The final “end times” peculiarity I’ll mention is my view of the state of Israel and the Temple.  This is a complex subject; limited space means my explanation must be greatly simplified.

I was first taught in evangelicalism that God’s main program was the nation of Israel and when the Jews rejected Jesus, God suspended that plan and took a sort of detour to save a few Gentiles (the Christian church).  

But eventually God would get back to the main plan with Israel.  The church would be removed (the rapture) and national Israel would be restored as God’s servant in the world.  The Temple would be rebuilt, animal sacrifice reinstituted, and the next “gospel” would call for belief in Jesus and animal sacrifice.
That part always sounded wrong to me.  The book of Hebrews takes great pains to show that animal sacrifices never took away sin, but were symbols pointing to the Christ’s death, the only effective sacrifice for sin.  Hebrews also argues that now that Christ has come, the illustrations of the Old Testament (priests, sacrifices, the Temple) are no longer necessary (Hebrews 9-10).  They must be left behind.

The New Testament isn’t a hiccup, an interruption of the Old.  The Old has led to the New.  The New has come and the Old has passed away.  The New replaces the Old.  The Church is not a detour.  It is the ‘fulfillment’ of what was promised.
Returning to the Law of Moses, to Israel, to the Temple, to animal sacrifices, undoes what Christ has done.  It would be, in a sense, anti-Christ.

Once I began understanding the Bible this way, I stopped worrying about Middle Eastern politics and the nation of Israel.  I stopped seeking signs hinting at the rebuilding of the Temple or re-establishment of the Jewish priesthood.  I stopped being concerned about the antichrist, one-world government, a cashless society, and the mark of the beast.
The old system that told me the future rested with Israel seemed to focus my attention on everything but Christ!
The prophets never spoke of the last days merely to satiate personal curiosity.  It was not mere fortune-telling.  God revealed the future was to influence and direct the way we live in the present.  Knowing the details of the end is pointless if it doesn’t drive you to live out and preach the message of the gospel.  That is the divinely-intended focus.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel 
of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world 
as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
(Matthew 24.13-14)




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