Kendall Harmon—A Word About the End of the World

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since my area of specialization in research is eschatology, I have gotten a lot of questions about a certain individual (and his entourage of followers) getting a lot of press this past little while for stating the time of the end of the world (he thinks it is soon). I refuse to post stories on this because I am not going to give him/his group any more publicity.

As for what I think, my answer is simple--I refer you to Mark 13 in which Jesus says:
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come (verses 24-33, RSV).
This is a difficult passage, because it comes in answer to a double question, but I think it is rightly understood at the end to be referring to Jesus' second coming and the "end of the world." Do you notice what he says? Not even Jesus knows.

So if Jesus says he doesn't know, and if history is littered with examples of people who have confidently predicted the day with certainty and later were shown to be wrong, why should we presume to say we know? That it is coming and that it is coming "soon" we can be sure, the New Testament is quite clear on that. But as for when exactly, we don't know. I do not know. Part of being a dependent creature is to admit there are things we simply do not know--that isn't a bad thing, it is actually a key part of Christian witness--KSH.

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyEschatology

Posted May 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

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1. Ian+ wrote:

Thanks, Kendall, for that.
Can you recommend any resources for folks who would like to engage in study of what the Church through the ages has discerned from the eschatological prophecies, esp. Daniel and Revelation? Lots are happily surprised to learn that it’s not necessarily like what Jack and Rexella et al say. Tks.

May 20, 9:52 am | [comment link]
2. driver8 wrote:

Brian Daley’s,  “Hope of the Early Church” is good.

May 20, 10:46 am | [comment link]
3. Undergroundpewster wrote:

Thanks Kendall.

“Take heed and watch” is not the same as “obsessively try to calculate the exact date” which unfortunately is what some folks do.

May 20, 11:35 am | [comment link]
4. moheb wrote:

I understand ” Take heed and watch” to mean: Be ready at all times for you do not know when the time will come.

May 20, 12:15 pm | [comment link]
5. Jon wrote:

There’s a lovely essay by C.S. Lewis called “The World’s Last Night.”  It’s wonderful.  You can read it here, though you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find it.

May 20, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
6. Ad Orientem wrote:

Millenianism (chialiasmos) is heresy.  It was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431.  As for the so called “Rapture,” that is a crock invented in the 19th century by a man named John Darby (the father of Dispensationalism).  There is no evidence that anyone subscribed to such beliefs before then.  It is a novel invention and fiction that is utterly extra-Biblical and without any foundation in the historic teaching of the Church, the Fathers or the Councils.

May 20, 12:23 pm | [comment link]
7. Kendall Harmon wrote:

“The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph. This seems to some people intolerably frustrating. So many things would be interrupted. Perhaps you were going to get married next month, perhaps you were going to get a raise next week: you may be on the verge of a great scientific discovery; you may be maturing great social and political reforms. Surely no good and wise God would be so very unreasonable as to cut all this short? Not now, of all moments!

But we think thus because we keep on assuming that we know the play.”

From the C.S. Lewis essay posted by Jon in #5—lovely stuff indeed.

May 20, 12:56 pm | [comment link]
8. Teatime2 wrote:

I’ll say one thing about this “judgment day” publicity. It does get people talking. And you realize that most Christians are actually on the same page about this topic.

I live in Church of Christ and Baptist country but, in an article in our newspaper, the local pastors in those denominations reiterated the same teaching we believe. Honestly, that surprised me. I rather expected the C of C to be cautiously apocalyptic. My bad—but I learned something!

May 20, 3:13 pm | [comment link]
9. Formerly Marion R. wrote:

To insist that Christ is absolutely returning Saturday is to deny he could just as easily come the Friday before. That’s a blasphemy.

May 20, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
10. Kendall Harmon wrote:

That is a good comment Teatime in #8.  The Creed, as ever, has the right focus.  “HE shall come again….”  So it is about WHO and THAT.  The exactly when question is not central—never has been, never will be.

May 20, 5:40 pm | [comment link]
11. Larry Morse wrote:

The one thing we can say for sure is that the end is not coming soon. “Soon” actually means something. To be sure, we do not know when the end is coming, but soon it ain’t, considering how many “soons” have passed with not even one apocalypse, so there is little point in holding your breath. “This generation will not pass away”? A thousand generations have passed away already. Larry

May 20, 9:56 pm | [comment link]
12. WilliamS wrote:

I just now—Friday night—went to one of their websites. The server is down. It said, “Please try again later.” That’s just cruel.

I do find it ironic that the media is touting how so many churches are teaching this latest “Judgment Day” scenario—considering that the individual responsible for this doctrine is also teaching that the Holy Spirit has been removed from the churches since 1994—the end of the church age—and all churches are apostate. God is not using any of them to bring people to a saving relationship with him. But he is, apparently, using a parachurch radio ministry?

I also have to wonder what it must feel like, after 2,000 years of countless people studying the Bible so intently, to be the only one who hits on something as significant as the precise date of the Second Coming. Do we think through the implications of this? I’ve got to go with St. Vincent of Lerins.

William Shontz
The Lake Erie Confessing Anglican

May 20, 10:50 pm | [comment link]
13. Fr. J. wrote:

The eschaton is a known unknown replete with myriad unknown unknowns. Like all the other tenets of the Christian faith.  Despite all our efforts to contain and master it, it remains a mystery grasped only superficially by the human mind.

May 20, 10:57 pm | [comment link]
14. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Ian in #1, it is difficult to recommend one book but I Believe in the 2nd Coming of Jesus by Stephen Travis (available used but not in print that I could find) is a good one—approachable, and majoring on the right things.

May 21, 10:37 am | [comment link]
15. Confessor wrote:

Then there is Matthew 24:5-7 (KJV):
“5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”

Might these verses suggest that it is not necessarily a fixed time, but a pre-set requirement or spiritual dynamic that will, when achieved, move GOD to enact the closing events of temporal time and the opening reign of eternal time?
Consider how many earthly events foreshadow subsequent ones almost as if they invite GOD to make them an eternal heavenly reality, ie, Abraham offering Isaac, then GOD subsequently offering His own Son which was both an earthly and a spiritual eternal event. 
The Church is (supposed to be) acting out Christ’s crucifixion daily in dying to or crucifying the flesh with its sinful desires and responding to suffering and temptation in the (power of) the Holy Spirit, to persecution with love, to frustration with patience, to lies with truth, and so on, thus witnessing bringing the Kingdom on the earth, restoring worship in Spirit and in Truth, establishing the reign of GOD.  Might events and the church giving place to evil, pollution and syncretism possibly deter or alter the end of time in a temporal sense?

May 21, 3:35 pm | [comment link]
16. Larry Morse wrote:

I do not understand the end-of-the-world syndrome. What’s the point? One cannot hold oneself “ready” 24/7/12 year after year. It makes as much sense as preparing to die when you walk out your front door - which of course, you might. After you walk out your front door 10,000 and live to tell about it, you realize that this is an issue of probability, nothing more. Or less. The conditions preceding the end of the world are so vague and commonplace, they are useless as indicators.  You make your will and then open the door and walk out. This isn’t fatalism, it’s called living.  Larry

May 21, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
17. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Christ, our Paschal Lamb, was sacrificed on Passover.

The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, descended on Pentecost.

Two specific prophetic events being literally fulfilled on the days of the feast.

So, what does the future hold?  “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

The next prophetic feast to be fulfilled is Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets.  It occurs in the month of Tishri, or the Sept-Oct time frame…the time of harvest.

This is followed closely by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This also occurs in the month of Tishri.

Finally, there is the feast of Tabernacles, or Booths or Ingathering, in the month of Tishri.

I completely agree that no man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return…but if I had to guess, I would say that our Lord will return in the autumn…in the month of Tishri.  Further, I would guess that it will be in the Year of Yov-el, the Year of Jubilee, which is a sabbatical year cycle of 7 x 7 years, in which all property returns to the original owners and all slaves are set free and all debts are cancelled. 

As a note of interest, the Year of Jubilee was announced by a blast from a ram’s horn, the shofar…on the Day of Atonement of that year.

Now exactly when the clock starts ticking for the Jubilee Year countdown, I don’t know.  But I would not be at all surprised if it is linked with Jerusalem and the Temple Mount…control of, restoration of, etc. 

Who knows?  Only the Father in Heaven.

What’s the point?  All this will pass and God Himself will call us home and dry our tears. 

Who among us can honestly look around them and not see the corruption, decay, pain and sorrow of this world?  Isn’t it a blessing that the Lord has promised us that it will not always be this way?  Isn’t it a blessing that He will come and make it all right and good and holy in the end.  It’s a bit like taking a peek at the last chapter of the novel to be reassured that your favorite characters make it and that no matter how bad it gets, there will be a happy ending.

Thank you Lord.

May 22, 9:44 am | [comment link]

© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

For original material from Titusonenine (such as articles and commentary by Dr. Harmon) permission to copy and distribute free of charge is granted, provided this notice, the logo, and the web site address are visible on all copies. For permission for use in for-profit publications, please email KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com

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