What Role Does America Play in End-Time Events?/Program 4
|By: Dr. Mark Hitchcock; ©2010|
|National studies consistently reflect that 35-42 percent of Americans can be defined as born again Christians. Only 8 percent could be defined as evangelicals, meaning they believe in faith in Christ alone without human conditions. Therefore, even the most conservative estimates, including children, would number over 30 million Americans. Of course, the number could be much higher, with up to 50 million or more Americans disappearing immediately at the time of the rapture.|
Announcer: America is the reigning superpower in the world, the nation with the richest economy, the strongest military, and the acknowledged global leader. What Role Does America Play in End-Time Events? My guest today is bestselling author Dr. Mark Hitchcock.
- Dr. Mark Hitchcock: The conclusion that I’ve come to and really I think that most prophecy teachers have come to is that America is not mentioned in Bible prophecy, and of course then that raises the great question: Well, if America is not mentioned then why aren’t we mentioned?
Announcer: Why is the Bible silent about America, but it names other nations in end time events?
- Hitchcock: What I believe is that indicates that something is going to happen to America.
Announcer: What four crises do secular experts predict could bring America to its knees in the future? What is the one event the Bible states will take place in the future that could severely affect American prominence in the world? To hear the answers, join us for this special edition of The John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. I’m John Ankerberg, and we’re talking the number one question that people ask about biblical prophecy. And that is, where is America mentioned in end time events? What role do we play? Do American troops fight in the battle of Armageddon? What happens? Right now we are the number one superpower in the world; right now we are the friend to Israel; right now we are taking steps so that Iran doesn’t get the nuclear bomb. And yet, in end time events that are spelled out in prophecy, our great superpower does not seem to be there. And we’re talking about why and what happened.
- My guest today is Dr. Mark Hitchcock. He’s a prophecy scholar, written 20 books on end time events. He’s been interviewed on MSNBC and Fox and different networks, in terms of world events and how this relates to the Bible. And, Mark, we’re glad that you’re here today. We’re answering this important question. Let’s backtrack again for folks that missed the first three programs in this series. What were your findings when you investigated the Scriptures? Is America mentioned? Is it not mentioned? What does that mean? And what are the scenarios of why it may not be there?
- Hitchcock: Well, as I’ve investigated the scripture, I found that America is not mentioned in the Bible. And I’ve looked at all the different passages and the different places that people bring up, you know, where America could be found in scripture. Some will point to Isaiah 18, to this unnamed nation; they’ll point to Ezekiel 38, to the “young lions of Tarshish;” they’ll point to “Babylon the great” in Revelation 17 and 18, that great city, as being America, maybe even New York City. Some will say America’s even the ten lost tribes of Israel. But I’ve investigated all of those different views, and I don’t think America is found in end time prophecy.
- And I think it’s significant that America is absent. We are the greatest economic, political power that’s ever existed, military power that’s ever existed in the world. And to me it’s significant that the Bible is silent about America, about this great world power. So that raises the question, well, then what happens to America? There are several different plausible scenarios that I think we can raise and that prophecy teachers have discussed, and even people in the secular world will bring up. They would agree with these as well, that these are the things that could bring America down.
- One of them is the oil crisis in the world. We’ve gotten a little reprieve from that now as the world economy has cooled off and we’ve been in this great recession. But as it heats back up again and oil prices begin to go up, if there were some major disruption, that could bring America to her knees. We also looked at the option that’s becoming more and more of a reality, of America going bankrupt, with the mounting debt crisis that could just bury this country. And then we looked last time at the threat of terrorism, but especially biological and nuclear terror that could, I mean, just cripple and devastate the United States. And we pointed out as well that these may not just happen by themselves. They could happen even in some kind of a fatal combination with one another.
- But what we want to do today is look at one more of these scenarios. And that is, it’s the only one of them that’s actually mentioned in the Bible clearly, and that is the great event the Bible speaks of, that we call the rapture of the Church.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. This is absolutely interesting, and people are curious. They’ve heard the word rapture thrown around, and many of them do not have an accurate definition. First of all, start with a simple definition. What is the rapture?
- Hitchcock: Well, the rapture of the Church, the rapture is that future event when the Lord Jesus is going to descend from heaven, and those who are alive on the earth who have their faith and their trust in Him are going to be caught up to heaven in a moment; in the time it takes to blink your eye. They’re going to be caught up and they’re going to be transformed, body, soul and spirit. They’re going to receive a brand new body in an instant of time, an immortal, incorruptible, imperishable body. Now, at the same time that event takes place, that the living believers are raptured or caught up, there’s also going to be a resurrection of the bodies of those who’ve died in Christ. When a person dies who is a believer, their spirit, the immaterial part , immediately goes to heaven to be with Christ. So the body is placed in the ground; it “falls asleep.” But at the rapture those bodies are going to be raised and joined with that perfected spirit. So there’s going to be a resurrection of the dead, but there’s going to be a rapture of the living; and these two events are going to take place at the same time. And we refer to this entire event as the rapture of the Church. And there’s three main passages in the New Testament that really bring this truth, I think, most clearly. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and Jesus Himself even spoke of it in John 14:1-3.
- Ankerberg: Alright, I want to actually go through some of these passages and I want to define the words so people can see it. Which one do you want to start with?
- Hitchcock: Well, let’s start with 1 Thessalonians, because that’s where we actually find the word that’s been used, or interpreted, to be the word “rapture.” Because a lot of people will say, you know the word rapture is not even in the Bible. But in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, it talks about us being “caught up,” and that Greek word there, the word harpazo, which means to snatch or to seize, was translated in the Latin Vulgate by Jerome as the word rapturo, the Latin word. And that’s where we get our word rapture. But I always tell people if you don’t like the word rapture you can call it “the catching away” of the Church, the snatching away. But the word rapture is the one that’s used most commonly, so that’s the word that I think we want to focus in on.
- Ankerberg: Read the Scripture passage so folks get it in context.
- Hitchcock: Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4, he says, “But I don’t want you to be ignorant, brethren, about those who have fallen asleep” – the word “fallen asleep” means that they’ve died physically – “those who’ve fallen asleep,” because, he says, “I don’t want you to weep as the rest who have no hope.” And he says, “For if we believe Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this I say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not go before those who have fallen asleep.”
- And here’s where it really gets powerful. He says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with a trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first,” – those who died, their bodies will rise first – then it says, “and we who are alive and remain will be caught up” – and that’s that word harpazo, that Greek word, or that Latin word rapturo – “will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. So shall we ever be with the Lord.” Then it ends with these great words, “Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” I mean, to me that is the great classic text on this event that we call the rapture.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and what’s interesting is, that event is somewhere up ahead. The Bible says this is going to happen. Now 1 Corinthians 15, let’s switch over there, talks about how fast it’s going to happen. Before we go there, let me, I take that word “snatch.” It’s like a thief going for a lady’s pocketbook in New York City, alright. The fact is, you’re walking down the street and all of a sudden the thief comes by and boom, he’s got your pocketbook and he’s gone. He snatches it, okay. The Bible says there’s going to be a great snatch, okay. Jesus Christ is going to come and He’s going to snatch; He’s going to catch up all of the Christians on planet earth at that same moment and boom, we’re gone. Now 1 Corinthians 15 talks about the timing of this, and I think it’s absolutely fascinating. Read that for us.
- Hitchcock: Yeah, the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, says, “Behold I tell you a mystery.” And a mystery in the New Testament is not something that is like a movie or a mystery book that’s hard to figure out; it’s something that’s never been revealed before up to that time, and something that man could never figure out on his own. And the mystery here, he says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep,” not everybody’s going to die, “but we will all be changed.” In other words, there’s going to be a whole generation of believers who are going to do an end run on the grave: they’re not going to die. Then he goes on to say, he says, but it’s going to happen “in a moment.” That’s the Greek word atomos, we get our word atom from it, it’s something that couldn’t be divided. It’s going to happen in an atomos; “in the twinkling of an eye,” the time it takes to blink your eye, “at the last trumpet.” He says, “The trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we will be changed.”
- So when we think about the rapture and this resurrection and the catching away of believers, God kind of slows the game film down for us and kind of gives it to us frame by frame so we can see it. But we have to remember all of this is going to happen in the time it takes for a person to blink their eye. Believers are going to be caught up, the dead are going to be raised, and that’s going to be an event that’s going to transform and change the world forever.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. People say, John, why do you hope the rapture will happen today? And I’ll say, well look, you’ve got a choice: you can die of cancer, you can die of some disease, and you can suffer in your hospital bed and linger on and on and on with pain. Or, the fact is, you have the choice of Jesus coming and saying you’re out of here. Man, I’m with Jesus in saying I’m out of here, because I don’t want to go through that. So I hope the rapture happens tonight, okay. I mean, that would be great.
- Now, the fact is, we’re going to take a break. When we come back we’re going to talk about Jesus’ own words, where He talked about coming back to get His people. And, folks, you won’t want to miss this. Stick with us; we’ll talk about it in just a moment.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Mark Hitchcock. He’s a prophecy scholar; he’s written 20 books on end time events and world events. And we’re talking about why it is that America is not mentioned in end time events. We’re the number one superpower in the world: we’ve got the greatest military, the greatest economy, we’ve got great everything. But, the fact is, Scripture is silent about America; we’re not there. And we’ve been talking about the possible scenarios that could happen, why America’s not there, and this is the only one that is biblical: it’s the rapture. And we’re talking about where the Bible actually talks about this event. People know that Jesus said, the first time that He was here, that He was God. They realize He walked this earth. But what they don’t know is, Jesus Christ while He was here said, someday I’m coming back. And John 14 is one of them. Talk about that.
- Hitchcock: That’s right. John 14 is one of the great promises in all the Bible. It was given by Jesus the night before He died. He told His disciples, He said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” That’s a great message for us today. You say, well, why shouldn’t their heart be troubled? He says, “You believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many dwelling places.” Or the King James says “many mansions.” Jesus says, “In my father’s house are many mansions.” And Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also.”
- Jesus, in that passage, really gives three things. He talks about a place, a prepared place, the father’s house, which I think is just a synonym for heaven. He’s going there to prepare this place. But the second thing we see there is a promise. Jesus has promised that at sometime in the future He’s going to come and take His people to the father’s house with Him. And the third thing that I think it’s even the most beautiful of all, is that there’s a person. We’re not just going to a place. He says, “I’m going to take you to be with me, that where I am there you may be also.” And to me, that is the great promise and the great hope of the rapture. It’s not just,… the rapture isn’t just an event, it’s a person. We’re going to go and see our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, face to face. But not just our Redeemer, but Jesus Christ, according to the Bible, is the one who made us. He’s the Creator. To think about looking into the face of our Redeemer and our Creator someday, that’s the hope of the rapture.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. You wrote a book, a best-selling book, with Dr. John Walvoord. And I interviewed Dr. Walvoord before he died and I asked him, I said, “Why have you devoted your whole life to talking about the rapture?” He says, “John, there is nothing greater that I can think about than waking up and being in the presence of my Lord, and being able to face Him and see Him just the way that He is.”
- Hitchcock: Yes.
- Ankerberg: And I’ve always remembered that. It’s also a great motivation. As James says, this is a good reason why you ought to be living clean, because any moment you could be in the presence of your Lord and have to explain your lifestyle, what you’ve been doing. Alright, but let’s talk about the day after this event takes place, alright? What’s America like? What’s the world like?
- Hitchcock: Well, the world is going to be devastated by the rapture, but I think America in a unique way. America has, about 8-10% of the people in America, according to Barna, are evangelical Christians. And by that we mean people who have trusted in Jesus Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone. They believe that Jesus is the only one who can wash away their sins, and they’ve put their trust in Him. About 8-10% of people in America claim that’s what they believe. Well, that’s about 30 million people in America, about 8-10%, that are going to disappear in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Now, you talk about a drop on the Dow-Jones the next day, and a mortgage crisis! The salt and the light are taken out of this nation in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye: military leaders, people in the military, in high government places; people working in factories that produce. My friend, Tim LaHaye, I was talking with him about this one time, and he said that he thought the rapture in America would be like a thousand Katrinas taking place in America. And that probably just gives us some idea of the scope of the devastation.
- Now there are Christians all over the world, obviously. America’s not the only place that has Christians. But when you look at places like in the Middle East and in Europe, it’s one percent, two percent, in many places less than one percent of the world. And, of course, there are a larger number of Christians percentage wise, in Africa and South America, but those parts of the world aren’t quite as developed. And so, I think it’s going to devastate America like no other place in the world. And I think the rapture is one of the scenarios that we can look at to say, this is how we can explain why America is not a great super power in the end times. We would be devastated when this event takes place.
- Ankerberg: And then, how would the world shift in power? What would happen? Let’s say that the rapture happens tonight, and tomorrow you’ve got 30 million Americans gone. And all of a sudden it starts affecting the economy, and you’ve got mortgages that aren’t being paid, and the world is bewildered. Then what happens, according to scripture?
- Hitchcock: Well, the world then is going to begin to shake out into some different power groups. They’re going to begin to divide, as we can only imagine, and people are going to go where their self-interest guides them. One of the powers that’s going to rise, according to the Bible, is a re-united Roman Empire. According to scripture, the Roman Empire, I mean it was, the Roman Empire was never destroyed and taken over by another empire. It just kind of disintegrated. The Bible says it’s going to come back together. And that’s where world power is going to begin to settle. But also, Russia and the Islamic nations are going to form a coalition. These great powers from the East are going to come together; they’re called the kings of the East in Revelation 16.
- But as America dwindles in power, and I think at the rapture it’s going to happen overnight. You know, people often ask the question, when is God going to judge America? And, of course, none of us know the answer to that question. We don’t know the mind of God. I mean, there’s a sense in which we can see God is already judging America, through the things that we see happening in our culture. But I think the rapture could be God’s judgment on America, when He takes the salt and the light of the 30 million people out of our country. So it’s going to devastate America.
- It’s also going to affect America’s relationship, obviously, with Israel. America’s not going to be able, probably, to be in a position to be the great defender of Israel that we are today. That’s where I think Europe is going to begin to step into that role and the Antichrist is going to come and make this treaty, this peace treaty with Israel. So, really, I think the rapture is going to be a trigger for all kinds of events that are going to begin to take place. I’ve also wondered, too, if the rapture may not be the greatest evangelistic tool in human history.
- Ankerberg: Yep.
- Hitchcock: Think about all the people who have heard about this event, maybe some people that are hearing this right now, and they didn’t put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Some day, when this event takes place, I’m sure the world will have its explanations, you know, maybe UFOs or something; but there’s going to be a lot of people that the sober reality is going to hit them for the very first time in life, “I’ve been left behind. The rapture has taken place.” So I think it’s going to be, not just have geopolitical consequences, but it’s going to have great spiritual ramifications in the world as, I think, millions of people will probably turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.
- Ankerberg: We’ve just got a few minutes left. Next week we’re going to talk to the great war that Ezekiel predicts is going to take place, alright. And we’re going to talk about the nations that come together. Give us a little taste of that, because if the rapture did happen tonight, there are certain events that we know that are going to take place. What’s going to take place during that period after the rapture?
- Hitchcock: I think it’s important to remember, this is a very important point: the rapture doesn’t start the tribulation. The treaty with Antichrist and Israel starts that seven-year period. So after the rapture there’s probably going to be some period of time, maybe some weeks or months, before the tribulation starts, when there will be kind of further developments that take place during that time.
- Ankerberg: What is the tribulation?
- Hitchcock: Well, the tribulation is the seven year period of time when God is going to bring really a series of judgments, of disasters, on the world.
- Ankerberg: Why do they call it tribulation?
- Hitchcock: Well, it’s called tribulation because it’s a time of trouble, a time of turmoil, a time of difficulty. There’s a lot of names for it in the Bible; that’s the most common one people use, the time of tribulation.
- Ankerberg: What are some of the things that happen in that time, economically, and famine and so on?
- Hitchcock: Yeah, it’s going to be a time of wars and rumors of wars, and it’s going to be a time of famine. It’s going to be a time of global collapse of the economy, according to Revelation 6. It’s going to be a time of pandemic plagues that are going to sweep the globe. And we can already see things today that strikingly foreshadow those things that are predicted. Then there’s ultimately going to be a one-world economy that the Antichrist, this final world ruler, is going to set up. And so there’s going to be globalism. So we can see these things today taking form. What we see today is not the fulfillment of it, but it’s a foreshadow or a setting of the stage for these events that are going to take place in the future.
- Ankerberg: For people that say, I don’t want to be left behind, Mark. What do I have to do?
- Hitchcock: Well, God has made salvation the simplest thing in the world. And that is, it’s simply taking the free gift. Jesus Christ, when He came, He died on the cross; He paid the price for all of our sins. And by a simple act of faith, by trusting in Jesus Christ, the Bible says “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- Ankerberg: They’ve got to realize that they’re a sinner, and they need Christ.
- Hitchcock: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: And you don’t want to go into God’s presence with your own sin problem and stand there before God. Jesus took all of your hell upon Himself, and He paid the price. And the fact is, He’s offering that as a gift to a person if they will put their trust in Him alone, alright. Say a prayer for those that would, right now, like to put their faith in Christ; maybe the one that you prayed when you accepted Christ and put your faith in Him.
- Hitchcock: Let’s pray together. If you’ve never put your faith and trust in Christ, you can just pray a simple prayer like this to call upon the name of the Lord. You can just say, “Jesus, Lord, I come to you right now and I admit and I recognize that I’m a sinner. I recognize that I need a savior , that I can’t save myself. And I believe that Jesus Christ is the savior that I need. He came and died for me and He rose again. Now I put my faith and my trust in Him and receive Him to be my savior from sin. Amen.”
- Ankerberg: Amen. Folks, I hope that you did pray that prayer, and you do know Christ personally.
- Next week we’re going to turn to just an absolutely fascinating topic, another one of Mark’s books that comes off of his investigation of biblical prophecy. And this is the prophet Ezekiel, that said there’s going to be a coalition of nations that are going to form in the end times, and they’re going to come against Israel. The prophet Ezekiel takes no prisoners: he names name, alright. And we’re going to look at those names and then we’re going to compare that with what we see happening in the world. You won’t want to miss this; we’re going to talk about the Ezekiel 38 war. Join us next week.