For those catching up, see PartI and Part II. Teaser: This post will get loony/juicy and apocalyptic towards the end, but there’s an important preface that will help it make much more sense so please bear with me.
In my professional life, I help big companies think through scenarios. That work has both been aided by, and has also led me further into a way of looking at events and possibilities that’s always seemed ordinary to me, but which I’ve come to understand, is not at all natural and does not seem all that useful to some people. As the Apple tag-line goes: ‘think different’ (ly). We all do and that’s a good thing. (I would absolutely hate a world in which everyone were like me!) I mention that because two aspects of it will be useful as context for the rest of this post.
The first mode of thinking (and while it’s not universal it’s not all that unique) is a combination of intuition and sensing (to use Myers-Briggs language). My mind finds links between things that most would say are wildly unrelated and weaves them together, rightly or wrongly, into strange or at least novel patterns. One of the things that goes along with that is a kind of Cassandra effect. I know stuff but can’t convince anyone unless they’ve discerned it on their own. Perhaps the Holy Spirit effect would be a better term but I’d already started with the pagan reference so I’m stuck…
An agnostic, atheist or skeptic might take the pattern-recognition thing and say, “See, our minds seek out patterns even when they’re not there — when things are really random. God is therefore an invention of man.” (I know this line of reasoning because I used to use it to critique my own thinking.) To which I now reply, “Isn’t it equally plausible that God made our minds precisely in order that they can perceive the patterns he has woven into the fabric of the universe and human history and find Him? Wouldn’t a God worthy of that name create radio receivers tuned to His station?” That cues up an entire apologetic I don’t have time for so I’ll leave it there.
Second is something I call “simulated hindsight”. This is more of a trainable discipline than a natural inclination. Short take: it is much easier to look back and find explanations for how something came to be than it is to look forward at a near infinite and expanding set of combinatoric possibilities and say which one is ‘likely’.
In my work I am constantly pushing against a desire on the part of my clients to know the future and make me into some kind of prophet/expert. I used to be flattered by it but now I resist it, even when it comes with a contract because such expectations always end badly. I am not a prophet, in this domain or any other. I shudder at the number of people elevated by the media and human nature to the status of ‘expert’ who, though perhaps worth listening to, are not the kinds of oracles we’d like to imagine they are. (Everyone hungers for an omnipotent savior and people continue to look for that quality in all the wrong places, shunning the one place they should look.)
With that desire to know comes a belief that the future can be predicted accurately or precisely. Tell me what the weather will be on May 1st in Prague, or which, out of a pool of 1,000 random people will be in a car wreck next week and I’ll stand down on this one. Until then, I take it as a given that the world is chaotic and that forecasts are difficult.
The basic idea behind simulated hindsight is that if one can describe one or more plausible (if broadly sketched) ‘endstates’ in the future and work backwards, imagining the events that could lead to each one coming about, one is much better able to see what is going on and make sense of it. Looking backwards to the present as if one were already living in a particular hypothetical future state, it becomes far easier to recognize how events are leading towards that state or towards a different one.
The best analogy is that of a road-map. As I look at the map and compare it to the signs and landmarks I am seeing out the window, I can start to match them up and pinpoint where I am and, at least as importantly, where I’m not.
Long preface. Thanks for sticking with me. Synopsis: Looking forwards from today and trying to make sense out of chaos like this, there’s a tendency to throw up one’s hands and say “who knows?” or “who cares?” or, equally useless to say, “look over there and over there and at that and that and that… isn’t it all just dreadful!” The temptations of despair and disconnection are great. I feel them too and Jesus warned of them.
What does this all have to do with the usual stuff I talk about here?
Jesus gave us an endstate that has not yet come about but which I believe is imminent. Some of it is cryptic and mysterious. (Some of it is literally cryptic — sealed up under the text in tantalizing codes only now being unleashed by computer power, confirmed by statistical analysis from credentialed academics at places like MIT and Harvard. Those multi-book, prophetic codes both confirm the Bible’s divinely inspired authorship, outside of time, and add depth to what the surface text says.) Of course some of what that surface text says is so plain that we want to avoid it. I do. You do. We all do. We go out of our way to make it cryptic and mysterious so we can avoid its hard truths and challenges about who we are and what we must do.
That endstate for the world is highly concentrated in books like Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah and Ezekiel. Once you begin to see it in outline however, it is obvious that other elements of it are scattered throughout the entire Bible. Books like Malachi, Haggai, Habakkuk and Jeremiah all offer tantalizing clues. No book is without some tidbit reference to it — to events that are yet to occur. My loving retort to those who say the Bible is a narrative only of the ancient past? Your concept of God is way too small.
What I’ve been trying to do on the blog with all the apocalyptic stuff these last months is to explain the tip-of-the-iceberg of what my intuition is telling me. As I glance up from the endstate map Jesus gave us, I’m looking at world events to see how they match up — and don’t. Increasingly, they match up in ways that are life-changingly startling. Time is short, folks.
A few words on the anti-Christ thing…
First, the more closely one looks at and seeks to hear and know Christ, the easier it is to recognize his soon-to-be-defeated opponents and to get excited about his imminent return. I have to remind myself constantly not to work that one backwards, fixating on the all-consuming darkness, thinking that that road goes on indefinitely. It doesn’t. The Anchoress put it beautifully yesterday. (I’ve sensed we’ve been on the same channel often after each losing a brother too young a few years back.) She writes:
Soon enough we’ll be in grief. Then we’ll be walking along the shore, and taking breakfast. We will be walking a road and our hearts will surge with excitement when we recognise him. Soon enough, we will be placing our hands in his wounds. We will be praying in an Upper Room, in the company of His mother, Mary, and a sound like thunder will come to rip our hearts wide open, and our minds, and unloose our tongues and stir our courage.
Soon enough, we will lose track of things in the busyness of our days, and we will once again lift our heads to hear about someone who welcomes us, invites us along – to become fishers of a different sort. Soon enough, we will doubt, and argue, and we will see miracles. We will stand in wonder, and say, “Rabbi! Teacher! Friend! Physician! Messiah!” It’s all going on right now.
Second, we are all anti-Christs. Yes, you read that right. Judas was obviously, but so was Peter. We all oppose Christ in his fullness to some degree. There is a lot of him to accept… a lot that he wishes for us to become in eternity. The difference is in choosing to turn around when we do oppose him and ask his forgiveness or to plunge, deeper and further into the dark and away.
A lot of folks, including myself, have gotten hung up on the “is he or isn’t he?” question relative to Obama. Is he THE anti-Christ? They’re looking for a great evil villain fifty feet tall with laser beams coming out of his eyes. Judas was never that and the final anti-Christ won’t be either. Let’s start smaller. Obama is certainly an anti-Christ — one among about six billion of them.
A more important question is whether Obama, as a man with free will like the rest of us, with the potentiality for both good and evil choices, will continue further down the road he is clearly on, opposing some of the most sacred tenets of God’s will. Could he emerge from the huge, anonymous crowd of those who are anti-Christ in the common, nominal, popular sense to, in effect, lead that parade on behalf of the world?
It is, for him and for us while we live, a state of possibility. At some point it will be clear. As I noted at the outset, I am sensing and thinking from an endstate backwards, looking at what he is doing and concluding that it seems unlikely for him to retreat. Not impossible. Nothing is with God. I hope and pray that he does but I don’t see evidence of it.
I think it’s much more likely that cascading events will fit more and more closely the biblical template for the anti-Christ and that Obama will become a kind of uber-Judas, betraying a (relatively) Christian nation, betraying Israel, and making life tough for believers worldwide… not to mention embracing the anti-Christ tenets of Islam.
Like the rest of us though, he still has a choice. God knows what he and we all will do because he is outside of time but that does not detract from free will.
Finally, the juicy tidbits I promised about apocalyptic prophecy. (If you just skipped to this, do yourself a favor and go back and read the meat of the post.)
IT IS midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.
…and second, because their scenario converges, based on an entirely different line of reasoning (in fact, an entirely different worldview) with that of some serious scripture-geek prophecy-watchers whom I don’t claim to understand any better than I do solar-magneto physics (caps in original):
The Two Witness arrive on DAY 1… on the 1260th day of the Tribulation, they are killed by the BEAST… the exact Middle of the Tribulation… Yeshua becomes King of Kings and has begun to “take His power”… The antichrist becomes ‘the beast’ in the MIDDLE of the trib — very close to the 1260th day… when Satan and ALL the demons are thrown down and CONFINED TO EARTH for the LAST half of the Tribulation… IF April 12, 2009, is Day 1 of the next 2,520 days of the Tribulation, then the 1260 day will fall on Sunday, Sept 23, 2012…
She wrote this last June.
Some caveats… There are a lot of websites out there with this kind of stuff. Most use far more capital letters than necessary. Their writing is amateurish, rambling and more long-winded than mine. They repeat themselves… repeatedly. They have terrible formatting, unreadable colors and random font changes. They use lots of underlining and bold and one can find no comment or feedback mechanisms. It’s hard to determine who the writer or writers are, and even harder to determine when something was written, or how it was sourced. And some are sure, absolutely sure, based on some minor personal coincidence that their vision is the right one. They may be right. They just aren’t always convincing.
Having waded through more of these than I probably should have, some have a ring of truth to them. They point to scripture, enabling one to check it all out for oneself. The best ones have dug into the Hebrew and Greek. You can tell they’re on to something even if their expression of it is not going to impress any literary agents or publishers.
What I have been able to surmise from playing around with some numbers, doing some historical research, delving into my Bible and tapping into folks who’ve been at this much longer than I have is that there are definite date and event links and patterns… links to deep history and Biblical events along a time-line expressed in years… links to folks like Hitler that match up with current goings-on in truly eerie ways. (I was startled to discover that others had discovered the same things, independently.)
There are enough of these things to fill a hundred posts that would convince no one. You need to find your own peace with it — draw your own conclusions and ask God to tell you what he wants of you in this time.
Folks who give no quarter to any of this sense it too. Why the sudden, urgent almost inexplicable desire to cool the planet and protect it from catastrophic warming? Because they are right. Sudden, catastrophic warming is going to happen… just not in the way, or for the reasons they think it will.
Their feeling of desperation is correct but they don’t know from whence it comes. They don’t know how to react. God has written his law on their hearts but they’ve become hardened. They’ve lost the sense of his voice. They still have a choice to recognize the real reason behind their panic (nothing recognizable to science) and yet their instinct is to control the uncontrollable — to shield the entire world and its sin from God’s will by human force. It is an impulse as old as mankind and just as foolish as all of the other attempts at it.
What I’ve discerned, stepping back and seeing what many watchers have to say, what the (real) science says, what the non-Christian myths and traditions point to, and what the other signs have in common, is that 2012 is a critical year… and so is this one.
What month? I don’t know. What day? I don’t know. What happens, exactly? I don’t know. I have hunches, of course, but mostly I’m just feeling my way along like everyone else, trying to stay vigilant and to pray for what I should do to glorify God. This post is part of that. I’m alive with excitement at the pregnant possibility of the present… of this week, of this weekend. Of Holy Week in “a year of perfect order” — the only one of its kind in a span of almost two centuries.
Tonight I am going, with my family (including Mrs. Ultraguy and ‘Springy’, but absent ‘Sunny’, who is in Rome), to a Passover Seder. I’ve lived in heavily Jewish communities all my life but this will be a first and I’m looking forward to it. A couple in ministry at our church are Jewish converts to Jesus. Both have astounding Paul-like stories to tell about how that happened. They will be leading the meal/service. It feels very right, especially now.
God bless, everyone… stay alert!
P.S./UPDATE: My random Bible-flip this morning landed me on Psalm 22, starting at verse 20 (pretty amazing for the eve of Good Friday, the events of which are described in prophetically clinical detail in its earlier verses):
20Deliver my soul from the sword, [hmm...]
my precious life from the power of the dog!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.
29All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.