The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead – Ron Graham – www.straitandnarrowministry.com

We see them everywhere. They are people we work with, doctors, teachers, bus drivers, our own family members, the list goes on. If they have not accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation, they are the walking dead. These people have rejected Christ and His free gift of salvation and they don’t want their sin exposed. In fact, these people don’t even see their sin as sin. It may seem as if they have it all, they laugh and seem to enjoy life to the fullest, but if they do not know Jesus Christ then they are dead in their sins. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. This Scripture is often quoted because it holds a deep truth. Sin gets paid, but those wages are not worth earning. The death talked about in this verse isn’t the death of the body. It is the eternal death and separation from God that those who choose to reject Christ’s free gift of salvation will face. It is the state of eternal existence of the wicked dead in the lake of fire. There are many people who are steeped in unbelief and as such they have buried themselves in sin but believe they are living life to the fullest. They see no need to accept Christ as Saviour. These are the walking dead.

We can look at these people and marvel at their blindness, but there was a time when we, who are born again Christians, were just like them. Everyone is dead in sin prior to accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” Colossians 2:13. Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin. He has forgiven the sin that separates us from God and has made available to us the free gift of eternal life with Him. Jesus paid the price, now you must accept the gift. It is an individual choice, but it is the most important choice of your life. It determines your eternal life.

It is the responsibility of every Christian to share the Gospel with non-believers. “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” Romans 3:3. This was a rhetorical question by Paul but we need to reflect on this question and apply it to today’s unbelieving world. What if some refuse to believe in God? Does their unbelief nullify the believer’s faith in God? “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightiest be justified in thy sayings, and mightiest overcome when thou are judged.” Romans 3:4. In God we find truth. People may mock and ridicule you for your faith, but that does not make their words true. Hold your ground, stand firm on God’s truth, and speak boldly of His love.

Those people who are caught up in the deception of unbelief, the walking dead, in all actuality are our mission field. The thief on the cross hanging next to Jesus first ridiculed Him as did many others who were present at the crucifixion. Yes, this thief was dying in his sins, as were all those present and watching the crucifixion. Something changed in this thief though, and eventually he had a change of heart. He came to know that Jesus could save him from eternal damnation. “And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Luke 23:42. These were very simple words but he meant them. Jesus recognized that change of heart and as soon as the man asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus forgave his sins. “And Jesus said unto him, “Verily, I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. That one time mocker of our Lord is now in Heaven serving God. The unbelievers around us need to recognize who Jesus is before it is too late. The thief was facing death and knew it. He made the right decision. Most of us have no idea when death will come. A car accident or a sudden heart attack can send us to our eternal destination no matter how old we are. The decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour is a decision that needs to be made today. Tomorrow may be too late. Jesus encountered much unbelief during His years on earth. Still today many people also have their eyes closed and their hearts cold as ice. We are given a great example of Christ’s love and forgiveness as we read of the thief on the cross. He was a man who moments earlier was destined for hell, but he called out to Jesus and is now eternally with Him. Those people today who reject Christ may be moments away from death. Christian, you need to share the Gospel with them before it is too late.

Those who are the walking dead may, in our eyes, seem to be steadfast in their rebellion against God. Just like the thief on the cross they can have a change of heart, though. Yes, anyone can change. Only God knows who will accept the prodding of the Holy Spirit. That change of heart might even come from one word spoken from someone like you or me. It is certain, though, that if nobody dares to speak to those who are lost in sin, salvation will not come to them. They will never know who Jesus is and that they need His free gift of salvation. It may not even take a spoken word. The way we represent Jesus with our way of life and our actions will speak volumes. Do you pray before a meal at a restaurant? Do you let anger rule your life, or does Christ’s love reach out through you to other people? How about your words? Cussing and yelling do not represent Christ in a good way. Our actions are noticed and if we look and act different than the lost we may cause the walking dead to ask us some questions about Jesus. Then we need to have answers.

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the non-belief of those we tell about Jesus. We can easily get discouraged, yet we are in good company. Matthew recorded a time when Jesus went into His own country and was confronted with much unbelief. “And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.” Matthew 13:57. Jesus’ very own countrymen were “offended in Him”. Because of their unbelief His countrymen lost out on much. “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:58. Unbelief hinders and even impedes God’s wonderful blessings. It is sad but there will come a time when we will need to shake the dust off our shoes, so to speak, and move on. We should never get discouraged with spreading the Gospel, because as we move on. The Holy Spirit will stay behind to work on that individual. Our words watered by the Holy Spirit will work a work that we can’t see. We may never witness the fruit of our labors as we endeavor to confront unbelief but that doesn’t mean fruit doesn’t appear.

So how should believers continue in the face of such unbelief? With steadfastness in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. It’s never our strength that leads us to witness. It’s always the Holy Spirit’s prodding that moves us to action. As believers, it is our responsibility to listen to His prodding and take action. You may be the only one who has taken the time to witness to Aunt Martha or that boss or co-worker who seems so mean. Christ has called all of us to share the Gospel and we may never know the result of our witness. If our motivation for sharing God’s word is seeing the results of our efforts then we are doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m sure that Peter, John, Paul, and all the rest had no idea how many people would be touched by their faithful witness, but we certainly would be in a sad state of affairs if they had stopped evangelizing after their first beating or stint in jail. Because of their love for Christ, today we know who Christ is and why we need Him as our Saviour.

Just what is the Gospel? Adam chose to disobey God. He ate the forbidden fruit even though God had specifically told him “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17. Adam sinned. When he ate the fruit death became a reality. All of the pain, suffering, and trials of this life began at that moment in time. There was nothing Adam or any other human could do to take that sin away. No animal sacrifice could take sin away. No amount of “good works” can restore fellowship with God or earn us a place in Heaven. It took God Himself to step into His creation and become one of us. His blood alone takes our sin away. It is our choice to believe Him or not, but we must be willing to spend eternity in the lake of fire if we reject Him. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:24. This statement by Jesus confirms that He is God. In this verse “he” is not in the original text. Jesus said “I am”, meaning that He was the one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. He is God. The Pharisees understood what Jesus meant because the conversation ended with them taking up stones to stone Him for blaspheme. On the other hand, Jesus told Nicodemus “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. That’s the Gospel. That’s what we need to tell the walking dead. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only way to have everlasting life.

Unbelief is sin, there’s no question about that, and it’s an inexcusable and unpardonable sin if a person dies in that state of rebellion. Rebellion is spreading like wildfire. The lost world is trying to silence Christians so that sin can be glorified and they won’t feel guilty. In these last days before Jesus’ return, unbelief will increase substantially, but that should challenge every Christian to be more diligent in sharing the Gospel. Jesus said “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b. Yes, the walking dead are all around us but they still have a chance at eternal life while they are still among the living. We have to tell them the Good News before it is too late.
God bless you all,

Ron Graham
twotug@embarqmail.com
www.straitandnarrowministry.com
ron@straitandnarrowministry.com
Previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries just drop me an email and let me know.

Nearing Midnight: A Good Man for All Religions

Nearing Midnight: A Good Man for All Religions – Todd Strandberg http://www.raptureready.com/rap16.html

One of the greatest misconceptions in Bible prophecy is the belief that the Antichrist and his sidekick, the False Prophet, will be people of an unmistakable evil nature. This view is so strong that some of history’s greatest mass murders have been labeled as Antichrist contenders.

The Bible actually paints a picture of men who are initially, extremely well-liked. The Antichrist will come and magically solve most of the world’s economic and political problems. Revelation 13:4 says that the people’s approval of him will so great, they openly, “Worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?'”

The False Prophet also will be a very likeable individual. He is described as a lamb that speaks like a dragon, which means he will be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His primary end-time roll is to act as the Antichrist’s main cheerleader, but will also have special powers that allow him to perform miracles deceiving vast numbers of people:

“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast” (Revelation 13:12-14).

I’ve always found it unproductive to speculate about the identity of the Antichrist. The Bible says he will not be clearly known until the second half of the Tribulation. Since he is a political figure, he could appear out of nowhere.

I think the False Prophet is more likely to be spotted-ahead of the Tribulation hour. Because religious organizations are generally static keeping their leadership in office for several years, there is great chance of a current religious leader fulfilling this role.

I have been truly amazed at how strongly Pope Francis comes on as a possible candidate for the role of the False Prophet. He hasn’t even been in office for one year and he has achieved a rock star following. In fact, he was just on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. On a wall near the Vatican is a graffiti image of the pope as superman, flying through the air with his white cape billowing out behind him.

Actor, Kirk Douglas, regularly writes editorials for newspapers and in one of his articles he called Pope Francis, “A good man for all religions.” When considering that the False Prophet will head a harlot church-an amalgamation of all world religions-the Douglas title takes on an ominous nature.

My problem with Pope Francis is not just with how he may fit into Bible prophecy. His doctrinal beliefs are what have me most concerned. When asked about his views on same-sex marriage he responded, “Who am I to judge?” He has openly asked atheists to join the prayerful in promoting peace. He has also been one the ecumenical popes holding ceremonies with leaders of other religions.

The most troubling sign is the warm relationship he has developed with the liberal media. The Bible warns that the true gospel message will normally cause people to be offended. The “love” gospel message that Pope Francis promotes is music to the ears of a press that hate any moral guidelines. The Pope has become the king of religious fluff with headlines like: “Pope Francis Warns Unemployment Can Lead to Suicide” and “Pope Francis Gladly Blesses Parrot Belonging to Male Stripper.”

A few days ago, an interesting thing happened while Pope Francis was addressing tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. He had two white doves released by children standing next to him-while he prayed for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the Ukraine. Once the doves where let go, both were immediately attacked by a crow and seagull; I can only wonder if God was trying to show that empty symbolism is no match for evil forces that wish to devour us.

We must be close to the Tribulation hour because there are several people that have me wondering if they have some end-time role. Putin has the perfect characteristics of the Gog leader. Last week, the anti-Israeli President Obama said, lasting peace requires, “Access to holy sites [Temple Mount] for all faiths.”

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

America in Bible Prophecy

America in Bible Prophecy

by Britt Gillette

Is America in bible prophecy?

This is one of the most common questions from contemporary students of bible prophecy, particularly those who live in the United States.

Bible prophecy reveals much about the end times, yet the United States seems conspicuously absent from the geopolitical picture foretold by the prophets.

Given the seeming nearness of Christ’s return, this is difficult for most people to understand.

After all, the United States is currently the most powerful and influential nation on earth. How then can it play no role in end time events?

Where Is America In Bible Prophecy?

The fact is neither America nor the United States are mentioned by name in bible prophecy.

When searching for America in bible prophecy, it’s important to understand that the Bible is a Middle Eastern book with an Israel-centric geographical perspective. Directions, for instance, are often given in relation to Jerusalem.

Furthermore, the fact that America as a nation was unknown to the prophets has no bearing on its absence in bible prophecy.

After all, the nation of Russia was also unknown to the prophets, yet Ezekiel 38-39 clearly identifies Russia (Gog) as a major end time player:

“Son of man, prophesy against Gog. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am your enemy, O Gog, ruler of the nations of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drive you toward the mountains of Israel, bringing you from the distant north.” Ezekiel 39:1-2 (NLT)

In addition, the Asian nations (also relatively unknown in John’s day) are clearly identified as major end time players in Revelation 16:

“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it dried up so that the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance.” Revelation 16:12 (NLT)

Given the mention of most every other major nation in the contemporary world, why does the Bible remain silent regarding the United States?

According to some, the Bible may have something to say about America’s role in bible prophecy after all. So let’s look at what they have to say…

Is This America?

When searching for America in bible prophecy, several biblical passages are held up more often than others by proponents who see the United States in the Bible.

Below are some of the more regularly mentioned:

1) The Merchants of Tarshish and All Her Villages
One of the most commonly cited verses regarding America in bible prophecy can be found in the Book Ezekiel:

“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?'” Ezekiel 38:13 (KJV)

The verse references the Gog / Magog war against Israel, which is questioned beforehand by diplomats from many lands, including “the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages.”

According to proponents of this view, Tarshish is a reference to Great Britain and “all her villages” is a reference to the former British colonies of Canada, Australia, and the United States (among others).

This is certainly a creative interpretation of scripture and quite a stretch, especially in light of the fact that no consensus exists in regard to the identity of Tarshish.

Some biblical scholars claims that Tarshish is really a reference to Spain, while others say its India, Asia Minor, or coastal areas in the Mediterranean Sea.

Either way, no one can objectively point to this verse as the “smoking gun” which proves America is in bible prophecy.

2) Babylon
Another commonly cited reference regarding America in bible prophecy is Babylon. Here’s one passage often cited:

“One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. ‘Come with me,’ he said, ‘and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality.'” Revelation 17:1-2 (NLT)

The United States certainly rules over many waters, and our export of morally degenerate aspects of our media and culture have certainly not served the world well.

Nevertheless, taken in its proper context, Revelation 17 describes Mystery Babylon which is a biblical symbol for false religion, not the United States.

Babylon was the birthplace of false religion, and “the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality” by embracing false religion.

In Revelation 18, we encounter additional parallels:

“After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendor. He gave a mighty shout: ‘Babylon is fallen – that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal. For all the nations have fallen because of the wine of her passionate immorality. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her. Because of her desires for extravagant luxury, the merchants of the world have grown rich.'” Revelation 18:1-3 (NLT)

Proponents of the Babylon is the United States theory point to the numerous parallels between the City described above and the United States of America.

But again, bible prophecy needs to be understood in its context, and not interpreted so as to agree with a predetermined viewpoint.

Revelation Chapter 18 does not describe the United States of America, but rather the Empire of the Antichrist and the actual realworld City of Babylon.

This is confirmed in the Book of Zechariah, when it’s revealed exactly where the epicenter of the end times false religion will geographically be located:

“Then the heavy lead cover was lifted off the basket, and there was a woman sitting inside it. The angel said, ‘The woman’s name is Wickedness,’ and he pushed her back into the basket and closed the heavy lid again. Then I looked up and saw two women flying toward us, gliding on the wind. They had wings like a stork, and they picked up the basket and flew into the sky. ‘Where are they taking the basket?’ I asked the angel. He replied, ‘To the land of Babylonia, where they will build a temple for the basket. And when the temple is ready, they will set the basket there on its pedestal.'” Zechariah 5:7-11 (NLT)

Some interpretations say “the plains of Shinar” or “the land of Shinar” instead of Babylonia. Nevertheless, Babylon is located on the plains of Shinar in modern day Iraq.

A close examination of the Babylon in Revelation confirms that Babylon is not a reference to America in bible prophecy.

3) A Great Eagle
Another commonly cited America in bible prophecy passage is also from the Book of Revelation:

“When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time.” Revelation 12:13-14 (NLT)

Proponents who see the United States as the great eagle in Revelation 12 point to America’s prominent national symbol as evidence of its identity as the eagle.

But yet again, this passage needs to be interpreted in a biblical context.

The eagle is a clear reference to God, not the United States, as evidenced by the following verses:

“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Exodus 19:4 (NLT)

and

“Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions. The Lord alone guided them; they followed no foreign gods.” Deuteronomy 32:11-12 (NLT)

Yet again, in order to see America in bible prophecy, you’re required to engage in some creative and imaginative interpretations.

4) A Tall and Smooth People
The final America in bible prophecy verses we’ll look at are from Isaiah:

“Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers.” Isaiah 18:2 (NLT)

and

“At that time the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction.” Isaiah 18:7 (NLT)

Some people claim these verses are a reference to the United States because America is “feared far and wide” and it’s divided by rivers (or even two oceans).

Yet, by simply reading verses one and two from Isaiah 18, we find that the nation referenced is not the United States:

“Listen, Ethiopia – land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile, that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river.” Isaiah 18:1-2 (NLT)

Cush, or Ethiopia, is the land of “tall, smooth-skinned people” referenced in Isaiah 18.

In short, the Bible makes no direct reference to the United States or America when it comes to the end times.

America’s Prophetic Role

In spite of the Bible’s silence in regard to the United States, America does have a profound role of prophetic significance in world affairs. While it may not be mentioned directly in end times bible prophecy, the United States has played a pivotal role in setting the stage for God’s worldwide end time drama.

Below is a list of three significant American contributions in setting the stage for the near-term fulfillment of end times bible prophecy:

1) American Support of Israel

The unrivaled prosperity and success of the United States is no coincidence.

Long ago, God made a promise to Abraham and his descendants:

“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.” Genesis 12:3 (NLT)

God promised to bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse them.

Since its Revolutionary foundation, the United States has been a safe haven for Jews relative to the other nations of the world. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, the United States has treated the Jewish people with kindness and acceptance, granting them full rights of citizenship.

In 1948, the United States fully supported the newly established nation of Israel, becoming its staunchest ally in the decades that followed.

American support during the Cold War as well as American military aid and assistance helped Israel thwart the existential threats posed by the Soviet Union and Israel’s hostile Arab neighbors.

In short, God used the United States as a mid-wife in the rebirth of Israel.

2) America and Global Evangelism

Since its inception, America has been a global leader in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The earliest settlers brought the Good News to the natives of North America, and in the centuries since, America has led the world in the international export of Christian evangelism.

The fruits of this global evangelism include countless missions, untold church plantings, the distribution of millions of bibles in hundreds of languages, and radio, satellite, and Internet ministries reaching all over the earth.

America’s role in preaching the gospel throughout the world can NOT be overstated, and according to Jesus Himself, the Good News must reach a global audience before He returns:

“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 (NLT)

3) America’s Role in Increasing Travel and Knowledge

According to the Book of Daniel, the end times will witness a marked increase in travel and knowledge:

“But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” Daniel 12:4 (NLT)

The fact that the world has already witnessed this dramatic increase in travel and knowledge is apparent even to the most casual observer.

For thousands of years, the horse remained the fastest mode of human transportation while the world’s most celebrated libraries contained at best thousands of scrolls.

Today, jets can travel faster than the speed of sound and handheld devices can store hundreds of times as much information as the Library at Alexandria, which is widely considered the greatest depository of knowledge in the ancient world.

America’s role in bringing about this explosion in travel and knowledge is unrivaled and indisputable.

The United States was the first nation to fully unleash the power of the free market, resulting in a burst of entrepreneurial creativity and innovation which enabled an exponential increase in technological development which spread throughout the world.

As a result, it’s hard to deny America’s signficance in setting the stage for Christ’s return.

America in the End Times

But America’s prophetically significant role in leading up to the end times doesn’t necessarily translate into a significant or even notable role during the seven year Tribulation.

In fact, the Bible doesn’t even mention the United States or America.

Why?

The Bible’s silence in regard to America seems to necessitate a notable decrease in its power and influence.

And given the lateness of the hour, it’s likely that America’s fall from power will be sudden and dramatic.

What could cause such a powerful and influential nation to suddenly fall from its perch?

Here are a few possible reasons for America’s absence in end times bible prophecy (Note that these are merely speculations and not predictions):

1) The Rapture
While only God can know a person’s heart, there’s a good probability that the United States will lose more citizens as a result of the rapture than any other nation in the world.

With more self-proclaimed born again Christians than everywhere else on earth, the rapture has the potential to destroy the United States in a moment’s notice.

Imagine millions of hard working Americans – homeowners, tax payers, leaders – simply disappearing.

Aside from the Hollywood images of crashing planes and cars, think of the implications. Businesses crushed as owners and employees disappear… Millions of consumers gone overnight… Millions of additional vacant homes added to an already bloated housing inventory…

From an economic standpoint, the rapture threatens to destroy the American economy, and America’s military might is built on the back of unprecedented military spending enabled by a robust economy.

2) Financial Collapse
Take an honest look under the hood of America’s debt-based economy, and you’ll realize it doesn’t necessarily take a major event like the rapture to spark a financial collapse.

By ignoring the biblical principles of financial stewardship, many Americans have set themselves and their nation on course toward bankruptcy.

Unless something dramatically changes, America’s national debt will exceed its total annual output within the next few years.

Meanwhile, several states are on the brink of bankruptcy, with most every other state and local government soon to follow.

But it’s not just America’s government which lives beyond its means. Our government is merely an extension of the behavior exhibited by its individual citizens.

Today’s average American today is burdened by a debt to disposable income ratio of 133%. That means the average American has already spent every dime of his or her disposable income, plus an additional 33%!

Is it really difficult to envision this debt-saddled house of cards suddenly collapsing?

If and when it does, America’s global power and influence will quickly disappear as well.

3) Defeat at the Hands of the Antichrist
The Book of Revelation reveals that the Antichrist and his kingdom will become so powerful that no one will be able to resist militarily:

“They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they worshiped the beast. ‘Is there anyone as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?'” Revelation 13:4 (NLT)

Perhaps the absence of America in bible prophecy is due to the Antichrist conquering or annexing the United States into his revived Roman Empire.

4) Fading into Obscurity
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily require a major event such as the rapture, a financial meltdown, or loss of sovereignty for the United States to fall from its position as the world’s most powerful nation.

In addition to our massive debt, America is in a state of prolonged moral decay. We’ve pushed God out of our schools, public buildings, and public discourse… Broken families are now the norm… Our entertainment grows more and more degenerate with each passing year… And a record number of citizens are dependent on government, not a result of disability, but as a result of sloth and laziness.

We can’t rule out the possibility that the United States will simply fade into obscurity, surpassed by its rivals due to a combination of financial turmoil, moral decay, and societal breakdown.

The rapture would simply serve as the final nail in the coffin of America’s international dominance.

5) A Host of Other Reasons
The above scenarios offer just a few speculations regarding America’s absence in bible prophecy.

But in all likelihood, there’s a host of other reasons for the Bible’s silence that we have yet to understand or imagine.

Nevertheless, the sudden loss of America’s current role as the world’s lone superpower is not difficult to fathom, and it likely explains the Bible’s strange silence in regard to the world’s most powerful nation when it comes to end time matters.

Conclusion

As students of bible prophecy diligently search the scriptures, the question continually pops up…

Why isn’t America in bible prophecy?

In all likelihood, some of us will not know the answer in this life, but in hindsight, it will most likely be plain and obvious to the people of the Tribulation.

The need to see America in bible prophecy stems from a common mistake in the study of bible prophecy – trying to fit bible prophecy into the current headlines, rather than reading current headlines in the context of bible prophecy.

We can see the many signs of the end times, knowing the hour is late and His coming is near.

And with America still holding a position of strength and power in the world, it’s difficult to reconcile our belief that the end is near with the Bible’s silence regarding America’s role.

Nevertheless, we can be confident that bible prophecy will come to pass with 100% accuracy, and the United States will not be a significant player in end time events.

Alien Invasion

Alien Invasion – By Grant Phillips – http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips201.html

Revelation 19:11-19

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

Not long ago my wife and I were watching a 2008 remake of the movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” It originally came out in 1951. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s the typical plot. Aliens come to earth. It isn’t known if they are friendly or want to take over, so they are assumed to be the enemy, which is usually a good call─but not always. I’ll not reveal any more of the movie in case you haven’t seen it and would like to, but what I have relayed to you shouldn’t be a surprise.

I visited an Internet site that had a listing of supposedly all the movies made concerning aliens. They went back as far as 1951 and totaled 331 including remakes. I actually counted them. Yeah I know. I must have a lot of time on my hands.

The History channel has “oodles” of specials on UFO sightings and abductions and even aliens from the past to the present. (I haven’t bothered to count how many.) In addition, paranormal programs are becoming very popular and numerous.

Because of this, it is my belief that the world’s system has unknowingly trained itself to accept alien abduction as a plausible justification to explain the Rapture when it occurs. But I digress.

As we were watching the movie, certain Scripture passages started coming to mind. I have always asked myself, “Why would not people fall on their knees and worship God when seeing Him in all His glory at the Second Coming?”

Revelation 19:19 (shown above), comes to mind. Why proclaim war against God? Why not cower in fear and plead for mercy? Perhaps there are at least two reasons:

1. When Jesus returns at the Second Coming, the remainder of mankind left on earth during the Tribulation who chose not to follow Christ instead of the Antichrist will have become so hardened, they will be consumed with hate, greed, lust and every other sin imaginable. They will hate God for what they have experienced during this time. They will fear Him, but despise Him even more.

2. I think it is also possible that they “may” attribute Jesus’ return at the Second Coming as an “alien invasion,” just has they “may” attribute the same to the Rapture. Nearly any movie you watch concerning alien invasions will depict earthlings shooting first and asking questions later. This very scenario “could” apply to Christ’s Second Coming.

It could even be possible that both of these reasons “may” be applicable. One thing is sure, the Tribulation era may seem like judgment from hell, but when the Lord returns, it will be recognized as judgment from Heaven for rebellion against God.

It is hard for a true Christian to comprehend a heart so cold and hard that the possibly of repentance does not exist in a man or woman. However, once the mark of the Antichrist is taken, there is no hope. Notice the following verses taken from Revelation.

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21, emphasis mine)

And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. (Revelation 16:9 emphasis mine)

And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. (Revelation 16:10-11, emphasis mine)

Notice in Revelation 9:20-21 they will cling to their own good deeds and continue to hold their works higher than God’s. They will continue worshipping the “things” in their lives, placing them above God. They will continue to murder and use illicit drugs. They will continue their fornication (sex outside marriage between a man and a woman), and they will continue being thieves.

Notice in Revelation 16:9-11 that regardless of God’s effort to get their attention, they will blaspheme His name and refuse to repent.

In 1938 Orson Wells presented a broadcast of, “War of the Worlds” on CBS radio. Since he did not clearly identify the presentation as fiction, many people actually believed they were being invaded that night from Mars.

There is going to be an invasion on earth all right, and from outer space, but not from aliens. The possible UFO and paranormal experiences happening today are simply demonic activity. Satan is increasing his presence because his time is running out. The invasion to earth from outer space will come, and it will come from God. However, God is not an alien. He made this world, earth included of course, and it is His.

There is a real alien invasion taking place though every day. Satan and his followers are invading the hearts of mankind, and the activity is definitely increasing in these last days before the return of our Lord. In all my time on earth, I have never seen such wickedness. There is not one area in society that has not been corrupted by gross wickedness, and it is on an unprecedented scale.

Almighty God has done everything heavenly possible to bridge the gap between mankind and Himself. To bridge that gap, His only option was to literally sacrifice Himself to pay our sin debt against Him and satisfy His own justice. In the person of Jesus this was accomplished. There is now a bridge to God, Jesus. He is the only bridge. There is no other. We must come to God via Jesus.

Understand that God will not invade your heart. He will change your heart if you come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, but He will not invade it. God is a Gentleman and will respect your boundary. Satan will spiritually rape and murder you. Sounds like a “no-brainer” to me.

Grant Phillips

Email grantphillips@windstream.net

Pre-Rapture Commentary http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com

Rapture Ready http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html

Antiochus IV Epiphanes: The Antichrist of the Old Testament

Antiochus IV Epiphanes:
The Antichrist of the Old Testament

By Larry Cockerham

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the eighth in a succession of twenty-six kings who ruled from 175—164 BC over the Syrian section of Alexander’s empire. He is referred to as the “little horn” in Daniel 8:9. The name Epiphanes means the “Illustrious One,” although his contemporaries nicknamed him Epimanes, meaning “madman.”1 He differs in many respects with the “little horn” of Daniel Chapter seven seeing that “the little horn of 7:8 appears in the context of the fourth kingdom (Rome), while the little horn of 8:9 appears in the context of the third kingdom (Greece).”2 Yet taken as a whole Antiochus IV Epiphanes is undoubtedly one of the greatest prototypes of the Antichrist in all of God’s Word.

The prophecies of Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel (Dan. 8:9-14; 23-25; 11:21-35) have both a historical as well as future fulfillment. Because these prophecies point both to Antiochus Epiphanes as well as the future Antichrist of the New Testament Bible students call them a double reference prophecy. However, liberal commentators, such as D.S. Russell, see in these verses only a historical fulfillment due to their late dating of the Book of Daniel (165 B.C.).3 Conservative scholars, on the other hand, realize both a historical completion (they were still future when Daniel wrote them) in Antiochus as well as future prophecies that prefigure the Antichrist. There are also differences of opinion among fundamental Bible scholars as to where the prophecies regarding Antiochus end and those pertaining to the Antichrist begin. We will at this time focus on the comparisons or parallels between the wicked Syrian king Antiochus IV who viciously and cruelly persecuted the Old Testament saints of God and the coming “man of sin” commonly referred to in the New Testament as the Antichrist.

(1) Both involve two end-time periods. When it comes to the larger picture, these two periods of persecution leading up to the first and second coming of Christ are portrayed in both the exploits of Antiochus IV as well as those of the coming Antichrist. Lehman Strauss explains thusly:

Both of these periods witness the wrath of God being extended to His chosen people. The first of these periods of wrath commenced with the Babylonian captivity and concluded with the atrocities of Antiochus, after which there was deliverance. The second of these periods is yet future. It will commence with the beginning of the seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27) and conclude with the atrocities of Antichrist, after which there will be deliverance.4
Therefore not only is there a typical relationship between the two persons of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the upcoming Man Of Sin, but there is also an association between the two time periods leading up to the end of each era.

(2) Both begin as a “little horn”. (cf. Daniel 7:8; 8:9). Both Antiochus and the Antichrist grow to become a great power from a small beginning. Notice that the “little horn” of Daniel 8:9 “waxed exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great even to the host of heaven” (Dan. 8:9-10a). This is true of the Antichrist as well (cf. Dan. 11:41-42). He will begin as an insignificant political figure in the beginning. However he will gain worldwide power by the midst of the tribulation hour and exert control over “all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Rev. 13:7).

(3) Both persecute the saints of God. The cruel and violent persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes are recorded in histories annals for all to observe. In the spring of 168 B.C., the armies of the Syrian king had arrived within four miles of the great city of Alexandria to compel the pharaohs to surrender. But the Egyptians had appealed to Rome for assistance. A Roman fleet was anchored in the bay and their representative Popilius Laenas, soon met with the king. After drawing a circle with his staff around the Syrian king, and forcing him to give an immediate response, the king reluctantly accepted the ultimatum to depart.

After being humiliated and forced to leave Egypt, Antiochus’s vengeance was quickly turned upon Jerusalem. He killed over eighty thousand men, women, and children and sold forty thousand into slavery (2 Macc. v. 5-14). The holy place was robbed of its treasures and the temple was dedicated to Jupiter Olympus. The temple was defiled by offering a sow upon the altar and scattering its juice over all the sanctuary and vessels. He substituted the Jewish feasts with the drunken revelry of Bacchanalia, forcing the Jews to worship Bacchus, the god of pleasure and wine. The licentious festival of Saturnalia, the worship of Saturn, was also enforced upon the inhabitants. He forbade the reading of the Holy Scriptures and the tradition of circumcision. Throwing them headlong with their infants off of the highest wall in Jerusalem, Antiochus killed two mothers who had circumcised their children in defiance of the law. He also cut out the tongues of a mother’s seven sons and after that had each of them roasted alive on a flat iron (2 Macc. vii. 3-5). Then the mother herself was murdered. John Walvoord notes that “a detailed description of the violent atrocities and murder of thousands of Jews by Antiochus while marching through Judea is found in 1 Maccabees 1:20-28 and 2 Maccabees 5:11-17.”5

But the carnage committed by the impious Syrian king is only a foretaste of what lies ahead for those who will be swept away during the Great Tribulation. The persecution of God’s saints under the “beast” will be much more intense and far-reaching during Daniel’s Seventieth Week. The Apostle John “saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands: and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).

(4) Both blaspheme the God of Heaven. Antiochus “magnified himself even to the prince of the host” (Dan. 8:11). His pride and arrogance was lifted up in opposition to the very God of heaven. His blasphemy will typify that of the future Man of Sin: “And, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Dan. 7:8). The Apostle John witnessed the approaching Beast rising from the sea “and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Rev. 13:1). Again the Apostle John echoes his future irreverence: “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Rev. 13:6).

(5) Both will use peace to achieve their aims. Of the Syrian king Antiochus it is said that he will destroy many by peace (Dan. 8:25). Pretending to be on a peaceful mission he would then plunder and steal, giving out liberally the treasures he had acquired to his cronies. The “man of sin” or “lawless one” will also use deceit in the upcoming conflagration to obtain his desires. He is depicted as the “white horse” rider (Rev. 6:1-2) who has a “bow” but no arrows, indicating that he shall “come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Dan. 11:21, 24). He will ascend to power through the voluntary alliance of ten Western European nations uniting under a one-world government (Rev. 17:12, 13). As the “prince that shall come” (Dan. (9:26), he will lead Israel into signing a covenant (Dan. 9:27), which Isaiah describes as a “covenant with death, and with hell” (Isa. 28:15, 18). This covenant will begin Daniel’s seventieth “week” (Dan. 9:27), which is a seven-year period guaranteeing Israel not only a time of peace and security, but also an opportunity to rebuild their temple.

The white horse of conquest is quickly followed by the red horse of war (Rev.6:4), the black horse of famine (Rev. 6:5), and finally the pale horse of death (Rev. 6:8). The world will suddenly be plunged into utter devastation that ultimately leads to the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 19:11-21).

(6) Both desecrate the sanctuary of the temple. It is a matter of historical record as to the desire of Antiochus to destroy the Jewish nation and their religion. When Antiochus set up the image of Jupiter in the Holy Place in Jerusalem and desecrated the sanctuary and its holy vessels, he was unwittingly portraying a future defilement. Daniel referred to this incident as the “abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan. 11:31; 12:11). Jesus linked this event to Matthew 24:15 when he declared: “When ye therefore shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).” The Jews who live during this period will understand the meaning of this Scripture and flee to the mountains for safety. Paul referred to this event in 1 Thessalonians 2:4: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called god, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The Apostle John in the Book of Revelation gives a vivid description of the “image of the beast” that the false prophet will set up in the future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Those living in that frightful time will be forced to worship the image of the beast or be killed (Rev. 13:14-15).

(7) Both will be Satan incarnate. Concerning the Syrian king Antiochus, Daniel 8:23 states that “in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” J. Vernon McGee believed that “the only adequate explanation of this verse and of the facts of history is that this man was demon possessed.”6

W.A. Criswell, speaking of the demon-possessed Antiochus and his foreshadowing of the Antichrist, explains:

First, he is inordinately proud, lifted up, and ambitious. He is Satan through copy. He is Satan through incarnation. He is Satan’s willing instrument. For example, when Antiochus came to reign, he imprinted on his coins, Theos Antiochus, Theos Epiphanes, “Antiochus, God manifest.” One need not doubt that such a thing could be, for according to the second chapter of II Thessalonians, this final dictator presents himself as “God manifest,” Theos Epiphanes. That same spirit is universal in human story. Ambitious, dictatorial men are like that. That is the spirit of Hitler. It is the spirit of any striving dictator who lifts himself above the mountain heap of prostrate humanity.7
Seeing that Christ was the “Seed of the woman”, therefore Antichrist will be the “seed of the serpent” (Gen. 3:15).8 Arthur Pink goes on to explain that “the Antichrist, then, will be more than a man, he will be the actual and literal Seed of that Old Serpent, the Devil; as Christ was, according to the flesh, the actual and literal Seed of the woman.”9 Consequently, as Christ was God incarnate, Antichrist will be Satan incarnate. John Phillips notes that “in his human form he is the beast ‘out of the sea,’ a brilliant and dynamic world leader with charisma and vision, demon-possessed as Hitler was. He will be killed, will have a ‘second coming,’ and from then on will be the beast ‘out of the bottomless pit.’ As such he will be superhuman, awesome, and in a position to command and receive the worship of mankind (13:4).”10

(8) Both shall be broken without hand (Dan. 8:25). This can be interpreted that his power will be broken apart from the intervention of man, or as A.R. Fausset notes, “by God’s special visitation.”11 He was afflicted by a horrible death “by worms and ulcers, when on his way to Judea, intending to take vengeance for the defeat of his armies by the Maccabees.”12 The smiting Stone shall suddenly strike the feet of the image and ultimately destroy the Gentile nations and its last Roman ruler bringing to an end the counterfeit kingdom of the Antichrist. Christ will then cast the beast and false prophet alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:11-21). Thus, both the Syrian king Antiochus and the final Antichrist shall “stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (Dan. 8:25).

(9) Both periods conclude with deliverance. Antiochus sent Appolonius who halted the sacrifices in June 167 B.C. and in December 25 of the same year set up the heathen altar and the heathen sacrifices began. On December 25, 164 B.C., Judas Maccabeus restored the sanctuary and sacrificial system. According to William E. Biederwolf, “these three and one-half years had their typical fulfillment in Antiochus Epiphanes, but it is generally conceded that its final realization is reserved for the last times, according to the New Testament writings, in the eschatological Antichrist.”13

Through the exploits of Mattathias and his five sons, the Jewish nation was finally liberated from Syrian occupation and gained political independence in the spring of 142 B.C. It had been twenty-five years since Mattathias Hasmoneas had prompted the Maccabean uprising in the tiny village of Modein.14

Just as the ancient nation of Israel was freed by the Maccabees from the brutal regime of the Old Testament Antichrist, so the modern nation of Israel will be saved from the atrocious world system of the New Testament Antichrist by their soon coming Savior and “Deliverer” (Rom. 11:26).

There are many other parallels in the conquests and atrocities of the Old Testament Antichrist Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the final Antichrist presented in the New Testament. Some view the leader of the Jewish Hellenistic party, Jesus, or Josue, better known by his Greek name Jason, the unworthy brother of the worthy high priest, Onias III, as a type of the false prophet, the second beast of Revelation 13 (Rev. 13:11-18).15 Scholars have long realized that a trinity of evil will exist during the upcoming Tribulation that will mimic the Godhead. Sir Robert Anderson explains that “the mystery of the Godhead will thus be parodied by the mystery of iniquity, and the Father, the Son, and the Spirit will have their counterpart in the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet.”16

There are many other comparisons that could be brought out concerning these two vile personages, but the numerous associations that have been covered so far should suffice for the reader to recognize the amazing details that the light of God’s Word has cast upon the coming time of darkness that will envelop the world in that future day. Let us then watch and pray that we will be found busy about the Father’s business as we see the signs of the final indignation rapidly approaching.

Footnotes:
1 H.A. Ironside, Lectures on Daniel the Prophet (New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1911), 202. Ironside explains that the reason for his nickname was “because of his wild pranks and almost insane follies and brutalities. He was stirred with such hatred against the Jews and their religion, that there was no atrocity too great for this wretched king to perpetrate.”

2 Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), 238.

3 D.S. Russell, Daniel (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1981), 3.

4 Lehman Strauss, The Prophecies of Daniel (Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1969), 244-45.

5 John Walvoord, Daniel: The Key To Prophetic Revelation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), 267.

6 J. Vernon McGee, “The Book of Daniel” in Thru The Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982), III, 581.

7 W.A. Criswell, Expository Sermons On the Book of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968), 4:78.

8 Arthur W. Pink, The Antichrist (1923; repr., Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1988), 47.

9 Ibid., 48.

10 John Phillips, Exploring The Future (Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1992), 88.

11 A.R. Fausett, “The Book of Daniel” in A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, On the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), II, 430.

12 Ibid.

13 William E. Biederwolf, The Prophecy Handbook (World Bible Publishers, 1991), 215.

14 Joseph L. Gardner, ed., Reader’s Digest Atlas of the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Land (Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader’s Digest Association, 1981), 159.

15 Jerome, “The Antichrist in Maccabees, in Daniel, in Revelation 13” in The Jerome Bible Commentary (accessed 16 November 2005), available from http://biblia.com/jesusbible/maccabees25.htm, St. Jerome also sees Apollonius as another type of the second beast of Revelation 13.

16 Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince (1957; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1984), 208.