Two noted Christian writers this week released new books claiming we’re at the end of time. Neither the Rev. Michael Youssef nor the Rev. David Jeremiah — both evangelical pastors with large television and radio teaching ministries — suggest it’s time to max out the credit cards. Still, each is unusually concerned about present trends.
Each writer examines the so-called “Olivet Discourse” of Jesus found in the New Testament book of Matthew, chapters 24 and 25. The lengthy passage presents Christ’s answer to the disciples’ question of what would indicate the time of the messiah’s return and “the end of the age.”
In the Scripture, Jesus presents a long list of natural disasters, pestilences and global upheavals. While many evangelicals and others have examined these in light of current events over the years, Mr. Youssef, an Egyptian-American whose “Leading the Way” broadcasts reach a wide audience here and abroad, said present globalist trends made him reconsider where we are in terms of a prophetic timeline.
He said even those with a secular mindset are questioning the rapid movements roiling society, such as the redefinition of marriage, the emphasis on transgender rights and the documented shift of millions away from traditional Christian faith to either being “spiritual but not religious” or claiming no affiliation at all.
A neighbor in his Atlanta, Georgia, highrise, whom Mr. Youssef described as the retired CEO of a Fortune 500 company, “in the elevator he was practically yelling at me to explain why are these things happening so fast.”
In an interview, he added, “I realize that even people outside of the church are asking questions. And they’re saying, How come immorality is moving with such speed? And the destruction of our children is moving with such speed?”
Mr. Youssef said these questions inspired “Is This The End,” the book he just released via Charisma House publishers.
“This is a great opportunity I felt for anyone who loves Jesus and loves people, and wants them to know the truth and invite them to come and embrace the truth in Christ, to write this book and explain what Jesus is saying in the context of what he was saying, and where we are, in that regard now,” he said.
An assistant said Mr. Jeremiah, who has written and spoken extensively on Bible prophecy, was traveling and unavailable for an interview. His latest title, “The World of the End” (Thomas Nelson) comes out as the longtime Bible teacher is holding rallies in several cities away from his El Cajon, California, base.
In the October issue of his ministry’s “Turning Points” magazine, he said “it seems the world is teetering on the brink of collapse more than ever before.”
He wrote that speculating about a specific date for the end of the world wasn’t wise since Jesus said “of that day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36).
“Instead of a date, Jesus gave His disciples (and us) a description of things to come,” Mr. Jeremiah wrote.
Making an analogy to young children on a road trip asking, “Are we there yet?,” Mr. Jeremiah said believers should examine the signs and determine not only the rate of progress, but where their hearts are as troubles mount.
“We can choose to be troubled or to be assured,” he wrote.
The new books come amidst a flurry of new Bible prophecy titles appearing in Christian bookstores and other outlets. According to a Publishers Weekly report in June, publishers are signing more authors for such books “than in years past.”
The report quoted Chosen Books editorial director Kim Bangs saying that sharing crisis reports on social media is driving the book surge.
“When you see in real-time what the Bible says will happen … you start to pay attention and ask questions,” Ms. Bangs told the trade journal, adding, “We seem to be closer to the end than ever before.”
In a video interview from his home in Jerusalem, bestselling novelist and political commentator Joel C. Rosenberg, a Jewish-Christian evangelical, said that while interest in such books “ebbs and flows” as conditions improve or deteriorate, “there are two reasons for the renewed interest” in the subject of Bible prophecy right now.
“Number one is the pandemic and number two is Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Rosenberg said. The COVID-19 global outbreak “is causing people to think Is this one of the signs that Jesus spoke of in Luke [chapter] 21 when he said there’ll be plagues spreading across the earth as along with wars and rumors of wars and all these other things,” he added.
Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Mr. Rosenberg said, has “fomented the biggest land war in Europe since World War II and is now threatening nuclear war in Europe.” In turn, he said, people “don’t trust the mainstream media” to provide understanding “in some sort of context that is respectful of the Bible.”
That’s where the upsurge in prophecy-related books comes in, Mr. Rosenberg said, and why he is launching a weekly analysis program, “The Rosenberg Report” on Christian cable and satellite channel Trinity Broadcasting Network.
However, not every evangelical Christian observer is sanguine about the rise in prophetic speculation.
The Rev. Kenneth Gentry, an author, seminary professor and retired Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly pastor, decried the latest trend.
“Most Christians today are poorly trained in Scripture, too gullible, and too easily excited,” Mr. Gentry said via email. “The ‘prophecy experts’ wrongly interpret various biblical prophecies by applying them to our age when they were actually for the first-century church,” he added.
Mr. Gentry said the Jesus’ prophecies in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, while evangelical pundits such as Hal Lindsey and others kept setting dates beginning in the 1970s for a more modern apocalypse.
“This is truly sad because the world needs a proper understanding of God’s Word,” Mr. Gentry said.