Sadly, ‘newspaper exegesis’ is one of the most popular hermeneutics of our day. People practice newspaper exegesis when they mistakenly take biblical prophecy as describing what is happening right now in the news. They read Scripture through the lens of the news. Suddenly the president is the anti-christ. Computer chips are the mark of the beast. Helicopters are locusts.
Newspaper exegesis is nothing new. Ancient Hebrews failed to find Jesus in their prophets. First-century Jews thought their Messiah would end Roman rule. People were running around saying, “I am the Christ.”
Myopia may be to blame. Egocentrism. Ethnocentrism. Sociocentrism. Many other centrisms besides. We tend to view ourselves, and those around us, as being at the center of world history. Thus, if our life, culture, or country are coming to an end, we mistakenly believe the world is coming to an end. Hence, newspaper exegesis maintains credibility. At least in our eyes.
Now, at least, we can understand one reason why future events in the Bible are described in such sweeping terms. The close of a major chapter of redemptive history through judgment – which culminates in the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70AD – is prophesied, in some senses, as though it were the end of the world.
Because that’s what unbelieving Jews would have thought it was.