Introduction. My friends, today I bring the news to you, and to you alone: we are indeed living in the last few days of earth. Open your eyes, and see! Don't be blind like many others; see the signs all around us! The moments and events of history have been building towards this climactic point for thousands of years, with the spread of Christianity, the increase of science and technology, the alterations of seasons, the rise of war and crime and abounding iniquity. Now the time is ripe. With the tragic events of Sept. 11th and the onslaught of biological warfare still fresh on our minds, a new foe of another world has reared its ugly head of enmity, and openly declared a religious war on our country and our Christ. Our own national leaders and others around the world have frequently spoken of establishing a new word order. The economy is destroying itself. The stage is set. At the close of the last millennium, the predictions failed, and Christ did not come. But I will not fail. I predict that today, you and I are closer to the apocalypse than every before!
My friends, I speak the truth! It is the time of the end, and at any hour we shall see the final unfolding of that great drama of rapture, as the Lord Jesus returns again on the clouds of heaven to claim us, the ready few. Now you go as my messengers, and proclaim the truth upon the housetops, and in the street corners, if any will hear you. And be ready for impending disaster! Don't be ashamed. "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Go, and you will not fail if your faith is strong.
If any of you thought to predict that my whole essay was going to be read like this, thankfully you were wrong. I'd feel terrible for anyone who had to sit and listen to it. Folks are also wrong who try to identify the end events of this world, and predict the exact times and seasons before Christ's return. Christ told us clearly, "Until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law..." and again, "Take heed that no man deceive you.. of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but My Father only." Christians have long had an ever-increasing interest in discovering the mark of the beast, finding fulfilled prophecy, preparing for disaster, and making sure they don't miss the rapture.
Today, many get stuck in whirlpool of passion for this subject. Such fascination could be described as apocalyptic hysteria, and man's efforts to fulfill God's own prophecies before they really are able to be fulfilled. In this essay, let's review several manifestations of this misfocus in history as Christians became wrapped up in an apocalyptic hysteria of fascination and fear, instead of focussing on the priorities that Christ commande. Finally, I want to emphasize Scripture's proleptic message on the potential for end times hysteria. The Bible is clear enough in outlining the right attitudes and responses to this important topic.
I'd like to uncover the motivations and limitations of apocalyptic hysteria. This spirit can be entirely un-Christina and the tool of the devil to distract us from inner peace and the critical calling God has given us to fulfill. It is the spirit of the world! Just as in the old children's story, Chicken Little was deceived into hysteria thinking the sky was falling and was captured by her enemy, so those who try to know the unknowable can be led into traps of the devil, and become his prey.
yes, another of my brother's Bible school essays... Part II should be up next Sunday. :)