October 14, 2013

In the Tweet By and By: Twitter and Eschatology

by Clint Archer

twitter iconSometimes when people are eagerly anticipating a time-sensitive opportunity, they tend to turn off their brains and reflex kicks in. Just think of a false start in the Olympic final freestyle event. When one swimmer dives early, three others end up wet. And what happened on Wall Street last week is a perfect example of a herd mentality spawning a reflex of lemming-ism.

To understand the context of the event, you need to bear in mind how prodigiously software and social media stock tends to perform. Investors who put up a modest angel injection into a nascent Facebook goldmine blossomed into billionaires in a matter of months. So when Twitter, the phenomenally successful social media giant, filed last Friday (Oct 4, 2013) to list as a public company, investors went moggy. Immediately some and then more and then many speculators started lapping up the unbelievably cheap stock.

Over 14 million trades occurred and the stock shot up over 1000% (prices briefly peaked at 1,400%).There is only one problem. Twitter’s stock has not yet been made available. They merely filed to go public. It was an announcement of sorts of what was imminent, but no timing was mentioned. So, you might be thinking, what were traders acquiring in droves if Twitter stock hadn’t yet arrived on the market? Good question.

stock trader with twitter bird

Have you ever heard of Tweeter? Me neither. Tweeter is an unassuming little electronics company whose books waned anemic and faded into a bankruptcy. Their stock was worth a penny a share, or in callous (but amusing) Wall Street jargon, “zombie stock,” i.e. not dead (you can still buy it), but not living (no one would ever want stock in a company that was already officially bankrupt). And yet, that’s exactly what happened. Everyone knows that zombies can still do serious damage. And Tweeter stock owners got a miraculous resuscitation that jerked them from their financial graves.

The confusion came because Twitter would be trading under the stock symbol TWTR. It just so happened that Tweeter’s stock symbol was currently TWTRQ. The Q designates the company as bankrupt and indicates that you shouldn’t buy it. But there were apparently some traders who missed the Q…some 14 million times, on Friday.

When people saw the stock climbing so fast, they ignored the clear sign that the company was worthless, feared missing out on what was going on, and followed the herd off the precipice of economic insanity. Wall Street’s regulative body had to shut things down like strict dorm matron ending a mean prank that had gone on long enough.

Tweeter changed their symbol to something that doesn’t sound like any other company, and the stock promptly collapsed again as several would-be bulls morphed back into bears, and limped home, stung by the anti-climax of a deflated get-rich-quick tease.

Regrettably, the same herd mentality can affect our eschatology (our interpretation of how history ends). As much information as God reveals through prophecy, and as many signs as are described, there will always be people who are afraid of missing something big, like the Second Coming, and these people become vulnerable to false claims that the end is here. A pun-prone psychologist may diagnose these over-eager prophecy buffs as eschatology FANS, or “Future Apocalypse Now Syndrome.”

So it behooves us to study Christ’s predictions carefully so that we don’t hastily chase after the wrong Messiah at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

Matt 24:4-6  And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.

Luke 17:22-24 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming {in the future} when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.  And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them.  For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.

The main point Jesus always stressed when talking about His Second Coming is that it was unambiguous. (My spellcheck frowned at  “unmissable”). But like a wise older couple telling a single guy who asks “But how will I know when I’ve me the one?” Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t worry, you’ll know when you know.”

twitter stockIn 2000, I was working near Jerusalem, and on my bus ride I frequently saw ubiquitous billboards advertising “David Ben-David” as the Messiah with an invitation to come hear him speak. In his giant picture he looked exactly how I imagined an ambitious orthodox rabbi with an advertising budget would look. There were people who spent bus fare to travel to whatever town hall he was gracing with his presence, so that they could hear his political policies and decide for themselves if his ideals were messianic enough. I was able to put the verse “Do not go out or follow them” into direct application. (Today, this probably also applies to “following” them on Twitter).

Another species of false messianic claim is that Jesus Christ has already returned. Meet the Preterists.

This is off the website of the International Preterist Association, preterist.org

We believe Scripture teaches Christ would come again in that first century generation while some of His original disciples were still alive, to judge the living and the dead.”

Preterists obsviously redefine the 2nd Coming to be something that is more ambiguous and “missable” than futurists do. If only God addressed this in His word. Oh wait…

The Thessalonians also had incipient Preterism in their church too. They heard claims that Jesus had already returned and they feared that they’d missed Him. Paul sets them strait. I believe this chapter begins with a patient eye-roll and avuncular “Tut, tut,” in the Greek.

2 Thess 2:1-2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers,  not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

So, even while the Apostles were still around there were people who thought that the day of the Lord had come and gone secretly, leaving them in its invisible dust. Preterists may say “Ah ha, that proves the 1st Century church expected Jesus to return in their lifetime.” Of course they did. But He didn’t. I believe Jesus can return in our lifetime. And if He does, I believe we’ll know. You won’t need to check your Twitter feed or check snopes.com; you will know. Or as John said it…

Rev 1:7  Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Jake Swink

    This is something I have been struggling through for awhile now.
    I don’t know any preterist who would have said that Christ came before the writing of revelations. At least not any orthodox ones…

  • busdriver4jesus

    I read you guys sporadically, and I missed your previous post “4 Honest Questions…”; I started to read it and found that the very first question presented one of the biggest hurdles to the dispensational view (without realizing it)! If you do have mortal, sinful folks in a glorious kingdom directly ruled by Christ, you make Paul a liar…

    “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Cor 15:50)

    • This is a misunderstanding of the two aspects of the kingdom of God, namely the “Already” spiritual realities which are currently here (see Luke 17) and the “not yet” physical realities which are only to be ushered in at the Second Coming. You do still pray “Thy kingdom come…” right? Me too. There are aspects that have not yet come. Thanks for your comment.

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