Mark chapter 13 is one of three chapters, one in each of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke) that gives Jesus’ description of the “end times.”
I am only going to give one definitive, “on this I take a stand” interpretation today. When Jesus said, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son” (v. 32), he meant that no one knows the day or the hour or the year or even the century, not even Harold Camping, Hal Lindsey, Ellen G. White, Charles Taze Russel, William Miller, nor any of the three million or so of you who were foolish enough to believe 88 Reasons Jesus Is Coming Back in ’88.
One of the embarrassing Christian stories I like to tell is about listening a Christian program I watched about 20 years ago. The guest on the program was Hal Lindsey, who was introduced as “an expert on prophecy and the author of The Late, Great Planet Earth.”
Here’s reality. In 1992 or 1994, when I saw the program, it was impossible to be an expert on prophecy and the author of The Late Great Planet Earth because The Late, Great Planet Earth says that the rapture will happen by 1981, and the end of the world would come by 1988. Since 1981, Hal Lindsey has been a foolish false prophet, not an expert on prophecy, because he tried to predict something that Jesus said could not be predicted.
I’d say nicer things about Hal Lindsey if he and his fellow kooks were repenting over their now obviously false interpretations of Scripture, but neither he nor they have done so. They just press on, throwing out the same ideas, already proven false, and the vast majority of fundamentalist evangelicals go on assuming that their ideas are, at least in general, correct.
They’re not. Jack Van Impe has an incredible memory. I am impressed. But every time he gets on the TV trying to figure out how to make the 10 horns in the Book of Revelation apply to the European Economic Community, he is being silly. (I’ll avoid the word foolish in this case, but I will say it is a case of the blind leading the blind.)
It was one thing to throw out some speculation about the 10 horns when the EEC had 10 nations. It’s quite another to start changing the wording of Daniel and the Revelation so that you can create 12 horns, three of which are uprooted by a new one, producing 10 in the end.
We don’t know; The angels don’t know; Jesus doesn’t know; and all our evangelical heroes especially don’t know. They are embarrassed failures who don’t know to be embarrassed, and we need to leave them behind.
More on Mark 13 tomorrow.