Friday, January 30, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - You Decide

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

So, what happens when you die? If you are a child of God, your spirit is immediately ushered into the bosom of Jesus by His holy angels. Your spirit remains in Heaven, in the presence of God, until the time of the Rapture. When Jesus comes for His Church, He brings your spirit with Him, resurrects and glorifies your body, making it eternal in nature (1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4). You reign with Christ for a thousand years and then live eternally with Him on the new earth (Revelation 20-22).

If you are not a child of God, then your spirit goes to Hades at your death. This is a place of torments where your spirit is held until the resurrection of the unrighteous which takes place at the end of the millennial reign of Jesus. At that resurrection you are taken before the Great White Throne of God where you are judged by your works and then condemned to the "second death," which is the "lake of fire" or Hell (Revelation 20:11-15).

Preparing for Eternity

One thing is certain: "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that 'Jesus is Lord!'" (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11). Your eternal destiny will be determined by when you make this confession.

If it is made before you die, then you will spend eternity with God. If not, then you will make the confession at the Great White Throne judgment before you are cast into Hell. To spend eternity with God, your confession of Jesus as Lord must be made now.

"If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - Not Soul Sleep

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Some of the greatest confusion about life after death relates to the intermediate state between death and eternity. Some people advocate a concept called "soul sleep." They argue that both the saved and unsaved are unconscious after death until the return of Jesus.

But the Bible makes it crystal clear that our spirit does not lose its consciousness at death. The only thing that "falls asleep" is our body — in a symbolic sense. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that he would prefer to be "absent from the body and at home with the Lord." In Philippians 1:21 he observes, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." He then adds in verse 23 that his desire is "to depart and be with Christ." Paul certainly did not expect to be in a coma after he died!

If then our spirits retain their consciousness after death, where do they go? The Bible teaches that prior to the resurrection of Jesus, the spirits of the dead went to a place called Hades ("Sheol" in the Old Testament). The spirits existed there consciously in one of two compartments, either Paradise or Torments. This concept is pictured graphically in Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

The Bible indicates that after the death of Jesus on the Cross, He descended into Hades and declared to all the spirits there His triumph over Satan (1 Peter 3:18-19; 4:6). The Bible also indicates that after His resurrection, when He ascended into Heaven, Jesus took Paradise with Him, transferring the spirits of dead saints from Hades to Heaven (Ephesians 4:8-9 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-4). The spirits of dead saints are thereafter pictured as being in Heaven before the throne of God (See Revelation 6:9 and 7:9).

The spirits of the righteous dead could not go directly to Heaven before the Cross because their sins were not forgiven. Instead, their sins were merely covered by their faith. The forgiveness of their sins had to await the shedding of the blood of Christ (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:8-9; Hebrews 9:22).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama Declares War

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

The Obama Administration has wasted no time in declaring war on Evangelical Christians.

Within minutes after the new President took his oath of office, his staff posted his agendas concerning homosexuality and abortion on the White House website.

Sexual Perversion

With regard to sexual perversion, the President's policy goals are spelled out as follows:

1) Defeat all state and federal constitutional efforts to defend the definition of biblical marriage as being a union between one man and one woman.

2) Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed by Bill Clinton. (This is currently the only line of defense keeping all 50 states from being forced to recognize so-called "same-sex marriages" from extremely liberal states like Massachusetts and Connecticut.)

3) Repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

4) Pass "hate crimes" legislation granting homosexuals and cross dressers special rights denied to other Americans. (This legislation, depending on how it is drafted, could even attempt to muzzle any criticism of homosexuality as being unbiblical and unnatural perversion.)

5) Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would force business owners (religious and otherwise) to abandon traditional values relative to sexual morality under penalty of law.

6) Create intentionally motherless and fatherless homes by expanding "gay adoption." To see it for yourself, go to
www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/civil_rights/ and scroll down the page to "Support for the LGBT Community." (LGBT is an acronym for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered.")

Abortion

With regard to abortion, The President's agenda is:

1) Opposition to any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's abortion decision in Roe v Wade.

2) Support of the Prevention First Act which would provide access to contraception and "preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies" (a euphemism for abortion).

You will find these proposals on the White House website at
www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/women.

Although it is not mentioned on the website, the President has made it clear that he will support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). In fact, he promised Planned Parenthood that signing the FOCA would be "the first thing I'd do as President." FOCA is by far the most radical piece of abortion legislation ever introduced into the Congress.

According to pro-choice advocates:

  • FOCA would overturn the ban on the barbaric procedure called "partial-birth abortion."

  • FOCA would invalidate scores of pro-life laws passed by dozens of states.

  • FOCA would eliminate existing laws against taxpayer-funded abortions.

Consequences to the Nation

This outrageous attack on biblical morals should come as no surprise to anyone. The American voters were warned time and time again during the presidential campaign that Obama would push the most radical homosexual and abortion agenda in American history. But millions voted for charisma and eloquence rather than paying attention to the issues.

I cannot overemphasize how critical a situation we are facing in this country. We are in the midst of a great financial crisis and we have enemies worldwide who desire to destroy us. I want to see President Obama succeed in solving our financial crisis and defending this nation against Islamic terrorism. But he has literally no hope of succeeding as long as he thumbs his nose at God and God's Word.

In addition to pushing homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion, he has also made it clear that he will demand a division of the land of Israel as part of a "two-state solution." These policies are national suicide.

God cannot be mock, nor can He be deceived (Galatians 6:7). He will not sit idly by and allow our nation to turn its back on Him and do what we please. We have been blessed more mightily than any other nation in history, and to those to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:47-48).

Call to Prayer

We need to pray as we have never prayed before for our President. We need to pray for his heart to be softened and his ideas to be conformed to God's Word (Proverbs 21:1). And we need to pray that all his efforts to implement policies contrary to God's Word will be confused, frustrated, and defeated.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - Word vs. Tradition

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Isn't it amazing how far we can drift away from the Word of God when we stop reading His Word and start mouthing the traditions of men?

As I kept making one discovery after another in God's Prophetic Word that ran contrary to what I had been taught, I began to wonder about the origin of the doctrines on death that I had learned. It didn't take me long to discover that the source was Greek philosophy.

The first attempt to mix the concepts of Greek philosophy with the teachings of God's Word came very early in the history of the Church. The attempt was called Gnosticism. The Gnostic heresy arose among the first Gentile converts because they tried to Hellenize the Scriptures; that is, they tried to make the Scriptures conform to the basic tenets of Greek philosophy.

The Greeks believed that the material universe, including the human body, was evil. This negative view of the creation was diametrically opposed to Hebrew thought, as revealed in the Bible. To the Hebrew mind, the world was created good (Genesis 1:31). And even though the goodness of the creation was corrupted by the sin of Man (Isaiah 24:5-6), the creation still reflects to some degree the glory of God (Psalms 19:1). Most important, the creation will someday be redeemed by God (Romans 8:18-23).

The Gnostic Heresy

When the first Gentiles were converted to the Gospel, their Greek-mind set immediately collided with some of the fundamental teachings of Christianity. For example, they wondered, "How could Jesus have come in the flesh if He was God? God is holy. How can He who is holy be encased in a body which is evil?"

In short, because they viewed the material universe as evil, they could not accept the Bible's teaching that God became incarnate in the flesh. Their response was to develop the Gnostic heresy that Jesus was a spirit being or phantom who never took on the flesh and therefore never experienced physical death.

This heresy is denounced strongly in Scripture. In 1 John 4:1-2 we are told to test those who seek our spiritual fellowship by asking them to confess "that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh."

The Augustinian Corruption

About 400 A.D. a remarkable theologian by the name of St. Augustine attempted to Hellenize what the Scriptures taught about end time events and life after death. Augustine was very successful in his attempt. His views were adopted by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. and have remained Catholic dogma to this day.

The influence of Greek philosophy would not allow Augustine to accept what the Bible taught about life after death.

For example, the Bible says the saints will spend eternity in glorified bodies on a New Earth (Revelation 21:1-7). Such a concept was anathema to the Greek mind of Augustine. If the material world is evil, then he reasoned that the material world must cease to exist when the Lord returns. Augustine solved the problem by spiritualizing what the Bible said. He did this by arguing that the "new earth" of Revelation 21 is just symbolic language for Heaven.

Augustine's views are held by most professing Christians today, both Catholic and Protestant. That means that most of Christianity today teaches Greek philosophy rather than the Word of God when it comes to the realm of end time prophecy and life after death.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - Events

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

If several years ago you had asked me what happens when you die, I would have given you a pathetic answer. I would have told you that when you die your soul goes to sleep until the Lord returns. At the return of the Lord, your soul is resurrected and judged, and you are either consigned to Hell or allowed to enter Heaven.

My conception of Heaven was that of a spirit world where the saved spend eternity as disembodied spirits, floating around on clouds, playing harps.

A Mistaken View

Needless to say, I couldn't get very excited about all that. I sure didn't like the idea of being unconscious in the grave for eons of time. Nor could I develop any enthusiasm for the prospect of being a disembodied spirit with no particular identity or personality. And the idea of playing a harp for all eternity was downright scandalous, for I had been taught that instrumental music in worship was an abomination!

You can imagine, therefore, the sense of shock I felt when I started studying Bible prophecy and discovered that all these ideas of mine about life after death were foreign to God's Word. But my shock quickly gave way to exhilaration when I discovered what the Lord really has in store for me.

The Biblical View

I learned from God's Word that when those of us who are Christians die, our spirits never lose their consciousness (Phils. 1:23). Instead, our fully conscious spirits are immediately ushered into the presence of Jesus by His holy angels (2 Cor. 5:8).

Our spirits remain in the Lord's presence until He appears for His Church. At that time, He brings our spirits with Him, resurrects our bodies, reunites our spirits with our bodies, and then glorifies our bodies, perfecting them and rendering them eternal (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

We return with Him to Heaven in our glorified bodies where we are judged for our works to determine our degrees of rewards (2 Cor. 5:10). When this judgment is completed, we participate in a glorious wedding feast to celebrate the union of Jesus and His Bride, the Church (Rev. 19:7-9).

Witnesses of Glory

At the conclusion of the feast, we burst from the heavens with Jesus, returning with Him to the earth in glory (Rev. 19:14). We witness His victory at Armageddon, we shout "Hallelujah!" as He is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, and we revel in His glory as He begins to reign over all the earth from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-9; Rev. 19:17-21).

For a thousand years we participate in that reign, assisting Him with the instruction, administration, and enforcement of His perfect laws (Rev. 20:1-6). We see the earth regenerated and nature reconciled (Isa. 11:6-9). We see holiness abound and the earth flooded with peace, righteousness and justice (Mic. 4:1-7).

At the end of the Millennium we witness the release of Satan to deceive the nations. We see the truly despicable nature of the heart of Man as millions rally to Satan in his attempt to overthrow the throne of Jesus. But we will shout "Hallelujah!" again when we witness God's supernatural destruction of Satan's armies and see Satan himself cast into Hell where he will be tormented forever (Rev. 20:7-10).

We will next witness the Great White Throne Judgment when the unrighteous are resurrected to stand before God. We will see perfect holiness and justice in action as God pronounces His terrible judgment upon this congregation of the damned who have rejected His gift of love and mercy in Jesus Christ (Rev. 20:11-13).

Jesus will be fully vindicated as every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Then the unrighteous will receive their just reward as they are cast into Hell (Rev. 20:14-15).

Witnesses of a New Creation

We will then witness the most spectacular fireworks display in all of history. We will be taken to the New Jerusalem, the eternal mansion prepared by Jesus for His Bride, and from there we will watch as God renovates this earth with fire, burning away all the filth and pollution left by Satan's last battle (2 Pet. 3:12-13).

Just as the angels rejoiced when God created the universe, we will rejoice as we watch God superheat this earth and reshape it like a hot ball of wax into the New Earth, the eternal earth, the paradise where we will live forever in the presence of God (Rev. 21:1).

What a glorious moment it will be when we are lowered to the New Earth inside the fabulous New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2). God will come down from Heaven to dwell with us (Rev. 21:3). He will proclaim: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5) We will see God face to face (Rev. 22:4). He will wipe away all our tears (Rev. 21:4). Death will be no more (Rev. 21:4). We will be given new names (Rev. 2:17), and we will exist as individual personalities encased in perfect bodies (Phil. 3:21). And we will grow eternally in knowledge and love of our infinite Creator, honoring Him with our talents and gifts.

Now, I can get excited about that!

Friday, January 23, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - Observation

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

It's the topic no one wants to think about or talk about. Yet, it's a subject people are fascinated with.

The Bible says that most people live in lifelong bondage to the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). Most of the time that fear is suppressed, but it is always there, just below the surface. It normally surfaces when a friend or family member dies, when a person experiences a near death event like a serious auto accident, or when a person begins to reach middle age. And, of course, lying in a fox hole with bombs exploding all around always gives rise to thoughts of death!

I think one of the reasons the death of Princess Diana had such a great worldwide impact was because she was so young. When we are young we tend to think we are invincible and will live indefinitely. It is always sobering when we experience the death of a young person. It forces us to think about our own mortality, something that is most uncomfortable to do. But it never lasts long, because we are always anxious to put the whole topic in the back of our minds.

I saw this happen when I was a teenager. I was living in Waco, Texas in May of 1953 when the worst tornado in the history of the state hit the city. A total of 114 people were killed by the storm. The downtown area looked like it had been hit with an atomic bomb.

For weeks thereafter, the churches of Waco were filled to capacity as people tried to deal with the terror of the storm. But within about six months attendance began to taper off, and before long, the churches were back to normal in their attendance.

Death is a fact that all people need to face and prepare for. The only people who are not going to experience death are those believers in Jesus Christ who are alive at the time He returns to rapture the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Those believers who die before that time will overcome death through the resurrection and glorification of their bodies.

Jesus of Nazareth gave us the most comforting words ever spoken about death.

At the tomb of Lazarus, before He raised his friend from the dead, Jesus proclaimed: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (Jn. 11:25-26).

Sixty-five years after his death, burial and resurrection, Jesus returned to this earth and appeared to his dear friend John on the Isle of Patmos (Rev. 1). John was so astonished that he fell upon the ground like a dead man. Jesus laid his right hand on John and said, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."

Jesus has overcome death Himself, and He consequently has the power over death. Overcoming death is a matter of putting your faith in Him (1 Jn. 5:1-5).

Read more about what we can expect after death in the next part of this series — What Happens When You Die?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - The Poll

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Decembers's blog poll, "What happens when you die?," sought to determine people's views on what they believe will be their experience just after death. The results of the 867 respondents are in the graph below:

The amazing variety of answers clearly show that people are not very sure of what their final experience will be upon dying, even among Christians sadly.

Secular

In talking with those totally lacking a biblical worldview, many express more assuredness (at least publicly) than those who have a biblical worldview of what to expect upon death. It could be that they have a certain confidence in being their own source of authority, though an uninformed authority as they have neither experienced death. Eleven of the respondents believed they would cease to exist after death, a very humanistic response.

Now, for those who have heard or claimed to have experienced a near-death experience, a common description among these experiences was that they felt they were going into a light, sometimes described as warm and loving. Twenty believe this to be the case upon death. What that light is, whether spiritual or biological, has never been determined to be "God," but rather a force of some type.

Some who have a semblance of "religiosity" believe that people will be transformed into angels upon entering the great beyond. Two responded that this was their future. Jesus was pretty clear people would be like angels, though, and not become angels (Matt. 22:30; Luke 20:36).

Catholic

Some in the Catholic tradition have been raised to believe that upon death they will appear before Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates to see if their good works will gain them entrance, a children's tale totally unrecorded in God's Word. Fortunately, only one responded that this would be their experience. When God's standard for entrance is perfect holiness (Matt. 5:48), can enough works be done to possibly provide entry?

Muslim

For those from a Muslim background whose belief derives from their holy book, the Koran, they responded that they would receive 70 virgins upon entering Paradise. Obviously, the three responding were men. Women, though gaining eternal youth, still get the raw deal in death just like in life by becoming eternal sex slaves. The carnal Islamic rendition is a sad and shabby view compared to what the Bible has to teach about eternal life beyond death.

Christian

So, after sifting out the obvious "nopes," what's left? The most Christian responses are soul sleep (108 or 12%), go to Heaven or Hell (417 or 48%), go to Hades then Heaven or Hell (213 or 24%) and appear before judgment (92 or 10%). That is a whole lot of variation for a group of people who all share in reading the Word of God!

So then, why so many Christian views on the subject? Well, initially, the results show just how poorly the Church has done in teaching people what the Bible has to say about our future beyond this life, even among our own congregations. But secondly, some overlap of after-death experiences may possibly occur.

Over the next few entries, we will explore what the Bible teaches is our experience upon death. After all, Christians have the inside scoop from God Himself — the One who created life, holds the keys to death, and experienced and defeated death itself. You will find great hope that death can be just the beginning of life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Israel Finds the Mother Lode

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Israel has just declared their energy independence from the world for the next decade!

Reported by YNetNews.com in their January 18, 2009, article titled "Large Quantities of Natural Gas Found off Haifa Coast," Israel has found the mother lode of natural gas deposits. Noble Energy and a consortium of exploration and drilling companies have after 5 years of drilling at the Tamar site 56 miles west of the northern port of Haifa discovered an estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The gas could be pumped out and sold as early as 2013.

"We are witnessing an historic moment in Israel's energy market… we are talking about the biggest find in Israel's history," National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer is quoted in a statement reported by Reuters.com in their January 18, 2009 article "Israel Eyes Gas Bonanza From Large Offshore Find" by Steven Scheer.

Israel has been receiving their natural gas from Egypt, a country more often than not openly hostile towards them. Now, Petroleum Commissioner Yaakov Mimran has said that if early findings are validated the site would meet Israel's demand for 15 years. Yitzhak Tshuva, who controls one of the discovery consortiums, proclaimed "It could solve the country's gas problems for many years and generations to come. We now won't be dependent on others for gas, and we'll even be able to make exports." Along with 30 billion cubic meters of gas being pumped out of Israel's southern coast, Israel will no longer be dependent on any other nation for its natural gas needs.

What will this amazing predicament mean in the unfolding scheme of Bible prophecy?

Israel is now an even hotter commodity than it already has been. Besides the world wanting control of Jerusalem for its religious importance (a fulfillment of Zechariah 12:1-3) and their hostile Arab neighbors coveting the financial importance of Israel's newly restored and agriculturally bountiful land, now this $26 billion find will indeed make Israel a very rich country.

Israel's wealth as recorded in Ezekiel 38:7-13 is the main motivator for the armies of God and Magog, known today as Russia and Iran, to invade Israel in its desire to seize their wealth.

"'Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, "I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land." Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, "Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?'"

Israel has just gotten a whole lot more valuable to the world, and it won't be too long before some nations try to take that value for themselves. As Ezekiel 38:17-23 prophesies, God has other more final plans for the invaders.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration of Eras

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

In a suburban Pennsylvanian elementary school, a group of third-graders were gathered to do something they never got to do at school before — watch television! The squirmy bunch was seated on the tiled floor, absorbing more the chilliness of the ground than what was going on at the TV set. The apparent letdown of the program not being cartoons weighed heavily on the room, just like the cold, wet blanket of January outside. What seemed like forever, the boring show finally ended and the group was marched off to do something more interesting, such as math.

What this class didn't realize, and what I didn't realize as one of those third-graders, is that we had just watched a wonderful, historic event. We had just witnessed the inauguration of a new President — Ronald Reagan. President Reagan went on to lead the United States into an unprecedented era of American success in world affairs, in staring down and defeating the communist Soviet Union, in reaching into outer space, in blooming economic growth, and in a national Christian resurgence. No matter the challenge, history will remember the 1980s Reagan years as a sort of "Golden Age" in being an American.

Twenty-eight years later, my eldest son is the third-grader, and he is the one watching the historic inauguration of Barack Obama at his elementary school. How will he look back years later and remember the era President Obama had led the United States in?

For starters, like every other modern third-grader, he's probably wishing the television had a controller attached for the latest Wii game. Driving a Mario Kart is far more entertaining than all those old people hanging out in Washington D.C., he must be thinking.

Unlike me at 8 years old, my son does have a better sense of the historic nature of this inauguration. With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day occurring just yesterday, a holiday that didn't even exist when I was a kid, he knows that the election of an African-American to the office of President is the fulfillment of a dream to see black Americans have and achieve every right as their white countrymen. Barack Obama's election not only fulfills that dream, but gives every American hope that we can be better than we were by overcoming what divides us. Because of this achievement, President Obama is getting off to a wonderful start in defining his era of leadership.

Three decades since Ronald Reagan was sworn in, the United States is very much a different country, though. The problems President Obama will lead us through are as great and as grave as those that faced the nation upon the onset of the Civil War, the Great Depression and the wars of the 20th Century.

But, these problems hold a world of difference. For one, the nation is financially bankrupt; the "Material Girl" becoming an indentured servant to hostile nations for loans in the pointless attempt to stave off paying what is ultimately due. Secondly, we're in an unwinnable war against the militaristic Muslim ideology held by 1.3 billion people, millions of which are American citizens. Thirdly, the level of patriotism Americans have is at such an all-time low and our ideology so deeply divided that our country may cede "the farm" at the best offer that comes by, giving up our Constitution and way of life to be a member of the world community. And fourthly, our nation is now post-Christian, not holding to "in God we trust," but instead looking to the wisdom of man in seeking moral guidance and coming up instead with moral ambiguity.

President Obama has to lead the United States in finding solutions to these almost unconquerable problems. Will he be remembered as coming up with the right solutions, though? He has made known his answers to these problems. Will his resurrection of the "New Deal" to combat the economic catastrophe by creating 4.1 million new government jobs and burgeoning the national debt to $6 trillion dollars reinstitute trust and stability in the American economy and pay off the debt? Will he be able to stem the rising tide of subtle Islamic takeover by sitting down and talking Muslim leaders into submission? Will he reawaken American patriotism by ending capitalism, implementing socialism, and ushering us in as a member state of a larger world government? And, will he point our moral compass back to God's laws and statutes by endorsing all that God calls evil? If President Obama institutes his suggested solutions, it is not too difficult to anticipate the results.

But, we as a nation are no longer looking to God for the answers, and without the One who knows how all things work properly, we cannot succeed. Lessons from the Bible teach us that our nation needs to learn stewardship, self-control, thrift, savings and the responsibility of paying off our debts. We need to win the Muslim to Christ by sharing the Good News with them all. We can return the self-respect and patriotism of our nation by having some self-respect of our own by doing what is morally right. And most importantly, we as a nation must repent of our sins, toss out every evil deed that we do, and call on God and His son Jesus Christ to guide us once more.

All Americans should want the President to succeed. I want him to succeed. I want my children growing up in a nation where they have a good future ahead of them. I want my son to remember the Obama years as a great era of American national spiritual revival, when we got back on the right track. I pray our children and our Heavenly Father will not be disappointed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What Happens When You Do Not Die?

The following story is truly amazing! It's like something you'd watch in a heart-pounding drama, but never want to experience in real life. Well, this couple — Dr. Jim & Debby Pearson — did, not only living through this near fatal accident, but coming out of it with a new perspective on life that truly inspires others.


"Debby and I want to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of love and concern for us after our accident on 1/10/09... It was really a miracle of God's mercy that we survived and that Debby has recovered so quickly from her near drowning.



Telling this story so many times the last 4 days has been emotionally draining but many want to know the details. Here they are and reflections on things we have learned.

On Saturday afternoon, after spending the morning working with Zack, Josh and Kaedon, Debby and I headed to our cabin at Watauga Lake to check on things. We strapped our two Yorkshire Terriers (Duncan and McDuff) in their carrying case and placed our two birds (Bertie and Clover) into the car and took off to the lake. I was getting sleepy and almost pulled over about a mile from the cabin but 'thought I could make it.' It was cold and drizzling and about a hundred yards from the cabin, I dozed off, ran off the left side of the road and was awakened by Debby's cry. It was too late!! I stuck a power pole; the car spun around backwards and then plunged down a 150 foot bank. We flipped over several times, knocked down another utility pole and ended up submerged in the lake.


We were both disoriented but still alive. Debby immediately began breathing in water. She was able to loosen her seat belt before she became unconscious. There was a small air pocket on my side of the car and I was able to take a breath, loosen my seatbelt and then God miraculously helped me escape from the car and pull Debby out. She was probably underwater for about 2 minutes and when she came out she was totally unresponsive, pale, her eyes fixed open and I really thought she was dead. After some rescue breaths, pulling her to shore and more rescue breaths God spared her life and she began breathing again. After she woke up I went back and tried to rescue our pets but was not able to free them due to the frigid water temperatures causing numbness of my hands so that they would 'no longer work.'

The longest 30 minutes of our lives was spent getting back up to the road and to our cabin. Debby was hypothermic and having a lot of trouble breathing from water aspiration into her lungs. We were able to get into the basement [the keys to the cabin were in the submerged car] where there was a phone, heater and some towels. After calling Zack and 911, help arrived about 30 minutes later.

Debby spent the night in the hospital on oxygen but did not have to be intubated. By the next day her lungs were much better and miraculously neither one of us had any serious injuries except for some bruises, muscle soreness, and one superficial laceration.

We are now home and recovering well physically, but still having a difficult time over losing 4 pets. I'm especially grateful knowing I could have lost so much more. God spared Debby's life (and mine) for which I will always be grateful!!

Some lessons learned:

  1. Always wear your seatbelts — had we not had them on, we most likely would have been thrown from the car and seriously injured or killed.

  2. If you get sleepy, pull over right then! You may not make it (I didn't!!)

  3. Enjoy all the precious things God has given us in life to enjoy (puppies, birds, etc.) They can be gone in a few seconds.

  4. Most important — When you have just taken a 150 foot plunge into an ice cold lake and you know you have but a few seconds to live, nothing you have (money, possessions, titles, 401Ks, etc.) can save you. Only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can do that. We all have a natural fear of death but we know that unless the Lord returns first, we will all have to take that step sooner or later. Saturday just wasn't our day but being that close has a way of getting your attention! We're glad we didn't have to go without saying bye to our family. Having our family separated would have been heartbreaking, but as Christians going to be with the Lord together would be unimaginable joy.

The day after we got home Debby home from the hospital we got our mail and received the January 2009 edition of Bible Prophecy Insights entitled 'What Happens When You Die?' I had read the main article by Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries before, but this time I read it with renewed interest. It's the best Biblical summary of what the Christian's hope is that I have ever seen.

Debby and I don't know why God chose to spare us but we appreciate more that each day and our possessions are gifts to use wisely. We still grieve over the loss of 4 small 'friends' that He allowed us to enjoy for the past few years but we pray some good may come out of this tragedy. For us the greatest loss would be that anyone that reads an account of this 'miracle' would not know Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. That is our prayer for all of you and we thank God for each of you in our prayers."


Stories like these sure help demonstrate the Christian perspective on death, especially when one narrowly escapes death and does not die, don't they? I hope this story and the latest Bible Prophecy Insights on "What Happens When You Die?" are a blessing to you as well. Thank you, Jim and Debbie, for sharing!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Whose Yo Daddy? The U.N.?

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Are we heading for a global confiscation of the rights of parents to actually be the parents of their own children?

Well, let's look at today's news stories for the answer. Homeschoolers are imprisoned and fined in Germany to eliminate "parallel social teachings." Many American states allow minors not to inform their parents about their abortions. Social indoctrination of the homosexual lifestyle despite PTA objections is being forced into Kindergartens. "Gay" schools are being opened to provide "choice." Governments fund and export abortion on demand programs for "population control." The FCC allows music TV, cartoons and kids shows to continuously display parents as out-of-touch morons not to be listened to. DHS can storm into any house and remove a child without the parent having any right to protect their family. Today's examples from national governments go on and on and on.

From Nazi Germany to Chairman Mao, history has proven that big government will eventually force its way into the family in an attempt to control the next generation's tender minds and hearts. Their reason is simple to understand — to stay in power.

While various governments try different methods to keep their citizens in "right think," as George Orwell called it in his scare-your-socks off book 1984 about future government control of its people, the future is almost here as a more global government control method is being developed.

OneNewsNow.com reports in their Jan. 14, 2009 article "Is parental authority on the U.N. chopping block?" by Pete Chagnon that the United Nations is working on getting global ratification of a treaty that would remove parental controls and give them over under their control. Called The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the U.N. penned the treaty some 20 years ago in an attempt to create a sort of road map that would guide government officials in the improvement of laws and policies, by defining which rights governments should give children. Ratified by every nation in the world at the time but the United States and Somalia, the U.N. is hoping with a President Obama and Secretary of State "It takes a village to raise a child" Clinton, that the United States will finally sign the treaty.

The result of a globally signed treaty would be detrimental to parents around the world. As Michael Farris, chancellor of Patrick Henry College, explains: "The biggest problem with this treaty is that we replace American law [developed] by our elected officials with international law that is governed by a board of 18 child's rights experts in Geneva." Farris elaborates on the treaty's scope: "The child's wishes have to be considered by the government, and the government gets to decide at the end of the day... what it thinks is best for the child. That's in religion, that's in education, that's in 'do you let your kids put their real names on their Facebook accounts?' On every parenting decision you can imagine, the government gets to make the final call."

Child abuse, mistreatment and neglect are rampant in the world, and government is certainly needed to deal with these terrible social ills. But, Parentsrights.org argues that this treaty goes way beyond helping to controlling. They warn: "This treaty, harmless as it may appear, is capable of attacking the very core of the child-parent relationship, removing parents from their central role in the growth and development of a child, and replacing them with the long arm of government supervision within the home."

How would this treaty supplant parental control with U.N. control?

Parentsrights.org reports the treaty stands on two principles that would guide all decisions affecting children: consideration of the "best interests of the child" and the child's "evolving capacities." "Best interests of the child" means "except in cases where a parent has been proven to be 'unfit,' American law presumes that the parent is acting in the best interests of the child, and defers to that parent's decision... the Convention, in contrast, supplants this traditional presumption in favor of parents with a new presumption in favor of the state." "Evolving capacities" says the state sets the blanket standard of maturity, which "rejects the time-proven concept that parents are the most effective advocates of the child's interests and best understand the maturity and abilities of their children... with one swift move, the treaty cuts parents out of the equation."

Without even signing the treaty into international law, while the treaty is being ratified by governments around the world, the U.N. could through unwritten law called "customary international law" apply many of the key provisions of the UNCRC to insert the long arm of government intrusion into families in every country. The U.N. implements these controls through government adherence to the treaty, as well as judges that report to the World Court rather than a nation's sovereign court.

Could the U.N. become our children's new parents?

They very well could if nobody takes a stand against the rising tide of globalism. But, the ultimate fulfillment of supplanting the rights of parents will fall to what the Bible tells us is the government of the future world leader who will rule all the nations of the globe (Ps. 2:1-2; Dan. 7:23; Rev. 19:19). His will will be absolute, for he will demand worship (Rev. 13:12) and for all to receive his mark of loyalty (Rev. 13:16-18). His false prophet will teach the people what to believe, who to worship, who to hate (Christians and Jews) — totally what to think, feel and act. Indeed, his government will confiscate all parent's rights to raise their children born during the upcoming 7-year Tribulation.

The United Nations is a weak shadow of an inevitable and powerful future empire. Whatever rights over its member nations the U.N. gathers to itself will be handed over to a leader who will be the "parent" of every one of his subjects (Rev. 17:13).


[To join Parentalrights.org's fight to support the enactment of a constitutional amendment to protect the fundamental right of parents to raise their children, sign their petition.]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Profile of the Antichrist

He will be of Roman descent (Daniel 9:26). The passage says the Antichrist will come from the people who destroy the Temple. The Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

He will be a Gentile (Revelation 13:1). He is portrayed as "coming up out of the sea." The sea is used in prophecy as a symbol of the Gentile nations. See Daniel 7:3, Luke 21:25 and Revelation 17:1.

He will rise out of the revived Roman Empire (Daniel 2:31-45 and 7:1-8, 24-28).

He will be an egotistical braggart (Daniel 7:8, Daniel 11:36-37, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, and Revelation 13:5).

He will be a blasphemer (Daniel 11:36, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, and Revelation 13:5-6).

He will be strong-willed (Daniel 8:24 and Daniel 11:36).

He will show contempt for human traditions by changing the laws and the calendar (Daniel 7:25).

He will be shrewd and deceitful (Daniel 8:23 & 25, Psalm 43:1, and Psalm 52:2).

He will be a destructive man of bloodshed (Psalm 5:6 and Daniel 8:24-25).

He will persecute believers (Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:7).

He will be a sexual pervert (Daniel 11:37).

He will be a militarist (Daniel 11:38).

He will be possessed by Satan (Daniel 8:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, and Revelation 13:2).

His nature is also reflected in the titles he is given in Scripture:

  • "The Beast" (Revelation 13:1)

  • "The Man of Lawlessness" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

  • "The Son of Destruction" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

  • "The Despicable Person" (Daniel 11:21)

  • "The Willful King" (Daniel 11:36)

  • "The Worthless Shepherd" (Zechariah 11:17)

  • "The Insolent King" (Daniel 8:23)

From the Jan/Feb 2009 edition of the Lamplighter magazine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Go Joe!

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Anybody who either watched coverage of the news during the 2008 presidential election, or merely watched the political spoof-fest that was "Saturday Night Live" at the time, knows who Joe the Plumber is.

Joe the Plumber

Samuel Wurzelbacher, dubbed "Joe the Plumber" by the McCain campaign, was just an average joe who was in the right place at the right time. Before the cameras in Ohio, Joe the Plumber was able to ask then Senator Obama how his tax plan would affect average joe's like himself. Mr. Obama's response being "share the wealth" with such simple clarity exposed the plan for the socialist agenda that it really was. Joe the Plumber immediately calling it "socialism" on national television voiced what so many average joe's in the United States were thinking, terrifying the media with the knowledge that the average joe's did indeed understand what they would be receiving as a bill of goods with a President Obama. The media reacted violently, attacking Mr. Wurzelbacher with every kind of allegation in an attempt to tear down his character, as if he was a Presidential candidate himself! With one simple question, Samuel Wurzelbacher exposed both the system in which Senator Obama was endorsing and how deeply biased the American media had sunk.

Joe the Plumber isn't finished with his 15 minutes of fame, though. He has now become a member of the media himself, leaving plumbing far behind to become a news war correspondent as an "expert on media bias" for the conservative PJTV news website. Wurzelbacher now is traveling around Israel reporting from the towns that have for years been hit by Hamas rocket fire.

While traveling, Israeli news asked Joe the Plumber if a President Obama would help Israel. He replied, "President Obama has already said what he'd do here in Israel. He said if his daughters were living here he would take whatever means necessary to protect his daughters. I hope he carries through with it. That's going to be up to him."

Wurzelbacher publicly voiced his support for Israel's conflict with Gaza's Hamas, and he has now called on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to help Israel in its campaign to remove the constant threat of terror by Hamas' rockets. By reminding President-elect Obama of his own words so that he'll follow through and help Israel as stated, or by being an advocate of Israel in action as well as in words, Joe the Plumber is a great example to each one of us average joe's that we do not have to be statesmen to stand up for what is right.

"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night." — Isaiah 62:6a

Watch a live news report of Joe the Plumber reporting from Israel!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Keeping the Main Thing...

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

A bunch of good buddies got together one Sunday afternoon to catch the football game on Al's new 52' widescreen. They all sat on the comfy couch and chairs, chips and drinks in hand, expectant of some good plays. The gang was united in their love of the big game and rejoiced in their fan fellowship. As usual, some guys rooted for one team, some for another, and a few didn't care for either team, but liked anything football.

Naturally, some good natured ribbing and teasing about the rival team's abilities started. And then suddenly, Tom turned to Frank and loudly accused, "If you don't believe my team is the best, then you are going to hell!"

After a moment of stunned silence, the room erupted into chaos. Fred agreed with Tom. Bobby stated his belief that his team was essential to loving football. Sal decried the green and white uniform combination, declaring more white than green was essential for good game playing. The room divided into three camps, all staring each other down with hostility. The wives hastily exited to go shopping. The dog was kicked. Root beer was left undrunk. Before the half-time show, these men stormed out never to talk again. Only Best Buy benefited with two more widescreens being purchased.

Say What?

While the football argument may have seemed rather ludicrous, the word "football" only has to be replaced with "Bible prophecy" and the story becomes a reality. Students of Bible prophecy have always been united in their love of Jesus Christ as Savior and in exploring the mysteries of God's unfolding plan for the ages. They get together for conferences and meetings, email and study together — all for the love of God.

And yet, there are a few that feel that their team — their end-time point of view — is infallible, and even worse, necessary for salvation. In the middle of any good natured discussion a voice or two will rise and break up fellowship with their Christian brethren over issues as menial as what the Antichrist likes for breakfast (we all know he has a penchant for pork).

The Whys

Why as Christian brothers and sisters do we get so worked up about events clouded by the mists of future times? Why do we tie our core doctrines up with secondary doctrines that have nothing to do with what's essential to God?

Well, firstly, and we're all guilty of it, our point of view is tied to our egos. Maybe a student has made a name for himself based on a particular theory, yet finds it doesn't stand up to biblical scrutiny. Or, maybe the passion of the discussion made them step too far from the realm of the probably into declaring fact the realm of the imaginary. Either way, they do not wish to lose face.

Secondly, we all wish for events to turn out a certain way. I find many of our Post-Trib brothers want to be martyred. Our Pre-Trib sisters wish to get off this rock and get to heaven. Our Post-Mil friends want to conquer the world for Christ. We each come at Bible interpretation with a preconceived view of how God would like it to turn out, and many times leave God and the Bible out of our interpretation altogether.

Thirdly, there're false prophets lurking in our midst. No, not people who believe that Jesus is the one and only Savior and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We do indeed have true false prophets like Jesus warned us about in Matthew 24 sowing seeds of dissention and slinging accusations against true believers, hoping to create confusion and division. They should indeed be rooted out for the world to know their lies are not true and to protect those who would be led astray. But, if it's only a person's Bible prophecy that is askew and not their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, then we're trying to bullseye with a shotgun, obliterating the target.

Fourthly, the pressure's on! The deeper the world gets into prophetic end-time signs and the worse the "birth pains" get, the more the world is looking to Bible prophecy students for answers. The urgency increases to share the Gospel with as many people as possible as quickly as possible. The questions keep coming, and we need to provide the answers to the world's inquiries. In the end, we answer everything but their real question — "How can Jesus save me?"

And finally, a divided house will not stand. Satan knows this, and cranks up the itching on believers so that we spend more time bickering over the non-essentials than in uniting to share the Gospel in the time God has given us. Non-believers always point to the disunity within the Church as an argument that it is not of God, a tactic Satan has used to his utmost advantage, and to our shame.

...The Main Thing

And so, I make a plea to all lovers of Bible prophecy — keep the main thing the main thing! We love Jesus Christ. We want to see people become saved. We all feel the urgent need to get the Word out, for that is what the true gift of Bible prophecy is all about. But, for the sake of those who depend on us to open up the world of the Bible to them, let's keep our egos in check, our doctrine true to the Bible, and our focus never veering from the end to all Bible prophecy — Jesus saves and reigns!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Antichrist a Muslim? Gods War on Terror

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Could the Antichrist possibly be a Muslim? This is a new idea that seems to be catching fire today due to the awakening of Islam and the revival of its territorial goal of conquering the world for Allah.

I recently read four books that relate to this topic.

The Fourth Book

As this essay was being completed a new book was published on the subject that is co-authored by Joel Richardson and Walid Shoebat. It is titled God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible.1

Walid Shoebat
This is a very expensive book ($29.95) and a very long one (512 pages). The writing is very tedious and difficult to follow. Even worse, the organizational format is chaotic and confusing. It is very clear that it was not written by Joel Richardson, who is an excellent writer. I can only conclude that Richardson must have helped with the research and Shoebat was the writer.

The book rehashes Richardson's arguments, but in much greater detail. One of the maddening things about the book is that it resorts throughout to convoluted reasoning and scripture misapplication.

Mis-applying Scripture

An example of the latter can be found in Shoebat's explanation of Psalm 83 — a topic ignored in Richardson's book "Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah."2 He attempts to prove that the war described in this psalm between Israel and its close Arab neighbors is one that will occur at the end of the Tribulation, after the Second Coming of the Messiah. Thus, he argues it will be a conflict between forces led by Jesus and those led by the Antichrist. I was astonished to read this interpretation because I have studied this psalm in detail, and there is not one verse in it that even implies that Jesus will be present on this earth when the battle occurs.

So, I looked for Shoebat's scriptural proof of Jesus' presence. Believe it or not, the proof he provided was quotes from two other psalms:3

1) Psalm 82:8 — "Arise, O God, judge the earth!"

2) Psalm 80:14 — "Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts."

Neither one of the psalms are related to Psalm 83. Both are prayers by Asaph for the Lord to return to the earth to bring justice. Neither one states that the Messiah is on the earth.

This kind of incredibly sloppy proof-texting can be found throughout Shoebat's book. Whenever he wants to make a point, he goes fishing for a verse. When he finds it, he reels it in and applies it to the passage under consideration, whether it is related to that passage or not.

Another example can be found in the second argument he gives for placing the Psalm 83 war at the end of the Tribulation. He says it must occur at that time because it is a war triggered by the Antichrist's desecration of the Jewish Temple — a temple that will be rebuilt during the first half of the Tribulation. And what is his evidence? He quotes Psalm 79:1 — "O God, the nations have invaded Your inheritance; they have defiled Your holy temple." Once again, he tries to prove a point about Psalm 83 by quoting a verse from an unrelated psalm.

Strange and Strained Logic

A good example of Shoebat's tortuous logic can be found in his attempt to explain away the meaning of Daniel 9:26. The plain sense meaning of this passage is that the Antichrist will come from the people who will destroy the Temple.

Shoebat and Richardson argue that the Roman legions that carried out the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD were composed primarily of Arabs, mainly Syrians and Turks.4 They therefore conclude that the Antichrist will arise from the Syrians or Turks and will be a Muslim.

This is really grasping at straws in the wind! It doesn't matter whether or not the legions were composed of Australian Aborigines, it was the Roman government that decided to destroy Jerusalem, it was the Roman government that gave the orders, and it was Roman generals who carried out the destruction. Rome was the rod of God's judgment and it is from the Roman people that the Antichrist will arise.

Something Correct

Shoebat and Richardson have gotten one thing right: the Muslim world is going to suffer a devastating fate in the end times, but not at the end of the Tribulation as a result of a conflict between armies commanded by a Muslim Antichrist and Jesus.

The Middle Eastern Muslim nations will suffer overwhelming defeats in the Psalm 83 War and the Ezekiel 38 War before the Tribulation begins and before the Antichrist comes on the scene. The Antichrist, who will arise out of the revived Roman Empire will then launch a world war to conquer all nations, and during that war, he will be used of God to annihilate the remaining Muslim nations outside the Middle East.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, I want to emphasize once more that the behavior of the Antichrist described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 rules out his being a Muslim. This has to be one of the key stumbling blocks for the whole theory.

I would also like to answer a question that Shoebat poses throughout his book and seems always to mention in his public presentations. He asks, "Besides the argument over whether Magog is Russia, can you cite any literal reference to a nation that God destroys in the End-Times that is not Muslim?" Yes, I can. It is Babylon, whose destruction is described in detail in Revelation 18. I say that because I am convinced that the "mystery" Babylon that is mentioned in Revelation 17:5 is the end time worldwide empire of the Antichrist that will be headquartered in Rome. I have written extensively on this point, and you can find an essay about it.

Two final observations. First, beware of Lone Ranger interpretations of prophecy that are not widely shared. God does not reveal the meaning of prophecy only to a person or two. 2 Peter 1:20 says, "no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation." Private and peculiar interpretations like the recent "Pre-Wrath Rapture," usually make a big initial splash and then fade quickly when submitted to critical review.

Second, I think the current rush to identify the Antichrist as a Muslim is a classic example of newspaper exegesis — of reading the news headlines into the Bible rather than letting the Bible speak for itself. It would be good to keep in mind a comment made by the great Bible teacher Ray Stedman: "What determines the future is what God has done in the past and what He has promised to do in the future. So don't look horizontally at current events."5

Notes

  1. Walid Shoebat and Joel Richardson, God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible, (Top Executive Media, 2008), 512 pages.

  2. Ibid., pp. 240-249.

  3. Ibid., p. 241.

  4. Ibid., pp. 349-353.

  5. Quote supplied by Lambert Dolphin (http://ldolphin.org).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Antichrist a Muslim? Antichrist: Islams Awaited Messiah

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Could the Antichrist possibly be a Muslim? This is a new idea that seems to be catching fire today due to the awakening of Islam and the revival of its territorial goal of conquering the world for Allah.

I recently read four books that relate to this topic.

Richardson's Book

The third book I investigated is one by Joel Richardson entitled Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah.1

Joel Richardson
I wish I could tell you something about the author, but he states in the book's introduction that he is using a pen name due to fear of Muslim threats on his life.2

I was really turned off by this revelation and almost decided not to read the book. People who speak out publicly on issues should be willing to put their name to their words. And being motivated by fear is certainly not a biblical attitude (Psalm 118:6).

Whoever he may be, Joel Richardson is an excellent writer who knows how to craft and present persuasive arguments.

Richardson begins by introducing the reader to the complex and confusing world of Islamic eschatology. One of the reasons it is so confusing is because it has never been systematized, as has been the case with biblical eschatology.

Another reason for the confusion is that there is almost no end time prophecy in the Quran. The prophecies are found, instead, in the Hadith, which is a compilation of sayings by Mohammed that were pulled together from a great variety of sources some two hundred years after his death. Most of these sayings are hearsay and many are contradictory.

I have written a detailed outline of Islamic eschatology.

Misleading Aspects

Richardson's presentation of what Muslims believe about the end times is very misleading, for what he presents is the Shi'ite version which revolves around the concept of an Islamic Messiah called the Mahdi. He leaves the impression that all the Islamic world is living in breathless anticipation of the appearance of the Mahdi, when the reality is that 90% of all Muslims — the Sunnis — are not looking for a Mahdi. In fact the concept of a Mahdi is not even found in orthodox versions of the Hadith like Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

The Sunni Muslims are looking instead for the appearance of the Antichrist, whom they call the Dajjal. If a person were suddenly to appear on the world scene claiming to be the Mahdi, he would be automatically rejected by the vast majority of Muslims.

Another misleading aspect of Richardson's presentation is his constant talk about the "amazing parallels" and "startling similarities" between Islamic and biblical end time prophecies. Actually, there is nothing startling or amazing when you consider the fact that Mohammed borrowed nearly all his key ideas from Bible stories he heard from both Jews and Christians, stories he often got thoroughly confused. This is a well proven fact, and for overwhelming evidence, I would direct you to Dr. Samuel Shahid's book, The Last Trumpet.3

Also misleading is Richardson's heavy reliance on quotations from the Hadith to establish his scenario for end time events. He treats the Hadith as if it contains inspired prophecy, when, in fact, it is nothing more than the ramblings of a demon-possessed man.

Another problem with Richardson's book is that he states that he got many of his ideas from Walid Shoebat.4 This man is a former Palestinian terrorist who became a Christian. He is an expert on terrorism, and he is an outstanding speaker on the subject.

But when it comes to Bible prophecy, his ideas are very unorthodox, as Richardson's book clearly reveals. One irritating point that Shoebat keeps making in his public presentations is that one must have an Eastern mindset in order to understand Bible prophecy. He claims that all of us in the Western world have completely misunderstood Bible prophecy because we interpret it from a Western mentality.

This is not only a prideful viewpoint, it is also unbiblical. The Bible was not written in such a way so that only those with a particular mindset can understand it. It was written for all people to understand. There certainly are guidelines to interpretation (such as accepting the plain sense meaning), but any mindset can use those guidelines to understand what the Bible says, as long as the person is indwelt with God's Holy Spirit.

The Central Concept

The heart of Richardson's thesis (and Shoebat's) is that the Antichrist will be a Muslim who will lead a Middle Eastern coalition of Muslim nations against Israel in the end times. In short, the empire of the Antichrist will be a regional one confined to the Middle East!

Like Goodman, Richardson asserts that the seventh empire of Revelation 17:9-11 is the Ottoman Empire, but unlike Goodman, he claims that the eighth and final empire will be a revival of the Ottoman and not the Assyrian. This scheme works better than Goodman's because there is no need for a ninth empire since Richardson denies that the Antichrist will use the revived Ottoman Empire to build a worldwide empire. The revived Ottoman Empire will be the final Gentile empire.

Regional or World Empire?

In order to sustain this totally revisionist interpretation of end time prophecy, Richardson goes to great pains to deny the clear meaning of Revelation 13:7 which reads as follows: "And it was given to him [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him."

Let me ask you a question: What more would God have to say to convince us that the Antichrist will have a worldwide kingdom?

Yet, Richardson tries to dismiss this verse as nothing but hyperbole. He does so by quoting Daniel 5:18-19 where it states that Nebuchadnezzar, was feared by "all peoples and nations and men of every language." Richardson then asks, "Did every single nation in the earth fear Nebuchadnezzar?"5 My answer would be, "Yes, all nations that were aware of him." That's all the statement means in its context.

Richardson then quotes 1 Kings 4:34 which says that men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, "sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom." He then asks derisively, "Was Solomon's wisdom so impressive that not a single king in all the earth failed to hear of it?"6 That's not what the verse says. Read it again. It says the kings who had heard of his wisdom sent representatives — not all kings.

Context determines meaning, and the context of Revelation 13:7 clearly means that the Antichrist kingdom will be worldwide, not just a regional coalition of Muslim nations.

The Ezekiel 38 War

Richardson denies that the war described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be led by Russia or that Russia will even have a part in it. He favors Turkey as the leader.7 Yet, Ezekiel 38 clearly states that the invasion will be led by the Prince of Rosh coming from "the remote parts of the north" (Ezekiel 38:15). There is no way that Turkey could be considered a nation located in "the remote parts of the north."

Richardson never reveals when he believes the Ezekiel 38 invasion of Israel will occur, but it must be at the end of the Tribulation since the invading army will be the army of the Antichrist and will be destroyed by God. Thus, he must equate the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 with the Battle of Armageddon. But these are not the same battles.

The battle of Gog and Magog involves Russia and certain specified allies who come against Israel either at the beginning of the Tribulation or, most likely, before it begins. One of the tipoffs as to the timing of this invasion is the statement that following the defeat of the invading armies, the Israelis will spend seven years cleaning up the battle field and burning the leftover weapons (Ezekiel 39:9).

Many have equated this seven years with the Tribulation, thus putting the invasion at the start of that period of time. But we know that in the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist is going to turn on the Jews and try to annihilate them, making it impossible for them to continue the clean-up during the last half of that terrible period. So, most likely, the battle will occur before the Tribulation begins.8

In contrast, the Battle of Armageddon occurs at the end of the Tribulation. And there really is no battle at all. The armies of the Antichrist are destroyed in an instant when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives and speaks a supernatural word, causing their flesh to drop from their bodies (Zechariah 14:1-13). In the Gog and Magog battle, the invading armies will be destroyed on the "mountains of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:4), not in the Valley of Armageddon, and they will be destroyed by pestilence, hailstones, fire and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:22).

Another serious problem with placing the Gog and Magog war at the end of the Tribulation is that Ezekiel 38 says the invasion will occur at a time when Israel is living in peace with unwalled cities (Ezekiel 38:11). That will not be the case at the end of the Tribulation. The land of Israel will be in absolute chaos at that time.

Psalm 83

When I finished reading the book, I found myself wanting to ask Richardson and Shoebat what they are going to do with Psalm 83? This psalm portrays an attack on Israel by a Muslim coalition consisting of Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Assyria (Syria and Iraq). The Bible clearly teaches that God will protect Israel against all such attacks in the end times (Zechariah 12:6 and Amos 9:15).

The outcome of this war most likely is detailed in Zephaniah 2:4-5. These verses indicate that the attacking nations will be devastated by Israel. It is during this war that Damascus, the capital of Syria, will probably be destroyed completely, never to be rebuilt again (Isaiah 17:1-14 and Jeremiah 49:23-27). That is why Syria is not mentioned in Ezekiel 38 as one of the Russian allies.9

The outcome of the Psalm 83 war is what will produce peace for Israel, the peace that it is prophesied to be enjoying when Russia and its allies decide to launch the Ezekiel 38 invasion.

The war of Psalm 83 followed by the war of Ezekiel 38 will result in the annihilation of nearly all the armies of the Muslim nations of the Middle East, and these wars are most likely going to occur before the Tribulation begins! Thus, if the Antichrist is a Muslim who is going to rule a Muslim empire in the Middle East during the Tribulation, then he is going to rule over an empire that has been reduced to ashes!

Final Arguments

Richardson wraps up his arguments with the observation that the Antichrist will be a Muslim because Islam is the most perfect incarnation of the antichrist spirit,10 because it practices beheading as a form of execution,11 and because it observes a calendar that is different from the rest of the world.12

The first point simply is not true. The most perfect incarnation of the antichrist spirit is, and always has been, Humanism in all its various forms. Islam points people toward a god, even though he is a false god. Humanism encourages people to worship Man. God is denied. Man is exalted. And the rejection of God, together with the exaltation of self, is the ultimate antichrist spirit.

The point about beheading is based on the statement in Revelation 20:4 that the Tribulation martyrs will be executed by beheading. Richardson says this is proof that the religion of the Antichrist will be Islam because Muslims are the only people in the world today who practice beheading. This is flimsy evidence at best. Beheading is not a unique characteristic of Islam. It was one of the stellar characteristics of the French Revolution, and is just the type of horror the Antichrist would institute, regardless of his nationality or religion.

Regarding the calendar, Richardson's point here is based on Daniel 7:25 where it says the Antichrist will alter "the times and the law." It is true that the Muslims have a calendar different from the Western world, and it is true that if they ever could gain control of the world, they would enforce the observance of their calendar. But the Antichrist is going to change the calendar regardless of who he is. That's because the calendar followed by most of the world dates from the birth of Jesus.

Other Problems

At the end of his book, Richardson acknowledges that there is a major problem with his interpretation of end time events.13 The Bible says that the Antichrist will exalt himself above all gods and will display himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Richardson admits that it is almost impossible to imagine that any Muslim would ever claim to be God. Such a declaration would violate the very heart of Islamic theology.

But just as he explains away the meaning of Revelation 13:7 in a cavalier manner, Richardson proceeds to say that he thinks that the Islamic world will just simply be deceived into believing the Muslim Antichrist is God! To me, that is like saying night is day and day is night. There is a limit to deception. A person would have to cease being a Muslim in order to believe that any man could be God.

I believe the behavior of the Antichrist described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 rules out any possibility that the Antichrist might prove to be a Muslim.

An equally important fact that I think rules out the possibility of a Muslim Antichrist is that prophecy states the Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel that will guarantee the nation's security (Daniel 9:27 and Isaiah 28:14-22). It is preposterous to believe that Israel would ever trust its security to a Muslim leader.

There are other serious problems with Richardson's scenario that he does not acknowledge. How, for example, does he explain the miraculous resurrection of the Roman Empire in the form of the European Union? It's a development that prophecy experts have been telling us to watch for, and those alerts go back several hundred years. Is the revival of the Roman Empire just an accident of history? I think not. It is going to serve as the platform for the ascension of the Antichrist.

Another problem Richardson must deal with is the worldwide destruction that Revelation describes in chapters 6-9. Those chapters reveal that one-half of the world's population is going to die during the first half of the Tribulation. Is this going to happen as a result of a regional conflict? Or, is all this just more "biblical hyperbole"?

Notes

  1. Joel Richardson, Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah, (Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2006), 276 pages.

  2. Ibid., pp. xv-xvi.

  3. Dr. Samuel Shahid, The Last Trumpet: A Comparative Study in Christian-Islamic Eschatology (Xulon Press, 2005).

  4. Richardson, p. 110.

  5. Ibid., p. 215.

  6. Ibid., p. 216.

  7. Ibid., p. 109.

  8. A great book concerning the timing of the Gog and Magog invasion is Northern Storm Rising by Ron Rhodes (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 246 pages.

  9. For an in-depth discussion of the end time prophetic implications of Psalm 83, see Isralestine by Bill Salhus (Crane, Missouri: Anomalos Publishing House, 2008), 342 pages.

  10. Richardson, pp. 121-128.

  11. Ibid., pp. 136-154.

  12. Ibid., pp. 67-68.

  13. Ibid., p. 197.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Antichrist a Muslim? Unveiling the Man of Sin

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Could the Antichrist possibly be a Muslim? This is a new idea that seems to be catching fire today due to the awakening of Islam and the revival of its territorial goal of conquering the world for Allah.

I recently read four books that relate to this topic.

VanKoevering's Book

The second book I consulted that proposes a Muslim Antichrist is one published in 2007 by Dr. Joe VanKoevering. It is titled Unveiling the Man of Sin.1 The author is an eloquent and enthusiastic teacher of Bible prophecy. He serves as the host of a television program called "God's News Behind the News." He also pastors Gateway Christian Center in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Joe VanKoevering
VanKoevering begins his quest for the Antichrist by asserting, that he must be of Assyrian heritage. His biblical basis for this assertion is Isaiah 10:24 — "Therefore, thus says the Lord God of hosts, 'O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did.'"

Next, he claims that since Antiochus Epiphanes — a type of the Antichrist — came from the Seleucid or Assyrian area of the Grecian Empire (Syria and Iraq), the Antichrist must also come from that area.

He then tries to narrow down the search to one modern day country within the old Assyrian Empire. He does this by pointing out that in Daniel 11 there is a description of the Antichrist's invasion of the Middle East during the Tribulation. Daniel says the Antichrist and his army will conquer Israel and Egypt but will not enter the area of modern day Jordan. This prompts VanKoevering to conclude that the Antichrist will come from Jordan.

Response to VanKoevering

In response I would point out first of all that Isaiah 10:24 has absolutely nothing to do with end time prophecy. Isaiah 10 is a prophecy that God will use Assyria as His "rod of anger" (verse 5) to judge Israel. He urges Israel in verses 24-25 not to fear the Assyrians because "in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent, and My anger will be directed to their destruction." In other words, God will use Assyria to discipline Israel but He will not allow them to destroy the Jewish people. And furthermore, once He is finished using Assyria as a rod of His discipline, He will destroy the Assyrian Empire.

That's all there is to the passage. Again, it has nothing to do with end time prophecy or the Antichrist.

I have already addressed the argument that the Antichrist must be an Assyrian because his symbolic type — Antiochus Epiphanes — was from Assyria. Again, there are many types of the Antichrist presented in Scripture, like the Pharaoh of the Exodus and King Saul of Israel, but these types do not mean the Antichrist will necessarily come from Egypt or Israel. But the most important fact to keep in mind is that Antiochus was a Greek, not an Assyrian.

As to the argument based on Daniel 11, it is true that the Antichrist and his armies will not enter modern day Jordan. But the reason given is that the area will be "rescued out of his hands" (Daniel 11:41). That doesn't sound like a voluntary decision to refrain from invading the area. Rather, it sounds like God prevents the Antichrist from invading Jordan — and for good reason, since the Bible indicates this will be the land of refuge for the Jewish remnant when they flee Israel in the middle of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:13-17).

Additional Qualifications

Besides asserting that the Antichrist must be an Assyrian, VanKoevering also says he must be a "prince" and "the King of Babylon."

The prince requirement is taken from Daniel 9:26 which says the Antichrist will be a prince. The King of Babylon idea comes from Isaiah 14:4ff where a taunt against the King of Babylon is presented. As the King of Babylon is described in detail, he clearly morphs into a description of Satan. VanKoevering claims it is also a description of the Antichrist.

Having established what he believes are three requirements for the Antichrist — that he be an Assyrian from Jordan, that he be a prince, and that he be the King of Babylon — VanKoevering then spends the rest of his book trying to prove that the best candidate for the Antichrist is Crown Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan!2 Prince Hassan is the brother of former King Hussein and was his designated heir to the throne of Jordan until the king changed his mind on his deathbed and gave the throne, instead, to his son, Abdullah II.

It grieves me that VanKoevering has made this attempt to identify the Antichrist. It is the sort of sensational speculation that has given the whole field of Bible prophecy a bad reputation.

VanKoevering's Antichrist Candidate

Why does he point to Prince Hassan? First, he argues that "the closest genetic relationship of the Assyrians are with the native populations of Jordan and Iraq."3 But what he overlooks is the fact that the Hashemite royal family of Jordan is not native to either Jordan or Iraq. The family came, instead, from Saudi Arabia. Members of this family were imposed upon the populations of Iraq and Jordan as kings of these nations by Great Britain after World War I. So, Prince Hassan does not even meet the first criterion stipulated by VanKoevering!

Prince Hassan
The next qualification of the Antichrist that Hassan is supposed to fulfill is that he carries the title of Prince. This is really irrelevant. When Daniel 9:26 says the Antichrist will be a "prince," all it is saying is that he will be a political leader. The Bible uses two terms for political leaders — prince and king. The biblical authors could not refer to presidents or prime ministers because those forms of ruling power had not yet developed. Thus, when we are told in Psalm 118:9 "it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes," we are being warned against putting our trust in politicians. The warning is not limited to those politicians who literally have the title of prince.

VanKoevering's third qualification for the Antichrist — that he be the King of Babylon — is, of course, unfulfilled in the life of Prince Hassan. But VanKoevering argues it could become a possibility since one of his Hashemite relatives, King Faisal, was installed by the British as King of Iraq in 1921. King Faisal, the brother of Prince Hassan's grandfather, King Abdullah, died in 1933. His son, King Faisal II, and all his family were murdered in 1958 when the Iraqi military mounted a coup d'etat.

VanKoevering believes there is an excellent possibility that the leaders of Iraq will seek to stabilize their nation by inviting Prince Hassan to become king. But that is pure speculation, and there is no indication that the people of Iraq want a king, particularly one that is not even native to their population.

Nor is there any requirement in Scripture that the Antichrist be the King of Babylon. The passage VanKoevering uses to establish this idea is found in Isaiah 14 where the King of Babylon is presented as a type of Satan himself. That there might be a double application to both Satan and the Antichrist is a real possibility since the Antichrist will be possessed by Satan, but there is no indication in the passage that the Antichrist must be the King of Babylon.

A similar taunt is presented in Ezekiel 28 against the Prince of Tyre. And like the passage in Isaiah 14, the taunt morphs into a description of Satan that could be applied to the Antichrist. Does that mean the Antichrist must also be the King of Tyre? I think not.

One final observation about VanKoevering's book. I believe that 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 teaches that the Antichrist will not be revealed until the beginning of the Tribulation. All attempts to identify him before the Tribulation are a waste of time.

Notes

  1. Joe VanKoevering, Unveiling The Man of Sin (St. Petersburg, FL: God's News Publishing, 2007), 175 pages.

  2. Ibid., p. 78.

  3. Ibid., p. 93.