January 9, 2009

The (False) Prophet’s Song….

Category: News — Ira @ 6:00 pm

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Oh, oh people of the earth
Listen to the warning.
The Seer he said
Beware the storm that gathers here.
Listen to the wise man.

Queen, lyrics: The Prophet’s Song
____________________________

I saw him coming, as he yanked open the door and strode toward the counter at me. A tall imposing figure. Dressed in raggedy jeans and checkered red flannel shirt, his long hair flowing around his face and down his back. Full length stringy graying beard. He wasn’t dirty. Just ragged. I furtively glanced around to see if someone else could take care of him. Nope. I was on the front line, in his sights, the guy who would have to deal with him.

He approached the counter and greeted me, peering at me through bushy eyebrows. He needed a couple of items to finish up a project at his shop. I wrote up the invoice. Took his money. Returned his change. Now if I could only shuffle him on out to the warehouse for his stuff. But no.

“What do those graphics on your hoodie represent?” he asked conversationally.

I groaned inside. Oh, boy. Here we go. Nothing I could do to stop it.

“Have no idea. Some Coat of Arms, I guess.” I mumbled. “I just picked it up off the clearance rack. Got it for next to nothing.”

“Hmmm.” Conspiratorially, now. “Maybe you should check it out.”

“Yes, yes,” I was desperate. “Now if you head out that door to the warehouse, the guys will get your stuff.”

But it was no use. He had me trapped and was not about to be denied. Just getting warmed up, in fact. He leaned up against the counter and settled in. The words erupted from him like a torrent of wind. A lead-in question or two first. Without waiting for the answer, which wasn’t forthcoming anyway, he launched. A mishmash of scripture and interpretation. Whore of Babylon. Revelations. Book of Daniel. Obama. Sarah Palin. The numerological equivalents of their names. Abraham’s second wife, Katurah. A jumble of numbers, facts, all tied together. End times. Coming soon. America. Cursed. America will fall. The world will end in blood and fire.

I bit my tongue until I just couldn’t take it anymore. Bristled a little.

“Seems to me,” I finally interrupted the flowing torrent of words, “that it’s a little arrogant to assume that biblical prophecies apply specifically to our time and our country. That stuff was written thousands of years ago. The world could be here for thousands more. Civilizations rise and fall, always have. If this one falls, as it surely will some day, why is that the end of the world?”

My words whooshed over his head, it was like I’d never spoken. He blinked his bushy brows, mildly startled at my blatant blasphemy, then decided to ignore it. On and on he rambled, spewing ever more esoteric and obscure facts and connections. Until I finally stepped from behind the counter, opened the warehouse door, firmly escorted him in the general direction he needed to go, and shooshed him out. Last I saw, he was assaulting one of my poor warehouse guys, waving his arms, the great stream of words flowing uninterrupted.

And I never did get to hear his interpretation of the graphics on my hoodie. Just as well, I suppose. No doubt it would have been something sinister pertaining to these deceiving times.

I don’t know his name. He’s the local prophet. Or wacko. Take your pick. A kindly enough man. A sincere Christian, I have no doubt. But boy, does he ever wear out his welcome. Wherever he goes. Because that’s all he can talk about, his vast and complex interpretations of biblical prophecies. Everything else is just a prelude. He exists in another dimension. It’s weird. And gets old fast.

Some guys, when you talk to them, exude energy. Not him. He drains it from you. You get exhausted just listening to him.

“Prophets” like him exist in about every local community. And they all sing the same old song. Different verses, same tune. Not quite hermits, they periodically emerge to spout their wild-eyed declarations of gloom and destruction. All of it just ahead, just around the next bend, coming in the next year. For sure in the next five.

Overall, I have no problem with such prophets, except when they assault and entrap me and won’t leave me alone. They’re free to believe what they want. And it doesn’t hurt us to hear the stuff they say. Might make us think a little more somberly, instead of blithely going about our business as usual.

But I’m extremely suspicious of all modern day prophets, from the local loon to “prophecy scholars,” who crank out another volume about end time events with each new Middle Eastern crisis. Somehow they all think they’ve got a handle on future events. They don’t. And never have. Same goes for end time preachers. Some are decent guys, just misled. The worst are knaves. Charlatans. And in their blind determination to connect biblical prophecy to the importance of their own times, they’ve done a tremendous amount of damage over the years.

Since the first century, soon after Christ imparted His final words to the apostles, people have fervently longed for His return. Every century since then, groups have emerged, their leaders proclaiming the imminent end. They’ve banded together, assembled on mountain tops, sold or given away all their goods in a frenzy of faith and anticipation.

All were wrong. Fools, really. Led by false shepherds, they were desperate flocks, living in hard desperate times, hungry for a better afterlife. They reached the afterlife soon enough, just not as they’d planned. The world still stands. In my opinion, it will stand for many, many more centuries. Millennia, even. One day I will die. And that will be the “end of the world” for me. As it was for them when they died.

Sadly, the frenzied proclamations of Christ’s imminent return have not diminished much over the years. Such preaching is quite prevalent in Christian circles, especially conservatives. At Bob Jones University, where I attended for two years in the early 1990s, it was quite common to hear bombastic sermons on how Christ would return soon, perhaps that very day yet. The last great hyped expectation that failed was “Eighty-Eight Reasons Christ will Return in 1988.” Twenty-one years ago. Some sold or gave away all they owned. Eagerly waited. Of course, 1988 came and went. And we all know what happened. Nothing. Not much has changed from centuries ago, when crowds assembled on the mountain tops.

You’d think we’d learn. Not to be so gullible. But we don’t. We run hither and yon like children, itching to have our ears tickled with the latest fashionable end-time dooms-day scenarios. And with the meteoric rise of every new charismatic leader, we hear whispers, “Could he be the Anti-Christ? Will this trigger the Rapture?” Those whispers are rampant about Obama right now.

It’s silliness, is what it is. And it hurts the true cause of Christ.

To those who consider my viewpoint blasphemous, one basic scriptural foundation. Among many. Not that it will make much difference. Or change many minds. I don’t want to get entangled in theological mud slinging. But in His Word, God promised to those who kept His commandments a blessing to a thousand generations. That’s forty thousand years. Was God joking? Didn’t He mean what He said, what He promised?

But that’s just my opinion. I won’t pour any concrete around it. In the meantime, I don’t plan to fret excessively about it. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

I’m not saying we can’t know many things by seeing. And making rational deductions. I believe that in the next few years, this country and the world will endure social and economic upheaval unlike anything ever seen by anyone alive. Including those who lived through the Great Depression and WWII. I don’t know this will happen, but I believe it to be true, from my own analysis of current events. But if it does come to pass, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

And I know that a country that murders four million unborn children each year will be judged. And eventually come to destruction. The blood of innocents cries from the earth as piercingly today as it did in Cain’s time. The Lord will hold us collectively to account. I don’t know how. And I don’t know when. But it will happen. And it doesn’t take a prophet to know that.

But when inevitable judgment comes, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

Seems to me that we should stop being so freaked out about “end times” and concentrate instead on the long-term advancement of Christ’s kingdom.

So the next time you hear someone expound on the end times and the ascent of some fresh new Anti-Christ, whether it’s the local loony “prophet” or some respected end times preacher, receive their words through a filter of healthy skepticism. Don’t believe what they say, just because they’re saying it. If we judged them all as the biblical prophets were judged, they would need to be one hundred percent accurate. One hundred percent. Anything less would expose them for what they really may be.

False prophets.
______________________________________________________

I’d gained a few pounds over the holidays. That much I knew. But I was shocked when I finally got my nerve up and stepped on the scales last Saturday at the gym. Two hundred eleven pounds. Shocking. Haven’t weighed 211 since, well since I weighed that much back when I was shedding the pounds three years ago.

So this week, it’s crunch time. I got serious. No more “holiday” excuses. No more jolly times. Hit the gym as often as possible. Grimly. Only one cookie for breakfast, not two. Small salad for lunch. Sensible supper and NO dessert. And no more ice cream.

The New Yorker, which I mentioned a few weeks back, hasn’t given up on me yet. The Urgent mailed reminders diminished to a trickle. Ah, I figured, finally got rid of them. But then one night last week, a desperate phone call from an 800 number. I usually don’t answer, but irritated, I decided to see who it was so I could tell them off. The young gentleman never got to spin his spiel, because as soon as I heard “New Yorker,” I firmly told him I’m not interested and to stop calling me immediately. Hopefully that does it. We’ll see.

In politics, Minnesota has now joined the ranks of the third world Banana Republics. The despicable Al Franken has stolen the Senate seat. They kept recounting until he had the votes, then immediately certified the results. Like I called it back in November after the election. It wasn’t a prophecy. Just a keen knowledge of the corrupt nature of the Democratic Party. Win at all costs, voters be (bleeped). And so it was written, and so it is.

That such a reprehensible shred of human debris could actually steal a Senate seat and get away with it is deeply troubling. Nothing good will ever come of it. If you live in Minnesota, get out.

In football, the Iowa Hawkeyes remain the only Big Ten team to have won their Bowl game. Ohio State put up a pretty valiant effort against Texas on Monday night, but allowed a touchdown in the last 16 seconds, to lose again. At least they can hold their heads high. It wasn’t a blowout like it’s been the last two years. And yes, I was rooting for them. Like I never would for Penn State.

Congratulations to the Florida Gators for defeating Oklahoma for the national championship last night.

Post season continues in the Pros. The thug Eagles demolished Minnesota like I figured. But Arizona pulled off a win, surprisingly. It’ll be an interesting weekend. My predictions to win, and no these are not prophecies: The Giants over the Eagles, Baltimore over Tennessee, the Steelers over the Chargers and Carolina over Arizona.

If the Eagles beat the Giants, and they have a very good shot, they will be serious contenders for the Super Bowl. Five years ago, I bet a co-worker a fairly tidy little sum that Donavan McNabb would NEVER win a Super Bowl. Another Eagles win, and it’s going to be nail-biting time for me.

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  1. Too funny – If it’s the shirt with the Fleur de lis – you are at worst a French Monarchist.

    Comment by Glo — January 9, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  2. Dont worry about the Eagles, they don’t have it in them. We shall once again be known as GATOR NATION!!!

    Comment by P. Graber — January 9, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

  3. I don’t care a hoot about end time prophets. I don’t have time for them for I am living my life to the fullest each day. Earlier this week I was asked what I believe about the rapture and end times. I just said I don’t know who to believe in and so I don’t trust any of them. The party that asked me didn’t like my answer one bit for I also pointed out this is what all the wise people were doing before Christ’s birth and they missed it, except for the few people who walked daily with God like Simeon & Anna. They didn’t really appreciate my reply and wanted to get me to believe their belief system of the end times. Since I didn’t want to listen nor argue with them, I changed the subject, got up from the table and headed for the park with a few friends and let them sit and ponder…

    Comment by Katie Troyer — January 9, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  4. I have a quiet place where I like to go read, write & buy coffee, occasionally…some time ago an old guy came over to my table & started preaching & babbling & interpreting the scripture…After listening awhile I was thinking ,”just go away”… Well. several wks. later I was sitting at my coveted spot again & “oh no!” here he comes & starts right in. I was in no mood for him & totally ignored him. He said, “you’re not going to talk to me today?” I went right on reading & he very reluctantly left. I felt rude but he hasn’t bothered me since…

    Comment by Wilma Wagler — January 9, 2009 @ 10:38 pm

  5. An interesting post, on a subject that is often left untouched because of people’s fear of scripture, usually misinterpreted scripture.

    A study was done and there is a 100% chance that all of us will die. The only thing preventing this is the return of bridegroom Jesus Christ for for His bride the church, either one will be glorious for all who have repented from their sins, accepted Christ as their Savior and are born again through the Holy Spirit.

    Prophecy is named as a spiritual gift and has its place. However a visit to any Christian bookstore, you will find great numbers of books, touting the latest happening as a sign of end times, mostly driven by the Christian’s lack of assurance.

    Comment by John Yoder — January 10, 2009 @ 8:12 am

  6. Amen, brother. Well spoken.

    Comment by pilgrimhen — January 10, 2009 @ 8:36 am

  7. An interesting and a timely post as we’ve just learned our church conference has formed a prophesy committee on what to say to new people who start coming to our church who call themselves prophets and want to use their “gift.” That is in itself is alarming. Anyway, I believe the Bible clearly says that no man will know the hour of Christ’s return.

    Comment by Monica — January 10, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  8. We were walking the streets of Coanado Island, Ca. in December when one of your wild-eyed prophets urged us to sell everything, take our whole family, buy a sailboat, and head for Finland, the only place in the world it will be safe. Maybe he was the same man that you saw, you described him to a T. As soon as we could get past him, we moved on, and I had almost forgotten it, till I read your story.

    Comment by Rachel — January 10, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  9. You were right about the MN senate seat (I knew it!), but wrong on Arizona being a sacrificial lamb. Go Mr. Warner!

    Comment by Jason Yutzy — January 10, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  10. Ira

    I agree with this week’s post. This is one for the “Best of IW” book that’s being published in 2010.

    You can add to this post the same thing about the financial doomsday criers.

    Be competent. Do very very good work.

    And generally trust God.

    Paul

    Comment by Paul Yutzy — January 10, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  11. I enjoyed this week’s article, I’m one of those people that read every “Left Behind” book. But I never got brainwashed, I only read them for entertainment. They were really good fiction and if you enjoy drama they are good reads, must be about a dozen in the set. The main thing those books taught me is that if you’re a good fiction writer like Tim Lehaye you can become a multimillionare. If anyones not familiar with the books all the Christians were raptured, then in the rest of the books their interpretation of Revelations was played out. Was good entertainment but I put zero stock in the books. Jesus himself said no one but my Father in heaven knows the time and date of His return. So if someone tells us they know, well they’re false prophets!

    Comment by Matt Yutzy — January 10, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  12. I forgot to give my advice to false prophets: always predict His return at least 50 years after your normal life expectancy, that way you won’t eat your own crow, plus most people will have forgotten your prediction of Christ’s return.

    I’m all for Kurt Warner too. I remember how the St. Louis Rams gave him a raw deal, they let him go after he took ‘em to two straight Super Bowls and won one. They wanted to go with Mark Bulger and even with his 50 million dollar contract made our eastern Missouri team a complete failure year after year. But on a positve note, they get the second overall draft pick . They’re even worse than my Chiefs! So I have no sympathy for the Rams, they should’ve kept their MVP Superbowl-winning QB.

    Comment by Matt Yutzy — January 10, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  13. Yes, I’m for Kurt Warner too. I thought he might be over the hill, but those feelings changed after I spent three enjoyable hours watching him and Fitzgerald and the rest of the gang slay the high and mighty Panthers. But I’m still rooting for the Giants next week.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — January 11, 2009 @ 12:24 am

  14. It is interesting how many people pore through the scripture trying to decipher “the code” that tells us precisely the moment of our lord’s return, when the answer is not encoded or written in some vague ambiguity. Rather, it is written in easy-to-understand English in Matthew 24:36: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

    Comment by Ed Yoder — January 12, 2009 @ 12:01 am

  15. Well looks like Donnie Mac will finally win his bowl. After Jim Johnson unleashes his boys on Warner the old man will be groveling on the turf. go eagles.

    Comment by Ira Lee Wagler — January 12, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

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