I was saved on October 21, 1973. Unknown to me at the time, Israel was in the midst of fighting for its survival after being invaded by Egypt in the “Yom Kippur” war. I soon learned that Israel’s defensive wars against Arab invaders were understood by many Christians as prophecy fulfilled: “if you want to understand Daniel and Revelation, just read the newspaper,” was a commonly-heard expression. Armageddon was in the air.
The early 1970’s were also an active time for religious cults. The Moonies and Hari Krishna were skilled recruiters who of baby boomers disillusioned with their parents’ weak religion and materialism. The Moonies and an outfit called The Way International were active in Burlington, and I encountered them both as a potential recruit and as an intervenor when they tried to recruit believers even younger than I.
Which brings me to Matthew 24, one of the extended “end times” teachings of Jesus. As a teenager reading my Ken Taylor translation “Living Bible” New Testament over and over, I learned three things:
1) Anyone who says he is the Second Coming of Jesus, isn’t. Unless he is coming on the clouds and attended by angels.
2) No-one but the Father knows the day and hour Jesus will return. I was always baffled by the easy certainty with which some “biblical experts” asserted He would return by 1978. The message of the Word may have been “negative” on the subject, but it was clear.
3) It was the job of all Christians, including me, to watch, serve, preach and if necessary suffer persecution. And wait.
I still don’t know much about the particulars of end-times prophecy. Revelation and Daniel and Matthew 24 tell me we are engaged in Game Seven of the World Series between eternal, sovereign good and eternal, wannabe sovereign evil, and that God bats last, and He will win it in the bottom of the ninth inning. How the rest of the game goes between now and then, I just don’t know. I’m just blessed and grateful to be in the game.