Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Exodus 19:5-6; Matthew 23; John 12:20-26; Matthew 24; 1 Thessalonians 4:16
World War III begins this week. Thursday, June 16 to be precise. Ricardo Salazar, a self-proclaimed modern Nostradamus and leader of the “Global Church of the King of Israel,” prophesies that Russia and China will attack us then. Salazar predicted last year that America would be weakened by a 5.6-mile asteroid smashing into Puerto Rico on May 16, 2016. The resulting earthquakes and tsunamis around the world would cause 1.2 billion deaths. Shortly after, volcanoes would erupt across the globe, including Yellowstone, sending up ash that blocks out the sun and begins a year-long ice age. A large chunk of California disappears into the ocean at that time. Salazar recommended panic-buying enough food, water and medicine to last at least a year to prepare for these disasters.1
Although we’re not six full months into 2016, we’ve already seen several failed prophecies of the apocalypse slated for this year. Author David Montaigne asserts that President Barack Obama is the antichrist because some 17th century Islamic scholar presumably said that a “tall black man will assume the reins of government in the West.” Leading the strongest army on earth, the new ruler in the West will carry “a clear sign” from the third imam—Hussein Ibn Ali. Obama’s middle name, Hussein, must be that sign. When would President Obama reveal himself as the antichrist? Last Monday, 6/6/16 of course, since it sort-of sounds like the number of the beast: 666.2
All of this lends ammunition to those who look at Christians as a bunch of gullible, conspiracy-fueled kooks bent on bringing about Armageddon through self-fulfilling prophecies. Fortunately, as described in our lesson this week, the Bible gives us more reasoned, rational guidance on how to approach end-time prophecies.
Here are some of the gems from Jesus’ counsel to us in Matthew 24 regarding end time events: Many will come with all kinds of wild theories about the end time, so beware of false prophets. Disasters such as wars and rumors of wars will be the way of life on earth through the ages and are not necessarily signs of the imminent end. Many will try and set times and dates for the end, but no one knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return except the Father. You will see the sign of the Son of Man when you see Him coming in the clouds of heaven. Don’t get complacent, because the end can come at any time.
And our part in all of this is to preach the good news of Christ’s kingdom to the whole world—rather than crazy conspiracies—so the end really can come.
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