Popular Christian belief about the future might be preventing us from obeying Jesus. Even if you haven’t heard of premillennialism, chances are your church subscribes to some form of it (for Evangelicals, anyway). This particular brand of end times theology teaches of a tribulation to come, a veritable hell on earth, ushered in by discernible clues.
And many believe it starts with peace in the Middle East.
Premillennialists maintain there will be a tribulation at the end in which Satan will empower Antichrist to rule the nations, rising to supremacy on the wings of promised peace. Jesus will return at some point to defeat this Antichrist and establish his kingdom on earth for a thousand years, until Satan rebels with his followers and eventually loses the battle of Armageddon.
All of this begins with the arrival of the Antichrist.
Speculation about the identity of the Antichrist and the “signs of the times” have been a part of the Christian tradition since its inception, but the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 gave further credence to the practice. Christians have searched more fervently than ever for the fulfillment of prophecy in the newspaper, thanks to authors like Tim LaHaye, of the Left Behind series, who have successfully marketed this theology in sensational books and movies.
Believers remain determinedly cognizant of the Antichrist’s scheme to wrest power by promising peace; a false peace whose end comes quickly. Should he show up, Christians are encouraged to subvert his rise, his kingdom, and his influence over their lives, something they can only do when they determine his identity.
And he will be known for promoting harmony in the Holy Land.
Belief about this Antichrist has instigated churches to oppose the idea of peace in one of the most war-torn areas in the history of the world (or at least regard peace-talks with cynicism). Popular interpretation of apocalyptic literature has set our foreign policy while the pursuit of peace has taken a back seat.
The very peace that Jesus commanded his followers to make.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Prophecy is always difficult to understand before its fulfillment, but the role of the Christian in the peace process isn’t. We are called to love peace, to pursue it… to stand between enemies and raise a voice for reconciliation.
Don’t let our eschatology get in our way.