This is one of our extra weekend shows for the Dog Days of Podcasting, or DDP. I see some folks are abbreviating it DDoP, but I’ll just stick with DDP.
The weekend shows will be a mix. As you know, I heard one of the other DDP podcasters, Dave Slusher, mention that he’s been collecting listener questions to answer on his extra episodes, and I liked that idea, so I’ve been asking you to send questions in that you’d like me to answer. Questions about the Bible, Christian doctrine or whatever you might be curious about. I’m also planning to do fresh episodes of some of the other Lifespring! Media shows I used to do, like Lifespring! HymnStories and Lifespring!s In Touch With God’s Character, and I have a few other ideas to throw into the mix as well.
And speaking of Dave Slusher, today I’m going to respond to his show from August 6th in which he responded to my commentary on 2 Timothy 3 and 4 on episode 321 of my show.
First I have to say how cool it is of Dave to listen to the show, since as he put it, he’s not in my show’s demographic, as I am not in his. But that is one of the neat things about this DDP challenge. It’s not just producing a show every day, but trying to listen to the other 20+ shows as well.
So given the fact that as Dave said he is not in my show’s target demographic, it’s no surprise that he didn’t agree with everything I had to say. I suspect that even my regular listeners don’t agree with everything I say, but that’s ok. Thinking people will disagree on occasion. Dave was extremely gracious in the way he introduced the topic and in the way he presented his argument, as well. I appreciate that, too. All in all, Dave seems like a guy I wouldn’t mind hanging out with. Seriously.
It sometimes surprises people when they find out that I don’t live some sort of cloistered life, surrounded only by other Christians. But here’s the thing, I have owned and operated a windshield repair business since 1988 where most of my customers are car dealers. Very few of my customers are Christians. I’m also in the voiceover business. I have clients literally around the world, and very few of them are Christians. And guess what. I get along with all of my non Christian associates very well. We hang out, we joke around and I don’t get bent out of shape when they use language or express thoughts that are contrary to my thinking.
So, back to Dave’s comments. He was responding to my comments on what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy chapter 3 about the character traits of some people in the last days.
Here’s Dave, and how he introduced his comments:
RECORDED (DAVE SLUSHER): “…what people will have in the end times. And then he made this statement. And this is what I’m really talking about. Everything I’m talking about is this one statement that he made after that, which is: Given that it sure does look like we are in the last days.”
So now, let me play the comment he was referring to:
RECORDED (STEVE WEBB): “But Paul’s list to Timothy should give us pause. When you combine his writing here with so many other passages of Scripture, I have to say that it does look like we are in the last days.”
Did you hear a difference? Now, I am not trying to be argumentative, Dave, but there really is a big difference between the way you quoted me, and what I really said.
I was not just taking the list that Paul wrote here in 2 Timothy by itself. I am a big believer in context. Context can make all the difference. Here’s a crude example of how context matters.
Imagine a hammer. It’s a big 28 oz framing hammer that carpenters use when they’re building a home. If you were on a job site where construction is going on and you saw a guy with a tool belt around his waist holding this framing hammer, would you feel at all threatened? Probably not.
But if you were walking down a dark alley late at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood and a guy suddenly appeared in front of you tensely holding the same hammer, you just might feel threatened.
Same hammer. Different context.
So the context I put Paul’s statements into was much, much larger than the context Dave was looking at.
When I was writing my commentary on 2 Timothy and reread Paul’s list, I agreed with his statement about how some people would be in the last days, but I also realize that there have been people like this for centuries. After all, sinful people are why Jesus came to the Earth.
And that is why I included in my statement, “ When you combine his writing here with so many other passages of Scripture, I have to say that it does look like we are in the last days”
And the list of prophecies about the end times or last days is a very long list. Many of those prophecies have been fulfilled during my lifetime, and only a few remain to be fulfilled.
Here’s a quick partial list:
1) It was prophesied that Israel would be scattered around the world. That happened.
2) It was prophesied that the world would hate the Jewish people. Anti-semitism has been around for thousands of years.
3) It was prophesied that in the *end times* Israel would again become a nation. That happened in 1948.
4) This one is not yet fulfilled, but we now have the technology to make it work. It is prophesied that people will not be able to buy or sell without taking some sort of mark, either on their right hand or on their forehead. I’m not saying that chip technology *is* the way this prophecy will be fulfilled, but for the first time in human history, we can easily see how it could happen.
5) Famines and earthquakes. You’ve seen the pictures from various places around the world of starving children. And we’re hearing of earthquakes happening in some places that are not historically known for them.
6) Jesus said to his disciples: Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. It is becoming increasingly less acceptable with each passing day to be a Christian in America and other parts of the world. In many Muslim nations Christians are routinely put to death simply because they are Christian.
7) Here’s another: At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Here’s a finding from the Barna Group, an organization that specializes in tracking religious trends: The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible—who believe the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice”—has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years.
Also from Barna: In the early 1900s, about two out of 10 U.S. adults did not attend church. In the early 2000s, it was three in 10. Now, almost half the adult population does not attend church.
Much of Europe has turned from God as well. The Pew Research Center published a poll in 2010. Among other findings, they have a chart that compares weekly church attendance of 17 different countries. In this chart, the US is around 35%, Italy is around 31%, Britain is about 18%, Germany close to 10%, France a little less than Germany and Sweden is around 5% of the population that attends church on a weekly basis.
Yes. Many have turned away from the faith, and the trend does not seem to be reversing.
In the interest of time, I’m going to stop here, except to read the words of Jesus in the New Testament book of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 36-39. “”But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
What Jesus was saying there is that people are just going to be living their lives, not believing that there’s anything wrong, and then BOOM, it’ll be upon them.
Jesus doesn’t even know exactly when he will return to the earth. Only the Father. But He did give us signs for which to look. I’m seeing many signs. Signs that have not ever happened in the history of mankind all at the same time, like they are now.
Are we in the end times? If Jesus doesn’t know, I’m sure not going give an emphatic YES, but in my opinion, it sure looks like it.
Is that a bad thing? Maybe I’ll talk about that on a future DDP episode. Let me know if you’d like me to continue this discussion. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.