THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
On May 14, 1948 David Ben-Gurion declared that the new State of Israel had been established. Since then hosts of books and magazine articles have been written declaring that this is the harbinger of the Second Coming of Christ. One of these books that are widely read is the subject of this REVIEW, The Late Great Plant Earth by Hal Lindsey. Well over 2.5 million paperback copies had been printed before the end of 1973.
Mr. Lindsey says in his introduction: “I make no claim of knowing exactly when the world is going to end.” Then he proceeds immediately, after condemning wizards, false prophets, seers, magicians, etc., to set the exact time of Christ’s return. He declares that there is to be a “seven-year period climaxed by the visible return of Jesus Christ.” He then states that this seven-year period “couldn’t begin until the new nation of Israel was established in their ancient homeland of Palestine” (p. 42).
He also states that the physical restoration of the Jews to Palestine “clearly occurs shortly before the Messiah’s coming” (p. 48). He says on page 54, “Within forty years or so of 1948 all these things could take place.” According to Mr. Lindsey, Jesus said that this (Israel’s becoming a nation) would indicated that He (Christ) was at the door, ready to return” (p. 54). He states that many scholars back to 1611 “clearly understood that the Jews would return to Palestine and reestablish their nation before the Messiah would come” (p. 49).
Mr. Lindsey makes it plain that he is a prophet. He says, “This is a book about prophecy” (first sentence of Introduction). But he claims to be different from the false prophets he condemns, because he says: “I am attempting to step aside and let the prophets (of the Bible) speak.” He says that the prophets of the Old Testament predicted “there would be a precise pattern of events” before Christ’s return, the most important of which would be the Jew’s return to Palestine. He condemns other false prophets because they overlooked “this paramount prophetic sign: Israel had to be a nation again in the land of its forefathers” (p. 43).
This is repeated so many times in Me. Lindsey’s book that there is no mistake in any way about his tying the return of Christ and the end of the world to the return of the Jews to Palestine. Since the Jews have returned to Palestine, Christ is at the door “ready to return,” he says. How much more “exact” can predictions get to be?
How Literal Are Mr. Lindsey’s Interpretations?
Mr. Lindsey does not only claim to be a prophet with “special insight into the prophetic word” (p. 89), he says that he is also a “premillenialist” (p. 176). He says that he disagrees with the “amillennialists” because he believes the prophecies should be “interpreted literally” (p. 176). But he interprets prophecies literally only when they fit his theories. He says: “The apostle John predicts that so many people will be slaughtered that blood will stand to the horses’ bridles for a total distance of 200 miles northward and southward of Jerusalem” (p. 165-166). But it should be noted that the blood spoken of in Revelation 14:20, to which Mr. Lindsey refers, comes “out of winepresses” and not from “people” who would be slaughtered.
Deuteronomy 32:14 speaks of the “the pure blood of the grape.” Why doesn’t Mr. Lindsey remain literal with Revelation 14:20? There the blood of the grape is the literal expression that comes “out of the winepresses.” How does Mr. Lindsey literally get human blood out of winepresses?
Mr. Lindsey would have us believe that Ezekiel chapters 37-39 refer to the invasion of Palestine by Russia in the last times (pp. 59-71). But the literal interpretation of Ezekiel 37-39 declares that the weapons of Gog and Magog are swords, shields, helmets, horses, bucklers (38:4), bows, arrows, handstaves, and spears (39:9). Can’t you just see Russia, who is equipped with all the latest jets, bombs, tanks, etc., returning to the use of swords, handstaves, spears, etc., when they invade Israel? How long would they last, with such weapons, against Israel’s modern weaponry?
Ezekiel 37-39 describes wars that took place in a time when there were “walled” and “unwalled” cities with “gates” an “bars” (Ezekiel 38:11). Why not stay literal, Mr. Lindsey?
Mr. Lindsey says that “this generation” (Matt. 23:36) means the generation that crucified Christ (p. 47), but that “this generation of Matthew 24:34 refers to within forty years or so of 1948” (p.54). Why not remain literal with Matthew 24:34 if you remain literal with Matthew 23:36? Both describe the same events that are to take place in and near Jewish synagogues (see Matthew 23:34 and Matthew 24:24), that were to transpire in Judea (Matthew 24:16) when the temple was going through the “abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15). This took place when Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD During this period and also now “his elect” are being “gather together” “from one end of heaven to the other.”
Matthew 24:29-31 appears to be a description of the second coming of Christ, but Christ did not say that the elect were gathered together for judgment. Since there are more ways than one for the “elect” to be “gathered together” (in the church, in the kingdom, in judgment) and since Christ said: “This generation (the generation of which Christ spoke) shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34), Matthew 24:29-31 must refer to something other than Christ’s second coming. Christ gave signs for the destruction of Jerusalem, and for the turmoil the coming of His kingdom into the hearts and lives of others would bring (Matthew 24:3 - 24:25). But then in Matthew 24:36-51 no signs are given to tell us what will happen “that day” – that is, the end of the world.
Mr. Lindsey is confused because he does not understand the biblical expressions “that day” and “the last days.” Lindsey says, “The phrase ‘latter days’ always refers in the Old Testament to the time of Israel’s final and complete national restoration and spiritual redemption” (p. 51). Mr. Lindsey and Dr. Kac would not have made that serious blunder if they had observed the Scriptures more closely. Joel prophesied that in the “last days” God would pour out His spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17). Peter said on the day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago of the baptism of the Holy Ghost on the apostles: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16). The apostle Paul said that the days when God no longer speaks to us through prophets but through His Son are “the last days” (Heb. 1:1-2). In fact Paul was even more specific. He said: “These last days,” that is, the days, in which Paul wrote and lived, were “the last days.” So “the last days” refer to the entire Christian dispensation. The second coming of Christ will come suddenly when men are saying “peace and safety” (1 Thess. 5:3) and unexpectedly so we are told to “watch” and be ready at all times because “of that day [please note there will be only one day when Christ comes and the world ends – no signs and no warning] knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).
Mr. Lindsey’s literal interpretation of prophecies is exactly what is wrong with his book. He tries to make Christ a literal king on a literal throne, using literal weapons to give people the “shock” treatment to convert them: “The catastrophic events…are primarily designed to shock the people into believing in their true Messiah” (p. 48). The apostle Paul declares that the Gospel is God’s power (Romans 1:16) – not swords, war, etc. Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Mr. Lindsey says it is. He makes the same mistake of those who crucified Christ. They killed Him because He refused to be a literal king on a literal throne. “The people answered him, we have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34). Christ refused to be made a literal king, even when they tried to take him by force and make Him one (John 6:15). Mr. Lindsey is making the same mistake today.
Mr. Lindsey says: “The ‘Ancient of Day,’ who is described here (Daniel 7:21-22) is identified in Daniel 7:13 as ‘one like the Son of Man’” (p. 92). But Daniel 7:13 does not say this. It says: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man [Christ] came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days [God], and they brought him before him.” Note the expression “brought him before him.” Christ did not come before Himself, but before God. When did this take place? Mr. Lindsey would have us believe that this refers to the Second Coming of Christ because the “clouds of heaven” are mentioned. It is true that Christ will come again with the clouds of heaven. But He also ascended into a cloud: “While they beheld he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight…this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 2:11).
Daniel 7:13 describes a scene when Christ “came to” the Ancient of days, “and they brought him near before him.” This is a description of the ascension of Christ when he “came to” God “with the clouds of heaven.” This is not a description of when Christ will “come from” the Ancient of days to the earth. At the time that Christ ascended and “came to” the Ancient of days (at His ascension), “…there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).
From this we see that Christ received His kingdom and dominion at the time of His ascension. Mr. Lindsey dethrones Christ and makes him wait until He comes again to get His kingdom and to be king. Christ is no “highly exalted” (Phil. 2:9). When God “raised him [Christ] from the dead” He “set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, an power, an might, and dominion” (Eph. 1:20-21). Christ is therefore now “King of kings” (Rev. 17:14) and “prince of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).
Mr. Lindsey tells us: “The prophetic Scripture tells us that the Roman Empire will be revived shortly before the return of Christ to this earth” (p. 88). Mr. Lindsey tries to prove this from Daniel the second and seventh chapters. But Daniel 2:44 says: “And in the days of these kings [that is, the Roman kings – the fourth kingdom] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.” This is made clear in Daniel 7:23: “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth.” The first kingdom was the Babylonian (Daniel 2:38), the second the Medo-Persian (Daniel 2:39), and the third the Greek (Daniel 2:39). It was during the days of the fourth kingdom (Roman) that John the Baptizer declared: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Christ said: “Some of them that stand here…shall not taste of death until the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). Paul said, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved” (Heb. 12:28), and that God delivered “the saints” (Col. 1:2) are “from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
Since we know when the saints received the kingdom (that is, in the days of the Roman Empire during the days of Christ and His apostles), we know when Daniel 7:22 was fulfilled – at the time that “judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” This is repeated in Daniel 7:27 and then Daniel 7:28 says, “Hitherto is the end of the matter.” If Mr. Lindsey understands this, he will have no trouble (as he does, for he devotes most of his book to it) reviving the Roman Empire the second time. We know the kingdom of God was in existence during the days of the Roman Empire in the days of the apostles, and the kingdom of god is an everlasting kingdom, so it has not ceased to be since then. Christ was then King and He is still King, and will remain King until He gives the kingdom back to God when He comes again (1 Cor. 15:28). Mr. Lindsey wants to give to Christ an everlasting kingdom when He comes. Christ went away to receive for Himself a kingdom (Luke 19:12). He will have already “received the kingdom” when He returns (Luke 19:15), and He will then give the kingdom to God “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). Mr. Lindsey is a “Johnny come lately” with the kingdom of God.
The Seven Year “Countdown”
Mr. Lindsey says: “There will be a seven-year period climaxed by the visible return of Jesus Christ” (p. 42). He declares on page 54 those Zechariah chapters 12 – 14 “describe the events in sequence.” But these chapters describe events that take place when they shall “smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered” (Zech. 13:7). Christ told us when this took place: “Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered” (Matt. 26:31). Christ said this was fulfilled “this night;” that is, the night He was betrayed. Mr. Lindsey says it will be fulfilled when Christ comes again. Which do you prefer to believe? Zechariah 13:1 says, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.”
The grand old song: “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins” can’t now b true if Mr. Lindsey is right, for Zechariah 13:1, according to him, is not to be fulfilled until Christ returns the second time. The Bible says, “Christ was offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28), and this was done when He died on the cross. So Zechariah 13:1 has been fulfilled already.
Zechariah 14 is fulfilled when “living water” goes out from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8). Christ gives “living water” to those who ask Him (John 4:10). Those w3ho believe on Christ flow as “rivers of living water” (John 7:38), so the prophecies of Zechariah 14 are already being fulfilled and have been by all those who believe on Christ and ask of Him for “living waters.” Zechariah 14:9 says that at the time Zechariah 14 is fulfilled: “The Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.” Ephesians 4:5 says there is now “one Lord.”
Christ’s kingdom is to be in existence while He is a priest: “And he shall sit and rule upon his throne; and shall be a priest upon his throne” (Zechariah 6:12-13). Christ is now priest: “We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1). Since He is now priest, He is now king, for He is to be king and priest at the same time. He now has “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 289:18), so He is the only sovereign. All things are under Him (Col. 1:18-19): “that in all things he might have the preeminence, for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” So Zechariah 14:9 along with all that Zechariah describes in chapters 12, 13, and 14 are fulfilled. Some of the things are hard to understand, but the signposts that we do understand are clear, as we have pointed out above, and they make it possible to know when the tings mentioned in these chapters are fulfilled.
Mr. Lindsey and the Bible
1. Mr. Lindsey says: “Jesus will return at a time of world-wide catastrophe, when man is on the brink of destruction” (p. 170). The apostle Paul says, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3). Christ said: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, an knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).
2. Mr. Lindsey says: “God unconditionally promised Abraham’s descendents a literal world-wide kingdom over which they would rule through their Messiah who would reign on King David’s throne” (p. 176). The apostle Paul says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for we are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Acts 15:9 says that God “put no difference between them [Gentiles] and us [Jews].” Christ says: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here or lo there, for behold the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
3. Mr. Lindsey says: “Jerusalem will be the spiritual center of the entire world, and that all the people of the earth will come annually to worship Jesus who will rule them” (p. 177). Friends, Mr. Lindsey is predicting attendance at the annual feast of tabernacles mentioned in Ezekiel 14:16-19. This is quite a tourist trade Mr. Lindsey has for Palestine. If the present 6,000,000,000 inhabitants of earth were to converge on Palestine at one time, there would be no place for them to stand. Christ says: “…ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father…God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in sprit and in truth” (John 4:21-24). That is, God as Spirit is everywhere, so we do not need to go to any one definite place on the earth to worship Him
4. Mr. Lindsey says: “After Christ destroys all ungodly kingdoms, Zechariah says the Lord shall be king over all the earth” (p. 175). Again, Daniel 2:44 says: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom.” “In the days of these kings” means that God’s kingdom will be in existence and Christ will be King while there are other kings – not after all other kings have been destroyed. Revelation 1:5 says Christ is “prince of the kings of the earth.” Christ is the sovereign prince over the other kings, so He is supreme – there are other kings over which He is prince. Ephesians 1:21 says that Christ is “far above” all principalities, powers, dominion, and might. There must therefore be other dominions, etc., during the reign of Christ in order for Him to be “far above” them. First Corinthians fifteen says that Christ reigns while He has enemies. He now has enemies, and He therefore is now reigning.
5. Mr. Lindsey says: “The Messiah will destroy the armies of the world and establish His kingdom of true peace and everlasting happiness” (p. 164). Christ says: “The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save hem” (Luke 9:56). The apostle Paul says: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal…” (2 Cor. 10:4).
6. Mr. Lindsey says: “Those who believe that Christ will return and set up a 1,000 year kingdom are called ‘premillennialists.’ We are ‘premillenialist in viewpoint” (pp. 175-176). There are many scriptures that teach that Christ is coming again, but there is not a single scripture that says that Christ will even touch the earth when He comes again, much less reign on it as a literal king for 1,000 years. First Thessalonians 4:17 says that we shall “be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Second Peter 3:10 says that when the Lord comes in the clouds “the earth also and the works there are therein shall be burned up.” Since Mr. Lindsey takes prophecies literally, he should remember that only those who have been “beheaded” will reign with Christ for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:4). So he must be “beheaded” if he is to reign 1,000 years with Christ. Please note, Mr. Lindsey, if you wish to stay with the literal interpretation, only “souls” reigned with Christ 1,000 years – no literal bodies are mentioned or included. And even at that Revelation 20:4 does not say that they lived and reigned with Christ “on the earth” 1,000 years.
Mr. Lindsey is an Alarmist!
Mr. Lindsey says that he has never taken to the hills with his loved ones and possessions to await Doomsday (Introduction), but he does confess that he can no longer relax by the ocean as he once did by the pounding of the ocean waves. He says they now say to him that we may be “running out of time” (Foreword). Then he writes his book to show how this is happening. He seems to be rather excited about this and is trying to get others excited for he travels from campus to campus lecturing.
But even if we are running out of time, is that any reason to live more righteously or to work more diligently for the Lord? Why do we serve the Lord? Because we want to use Him as a SOS Savior in the time of crisis? Don’t we serve the Lord because we love Him, and should not we be as diligent if we knew His return would be for another 1,000 years as we would be if we knew He was coming tomorrow? So why all the fuss about trying to understand this or that prophecy that the best of scholars have debated over for years? Why not devote our time to doing the things that we should do to be ready at any time. Is not this the meaning of “watch, for ye know not the day or hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42).