Hollywood and the Last Days
by Moshe Morrison, Teaching Elder, Tents of Mercy
When the circumstances of life become more threatening and precarious - we humans begin longing for a way to control what is going on around us. We start looking for answers. There is a feeling that we are approaching the "end-times," "the last-days" and we want to know what precisely will happen and when.
A Movie Genre
An example of increasing interest in these matters can be found in the movie industry. Before the 1950s, there were only four feature-length movies made that could be classified as apocalyptic. Since then, the number of "last-days" movies has steadily increased, to an average of 5 every year. Even the titles of the movies reflect this intense fascination: The End of the World, The Day After, Armageddon, End of Days, Doomsday, etc.
Though this would seem to be a relatively new phenomenon, largely represented by movie-makers, the truth is that long before people began making movies, they were foretelling "The End." Throughout the centuries, there is an extremely long list of failed predictions by diverse peoples due to speculation, misinterpretation and wishful thinking. Bible-believers are guilty of the same weaknesses. Pride is often the root that causes "believers" to claim that they have had hidden Bible mysteries revealed to them. In the face of such claims we need to be able to recognize what Yeshua said about these predictions and the limitations He has placed on us and our understanding.
There have been many societal uprisings and panics as a result of apocalyptic predictions. Here are a few examples out of a list of over 300:
The Essene sect of Jewish ascetics saw the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66-70 as the final end-time battle before the arrival of the Messiah. In parallel, Simon bar Kochba had coins minted declaring the arrival of the redemption of Zion at the same time.
The Millennium Apocalypse on January 1, 1000, at the end of the Christian Millennium. Various Christian clerics predicted the end of the world on this date, including Pope Sylvester II. Riots occurred in Europe, and pilgrims headed east to Jerusalem.
Following the failure of the January 1, 1000 prediction, some theorists proposed that the end would occur 1000 years after Jesus' death (1033 C.E.), instead of his birth.
Pope Innocent III predicted that the world would end on 1284 C.E., 666 years after the rise of Islam.
Martin Luther predicted the end of the world would occur no later than 1600 C.E.
Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of the Worldwide Church of God told members of his church that the Rapture was to take place in 1936, and that only they would be saved. After the prophecy failed, he changed the date three more times.
Minister William M. Branham predicted the Rapture would occur no later than 1977.
Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel predicted the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981. Smith admitted that he "could be wrong" but continued to say in the same sentence that his prediction was "a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief."
Both well-known people and religious denominations, both aberrant groups and legitimate teachers, have predicted the coming end. Among them: Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Pat Robertson, Lester Sumrall, Hal Lindsey, Edgar C. Whisenant and his "88 Reasons," Harold Camping, Y2K, etc.
When are the Last Days Coming?
What are we to learn from all this? Well, the Bible does tell us that there is a time period called the "last days." We are even told when it begins. On the day of Shavuot, fifty days after Messiah's death and resurrection Peter stood in the Temple and said, "... this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh ...'" (Acts 2; 16, 17). He goes on to say that what was happening that day in the Temple was the manifestation of Joel's word. So we already know from Peter's words that we have been living in the "last days" for the last 2000 years.
I believe that Matthew 24 is the key passage that tells us what to expect. As the disciples were admiring the Temple, Yeshua spoke of its coming destruction. Astonished, they asked when this would occur. What would be the sign of His return and the culmination of the age? The answer to the first part can be found in the following verses in that same chapter. Those verses predominately point to the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome in 68-72 C.E. and the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 C.E. and the resulting worldwide exile and dispersion of the Jews from Israel.
The Focal Point
We are clearly told that our focal point in the last days should be Yeshua: "At many times and in various ways, God spoke long ago to the Fathers through the prophets. At the end of days, He has spoken to us via a Son whom He appointed heir of all things, and also through whom He made the worlds. He is the radiance of His glory, the very image of His nature; upholding all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:1-3).
This a time of conflict because the proclamation of the Kingdom of God with Yeshua on the throne is at odds with the kingdom of this world with Satan ruling. So we can expect difficult times, false messiahs, false prophets, persecution, extreme moral depravity, plagues, earthquakes (II Timothy 3).
Even without these prophetic scriptures, we know that we live in challenging times. So through it all, what kind of people should we be? That's the key. We are encouraged to continue in the faith. We must "endure hardship as good soldiers of Messiah ... and pursue justice, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Timothy 2: 3, 22). It is interesting to note that exhortations to do right far outnumber the passages pointing to signs of the end.
So where does us leave us regarding the last days? There are many signs of things to come. Shmita years, blood moons, natural disasters and wars all over the globe. Yet in spite of our desire to be in control and to know it all, we cannot. It is up to us be a witness for Yeshua and to be ready for His return at any time.
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (II Timothy 4:1-2).
"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come ..." (Mark 13:32-33)
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