What Role Does America Play in End-Time Events?/Program 5
|By: Dr. Mark Hitchcock; ©2010|
|The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38 predicts a list of nations that will come together to attack Israel in the last days. Interestingly, America has vital interactions with many of these nations today, with particular controversy surrounding America’s relationship with Israel.|
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 glad that you joined us today. We’re talking about the number one question that people have about biblical prophecy. And that question is, where is America in end time events? Why isn’t it mentioned? And if it’s not mentioned, what does that mean?
- My guest today is Dr. Mark Hitchcock. He’s a former lawyer that God called into the ministry; went on to get his Ph.D. at Dallas Theological Seminary, and is also an adjunct professor at Dallas. He’s a pastor of a church, and a prophecy scholar that has written over 20 books on end time events and biblical prophecy.
- So, Mark, we’re coming down to this area of what happened to America; why isn’t it mentioned in end time events? And for folks that maybe are just joining us this week, summarize the weeks before. First of all, what have you found when you’ve investigated biblical prophecy? What about the question, where is America? And then go to the fact of, what are the possible scenarios of what happened to America. Then we’re going to talk about this Ezekiel 38 war. Where does that come into play, and do we see the nations in our world entering that event? So we’ve got a lot to cover here. Start us off.
- Hitchcock: Well, what we’ve covered so far is, we’ve really been investigating this often-asked question of, you know, where is America in Bible prophecy? Does the Bible mention America in the great events of the end times? And the conclusion I’ve come to, and really I think that most prophecy teachers have come to, is that America is not mentioned in Bible prophecy. There’s a lot of different places in the Bible where people try to find America mentioned, implicitly, within these passages. I’ve looked at all of those in detail, and I’ve come to the conclusion that none of those are a reference to America. Of course, then that raises the great question, well, if America’s not mentioned, then why aren’t we mentioned? What I believe is that that indicates that something’s going to happen to America. America’s going to come down from its place as the world’s superpower, and go from being the world’s leading nation to a following nation.
- And as we look around at our world today, we can say, well, what are the kinds of things that could cause that to happen to America? One of them we investigated was the oil crisis. Just the incredible dependency that America has upon oil from foreign nations, many of them far away in dangerous parts of the world, could be an Achilles heel for America. We also looked at the debt crisis in America and how the mounting, skyrocketing debt could bury this country. We also looked at terrorism. You know, there’s a network of rogue nations and terrorist cells out there that really, 24/7, every day, think about nothing other than trying to get some type of nuclear or biological weapon onto American soil.
- Then we looked at one other scenario, one that’s clearly stated in the Bible, and that is the rapture, this event where some day Jesus is going to come and in a moment of time He’s going to catch all the believers who are on the earth, all those who’ve trusted in Him, He’s going to catch all of them away. They’re going to be taken with Him to heaven. We looked at how, if that were to happen in America, how 30 million or so people disappearing from this country would just devastate the American economy.
- So we’ve looked at those, some of those different scenarios. And we pointed out that these could happen in a fatal combination as well; it may not just be one of these, but they could happen in some type of combination that would just really leave America as a second-rate nation.
- Ankerberg: Yep. And now we come to this prophet Ezekiel. And, I’ll tell you, as you study your Bible, you say, what do these Old Testament prophets have to tell us about where we’re at now? Well, if you have Ezekiel writing in about 570 BC, before Christ; so 570 years before Christ, about 2500 years from where we’re at right now, the fact is that he looked into the future. God showed him the future and revealed information to him. And he talked about some of the nations that are in existence now, some that God has brought into existence, like Israel, within the last 65 years. And it’s happening in our day.
- Now, what I want you to do is to take what Ezekiel said, because I’ve got a lot of listeners that say, you know, people never take the time to actually show me in the Bible where these words are at. I want you to take Ezekiel 38, and I want you to show the folks what he said. And I want you to define terms as you go along. So open the Bible to us and tell us what Ezekiel said.
- Hitchcock: Alright. Well, Ezekiel 38. We have to remember the chapter before that is Ezekiel 37, which is that great vision of the valley of dry bones, which is, there are these bones coming together. And Ezekiel goes on to tell us that these bones are the whole house of Israel. So it looks at this time of a national restoration of Israel which, as you’ve mentioned, occurred in 1948. And it’s continued to take place. There are more Jews now in Israel than any other place on earth for the first time since the year 135 AD. So Israel’s back in the land as we read this passage. And that’s an important pre-condition, because obviously Israel can’t get invaded by these nations if Israel doesn’t exist. So that major piece of the puzzle now is in place.
- In Ezekiel 38:1 we read, “And the word of the Lord came to me saying,” so this is God’s word to Ezekiel. It says, “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog.” Now, we’re going to see a list of geographical places as we go through here. But Gog, the first name that’s mentioned, is a person. That’s probably not the person’s real name; the word “gog” means high or exalted. Because this person is addressed several times, so we know this is the leader of this coalition. And it says Gog is of the land of Magog, and Magog is the area we know today as central Asia. It was the area in ancient times of the Scythians. It’s kind of the underbelly of the old Soviet Union, those five nations I call the “Stans”, you know, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and so on. Also Afghanistan could be included in this area. Sixty million Muslims live in that area.
- Then he says, “the prince of Rosh.” I take Rosh here to be a name for Russia. And there was an ancient people that lived in that area called the Ros or the Rasapu. See, what we have to remember, these are the names of these places in 570 BC. What we are doing today is finding, where was that place in Ezekiel’s day, and then seeing who lives there today.
- Then he mentions Meshech and Tubal. Both of those are references to places that today are in modern-day Turkey, interestingly. He also goes on down, in verse 5, and says, “Persia and Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet.” Persia is modern-day Iran. Now, the name was changed to Iran from Persia in 1935, and then became the Islamic Republic of Iran in the late 70s. Ethiopia, actually the Hebrew word there is Cush, and this refers not to what we call Ethiopia today, but the nation south of Egypt, which is modern-day Sudan, which is a radical Islamic country. Next is Put. Put was the ancient land just to the west of Egypt, which today is the modern-day nation of Libya, which since the rise of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi back in 1969, has been a radical Islamic nation as well.
- In verse 6 it mentions Gomer and Beth Togarmah. Now, during the cold war times, many took Gomer to be Germany, to be East Germany during that time. But if you look on a map in that day, Gomer was in the central part of what today is Turkey. And then Beth Togarmah, that word literally means the house of Togarmah, was in the eastern part of what is modern-day Turkey.
- So when you put all this together, four of these places mentioned are in Turkey; you have Russia and you have central Asia; you have Iran; you have Sudan; and you have Libya. These are the nations that are mentioned here. And it goes on to tell us that in the last days, in the latter years when Israel is living in peace and security. It emphasizes that several times. It mentions it in verse 8; it mentions it again down in verse 11; and down in verse 14; that they’re going to be living securely in peace and at rest sometime in Israel’s future. And then these nations, in kind of a Pearl Harbor-type of a sneak attack, when Israel seems to feel secure, these nations are going to descend down, this coalition of nations, to try to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. When we come back we’re going to talk about, you know, Israel is not in a secure area right now. So how do they get secure? How do those conditions, how do they get fulfilled? And then, do we see the nations that are named there forming this coalition? We’ll talk about the leaders and the relationship between these nations and their stance toward Israel. And we’re going to talk all about that when we come right back, so stick with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Mark Hitchcock, and we’re talking about this number one question that people have about biblical prophecy, and that is, where is America in end time events? And we’re talking about now, the Ezekiel 38 war and how this affects America. Where is America in this Ezekiel 38 war? And, Mark, you’ve got all the nations now on the table that Ezekiel said are going to come and form a coalition, and they’re going to come against Israel. Now, the thing is, let’s take a moment and let’s talk about these nations today. Do we see this coalition starting to take place today?
- Hitchcock: Yeah, we do, and that’s what’s fascinating about this. Ezekiel wrote this about 2500 years ago, and yet these nations are the nations that are in the headlines today in the paper. I mean, to me that’s a powerful apologetic, it’s a powerful confirmation that the Bible is inspired. Here these nations are today. And, you know, the ones that we have on the table, it’s Russia, it’s central Asia, it’s Libya, it’s Iran, it’s modern-day Turkey, it’s the Sudan. All of these nations have one thing in common, really, other than Russia, and that is all of them are Islamic nations that would like to see Israel destroyed. And I think, you know, Russia is going to join in with them as their ally as part of this.
- So not only are all of these nations today identifiable nations; and not only are they all nations that have a desire and a will to destroy Israel; but they are also nations that are coming together and converging in alliances with one another. You know, with Iran, Iran’s getting their nuclear material to run their nuclear reactors from Russia. Back when they had the last election and there was all the turmoil in Iran after that election, Ahmadinejad, the first place he went was to Russia to visit there. Iran is developing relationships with these central Asian nations. Over in the Sudan, Osama bin Laden spent some time there. They have very close relations with Iran. Libya, of course, has relations with Sudan and other nations in North Africa. And so we see how all these nations are coming together.
- Now the one kind of fly in the ointment in all this has always been Turkey, because four of the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 are identified today as modern-day Turkey. But what’s interesting is Turkey was trying to get in the European Union, and they looked like they were turning to the West. But they’ve been rebuffed by the E.U., and now there’s all kinds of articles and information coming about how Turkey is turning back to the East. Just in the summer and the fall of 2009 there were articles in Newsweek and Time about turning to the East, and about the Turkish prime minister, calling him the rising, the Eastern Star. So they are moving back towards the East, back into relationship with Iran and with these Islamic countries. So we can see how the pieces of this coalition are present today. And we can see how they’re coming together as well.
- Ankerberg: But America right now is keeping the lid on.
- Hitchcock: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: Okay. It’s watching Iran, and it’s got the back of Israel, and it’s even making noises that, if they take some further steps towards nuclear development, we might attack. But in this coalition, where is America?
- Hitchcock: Well, in Ezekiel 38 it mentions three different places that are kind of on the sidelines when this invasion takes place. It mentions Sheba and Dedan and the young lions of Tarshish. And some people there have taken these young lions of Tarshish to be a reference to the United States. Sheba and Dedan are Saudi Arabia and some of these Gulf States that are more moderate today. It’s interesting how that fits the scenario as well. These would be the nations that are kind of protesting this. The young lions of Tarshish there, we’re not exactly sure who that is, but I take that to be a reference to western Europe, because Tarshish was a Phoenician colony in what today is Spain, it’s kind of the far western part of the world at that time. It’s the place where, when Jonah was told to go to Nineveh to the east, he was going to go as far west as he could, to Tarshish, the other direction. So I think that speaks of this European alliance.
- But the point is, in Ezekiel 38, America isn’t there. So, America’s not mentioned in this passage of Scripture. If America were a great power during that time, if this was to happen soon, you’d think America would be coming in and defending Israel. America’s nowhere to be found in this passage, which to me is another indication that we’re not going to be a great player when these end time events unfold.
- Ankerberg: So how would Israel get security so they would be at rest; because they’re not at rest now?
- Hitchcock: That’s right, and that’s a very important biblical issue, because three times in Ezekiel 38 it says they are at rest, living securely. And what we know is that the event that starts the seven year time of tribulation, that final period of this age in which we live, is a treaty. According to Daniel 9:27, it’s a treaty between the Antichrist, this final world ruler, this leader of a re-united Roman empire, he’s going to make a treaty, a peace treaty with Israel. And that’s what’s going to give them this peace.
- That’s why I think this invasion will occur after that treaty’s made. The rapture’s going to take place; through that I think America’s going to kind of be neutralized; and then some time during that period this Antichrist figure, this ruler, is going to arise; and he’s going to make this treaty with Israel that somehow guarantees their peace. So Israel, it’s unthinkable today, but they’re going to let their guard down. And when they’re living at peace and securely and at rest, that’s when these nations are going to try to come in one final time and wipe Israel out.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I think we have to realize that in the first Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein was lobbing the SCUDs in, that the first George Bush convinced Israel not to attack, and that we would cover them in terms of our missiles and so on. And, believe it or not, when missiles were falling in Israel, they were allowing the United States to cover them. And I just see, the fact is, it’s not the United States covering them this next time around, but this new world ruler with a new power base that comes in and guarantees this treaty. And they believe it and they lay down their weapons. And when they lay down their weapons, then what happens?
- Hitchcock: Well, they’re going to lay their weapons down and they’re going to enjoy this time of prosperity. And then they’re going to get invaded in this surprise attack, this sneak attack. But, you know, what is the one thing the world is clamoring for today more than anything else? It’s peace. It’s peace over there in the Middle East. So, again, we can see how what’s taking place in the world today is setting the stage for these future events, because the world wants peace in the Middle East, and it’s going to come in the future, but it’s only going to be a temporary peace.
- And what American President and American Secretary of State, one after another, have tried to bring to pass, finally this Antichrist is going to bring to pass. He’s probably going to be Time’s man of the year. He’ll probably win the Nobel peace prize. So this Antichrist, this final world ruler, is going to come on the scene first as a great peacemaker, as a man of peace. Now later on, the mask’s going to come off and he’ll be revealed who he really is. But he’s going to make this peace with Israel.
- But they’re going to get invaded during that time. And when these nations come into Israel it’s going to look like Israel’s finished. But, according to Ezekiel 38 and on into chapter 39, God is going to come and, through a great earthquake, through infighting among these troops, through plagues that he’s going to send upon them, God is going to come and destroy and wipe out these armies that are there. Which is going to be a major event in the end times because that, too, then is going to leave a huge power vacuum, as Russia and these Islamic nations have their armies wiped out in the land of Israel.
- And that, I think, is one of the ways we can explain how does the Antichrist then, at the middle of the tribulation, come to world power? How does he institute this great worldwide kingdom that he has? Well, when all these nations’ armies have been wiped out, I think that’s going to pave the way for him to come in and fill that great power vacuum.
- Ankerberg: You’ve speculated that the Antichrist might actually take credit for what God does.
- Hitchcock: That’s right. I mean, you think about this. The Antichrist could say, hey, you know, when those armies were wiped out over there in Israel by these supernatural means, I’m the one who did that. I’ve got this new secret weapon; or something that he could say that he has come up with that destroyed those armies. And so he could actually take credit for it, which could be a, you know, a further intimidating force in the world and could launch him to this great power that he assumes.
- Ankerberg: What happens now in Israel? Because God has rescued them, there has got to be an awareness that God rescued them when all these nations were coming against them and they were ready to lose. What is the turning point here in Israel? What happens there?
- Hitchcock: Well, the Bible says over and over again in Ezekiel, in fact in the whole book, but a lot in Ezekiel 38, that when this happens it says, “then they will know that I am the Lord.” So it seems like this is a real turning point in the nation; that because of this great deliverance, that many of the Jewish people will begin then to turn to the Lord and to turn to Him for refuge and for salvation. And it also says “the nations will know that I am the Lord.” So there’s going to be many other places in the world that people will see this, recognize that this was the work of the true God, and they’ll turn to Him.
- And to me that’s one of the beautiful things about the Bible. Even during the darkest time in human history, God is still the merciful God of salvation,; who still has come to seek and save that which is lost. So even during that dark time, there is going to be great revival during that time of great tribulation.
- Ankerberg: For people that are listening and say, “You know, I’m not prepared for those kind of world events. I’m not prepared for the rapture.” How do you get prepared?
- Hitchcock: The Bible makes it so simple. In the book of John it says, “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe on his name.” It’s by believing in Him, by receiving Christ, that we’re prepared for these momentous events that are out there on the horizon, and that we see really the stage being set for today. And I want to challenge anyone who’s never put their faith in Christ to take that simple step today and receive Christ, and believe in Him. Trust in Him to be your Savior.
- Ankerberg: Alright, next week we’re going to continue. We’re going to talk about Iran’s prime minister, Ahmadinejad. You’ve written a whole book about him and his apocalyptic visions that he’s having. And we’re going to talk about the connection with Osama bin Laden and why many, those in the Egyptian brotherhood and others, those in Syria, those in Hamas, those in Hezbollah, why is it that they all have in common a hatred for Israel and a hatred for us? Where does this come from? Where is it leading? And what does Bible prophecy say about this? And where does America enter in to all of this that the Bible does talk about is going to happen? Folks, this is going to be fascinating, so I hope that you’ll continue to listen, and join us again next week.