Bible prophecy is full of mysterious things: the four horsemen of the apocalypse, a seven-headed dragon, a lamb that speaks like a dragon, stars falling from the heavens, and many more. I have studied these mysteries for most of my life. But there is a new puzzle that has gradually captured my attention in recent years. It is the question of how the Church of the End Times could be lured into complacency just at the time that the prophecies all begin to materialize right before our eyes. Many New Testament passages predict a time of apostasy, or “falling away” of the Church. According to Matthew 24:12 the love of most will grow cold in the last phase of this age. 2 Timothy 4:3 predicts this:
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
We are now living in a period of time where every day’s news brings fresh fulfillments of the striking prophecies of the Bible. But the strange truth is, people do not seem to give the matter much thought. Hal Lindsey’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” was the best-selling non-fiction prophecy book, and the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins was the best-selling fiction series in American history. Still, the average Christian is not living in anticipation that Jesus’ return is near.
Trying to understand how there could be a lack of interest in prophecy at a time like this, I have begun to think about it as “The Prophecy Pendulum.” As we all know, the pendulum of a clock is always swinging. It is sometimes in the middle, but just as often, it is at the far left of its swing or on the far right.
On one side of this swinging pendulum there are major events that capture everyone’s attention, such as the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948, or the dangerous Middle East wars that threaten to escalate into a world-wide conflict. On the other side, there are promises of peace, or periods of relative prosperity. Whenever it is possible, Satan will convince people not to think about the End Times. He knows that when people are focused on the “blessed hope,” they will not be inclined to follow him. The Apostle Peter said that knowledge about God’s future plans would cause us to live a more godly life (2 Peter 3:11-12).
Satan uses fear to convince people to ignore information about an uncertain future. There is always something wonderful coming up: a wedding, the birth of a child, or maybe a trip to Hawaii. If the Lord does come back, they hope that it won’t be before their next “big event.” They discover that the best way to avoid hearing bad news would be to go to a church where the pastor never teaches prophecy. There are whole denominations that won’t touch the subject. Seeker-sensitive churches seldom teach anything “controversial,” including Bible prophecy. And many well-intentioned pastors just don’t feel qualified to tackle the topic.