Who are the “elect” gathered by Jesus Christ and his angels, at the end of the tribulation?
Here’s excerpt 14 from my book on the rapture. I’m sorry that this is a pretty long post again, so please scroll down the subtitles if you need to, to at least get the gist of it. I will, as promised, get around to the subject of the Bride of Christ very soon. Today’s post pertains to the Bride.
WHO ARE THE ELECT?
During his Olivet Discourse Jesus Christ said that in his future physical return for all the world to see, he will command angels to gather his “elect” from the “four winds”. This gathering of the elect, whoever they are, is generally recognized to be at the end of the Tribulation:
They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24: 30b-31).
THE PRE-TRIBULATION VIEW
So just who are the “elect” Jesus was speaking of? They’re being gathered at the end of the tribulation, so it’s a significant question, because if it’s the Church, then the rapture cannot be before the tribulation. Teachers who hold to the pre-tribulation rapture are adamant that the elect in this passage cannot be the Church, but instead are an elite band of Jews, chosen and anointed by God to evangelize the world during the Tribulation. Jesus was speaking to Jews at the time, they claim, and believers who were previously rapture-ready have already gone to heaven. So the “elect” Jesus referred to must be Jews, according to the prevailing view in the evangelical world. But does this assertion stand up to close scrutiny?
My Zondervan ESV Study Bible here defines “elect” as “the people of God”, and my “Strongs” Concordance (see chapter 6 note 1 of my book) states that the Greek word translated “elect” most often means “chosen” or “chosen one”. It can also mean “election”; “choice”; “selection” or “chosen”. There is no other qualifying term used by Jesus.
Given these definitions alone, apart from a single individual being specifically chosen for something, the word used in the Olivet Discourse could possibly be referring to a specific group of believers such as a remnant of Jews, but it could also be speaking of believers in general, since all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, are “chosen”. So we aren’t any clearer on the matter than we were, except to say that the assertion that the “elect” spoken of in the Olivet Discourse is a Jewish remnant only, is an assumption at best. Perhaps we can gain some insight by looking at other uses of the word in the New Testament.
Paul certainly used the word “elect” to refer to a remnant of Jews, in Romans 11 verses 6 and 7. Does this confirm the pre-tribulation view? No, because there’s no indication in Romans chapter 11 that only Jews can be the “elect” or the benefactors of election: God can and does “choose” from all people groups and nations. Not only that, but the same Greek word translated “elect” is used to describe Gentile believers.
THE APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES
Paul wrote to Timothy:
I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10).
Who was Paul referring to? Who was he calling the elect? If we read the context of the letter we see no direct reference to Jewish believers or a remnant of Jews. And who was Paul “enduring” for? Was it just for Jews? Paul himself gives us the answer in another letter:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles… “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:1 and 8).
When Paul wrote to Timothy that he endured everything for the sake of the elect, he was in a Roman prison, and suffering, as he said himself, “for the sake of you Gentiles”. And we know, from the book of Acts, that Paul not only suffered as a result of how the Jews persecuted him, but how the unbelieving Gentiles treated him. In fact, when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive:
“He shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’” (Acts 18:5-6).
In the book of Romans Paul was addressing Gentiles in the same passage which we noted above, when speaking about a remnant of Jews:
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry (Romans 11:13).
Paul’s “enduring” message was echoed in his letter to the Colossians. This statement clarifies for us who he was enduring for:
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
PAUL-SUFFERING FOR THE ELECT
Paul is speaking of suffering for the Church. So when Paul told Timothy that he endured everything for the sake of the elect, it seem pretty clear that he was speaking of the Church, and not simply a Jewish remnant. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. While he must have suffered for the sake of Jewish believers also, he stated plainly that he was suffering for the Church. It’s clear then that when he said he was “enduring” for the sake of the elect (2 Timothy 2:10) he saw the entire Church-Gentiles and Jews and not just a Jewish remnant, as the elect. The Church was and is the body of people who would become heirs of salvation through Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. They were and are the elect.
THE CHOSEN ARE THE ELECT
Further, the Greek word translated “elect” is at times translated “chosen” by some Bible versions. For example, in Romans chapter 8, the passage frequently used by Gentile Christians as encouragement that nothing can separate us from the love of God, the NIV tells us that Paul asks:
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33 NIV).
Most translations, such as the KJV, use the word “elect” in place of “chosen” in this verse. In this case, Paul’s encouragement which we regularly and rightly apply to ourselves, is directed to the elect. Therefore we Gentiles, along with Jewish believers; we members of Christ’s body, the Church, are the elect:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (KJV).
It would be a tough job indeed to convince a majority of Christian ministers and Bible teachers that Romans chapter 8 is only addressing a remnant of Jews and not Gentile saints. Therefore, Paul is calling the Church “God’s elect”.
To the Colossians, indisputably a predominantly Gentile church (1:27; 2:13) Paul wrote the following:
“Put on, then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts…” (Colossians 3:12 ESV).
The Greek word Paul used here, translated “chosen” is the same as that translated “elect” in the Matthew 24 passage. It would be a mistake to miss the fact that the very same Greek word Jesus used to describe the angels gathering the elect from the four corners of the earth (Matthew 24:31) is used by Paul in the verse we looked at from Romans chapter 8. It’s also the same word used to describe the remnant in Romans 9:11 and 11:28, because the Jewish remnant is a part of that elect.
PETER AND THE ELECT
Peter’s first letter begins by addressing “God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia Cappadocia…” and so on. It would be easy to assume that Peter, a Jew, was addressing Jews in this letter, because Jews were scattered throughout the known world even then. But there are several clues to the contrary. For example, Peter wrote:
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God (1 Peter 2:10 NIV).
The sacrifice of Jesus opened wide the door of inclusion of Gentiles into God’s kingdom. The people of God were scattered throughout the known world. Not only had these believers as Gentiles become people of God, but they had been “chosen”. Peter used the same Greek word to say this as the word Jesus used, translated “elect” in the Olivet Discourse:
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious… (1 Peter 2:4 ESV);
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession (1 Peter 2:9).
There is unity of application of this word. The elect includes not only a remnant of Jews, but all benefactors of God’s salvation, including Gentile Christians.
In conclusion, the assertion that Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 24 was speaking of Jews only when he referred to the gathering of the elect at the end of the Tribulation is unfounded. It’s an assumption built on other assumptions, including the conviction that the Church will be taken to heaven even before the Tribulation begins, and that the prophecies of Matthew chapter 24 are for Jews only. This is circular reasoning. Instead, Jesus can be just as confidently said to be speaking of the entirety of the elect: both Jewish and Gentile believers, the Church.
Certainly, many of the prophecies are direct warnings to Jews, particularly in relation to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. But we must ask if the tribulation is going to affect Jews only. Is it not going to affect the entire world? Yes, it is, in which case, the verse about the angels gathering God’s elect from the four winds-literally from all over the world-can certainly apply to people other than Jews only.
People will come to salvation during the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6) and they will “hold to the testimony of Jesus”. The fullness of the Gentiles will not be completely grafted into the kingdom until Jesus appears to deliver Jerusalem (see part 13). So how can we arbitrarily put an end to the Church age before that?
Thanks for reading this long post. It’s an excerpt from my book “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon. This post is actually an up-to-date edit. You’re getting a “second edition”, free, on this blog, and in time the entire book will be published here. Follow my blog to get notifications, or get the book to read the whole thing at once.
FOR TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS I WAS A FIERCE PROPONENT AND DEFENDER OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE. NOW I HAVE A MORE REALISTIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE RAPTURE. HERE ARE CONTINUED EXCERPTS FROM MY BOOK*
(Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1887).
WHEN WILL THE WRATH OF GOD FALL ANYWAY?
Many people, certain that there will be a seven year tribulation, have the impression that the first day of that seven-year period-when the ink is still wet on Antichrist’s “peace deal” document, marks the start of the outpouring of God’s wrath, which will continue for the entire period until Jesus returns physically in power and glory. Are they right? If it’s God’s wrath which the rapture is to deliver us from, as many believe, we ought to be sure about when that prophesied wrath falls. We also might ask exactly how the wrath of God will be played out in our world, because whether it’s persecution or “natural” disasters such as giant hailstones, mega-earthquakes, pestilence and stars falling from heaven, the timing of the wrath of God may be a clue to the real timing of the rapture. What certainly does come from God in Revelation are the plagues and “natural” disasters, and the release of malevolent spirits which work to fulfill his will. These clearly come from the wrath of God, because we’re told they do, and there’s a statement in Revelation to that effect.
THE SIXTH SEAL
The sixth seal opens with a “great earthquake”. There’s something very different about this seal. It’s incomparably more devastating than those before it, because it affects the very foundations of our familiar physical universe. The sun and moon turn dark, stars fall from heaven, and the sky rolls up like a scroll (verses 12-14). It is at this point, when the sixth of seven seals with all its unprecedented events has been opened, that the leaders of the earth concede or recognize the fact that the day of God’s judgment has come:
They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’ (Revelation 6:15-17).
Is it only the sixth seal which begins the wrath of God, or was his wrath released in the previous five? Why do the “kings” of the earth only recognize and acknowledge God’s wrath upon the opening of the sixth seal? Is it because they just don’t want to face up to the fact before it, or is it because the sixth is so devastating and awesome that their spirits are finally broken? Is it perhaps because all previous seals were “business as usual” events common to the history of man, while this one is undeniably the outpouring of God’s wrath? Could it perhaps be that the previous seals were not actually the outworking of the wrath of God?
THE SEVENTH SEAL
Upon the opening of the sixth seal the heavenly bodies react in cosmic proportions, and “then” (verse 15) the kings of the earth declare to themselves that the time of God’s wrath has come. Following the sixth seal is the seventh, and I’m not trying to be funny. The seventh is opened in seven stages, each announced by trumpets. It details events which utterly devastate the earth: hail, fire, blazing mountains, the total pollution of the waters, the darkening of the sun and moon, and the final plagues on humanity.
This seventh seal, with its trumpets, is clearly an outpouring of God’s wrath. It aligns chronologically with certain prophesies in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, as will be explained later.
(“Death on the Pale Horse”, by Gustave Dore, 1865)
SEALS 1 TO 5: PEACE AND SAFETY?
It’s difficult for us to actually commit to the idea that people are realizing God’s wrath has come only when the sky has rolled up like a scroll, because we evangelicals have always been told that the beginning of the “seven year tribulation” marks the beginning of God’s wrath. However, we can surmise with certainty that people alive during the sixth seal aren’t coming to the realization of the arrival of God’s wrath during a time of peace and safety. Peace and safety are prescribed by pre-tribulation experts for the first half of the envisaged seven-year tribulation. They tell us that Antichrist will make a “peace deal” with Israel and its neighbors, beginning the seven year period, and that the world will think he’s a great man of peace and world order. Indeed, Paul did say, “When people are saying ‘peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
WILL THERE BE SEVEN YEARS OF WRATH?
But wait a minute. What about those four horsemen of the first four seals? Aren’t they riding out to conquer, to take peace from the earth, and to bring pestilence, death and Hades? How can they take peace from the earth at the start of the “seven year” period if Antichrist is bringing peace to the world at that time?
“…and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many(Daniel 8:25 KJV).
Also, we’re told by Paul that Antichrist will be revealed when he enters the temple mount and not before. Why would people be hailing him as the great peacemaker before this temple appearance, since Paul tells us that his revealing occurs when he enters the temple? Granted, he may be at work making peace before the temple mount incident but not revealed in his true colors until that point. However, surely any saints holding to the testimony of Jesus at that time (Revelation 12:17) who have taken the trouble to read their Bibles and all the books on the rapture, and all the “Where We Have Gone” notes, would see this peacemaker and know-before the temple appearance-that he’s Antichrist, before Paul said they could know. They would recognize him before Paul said he could be recognized.
Antichrist’s revealing at the temple mount is commonly agreed to be three and a half years before the end of the tribulation. It’s at this point that “great distress” begins, according to Paul and Jesus. This means that all those terrible events associated with tribulation times, and the seven seals, cannot have yet begun. If they had, there would be no “peace”, particularly since the first seal unleashes a rider bent on conquest (Revelation 6:2). The beginning of “great distress” as described by Jesus and Paul would not be noticed if great distress were already taking place on the earth.
The second rider is given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other (7:4). How can the second rider taking peace from the earth square with Antichrist being viewed as a man of peace and safety, if the second rider takes that peace away before the revealing of Antichrist, three and a half years before the physical and glorious return of Jesus? How can these two conditions-peace and lack of peace-exist at the same time?
One answer may be that these four horsemen have been at large throughout history, and get temporarily “paused” by Antichrist. The other option is that they will only be at large after the revealing of Antichrist, who himself will bring devastation to the earth, quite apart from, or in conjunction with, what the second rider brings. Is he perhaps the manifestation of the work of the first two riders? Are these events concurrent? Is this why Revelation repeats a time period of three and a half years?
WHEN WILL THE DAY OF THE LORD BEGIN?
The day of the Lord is an important indicator of the onset of God’s wrath on the earth, in fact the two are perhaps synonymous. Paul, discussing “the day of the Lord” in his second letter to the Thessalonians gives as the first signs of its arrival a rebellion of some kind, and the revealing of Antichrist:
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the day of the Lord) will not come, until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
The day of the Lord cannot begin, says Paul, until after Antichrist is revealed, at the mid-point of that proposed seven-year period. Remember in conjunction with this that the sixth seal is opened before the kings of the earth recognize that the wrath of God has come. Surely, if the world had suffered a huge earthquake before the revealing of Antichrist, or if the stars had already fallen from heaven and the sky had rolled up, these would have been far more immediate and tangible signs for Paul to refer to as his onset of the day of the Lord? Knowledge of such disasters was not introduced as new revelation in later times by John, because Jesus spoke of them during his earthly ministry, and they’re mentioned in Old Testament prophesies.
No, those things will not yet have happened at the point Antichrist is suddenly revealed. All that will have happened, besides perhaps the increasing persecution of believers, is a rebellion. People will not yet have been begging the mountains to fall on them. Therefore the wrath of God has not yet fallen in the form of cataclysmic events.
*THIS POST IS AN EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, BY NICHOLAS FISHER, AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PAPER-BACK AND E-BOOK. PART 3 WILL APPEAR SOON.
Having been a proponent of the pre-tribulation rapture as I was for twenty-eight years, its counter-productive or destructive power in the life of the Christian and the Church as a whole is becoming clearer to me all the time…
There was a time when I looked forward to being raptured, because the rapture was going to happen before anything really nasty happened in my part of the world. In an instant I was going to be in heaven, without hardly having to defend my faith at all. Don’t get me wrong: the rapture, I’m convinced, is a real, Biblical event, and there really is going to be a tribulation. The nation of Israel and the remnant will be the focus of world events for a few years, and the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ will follow. However, having honestly and realistically faced up to all those tricky Bible passages in all their glory and detail, I see things very differently now*.
The little cliched allegory of a live frog being slowly heated up in a pan of water, so that he doesn’t know he’s cooking, is becoming increasingly relevant. We’re all frogs in that pot, while the world around us “heats up”. The very conditions prophesied are becoming more prevalent and pronounced, while we’re still here…on the earth.
Perhaps another cliched but equally unmistakable fact is that if our immediate ancestors-those who lived just a few decades ago, were suddenly transported to our present day they would be mortified by what they would see: gay marriage and almost universal immorality; churches erasing the maleness of God, not to mention the deity of Christ, the rejection of national pride, and far more. Our world is moving quickly towards a global society in which the Christian faith is without doubt going to be squeezed into the shadows by an increasingly hostile liberal elite, while a certain other religion is being escorted to prominence. Once the current US president goes, for whatever reason, the process will escalate, and our world will change radically.
The predicament Israel, the newly reformed Jewish nation, finds itself in just as prophesied, is no less dramatic than it has been, as most of the West outside of Trump and his supports grow in their favor towards the enemies of Israel. The technology necessary to number, monitor and control everyone on earth is available and already at work, as is the propaganda and establishment necessary to herd everyone into the same way of thinking.
In short, the conditions which well-known prophecy teachers have assured us would come about after the rapture, are becoming more and more visible to us…here and now.
As with most debatable issues among humans, Christians generally take one or another of two extreme views and refuse to budge. Either they think that prophesied events are not to be considered and can’t be understood, so ignore them altogether, or they follow what their favorite teacher says to the n’th degree and refuse to even imagine any other view than the pre-tribulation rapture: we’ll all be taken away before anything bad happens to us. Both views are dangerously faulty.
A large percentage of Christians believe that we shouldn’t be engaged in politics; we shouldn’t speak out and upset anyone; we shouldn’t make waves; we shouldn’t say that some things are wrong and some are right… and they vacate the space which generations of freedom-seekers worked and fought for on our behalf, leaving the champions of lawlessness to move in. A majority of evangelical ministers who do care insist on supporting the politically-correct understanding of eschatology, and so fail to alert their people or anyone else to what our Enemy is already working out in our world. They tell us that it’s all unavoidable anyway, and not to worry because before anything serious happens to our society and our nation we’ll all be whisked away to heaven. Never mind the fact that millions of our brothers and sisters in the faith around the world are already suffering persecution without being raptured, because that’s “over there somewhere”: it’ll never happen here.
Apart from a minority of dedicated people who’re engaging in every way they can in our world to preserve what’s left of the Christian free world, the rest of us are in essence handing it over to the kind of people who will happily stand squarely behind the “man of lawlessness”, when he finally makes his debut appearance.
* My new book, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE” is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.
What in the world will the prophesied kingdom of the Beast look like? From where will it originate? Can we identify it now? Is the United States mentioned in Bible prophecy? Herein are my own answers to these questions…
(BLAERG- “The Chattering Cyclops”)
This is not a “prophecy”. The Lord has not “told me” what’s about to happen. I don’t claim to have any special fool-proof knowledge or insight into Bible prophecy, and I don’t want any money out of you. I’ll try not to use the word “scenario” even once. What follows is my current view of the kingdom of the Beast of Revelation and Daniel, based on many years of Bible study and observation of world events and trends. I’m sorry it’s rather long, but I have sub-headings here so you can scroll down and skip parts you aren’t interested in. In case anyone is uninitiated into these things, I must declare that I have no intention to incite any kind of rebellion or opposition movement against the government or international organizations, or against any religion or belief system.
As I’ve written before, considering the predicament that the nation of Israel is in along with its recent history and very likely near future, it seems that either we are witnessing an incredible set of simultaneous coincidences, or the prophesied events of “End Times” are nearly upon us (you can search for my posts on Israel and Jerusalem and how Bible prophecy is seen to be fulfilled in its ancient and recent history). With that in mind, I’ve been considering prophesies of the kingdom of the Beast.
Looking closely at the prophesies, we find that the beast will be a kingdom but also a man who will ascend to almost unstoppable world power.
Daniel’s prophesies and those of Revelation depict a series of world empires affecting the nation of Israel from ancient times up to the future coming of the Jewish Messiah, (actually the second coming), this time to judge the earth. Without attempting to explain the related prophesies I’m hoping that either you know something about them or that what I have to say will make sense and be of some help.
WHO THE BEAST IS NOT
Over the last several decades most prophecy “experts” within the evangelical Christian world (I mean those who don’t go along with “replacement theology”) have clung doggedly to the conviction that the kingdom of the Beast will be a “Revived Roman Empire”, with the European Union as its likely immediate progenitor. Enthusiasts have watched the Union get stronger and more unified politically, but there’s been something missing: a considerable lack of unity and a total lack of willingness to dominate and subjugate the rest of the world. Perhaps a far more radical union will form in the future.
A few commentators believe that the Antichrist will be a Jew. This idea is immediately demolished by realizing that the Islamic world would never follow or worship a Jew, miracles or not: they would be far more likely to want to kill him.
For centuries the Roman Catholic Pope has been seen by many in Europe and the US as the Antichrist or his predecessor. At least one prophecy “expert” today even claims that the “Holy Roman Empire” has been reborn in the form of the EU with the Catholic Church. I can’t help seeing this as a silly idea. The Pope has little influence in Europe except with his own committed followers, and the Islamic world, the Hindu world and so-on will never willingly worship the head of a long-distrusted Christian organization, even if he could manage to perform some miracles, and even if the latest pope has been photographed kissing the Quran (yes he has).
THE ONCE-UNLIKELY ALLIANCE
Within the last fifteen years or so a few brave commentators, namely ex-Muslims, have stuck their necks out (imagery intended) and suggested or insisted that according to Scripture the Beast will be a Muslim, and his kingdom the Islamic world, or part of it. This leads me to my own suspicion bordering on conclusion which goes one step further: the kingdom of the Beast will consist of some of the Islamic world in an alliance with the West. That doesn’t mean that I expect everyone in the West to be reading the Quran and kneeling towards Mecca five times a day (yet), but that public opinion is warming to the Islamic world and agreeing with its views on Israel and the rest of the world. Some top politicians are reaching out to the Muslim world and turning their backs on Israel. What was unthinkable a few decades ago is happening.
I’m not the only one beginning to connect the dots to produce this picture. I’ve noticed that perhaps the most famous figure in the prophecy world who once taught the “Common Market” theory is becoming more and more wary of the Islamic world and its actions and intentions. Below are some of the reasons, from Scripture and from my own observations, why I’ve come to my conclusion.
TARGETS OF THE BEAST
The Bible, and particularly Revelation, makes very clear the fact that the kingdom of the Beast will have two declared targets for extinction: Christians and Jews. The Beast will increasingly persecute these two groups and ultimately seek to destroy them totally. There is one religion today, and one only, whose most committed followers have this very same stated goal. Its founder had the same approach in his day towards the “people of the book”, and the Turks in the Middle-Ages, having occupied the “Holy Land” and claimed it as their own, attempted to purge the Middle East and then Europe of Christianity. Today the more radical groups in the Middle Eastern countries have been and are working to eliminate Christians. The same has been happening in parts of Africa, such as Sudan.
Today we see the West submitting to Islam. How can I say that: the West is free, isn’t it?
Well, Islam is all about submission to Allah, and now that in the very Western nations where millions fought for freedom of thought and speech we have a virtual ban on any criticism or scrutiny or questioning of Islam, it seems to me that the submission has already occurred. Islamic movements within our nations are asserting their rights and spreading their message, and everyone else is afraid to disagree, or else those who try to disagree are castigated by their own courts and governments. More than that, Muslims are winning over many to their way of seeing the world, particularly in regard to Israel. While the nominal, peaceful Muslims just want to live out their lives and get along within the nations they’ve settled (and the same applies to their nations of origin), radicals work to drive the rest on to deeper commitment and radicalism. It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog, and the dog is afraid or unwilling to resist.
THE CAPTURE AND DIVISION OF JERUSALEM
One of the central aims of the Beast, according to Scripture in several prophesies, will be the capture and division of Jerusalem, and the destruction of Israel as a nation. Don’t look now, but this is the dream and the stated goal of most of the Islamic world (see my post “Israel and the Sound of Gnashing Teeth”). The United Nations, including the European Union and the United States, are in declared agreement that at least half of Jerusalem must be given to Israel’s enemies, and while the West is currently willing to tolerate the existence of Israel in a greatly diminished form, that’s going to change. According to United Nations “law”, Israel is an illegally occupying presence in much of the little land they possess, and something must be done to extract it. Until a few years ago, the United States was known to be the protector of Israel, but the will to alter that position has been apparent.
While Jerusalem is mentioned well over seven hundred times in the Bible as Israel’s capital and home, it is not mentioned once in the Quran-written several hundred years later. The kingdom of the Beast is going to aid Islam in its assault on Jerusalem, and the world’s stated decisions and proclamations to date are undeniable evidence that the Kingdom of the Beast and Islam will be in agreement over this matter.
WHERE IS THE U.S. IN BIBLE PROPHECY?
For a long time people have been asking the question, “Is the United States mentioned in Bible prophecy?” Of course, the name “United States” would not have been used in Bible prophesies made many centuries ago, in fact the known names of that time were given so that people of all ages, not just ours, could make some sense out of them.
As an example, Persia is named in the Bible as being the member of an alliance against Israel (Ezekiel 38). In the early 20th century, the name of the nation “Persia” was changed to Iran, a country whose spiritual leader has said that the only solution to the problems of the Middle-East is the destruction of Israel.
Various answers are given to the “U.S.” question, including one which involves the Revelation reference to the “wings of a great eagle” which will rescue the remnant of Israel from the onslaught of the Antichrist. Proponents of this idea believe that the US will come to the aid of Israelis and air-lift them to safety. I personally see this as a hopeful guess at best, particularly as Old Testament references to the “wings of an eagle” always refer to God’s own miraculous deliverance, not to the national symbol of a nation:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).
There are a couple of interesting terms used in the Bible which suggest a reference to the US, such as the “young lions” and the “coastlands” (Ezekiel 38).
It seems to me that the most logical conclusion that the US does not seem to be specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy is that it will be a part of the global problem-and perhaps even the driving force of it. The kingdom of the Beast will be an overpowering military force, according to Scripture. Among other reasons the clincher, for me, is the fact that “all nations” will be involved in the attack on Israel and Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2). The word “all” seems to suggest “all” doesn’t it? The US in this case would be just a part the United Nations or the “international community” invasion force, or else the US will stand back and watch it happen. Israel will be alone against the world, and their rescuer will not be a post-Christian, ungodly culture, but the Lord Himself:
“I have trodden the winepress alone, from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath…For the day of vengeance was in my heart…” (Isaiah 63:3-4).
IRON MIXED WITH CLAY
Daniel’s prophecy of the feet of iron and clay at the bottom of a statue, depicted as the last world empire before Judgment (Daniel chapter 2, and mirrored in Revelation) is commonly interpreted by evangelicals as lingering remnants of the empire of ancient Rome which will soon evolve into the last world empire-that of the Beast. This is why the European Union has been so fascinating to prophecy students. It did seem for some time that the forming Union was going to realize all that Napoleon, Charlemagne and Hitler had tried but failed to do by force. Here’s the Roman Empire:
In recent years those who insisted that Islam would be the kingdom of the Beast drew attention to the fact that ancient Rome became divided between East and West. Therefore, they say, if we must see the legs as remnants of ancient Rome, one of the legs as represented in Daniel’s vision must be the Eastern leg, consisting of much of what later became the Ottoman Empire-that is, the Islamic world, which almost succeeded in conquering Western Europe.
This leads me to my “one-step further”. While it’s true that Roman boots never occupied American soil (as far as we know), not only is Western Europe culturally and politically a legacy (excuse the pun) of ancient Rome, and “out of” Rome, but the United States is “out of” Western Europe. It was founded and settled initially by Europeans. It too has Roman roots culturally and politically. The US is a part of that iron-and-clay mix: the US is as much descended from ancient Rome as Europe is.
In Daniel’s vision the iron and clay of the legs represent peoples groups which join together as an empire, but are essentially so different that they cannot become truly one. Europe and the US are composing themselves as much as possible of a mixture of peoples groups, with some successes and with some problems. I see the iron and clay mix as the mingling of races and the attempted union of nations which are really too different to merge. I’m not at all prejudiced against any race or ethnic group: we’re all members of the same human race. However, it’s painful to see that while many of the millions of Muslims moving into Europe want to assimilate and get along, many others have no intention of blending, and cannot because of their beliefs or because of the extremists among them. Countries such as the US and the UK are now producing home-grown Islamic Jihadists.
Not only this, but it’s clear that their presence is helping to turn the people of Europe against Israel, so that politicians of all persuasions are increasingly blaming tiny Israel for the ills of the world, just as they did in pre-war Germany. It’s political correctness to bash Israel. The same mentality is flowing through the media into the minds of Americans, including some Christian denominations. Currently the attempts of Israel to reign in the violence of Hamas, an organization which has in its charter the destruction of Israel, is producing large-hate filled demonstrations across Europe, organized by angry Muslims and supported by large numbers of sympathizers. Meanwhile the media whips up more hatred with their biased, one sided reporting.
WAR IN-A BABYLON
Revelation tells us of a war which will affect the entire world beginning at the Euphrates River (Revelation 9:13-16). This river runs through present-day Iraq, currently wracked by violence and the gains of the Islamic State, which with many other factions has as a stated goal the destruction of Israel. Another prophecy speaks of an invasion of Israel by several nations identifiable today, which include Iran and Turkey, both very much opposed to Israel’s existence (Ezekiel 38 and 39). The Euphrates region has already been plagued by war for many years.
THE KINGDOM WILL HAVE UNMATCHABLE MILITARY POWER
“Who is like the Beast? Who can make war against him?” (Revelation 13:4).
At the present time this could not be said for the European Union, but it could be said for the West led by the US, which together has been the policing force of the most of the world for some time. The undisputed military super-power has for decades now been the US along with its allies in Europe. No, they haven’t been fighting under any Islamic banner, but they have been fighting for the cause of various Islamic groups, and/ or funding them.
About the beheading of an American reporter and other evil actions of ISIL/ISIS/ the Islamic State, President Obama claimed just this week that:
“ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents”.
There’s an apparent intention on the part of the US administration to ignore the fact that the “I” in “ISIL” stands for “Islamic”. The IS has been targeting Christians for extinction, and killing them in the most horrific ways they can think of-including crucifixion and burying them alive. And perhaps members of the administration have not read the parts of the Quran which teach the faithful to:
“Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the last Day…. Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah!” (Sura 9:5,29,41).
“I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, none has the right to be worshipped but Allah” (Al Bukhari vol. 4:196).
The US and NATO aided, provided weapons, and trained fighters for the Al-Qaeda take-over of Libya and the brutal murder of Qaddafi. The US, talking about an “Arab Spring”, aided the Moslem Brotherhood’s take-over of Egypt, deposing its President of thirty years, and one who had been almost a friend to neighboring Israel. The US administration, led by President Barak Hussein Obama, arranged for the new Moslem-Brotherhood government-which openly declared its violent intolerance of the existence of the state of Israel (2)-to be given as a gift twenty F-16s and two hundred Abrams tanks (3). Only the opposition of some US congressmen and senators and the return of the military in Egypt to the scene prevented most of the gift from being delivered.
When Egyptian citizens and the military saw that they were going to be put under strict Sharia law by the Muslim Brotherhood, which even as Muslims they rejected, they managed to take their country back, to the howls of disagreement from the media and various top politicians in the West. I personally spoke to some Coptic Christians who were horrified at the Moslem-Brotherhood’s US-backed ascension to power, because they were aware that Christians, tolerated by Mubarak, were being attacked and murdered by the Moslem Brotherhood, and ancient churches destroyed.
The West has been funding and giving weapons to those rebelling against President Assad in Syria, in a war which up until April of this year had resulted in the deaths of almost two hundred-thousand people, with the number still climbing. Assad was known to tolerate and accommodate Christians in his country, and the ancient churches there were relatively safe: the rebels-Islamists-have the opposite view and have been killing Christians, driving them from their homes and destroying the churches. For a sizeable part of the world, the kingdom of the Beast has already arrived.
Barring a successful political firestorm, Hamas, whose charter calls for the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel, is now to be funded to the tune of over 400 million US taxpayer dollars a year with the blessing of President Obama (4).
Yes, the West went into Iraq and Afghanistan-seen by some as an attack on Islam, but look at the result: extremists have gained the upper hand. American troops there have had to burn their Bibles (5).
THE METHOD OF EXECUTION
Revelation tells us that the kingdom of the Beast will execute its enemies-those who refuse to convert, by beheading. There is only one movement whose extremists have this approach today, and whose founder had the same approach:
“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands” (Revelation 20:4b).
The harlot of Revelation chapter 17 is generally recognized to be false religion in some form. The Harlot “rides” the Beast, meaning that false religion is a major part of, and perhaps the controlling factor in the kingdom of the beast. Old Testament imagery depicts false religion as a harlot on many occasions. The kings and leaders of all of history are said to have “committed fornication with her”, and the people of the earth had become “drunk” with her adulteries” (verse 2).
THE LAST HUMAN EMPIRE: NOT TOTAL WILLING COMPLIANCE
This may seem like an insignificant point, but while the last human empire will become world-dominant in many ways, there are texts which show that not all nations will be willing to join the alliance (for example, see Daniel 11:40-42). When “experts” speak about world government they often lead us to think that there will be one big, happy world State with everyone in agreement: this is not the case at all.
THE ACCEPTABLE BEAST
The world of the End Times is going to give its allegiance to the Beast-either willingly or having been forced to, while at the same time agreeing that Jerusalem must be wrested from the Israelis. Prophecy experts have noted that according to Scripture (Bible) the Beast himself will deliver some amazing signs, spectacles and achievements. They believe that this will be enough to win over the peoples of all faiths to him,. It seems to me that signs or not, the Islamic world will never give its allegiance to anyone who is not himself a Muslim, or who at least does not support their claims upon the world.
ANTICHRIST: THE PEACE MAKER?
A dominant characteristic of the man known as “Antichrist” will be his masterful deception. Antichrist will talk peace but wage war, perhaps including “proxy war”. Whoever Antichrist may be, he will have to be in a very influential position to persuade the Israelis into the prophesied “covenant”, an agreement which he will have no intention of keeping. Antichrist will double-cross the Israelis, and must be someone in a position to double-cross them, i.e. someone they are willing to trust or someone they have no alternative but to trust.
There’s a very determined drive towards a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians at this time (along with necessary agreements in a wider context) involving, “coincidentally”, the division of Jerusalem and of the “West Bank”. The West Bank was spoken of by Jesus in his account of Tribulation and Armageddon events as “Judea” (Matthew 24).
The West, and particularly the US, has shown ongoing determination to be the peace-brokers in Israeli-Palestinian discussions.
RELIGION AND THE BEAST
The kingdom of the Beast will be marked by a strict requirement to adhere to the worship of its leader as enforced by his very own prophet (Revelation 13). So this is not a kingdom without any religious worship.
The Antichrist will be presented to the world as a deliverer: the wonder-man who has come to save humanity from itself. He may be labeled a “prophet” or the latest incarnation of a prophet.
WILL REGARD NO GOD
The fact that Antichrist-the Beast-“will not regard any God” does not mean that he will be averse to Islam. He may say something like “we do not regard ourselves as a world of Christians or Hindus or Buddhists, but as a world of citizens.” His own intentions will be uppermost in his mind, and he may seem to have no belief in a real god. He may well present himself as a secularist or even as an atheist, but at the same time shape his policies and aims upon an affinity for one religion in particular.
LAWLESSNESS AND IMMORALITY
The West is arguably the most immoral empire on earth, and the US leads in this regard. The Antichrist is described as a man of “sin”, or as the NIV translates it, “lawlessness”. This does not mean that he will not have his own set of laws-he will. It means that he will be in defiance of the ways of God as defined in the Bible. The Beast and his kingdom will promote sin and call it “good”. He will “try to change the set times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). He may well be a law-breaker in his own political context too, doing what he pleases despite what the laws of the land or constitution may say. A mark of the end-times, according to Scripture, is total immorality as God sees it. We live in that kind of world now.
While Islamic law counsels certain self-controls and standards of right and wrong, and while Sharia law can be very strictly interpreted, the reality of its front-line extremists as demonstrated by IS, for just one example, is murder, kidnapping, rape and slavery: total lawlessness and immorality. Anything goes when it comes to dealing with their perceived enemies.
REPORTS FROM THE EAST, NORTH AND SOUTH
Daniel tells us that “at the time of the end” the Beast will be engaged in battle by the “king of the North” and the “king of the South” (Daniel 11:40). Not only that, but having gained the upper hand against these powers, and being situated in the “Beautiful Land” (most likely a reference to Israel), he will receive worrying reports from “the east and the north”. Who knows what jockeying for power is going on here, and remember that often-times Muslims are in violent opposition to Muslims, as in Syria at the present time: he could conquer or be allied with some forces in the Middle East and still have some against him. But the interesting thing to note is that only three of the four points of the compass are accounted for as the origins of his enemies. The one remaining direction from which enemy forces do not come against him is the West. Could this be because he himself is from the West? At the least, it seems like the US and the EU-the West- will not be against him.
IS THE LAST CHRISTIAN NATION TURNING AGAINST CHRIST?
We expect atheists to try to rid their country of the message of the cross, but this aversion to the Christian faith has been manifesting itself more and more in the courts, the government and the military in recent years, in the US and in Europe. Some prominent and trusted ministers and organizations are speaking of the growing trend of opinion against Christians, and the prospect of persecution in the United States is a lot more believable now than it was just ten or twenty years ago. The US is a “post-Christian” culture, where prayer in the name of Jesus is banned in schools and government offices, where speaking about one’s Christian faith at work can lose you your job, where the government and the media dictate what you must believe about origins, where Christians are taken to court and put out of business for refusing to bake someone a cake, and where the IRS focuses on obstructing Christian and conservative organizations.
In the nominal Church “Chrislam” attempts to convince us that Muslims and Christians are really worshipping the same god. There are so many ways of showing that this is not true, but as an example, compare what the Quran says about Jesus Christ with what the Bible says:
“Allah is only one God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son…” Quran [004.171 ]
“They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them”. Quran [005.073]
In contrast as stark as it could be, with the term “antichrist” being used, the Bible, written centuries before, says:
“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).
Please let me know if you have good arguments or evidence against what I’ve written-I would not at all mind being wrong.
Breathing fast and shallow, John viewed the laptop screen with seven other officers, as the general gave an impassioned pre-operation briefing.
“Men and women, I’m here to prepare you for the next stage of Operation Armageddon”.
Behind the laptop and about fifty feet away was a far larger projection of the general’s image, in front of which stood perhaps four hundred soldiers. As he spoke the men and women apprehensively eyed the eerie scene all around them. Lowering clouds of war defied the night, flashing red and orange as they billowed and broiled. Fighters screamed across the crimson horizon.
“The first stage of our operation has met some stiff resistance, as expected, but we are making progress. Advance forces are already in the city. We have the enemy on the run. We’re confident that within twenty-four hours Jerusalem will be subdued and in our hands.”
John looked down at his own hands in the pale red light. He had washed them over and over again, but in his mind’s eye they were still covered in blood – the blood of those who had lined up across the road, attempting to block his convoy’s progress. Those crazy radicals! Why didn’t they understand?
From the east rockets tore across flashing sky, pounding and shaking the earth somewhere behind them. To John’s left, just across the road, yet another soldier was clutching his chest and gasping for breath. Medics crowded around him, laying him to the ground.
“Most of you are now aware of the secondary threat to our operation. Central Command was called together for a meeting with the Emperor yesterday, to discuss our strategy for dealing with what is now clearly understood to be an imminent invasion originating from beyond our own solar system. Without going into the details here, the Emperor has made it clear to Central Command that we will very shortly face a critical battle against an as yet unknown enemy capability. We are indeed fortunate that the best equipped, and the most highly trained military forces of the world are already assembled in this arena, and we believe we are adequately prepared for whatever lies ahead”.
As the general continued, John’s obsession with the blood on his hands abated just long enough for him to notice how much they were shaking: he was shaking all over. His heart thumped against his chest. The observation faded as quickly as it gripped him, being pushed out of his mind in a determined effort to steel himself for the battle. He chose to smell victory, just as surely as he could smell blood.
Blood! Those radicals! What did they hope to achieve? They were opposing the inexorable march of history – the very evolution of mankind! And what a strange coincidence that this threat of an alien invasion had occurred at the same time as Operation Armageddon! The radicals actually had the gall to claim that it was their god coming, and that to bring judgment!
The one satisfaction in all of this, as the general had already relayed in thrilling terms, was that at long last the quest, the dream of all peoples and civilizations of all the ages past was within sight. The world was just a short step away – a violent step perhaps, but a short step – from peace and unity. At long last the nations would be united: as one. There would be no more destructive and divisive religion or nationalism to blight the earth or to separate its peoples – from henceforth all would live together in harmony and freedom. The only object of worship, and the only deserving object, would be the Emperor.
The nations were already expressing that unity. They were acting as one here, now, in this hateful part of the world which had given birth to so much trouble for mankind, through the contrived superstitions and constructs of dangerous men. Yes, at last religion, and that one hateful one in particular, with its mother religion, was about to pass into the refuse heap of history. There was just that one short step needed – that one more push to defeat the forces of darkness and division. Victory was assured, the Emperor had triumphantly proclaimed: John was convinced that it was. This dark, bloody night was heralding the dawn of the glorious brotherhood of man. John would give his own blood, his life if necessary, to help the cause
Blood! The blood was still there!
John’s thought was suddenly broken by a brighter light and a gasp from the soldiers around him. There, directly above them was a ghostly glow. It was not a rocket. It was not a fighter: fighters don’t remain still – they don’t glow like that…they aren’t shaped like that! It was in the shape of a cross. He’d seen the shape recently somewhere – but where? Were not the radicals wearing something with that very symbol on? Didn’t it represent their founder somehow?
Whatever it was, he could sense fear gripping all those around him. On the screens the general’s recorded message talked on, but no-one was listening now, because the cross was getting larger and brighter, and could only be perceived as an imminent threat. Was this the invasion? Gasps turned to shouts and profanities, to unclear orders… to a simmering panic. John wanted to shield his eyes from the now piercing light, but was unable: it had locked his attention to its future. In its midst another apparition appeared…it was a man… a man on a white horse!
The light intensified, brighter, brighter, until it was burning, burning not just his eyes, but his very soul. He was now only just aware enough to know…that it was time to die…