An article on the Christian Post deals with deception and the end times. I agree, there’s a great deal of deception out there. The deception has been going on for a long time because of a misreading of prophetic texts and the timing of their fulfillment.
The author quotes the following:
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts (Jude 17-18).
What were they mocking? They were mocking the words of Jesus that He would come in judgment before their generation passed away, something you will find in the three synoptic gospels (Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:31:32). This event, the destruction of Jerusalem, took place in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple, taking it apart stone-by-stone just as Jesus predicted (Matt. 24:1-3).
The 40-year generation was about to pass away when Jude wrote. The temple was still standing. There was no hint that Jesus’ prediction would happen. That’s what the mockers were mocking.
But the events Jesus did predict came to pass just like He said they would.
If what Jesus said about “this generation” — their generation — did not take place within a generation of when the prophecy was given and still hasn’t taken place after 2000 years, then the mockers would have a right to mock.
The same is true of Peter’s language about the mockers (2 Pet. 3:3). The question is, who’s doing the deceiving? The real deception is coming from prophecy writers who have misapplied prophetic texts to a period of time still in our future.
The author criticizes The Purpose Driven Life and Unraptured. He says they “trash end-time Bible prophecy … because … they contradict what Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets said about it.
When the disciples asked Jesus about his coming and the close of the age in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, He told them to be alert, stay awake, and be ready. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul affirms the rapture and tells us to be informed and encouraged. In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warns of spiritual conditions in the last days and affirms all scripture. Finally, in 2 Peter 3:11, he exhorts us to holy living, waiting for and hasten the coming Day of God.
As I mentioned, Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are about events that happened to the generation of Jesus’ day. Jesus’ use of “this generation” refers to their generation, not some distant generation. Every time “this generation” is used by Jesus it refers to the generation then living.
“This generation” does not mean “this kind of generation.” If Jesus wanted to say “this kind” (γένος) of generation, then He would have said it. See Matthew 17:21.
The author, Howard Green, writes, “I’m not here to attack these men but to warn you about them and their deceptive teachings. We live in a day when almost everything passes for sound doctrine if it seems spiritual enough. But our standard can’t be man’s opinions, no matter how popular, hip, or relevant they may seem.”
Literally, for hundreds of years prophecy writers have claimed that their generation was the last generation when all along it was a past generation that underwent a “great tribulation,” of which the apostle John said he was a “fellow partaker” (Rev. 1:9).
This isn’t to say that there is no longer any tribulation. Christians around the world are experiencing it. In the world, “Jesus told His disciples, you will have tribulation (John 16:33; Acts 14:22).
The “last days” refers to the last days of the Old Covenant, not the end of the world or the so-called “rapture of the church.”
How do we know? Because the Bible says so:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Heb. 1:1-2).
The writer of Hebrews is not talking about some distant period of time. He was writing about his time. The Old Covenant was in the process of passing away:
When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear (Heb. 8:13).
That word “ready” is actually the Greek word for “near” (ἐγγὺς). “Near” does not translate into 2000 years of history.
I haven’t read Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life or Zack Hunt’s Unraptured, but if they are not dealing with Bible prophecy as fulfilled prophecy based on the time texts, then they are just as wrong as Mr. Green.