Travel, Education, and the Second Coming?
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As I mentioned in Meditation 880, I watched for Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church's 5th advertisement in its series 8 Compelling Reasons Why Christ Is Coming. While the previous advertisement I analysed had clear errors of fact about earthquake frequency, the latest ad cannot be criticized on the same grounds. It is just interpretation and opinion, all of which can be argued about, but which cannot similarly be established as factually wrong. If the rest of the ads are similar to this most recent one, I'll probably let them slip by without comment.
We'll ignore the opening boilerplate which has already been discussed and get to the body of the ad.
Reason #5. Explosion of Travel and Education. Two key conditions discussed about 2,500 years ago for the Second Coming are that travel and education shall be vastly increased (Daniel 12:4). In all of history, the vast increase in travel has come just since mid-century with the explosion of both air and ground transportation; in education with the advance of science and computers. (KJV)
We have a claim that the Book of Daniel sets some conditions for the Second Coming, a claim that it set those conditions 2500 years ago, and a claim that the those conditions now exist and the prophecy is fulfilled. Therefore, Christ is coming.
Whether the Book of Daniel is a prophecy for the Second Coming is open to debate. Arguably Daniel was written as a book of prophecy, but one that relates to the years of the Babylonian exile and the few hundred years afterward. It is a much later Christian reinterpretation to apply it to a Second Coming.
The 2500 years ago is also questionable. Few Bible scholars today would claim that the Book of Daniel was actually written in the Fifth Century BCE, or that Daniel was a real historical figure. The current majority opinion is that it was written in the mid Second Century BCE; probably the last of the texts in the Hebrew Bible. What appear to be fulfilled prophecies from three centuries earlier were actually written after the fact.
Let's look at the specific passage referenced (King James version, of course):
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Clearly "time of the end" is a reason for those who see an apocalypse coming to link this passage to the Second Coming. But it could just as well refer to the end of an empire - and an appropriate empire for the time would be the defeat of the Persians by Alexander the Great, the replacement of Alexander's short lived empire by the Ptolomies, or the subsequent Seleucid Empire. How to interpret "time of the end" is unclear. But still, we know the writer of the ad interprets it as the Second Coming.
So what about many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased? How does that turn into a prophesied "Explosion of Travel and Education." You have to read a lot into the words to get that "explosion." And increase applies only to knowledge - and it is not a vast increase.
I can see many shall run to and fro being forced in the mold that says travel. But it is a force to do so. There are other far better interpretations - for example running to and fro can be seen as a sign of panic; it can be seen as the hustle and bustle of a big city; heck - you could see it as the track events in the 2012 Olympics if you want to make it a prophecy for the current period. But it does not really imply the major long distance travel the ad wants it to - it's more suggestive of minor local movement.
And is knowledge shall be increased the same as education? To me, increasing knowledge is different from disseminating and sharing knowledge.
For this "prophecy" to work for the present day, it was not necessary to bring in "explosion," "travel," or "education." The words unchanged can be applied to the present day. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. That's an observation which is true right now as I write. It's an observation which is true right now as you read it. Of course it is an observation which has been pretty well true every single year since the Book of Daniel was written - whether 2,500 years ago, or 2,200 years ago. As a prophecy - as a sign - it is without useful meaning. The conditions have been in place from the day it was written, and the prophecy - when applied to the Second Coming - has failed every single day from the day it was written.
Daniel 12:4 referring to today's travel and education? As a prophecy - it's a house of cards; remove one card, whether it be an interpretation card or an opinion card - remove any one card and the prophecy collapses totally.
- Nanaimo News Bulletin, Saturday, February 19, 2011, p16
- Unless I'm without anything to publish and an update due. (Do I need to put a lol after that?)