The Endtimes Speculator Industry feeds itself, not the church, via an endless pipeline of hype and false news analysis.
There’s a cottage industry of people who make a living off the “End of the World” fascination. People just love to think about, and dream about, a future paradise. In the pre-trib context, that paradise is preceded by unimaginable world-wide misery – misery that the pre-tribbers believe they will escape. This gives the whole narrative almost a “horror movie” kind of fun.
Fear also plays a part, because people are unsure of the future, somewhat afraid of what is happening around them, and are looking for understanding. That’s human nature and the Speculators know that. Some of them make a very nice living selling books, speeches and web content.
I’m not attempting to really beat up on these people, nor am I even suggesting that most of them are frauds and looking to capitalize on fear. I believe that most of them truly believe what they are preaching and are concerned for the lost.
But there’s a different, larger group of Endtimes Speculators who I call Hobbyists. These people do not make a living from their content. They have regular jobs. They don’t write books, they post on blogs and YouTube and Facebook. They are passionate and sincere about their ideas and predictions. Their “ministries” are based on the premise that Jesus wants us to spend time speculating about this stuff. Speculators constantly remind their followers and detractors that Jesus commanded us to watch for His return.
It’s been a hobby of mine to think about these people. What makes them tick? Why do they continue to do what they do, year after year, some of them even setting specific Rapture Dates, most them assuring the world that the Rapture is just around the corner, always wrong but still continuing to post? Why are they apparently impervious to being proven wrong all the time? Why would they stick their neck out knowing they have been batting 0.00%?
Most of all, what is their motivation? Do they believe Some Day They Will Get It Right, and Jesus will call them up front at the marriage supper and congratulate them in front of everyone?
Then it occurred to me. They love attention. Like all people, they want to be listened to and they want their ideas to be appreciated. The news happens every day, and there is always a new sign of the End, whether it’s war, the Middle East, Israel, an outbreak of disease, a bad economy, a star or moon pattern, or a cataclysm of biblical proportions.
That means Endtimes Speculation is a constant process of new ideas, new thoughts, new angles. It is endless because the news is endless. And since there are so many Speculators, they are all in this together, and nobody really cares that they are wrong. It isn’t about getting rewards in heaven someday. It’s about their bragging rights today. It’s about the feeling of accomplishment because they “put the prophetic puzzle together” in new and interesting ways, and they get to tell other people what they have learned.
These Speculators need to be careful that they are not looking to make a name for themselves, loving the praise of men (John 12:43). Their followers remind me of the Athenians in Acts 17:21, who “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.” Their river of followers rises and falls as world events come and go. The human, sinful need to know our future and really wrap our minds around why things happen is very compelling.
But Jesus didn’t tell us to watch the news and speculate when He would come again. He didn’t tell us to put any puzzle pieces together. Both Jesus and Paul told the first century Christians to watch because the temple and the end of the old covenant age would end in their lifetime (see Matt 24, Mark 13:33-37, 1 Thess 5:1-2).
Anyway, watching and predicting are two different things. The endless recycling of news stories proclaiming the End is Near is not “watching”. It’s a self-serving, self-centered, myopic, prideful and fearful industry. Some people make money, other people merely feed their own ego. Money and attention drive this business. Not a true desire to feed the flock.
And the saddest part about it? Even when these guys are wrong, day after day and year after year, they show no remorse, they never repent. Since they are convinced Jesus has told them to do it, and they are all in the echo chamber together, they lack true accountability.
In fact, some of them preach that God has purposefully set everything up for these prophecy puzzlers to go and play and have fun and maybe even get famous. Don’t believe me? JD Farag – the up and coming Endtimes Speculator Of The 21st Century – explicitly teaches that every generation thought Jesus would return in their lifetime, and always will – and this is by God’s design (see Mid-East Prophecy Update – August 19th, 2012).
If they would just truly admit they are speculating and own up to being wrong, that would be somewhat honest. Instead, if anyone even dares to question their predictions they get self-righteous. They block and berate people. They shout “how dare you question ME!” and marginalize other views. Worst of all, they reach for the 2 Peter 3:3-4 Club to beat people in the head who doubt the veracity of their claims.
The constant urgency and news-mongering is the tactic, because these people know that nobody would listen to them otherwise. Nobody wants a preacher who stands up once in a while and says “Jesus is coming back someday, possibly today, but possibly 1000 years from now.” That isn’t exciting. People want a weekly or daily dose, and they want to hear that Jesus IS coming back soon. They want to hear that the news is most assuredly TELLING US HE IS COMING SOON.
Here’s Geoffrey Grider in 2017, running his hype machine:
People, you better buckle up because things are about to become unglued. For well over a year now, we here at NTEB have been telling you that Donald Trump is God’s man for the White House, and that Bible prophecy would be fulfilled in the process.
Here he is again, one year later, after the exact same scenario unfolded. “IT BEGINS…” his bold headline declares. (What begins, Geoffrey? Death and destruction? As long as it begins somewhere else, like 15,000 miles away on the other side of the planet, right?)
As an example of the echo chamber, here is Grider’s post in January 2016, a full two years ago. (Are prophecy watches ever NOT stunned? It’s their JOB to be stunned!)
Speculators figure that they will have a net gain of followers if they make predictions even when wrong. For example, Hobbyist Barry Scarborough often is wrong, but just moves on. He has even literally stated he doesn’t care if he is wrong:
I wanna make a case for 2017, and I want you guys to hear this out. Yes, I did make a case for 2016. It didn’t happen. Frankly, I don’t care! So, it doesn’t matter…as a lawyer I am going to continue to bring my case to you.
So, you see? It really doesn’t “matter” that Barry and others use God’s Word in this way. It doesn’t matter that they urgently tell people that the end of the world is coming assuredly and people better get saved, only to be wrong. That doesn’t matter to people like Barry who honestly believe God is pleased with their puzzle skills.
This isn’t a job description in Christ’s church. There isn’t a single mention in scripture of a person who should be dedicated to the ministry of watching for Jesus, reading the news, putting the puzzle together and telling everyone in urgent tones that they need to prepare for departure. It’s especially not biblical to predict or speculate using time references like “soon” or dates, which really are the same thing.
We are to work together as members of His body and edify and nourish it (1 Cor 12:12-31), teaching and preaching and serving and worshiping. Most of all we are to LOVE one another (1 Cor 13). Hyped promises aren’t love. Self-serving to get attention isn’t love.