Scripture Readings: Zechariah 14:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Revelation 16:1-16, 12-16 (text)
In the late 70s, during the days of the Cold War, many people feared a nuclear war between America and the now-demised Soviet Union. Even then President Reagan believed this. Once I had a conversation with an officemate in SF about this subject, and he asked me if I believed that there will be World War III. I said yes, he asked why, and I said, “Because it’s in the Bible.”
Back in my dispensationalist days (all of my life until the early 1990s), I never asked where in the Bible do we find teachings such as God’s separate endtime plans for salvation of Israel and the Church; the Secret Rapture; the millennial reign of Christ from a rebuilt Temple; and a worldwide rebellion against God after the millennium. I just assumed that these were all Biblical and that anyone who doesn’t believe in them are liberals or non-Christians.
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One of the most popular and fearsome things taught by dispensationalists is the Battle of Armageddon. It is World War III, the mother of all wars, which would destroy the whole earth if God did not intervene. From where did this teaching come? From the last verse of our text, “And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon,” which is popularly interpreted as World War III that will take place in a plain in northern Israel called Megiddo.
In 1980, false prophet Hal Lindsey wrote a sequel to his most famous—but failed—1970 prophecy book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which he entitled 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. In this sequel, he made another failed prophecy, saying that the book “is intended to analyze what will occur in the decade we have just entered: “The decade of the 1980′s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it.” Like all other false prophets, Lindsey never stopped, so in 1997, he again revised his failed prophecies, saying he “actually saw” and heard things from God concerning the book of Revelation: the “locusts” and “horses prepared for battle” are Cobra attack helicopters, “crowns of gold” are helmets worn by pilots, and the “sound of their wings”are the “thunderous sound of many attack helicopters flying overhead.” 1
But is this what our Scripture text today really means? Read the rest of the sermon here.