He will re-establish them in their nation.
There have been two exiles and two returns. The first was to Babylon (Jeremiah 29 verse 10); the return is celebrated in the book of Nehemiah. The second was the Diasopra after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD by the Romans; and this celebrated return was in 1948.
What of the Last Days therefore?
We have noted that preaching and writings on the 'Last Days' is nothing new. There are those who see the 'Last Days' with much adventure and curry the daily news headlines of disasters as if Biblical announcements, but this kind of approach brings serious Biblical evangelical scholarly credibility into some disrepute (although its essence is part of Biblical teaching).
Yes, at the same time we are called to be 'alert, but not alarmed' to the 'Last Days' and herein lies is the Christian's heartful discipline in Biblical study.
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