Bible Prophecy, War and the Middle East – Program 2
|By: Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Hal Lindsey, Dr. Renald Showers, Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Dave Hunt, and Dr. David Breese; ©2003|
|Why is the nation of Israel – and what happens to it – so important for Christians?|
The Centerpiece of the Prophetic Scenario
Today, on The John Ankerberg Show: Bible prophecy, war, and the Middle East. In the midst of terrorist threats, divisions in the United Nations and events in Iraq, where does the Bible say history is headed? Today, in addition to events in Iraq, North Korean leaders sent shockwaves across the world threatening that any economic sanctions imposed against their nation would be regarded as a declaration of war and the start World War III. Are we approaching the last great war the Bible calls the Battle of Armageddon? What is the hope of Christians around the world? How close are we to the return of Jesus Christ?
Answering these questions, John’s guests are some of the most respected and knowledgeable professors and teachers of biblical prophecy around the world. They are: international journalist Jimmy DeYoung, who for the last 12 years has lived and reported from Jerusalem, Israel; also, Hal Lindsey, Dr. Renald Showers, Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Dave Hunt, and the late Dr. David Breese. We invite you to join us.
- Ankerberg: Welcome. In the midst of worldwide terrorist threats, division in the United Nations, and events in Iraq, where does the God of the Bible say history is headed? What is the hope of Christians around the world? The information God has given to us in Scripture is amazing. To begin, step back with me and look at the overall big picture of where the Bible says world events are headed. Two well-known prophecy scholars, Hal Lindsey and Dave Hunt, start our discussion. Listen:
- Lindsey: Well, John, this is the first time in history that all of the prophetic scenario the prophets predicted would come together just before return of Christ is actually in view. There were times during World War II, for instance, when there were many who said Hitler was the Antichrist, Mussolini was the False Prophet, and they put together a pretty good scenario. But there were always sober men of Scripture like Dr. Harry Rimmer who wrote in 1940 a book called The Coming War with Russia. And in that book he said, “This cannot be the time of Christ’s return for one very, very primary reason and that is, Israel is not a nation.”
- And since that time, though, in this generation we have seen since May 14, 1948, the rebirth of the state of Israel against literally impossible odds. People scattered for more than 2,000 years throughout the world relentlessly persecuted everywhere they went. And even, just before they became a state, the British Empire who had the mandate completely tried to disarm them, and they left the Arabs fully armed. And yet this nation, in spite of that, not only won that war but has won four wars against the combined might of the Arab world. Just by contrast, it took the combined power of the Allies to defeat just one of those nations, and it took us seven weeks. In 1967 it took Israel six days to defeat all of them.
- Well, they are the centerpiece of this prophetic scenario. The Bible said that when this would happen there would be other spheres of political power that would come together at just that time. In the south there would be a pan-Arabic power that would be disunited but would find reason for union in their common desire to destroy the state of Israel. To the uttermost north of Israel the prophet Ezekiel predicted that there would be a great power that would rise against this nation when it would be reborn in the days just before the coming of Christ, and that has been identified for centuries as Russia. And now we see them as that maverick power fitting exactly into that scenario. The prophets also said in the Far East there would rise a fantastic consortium of powers that will ultimately bring 200 million soldiers into battle once it breaks out in the final war in the Middle East. Red China, the Sleeping Giant of the Orient, now has boasted that they alone can field an army of 200 million soldiers and they’ve made this boast on several occasions. Revelation 16:12-14, predicts that they will come as the kings of the East and that they will actually be used to wipe out a third of the population of the world.
- At the same time this group of powers would be there, the greatest power of all would develop, the prophet said, and that is a 10-nation confederacy that would rise out of the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire, its culture and its people. Since 1955 I’ve been saying that Europe would unite. I was laughed at many, many times. But now in 1992 it will be a reality. I believe that that will be the beginning of how that will fit together. There are many other signs but those are the chief among them. There are those that are called “birth pangs” that would increase in frequency and intensity like a woman about to have a child.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to come back to that. And, Dave Hunt, in your book I was fascinated that you picked up on the skeptics’ questions and you said, “There are some things that if any person will read the Bible now and look at the signs that Jesus was talking about, you will realize these signs have never applied, or been applicable, to any other generation but ours today.” Give us a few of them.
- Hunt: Okay. In Matthew 24:21-22 Jesus said there would be great tribulation such as never was before nor ever shall be. And verse 22 says, “And except those days be shortened, no flesh would survive.” Now, you couldn’t understand that prophecy in any generation before ours. You don’t wipe out all flesh with bows and arrows and swords and spears, not even conventional weapons of World War II. But our generation is the first generation in the history of the world that has the weapons—not just the nuclear weapons but the biological, the chemical weapons—we could turn planet Earth into a sterile bit of dust drifting through space with no life at all on it. That prophecy didn’t make sense in any generation except ours.
- In Revelation 13:16-17, it says that, “He causeth all small and great to receive a mark, and that no man can buy or sell except those who have the mark.” Now again, you didn’t have, we didn’t have, the world didn’t have the capability of controlling all banking and commerce, buying and selling. I mean, you couldn’t possibly do that in any previous generation; that didn’t make sense. But in our generation it makes sense. We’ve got the EDP—the Electronic Data Processing; we’ve got the computers, the communications satellites, the whole thing is set up and we know we’re moving in that direction. I mean, I can go on and on, but these are some of the things that never made sense in any generation. They now make sense.
- Ankerberg: Despite events in Iraq and threats from North Korean leaders that sanctions imposed against their nation would be regarded as a declaration of war and be the start of World War III, no matter how dark the moment, Christians have always looked forward with great anticipation to the return of Jesus Christ. This is an event called the rapture described in 1 Thessalonians 4. It will be followed by a seven-year period of war and death across the earth the Bible calls the time of tribulation, at the end of which Jesus Christ Himself will return to earth, defeat His enemies and set up His Kingdom. Now, down through history, the skeptics have laughed at Christians who have examined and pointed to the signs that would precede Christ’s coming. The Bible specifically forbids anyone from setting a date for Christ’s return, but it does point to signs that we are to be familiar with and when they all come together at the same time, will indicate to those left on earth that Christ’s return is near. I’d like you to listen as the late Dr. David Breese addressed skeptics who doubt these signs and then mentions five of them that Christ Himself said would indicate His return to earth was near. Listen:
- Breese: Well, I think, John, first of all in response to the skeptics we ought to note the word of assurance that we have in Scripture that “we have a more sure word of prophecy unto which you’d do well to take heed as to a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arises in your hearts.”
- The only way we can know the future is to look into the prophetic Word. And then, as relates to the coming of Christ, perhaps we need to establish the fact that when we think of the return of Christ, we need to think of His Return in two senses: first of all, Christ comes at the end of the Church Age for His Church and then the body of Christ is taken out of the world to heaven. That period of succeeded by the Tribulation which is the first part of the Day of the Lord, and at the end of that seven-year period of Tribulation Christ comes with His saints.
- When He comes for His saints, Paul describes that as saying, “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God. The dead in Christ shall rise first and we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep.”
- Now, in that we look forward to the rapture of the Church which is the time when the Body of Christ is taken from the world, we need to remember that the signs that are given to us in Scripture basically apply to the return of Christ in power and great glory. But like some prophetic scholars have said, “If Christmas is coming, Thanksgiving is coming sooner;” that is, the signs that point to those days of the tribulation certainly imply that the rapture, coming sooner, should be the object of our expectation.
- Let me mention five signs that Christ mentions in Matthew 24: “The disciples approached Him and they asked, ‘What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?’” They knew that the age would end with the coming of Christ; they were not Utopians and the rest of it. They knew that Christ presided above history. So Jesus said,… First of all, remember two things that will always obtain; one, “Many shall rise in my name saying, ‘I am Christ.’” There will be the possibility of religious subversion at all times. Secondly, He said, “There will be wars and rumors of wars,” or a constantly unstable social structure, and that from that time until the time of the end. But then He mentioned five signs characterizing the beginning of sorrows: “Nation shall rise against nation” —the word is ethnos, it means “racial warfare;” “kingdom against kingdom,” wars across the world; “famine, pestilence, earthquakes.”
- We used to think these things were beyond us because we live in a modern society. Take “pestilence.” Medical science with its advancements had the answer to everything, and now we have, for instance, the AIDS epidemic, which is morally based, on the basis of terribly heinous acts against God.
- So we have that plus the other five signs in this period called “the beginning of sorrows” And couple that with, say, the statement of Christ in Luke 21:24: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” and then Christ went on to say, “When you see these things begin to come to pass, look up, lift up your heads, your redemption draws nigh.,” We should be anticipating and living in the light of the possibility of the rapture of the Church which could take place even today.
- Ankerberg: Now, as you listen to the news, even with all that’s taking place with North Korea, the United Nations and Iraq, what takes place in Israel is still a part of the news. In fact, Jerusalem is a constant potential flashpoint that could ignite further world events in a moment. Why is this so, and what does God in Scripture say will ultimately happen to Israel and the surrounding nations in the future? Hal Lindsey, Dr. David Breese, and Dave Hunt explain:
- Lindsey: Well, there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and there’s only one thing that unifies them. They disagree over many things but they all agree that they must liberate Jerusalem and destroy Israel. There’s one book that determines what Muslims are going to do, and that’s the Qur’an. It’s a matter of Qur’anic doctrine that they cannot tolerate the state of Israel to stay in control there.
- There was a position paper prepared by the Pentagon a few years ago that outlined the minimal land that Israel had to have to defend itself. It included the Golan Heights and all of the West Bank. It included some of the Sinai, but that’s been given away. Now, they say that—Israel says right now—that if they give up a good part of the West Bank and some part of the Golan Heights, they will no longer be able to defend themselves by conventional weapons.
- Breese: Those who talk about Israel having occupied lands, Israel is the one nation on the face of the earth whose borders are defined by God Himself. And the borders of Israel reach from the river Euphrates to the great river of Egypt and I would hate to be the general commissioned to dislodge the Jews from that area. You’d have to kill every one of them twice. And so it’s just totally ridiculous what we are asking them to do, particularly in the face of the divine mandate.
- Hunt: I’ve got to answer his question, first of all, which I didn’t answer yet.
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Hunt: Because of Islam, you’ve got to understand Islam to understand the problem over there. The Qur’an claims to accept the Bible, but in fact it contradicts it. It denies that Jesus died for our sins…
- Breese: That’s right.
- Hunt: Somebody else died in His place instead of He dying in our place. But more apropos to what we’re talking about, it says that it was not Isaac who was offered upon the altar and to whom the land was promised—his descendants the Jews—but it was Ishmael who was offered by Abraham upon the altar and it was the descendants of Ishmael, the Arabs, who were promised this land. Therefore, if the Jews exist, that cuts out the very foundation of Islam. The Muslims must destroy Israel or they must admit that Allah is not the true God and that the Qur’an does not tell the truth.
- Ankerberg: Now, next, what does the Bible say about the city of Babylon in Iraq? We’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’ll talk about Babylon in relationship to the Rapture. Stay with us.
- Ankerberg: A few months ago, I interviewed international journalist Dr. Jimmy DeYoung who, for the last 12 years, has lived and reported from Jerusalem, Israel. I asked him to comment about the city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq in relationship to the events he thinks the Bible says are immediately ahead in the future. Listen:
- DeYoung: Well, I believe there are three main events in God’s calendar of activities for the future, John. The next, as you said, is the rapture of the Church, taking the Christians out of this land. Then, there’s a seven-year period of time before the next main event, which is the revelation of Christ, or the Second Coming. Now, that’s when He comes back to the earth. At the rapture, He comes in the air and we’re caught up to meet Him. At the Second Coming, He comes back to the earth, plants His feet on the Mount of Olives. Between those two events—and they’re two separate events—there’s a seven-year period of time that’s called the tribulation period. After that there will be a 1,000-year millennial kingdom, and then the Great White Throne Judgment.
- Let’s think about that seven years just for a moment. During that time, the Antichrist will confirm a peace treaty with Israel. There will be an attack. The second seal judgment in chapter 6 of the book of Revelation talks about that judgment of war, and a coalition of nations with Russia, Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt. These nations will come against Israel in the last days. And so we’ll see that all unfolding.
- Then they’ll build a Temple. That Temple will stand on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. Jesus talked about in Matthew 24:15, “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel.” Well, that happens at the Temple. Thus, there must be a Temple. There’s not a Temple in Jerusalem. All the preparations are ready to erect that Temple. They need to simply move that Dome of the Rock away and possibly a stray SCUD will hit that Dome of the Rock during that battle between this coalition of nations in Israel, wipe it out. The Antichrist will say, “Well, see, I took care of that for you. Now, build your Temple up there.” Daniel 11:45 seems to indicate that’s the way it’s going to happen. When that all comes together, they start to worship in the Temple, but at the midway point, the Antichrist moves from Rome and that false church to Jerusalem. He goes in, desecrates the Temple, and then he’s going to move over to the city of Babylon.
- Babylon? Yes. Literal Babylon, located in modern-day Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Those are synonymous terms with where the Antichrist is going to be headquartered. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t say Saddam was the Antichrist. It’s impossible for him to be the Antichrist. But Babylon, a literal city that has never been destroyed, Jeremiah 50-51 says that Babylon has to be destroyed and Revelation 16:17ff and Revelation 18 talks about Babylon being destroyed. So Antichrist will be headquartered there. During the Gulf Crisis everybody said, “Can the Antichrist control this world from Babylon?” Well, Saddam Hussein was going in, took over Kuwait, was going into Saudi Arabia to take it over. That would have been 63 percent of all the oil deposits in this world within his control. Any economist will say, if you control 63 percent of the oil deposits, you control the economies of this world.
- By the way, our president is discussing, even as we sit here doing this program, the possibility of invading Iraq and taking Saddam Hussein out. Why? Because he’s concerned that Saddam Hussein, with his weapons of mass destruction, can control this world. We’re concerned about anthrax. You sniff anthrax and in three weeks you die. Saddam Hussein has VX nerve gas. You put a drop on the tip of your finger and in three minutes, you twitch to death. He has 200 tons of it—enough to kill every man, woman, boy and girl on the face of the earth. Again, he’s not the Antichrist. I’m simply saying, from Iraq, from biblical Babylon, you can control this world. That’s part of the scenario that is unfolding here in the book of Revelation during that seven-year period of time. In fact, if you want to read it, you can go to Revelation 4:2 through 19:10, and that fifteen chapters unfolds what’s going to take place, along with some of the other things we’ve talked about on the program today.
- Ankerberg: Today, with the swirl of international events taking place all around us, maybe you’re concerned about your own safety, the safety of loved ones in the military, or what the future holds. The living God wants us to put our trust in Him and the salvation He has provided for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, the very reason why God has revealed future events to us in biblical prophecy is so that we will know He is God and we will turn and put our trust in Him. I’d like you to listen to Dr. Renald Showers, and second, to Dr. David Breese, and as you listen, realize this is the hope that God offers to you:
- Showers: John, the Bible makes it very clear. God has revealed these future events in the Bible not to satisfy our curiosity of what’s going to happen, but to change hearts and lives right now. And for unsaved people, God has given these prophecies to warn them of what is ahead for them. If they don’t believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior before the rapture of the Church takes place, they’re going to be left on the earth, after the rapture to go through this horrible seven-year tribulation period, and come under the dictatorial power of the Antichrist. And when Antichrist, in the middle of that tribulation period, claims that he is God and requires everyone to worship him as God or else he’ll put them to death, they’re going to be faced with a horrendous decision to make. And either way they go, it’s going to be a no-win situation for them. So God wants to warn unsaved people ahead of time, “You had better heed the warning of what’s going to happen in the future from My Word now” and right now, before it’s too late, turn to Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Savior from sin.
- For Christians, God has revealed these future events to shake us loose from our complacency and lethargy, make us face up to reality of what’s going on in the world around us and what we’re heading for as a world and as Christians. And therefore, as Christians, we had better be asking ourselves some pointed questions: What am I doing with my life right now that will count for all eternity? And what should be the priorities in my life now as a Christian in light of these things that seem to be on the near horizon which will certainly happen because God says they will happen.
- Breese: You know, people today say, “Yes, I believe Christ is coming, but not now, not in this generation.” My question is, “Why not?” Why couldn’t it be this generation?
- Christ Himself tied His return to a specific generation. “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). In verse 32, “This generation shall not pass away.” Generation means the “born ones.” So the suggestion is that those who are alive and see Jerusalem in Jewish hands again will see the return of the Lord.
- And may I say something else which comes out of the Mid-East War in exactly that context. Isaiah 13:5-6 says that an array of great nations will gather against Babylon—their arrows will not miss, and they will be there for the destruction of Babylon. And what does the next verse say? “Wail for the day of the Lord is at hand.” He ties it to an assembly of great nations coming against Babylon.
- Do we still have our eschatology straight? First, there is the Church Age, then the rapture, then the Day of the Lord. If “the Day of the Lord” is very near in Isaiah’s words, from our point of view as Christians, that means the rapture is at hand, which begins the Day of the Lord.
- We do have a particular combination of events going on in our time which any thinking person would be foolish to ignore. These events relate to what the Bible says will happen at the consummation of history.
- In brief, my answer is: this is the generation that should look up and allow for the possibility that we will be caught up into the arms of Jesus Christ. It may be today. It may be tonight. Why not?