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End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi

End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi


Jesus, Jihad and Peace

Jesus, Jihad and Peace 

Leadership

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Blindsided

Tuesday
Jun212016

Do You Know Your Enemy?

Recently, I introduced a new series based on my book, End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi: Unlocking the Mystery of Revelation and the Antichrist. In this series, we examine current events in light of End Times prophecies, and we address how to live confidently in these turbulent times.

During this age of global terrorism, it seems we often don’t know who our enemy is. Many politicians cannot even bring themselves to utter the words “radical Islam,” let alone understand that many Muslims actually don’t want “peace” nor “democracy.”

We’ve forgotten one of the oldest adages of conflict: know your enemy. 

When studying the End Times, that adage also applies. 

In the Book of Revelation, we meet the Enemy, the Antichrist, at the dawn of the Great Tribulation. Through a detailed vision, the apostle John describes the backdrop to the Antichrist’s rise: 

  •  Revelation 6:1 to 8:5 records the opening of the seven seals, which ushers in a time of unprecedented death and destruction.
  •  Revelation 8:6 through Revelation 11 describes the seven trumpets of judgment, which announce scene after scene of further devastation. 
  •  Revelation 12 then introduces the Dragon, who symbolizes Satan. The enormous red dragon has seven heads and ten horns, representing his immortality and powers.

The first four seals each summon forth a rider on horseback. The first rider comes on a white horse, symbolizing the false promise of peace. This is the Antichrist, arriving on the world scene. During times of terror, he will pose as a champion of peace, a master diplomat, a broker of treaties.  

He will be Satan’s most impressive and frightening creation. John calls him “the Beast,” and describes him in symbolic terms: “The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name” (Revelation 13:1). 

Sound familiar?

Clearly, the Dragon fashions the Beast in his own image. The Beast will have his father’s distinctive traits, except for immortality. He will only seem to be immortal and all-powerful, deceiving the world and causing millions to worship him. 

Just as Jesus is the full expression of God the Father in human form, the Antichrist will be the full expression of Satan in human form. 

During his reign, the Antichrist will make a formal covenant with Israel for seven years. He will permit Israel to restore the Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., as well as revive the old traditions of Judaism, including animal sacrifices.

But halfway through that 7-year period, the Antichrist will display his treachery and abrogate the covenant. At the altar where the Jewish priests make sacrifices, the Antichrist will set up “an abomination that causes desolation” and defile the Temple. 

The Antichrist will demand that he, and he alone, be worshipped. 

Satan Preparing the World

But Revelation isn’t the only End Times prophecy among the major monotheistic religions. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam devote significant attention to End Times prophecies, and those prophecies share many similarities. They focus largely on events near Jerusalem; they predict the coming of a Messiah; and they see a Final War.

Despite those similarities, there are major differences between biblical prophecies and the prophetic passages of the Quran. One of the most significant differences is the central figure of the Imam Mahdi (Mahdi means “the Guided One”). 

Muslims view the Imam Mahdi as a savior who will lead a revolution to establish a global empire, the final Caliphate. The Mahdi will rule the Earth as the rightful successor to the Prophet Mohammed.  

The Islamic global empire will not be based on peace or love; instead, it will be an earthly militant kingdom under the banner of Islam, which people either will accept or be killed.  

Interestingly, the Mahdi bears a striking resemblance not to the biblical Christ, but to the biblical Antichrist. 

When you study Islamic eschatology, you discover that the Mahdi has all of the power and authority of the Antichrist. Both the Mahdi and the Antichrist possess supreme political and religious authority. They will be worshiped as the head of a one-world religion. Like the Antichrist, the Mahdi will establish his capital in Jerusalem and rule the world from there. 

The Bible says that the Antichrist will target Jews and Christians for destruction; Islamic eschatology says the Mahdi will wage war against Jews and Christians. Those who oppose the Antichrist will be executed; those who oppose the Mahdi will be executed. Like the 7-year covenant that the Antichrist will make with Israel, the Mahdi will make a 7-year agreement with the “Romans”—that is, the nations of Europe. 

Why are there so many striking similarities? 

There’s little doubt to me that Satan is preparing Muslims to accept the Antichrist as their leader. When this counterfeit “savior” arises to impose his bloody reign, Muslims will be well-prepared to welcome him as their long-promised Mahdi.  

But Satan hasn’t been preparing Muslims alone; for centuries he’s been preparing the world for the Antichrist. Today, he is persuading masses of people — including many Christians — that all religions ought to shed their differences. 

The idea of universalism grows ever stronger—the idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere; there are many paths to God, and a loving God wouldn’t turn anyone away.  

Those sentiments sound reasonable according to worldly wisdom, but it doesn’t come from God’s Word. It comes from Satan. In our fascination with End Times prophecy, we forget that the spirit of the Antichrist is already among us.  

The Antichrist with a capital “A” hasn’t been revealed, but antichrists with a small “a” are all around us, spreading false teaching. As the apostle John wrote, “...as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). 

Anyone who teaches that Jesus is one of many ways to God is an antichrist. Anyone who denies Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father is an antichrist. 

The false religion of the Antichrist is not some future religion that will arise during the End Times. It is with us today. It infects the church and pervades our culture.  

The Victory is in Christ Alone

Universalism will feed right into the Antichrist’s schemes for a one-world, false religion. But in the end, he will turn on that false religious system and destroy it. 

Ultimately, the Antichrist will view the false religious system, not as an ally, but as a competitor. He’ll want the whole world to worship him alone. His alliance with the false religious system will last only as long as he benefits. 

But he will be faced with opposition. In Revelation 11, we meet two witnesses who proclaim the Gospel. Though Scripture doesn’t identify these witnesses, they have all the earmarks of Moses and Elijah. They will give testimony for three and a half years, but then the Beast will overpower and kill them. The corrupt government of the Antichrist will leave their corpses in the public square of the great city, where also our Lord was crucified. 

Why will these witnesses warrant execution? Because they will preach God’s message. And by simply speaking the truth, they torment the people of the Earth. 

Today, we see an ever-rising intolerance toward the truth. If you compromise the message of Jesus, the world will love you. But if you proclaim Jesus without compromise, the world will hate you.  

After the bodies of the witnesses lie abandoned for three and a half days, God will breathe life into them again, and they will come to their feet. Everyone around the world will be struck with terror. 

Then the people will finally give glory to God. But they are still unrepentant; it is out of their terror that they give glory to God in order to appease Him. 

Up until the End Times—through thousands of years of human history, sin, and rebellion—God has been patient. Despite the human race blaspheming and rejecting Him, and despite the ungodly persecuting and killing His people, God has withheld His judgment and wrath. 

For now, God continues to entreat people to repent, and to receive His Son, Jesus. But when the day of wrath comes, there will be no second chances. 

The apostle Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). 

Today, the window of salvation is still open—but for how long? God’s patience will come to an end. Let no one assume that He will tolerate rebellion forever. 

Although the scenes of Revelation are disturbing, in the end, God and His people will prevail. Through the Antichrist’s schemes, God will destroy the false religious system—just before He destroys the Antichrist himself.

So don’t lose hope. None of the trials to come can separate us from God’s love and His plan for us. 

As Paul reminds us: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 35, 37).

Therefore, we should spiritually prepare ourselves. Revelation’s central message is not the end of this world, but the glorious unveiling of the New Heaven and the New Earth.

That does not leave us in despair. It lifts our spirits and ignites our passion to witness for Christ. 

I’m more excited today about God’s prophetic Word than at any other time in my life. These are great times for sharing the saving knowledge of our victorious Lord Jesus. I’m grateful to be living in these exciting days.

Thursday
Jun162016

Confusion in Babylon, and in America

The confusion in our culture today is akin to a similar time, thousands of years ago, when the people of God had abandoned Him. Out of their arrogance and defiance of God, Nimrod lead them to build a tower to the worship of the Zodiac, another form of self-gratification. God on His part sent them a spirit of confusion. Their speech became unintelligible.

Today, I am compelled to write this post out of sheer frustration at the "babbling" of our own culture. Nothing highlights this spirit of confusion and brings it to the surface more than what we are seeing now at this latest chapter in Islamic terrorism, the Orlando tragedy.

All of the fingers of blame are now pointing everywhere except where they should be pointing. 

In response to the Orlando tragedy, we see fingers pointed at God, pointed at Islam as a whole, or in the one of the more bizarre accusations from a Planned Parenthood offshoot, pointed at a "toxic masculinity & a global culture of imperialist homophobia."

And to top it all, an ACLU staff attorney blamed conservative Christians. Directing his comments to Christians on Sunday, Chase Strangio tweeted: "You know what is gross — your thoughts and prayers and Islamophobia after you created this anti-queer climate."

However, it is the Christian Bible that can actually tell us what is going on. Throughout Scripture, we clearly see that whenever God is out, confusion is in. When God is abandoned, bloodshed reigns.

That is as simple as when you flip the light switch to the off position and the light goes out. Pointing fingers, or trying to analyze how the light went out and who caused it, is no different than mass hysteria.  

Our courts, our government, and our society have long since convinced themselves that biblical morality, or biblical absolutes; have no place in modern "civilized" society. The "absolutes are obsolete." 

But whether they know it or not, by rejecting God’s moral absolutes, they also reject the very God who authored those absolutes. And when God is rejected, His Spirit departs our shore. It’s like flipping that switch to the off position. Only in this case, the Light of the World goes out.

God does not sit in heaven, thinking, How can I hurt these people? Instead, we are only experiencing the natural result of our rejecting Him. 

I know that doesn’t make sense to the spiritually blind. For them, unfortunately, it makes no difference whether the light is on or off. But the children of the light need to understand that our actions have consequences. 

Long ago, Israel had likewise persisted in compromising their faith in Yah-weh. They worshipped self-serving gods and left God no choice but to depart. And when God’s Spirit departed, the Babylonian terrorists showed up.

Then, as with now, confusion ensued. Even prophets pointed fingers and blamed each other for the disaster. All the false prophets who opposed the prophet of God, Jeremiah, wanted to kill him because his prophecy had come to pass.

Now during this tragic time when so many of our fellow citizens are bereaved, we must earnestly pray for them and offer our deepest condolences. In the midst of their loss, we should pray that they will know God as their comforter. 

And above all, we must rend our hearts in repentance on behalf of our nation. We need to cry out to God, in that well-known song, "Come back to our land . . . come back to our land!"

I have no assurance if God will answer our prayers and bless us with His presence once again. But we must keep asking. As Scripture says, "A contrite and broken heart, God will not despise."

Friday
Jun102016

The Relevant Revelation

In my recent book, End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi: Unlocking the Mystery of Revelation and the Antichrist, I offer an action plan for living confidently in today’s turbulent times. 

During the next several posts, I will draw from this book to examine current events in light of end-times prophecies. Today’s post follows Part I of the book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

God has used the Book of Revelation as the capstone of the entire Bible. It reveals the ultimate fulfillment of prophecies going back to the beginning of Genesis. And through that, we can discover how to apply those insights to our lives today.

Atheist philosophers tell us that human life is meaningless. But Revelation assures us that God cares greatly about our individual lives — and about the future of Planet Earth. Although things seem to be spinning out of control, God has a triumphant conclusion planned.

But are we ready? Are we ready today for that conclusion?

Though Jesus could return at any time, the signs seem to be aligning for His return sooner rather than later. 

Every day, there is more terrible news from the Middle East — the very region where history began and where it will all end. 

Today, the nation of Israel, the Holy Land, seems all but isolated, including from its old ally, the United States.

Today, more Christians are martyred than ever before.

Today, the rapid and ruthless rise of ISIS has resulted in an actual state that controls large regions of Iraq and Syria, plus parts of Nigeria, Libya, and Southeast Asia.

The ISIS reign of terror crosses national borders, enforcing its rule with beheadings and mass slaughter. But although it is brutal, ISIS provides stability, and many who live under ISIS control welcome the stability of oppression.

I’m not saying that ISIS is the precursor to the Antichrist. But as we look at the horror coming out of the Middle East, it is impossible not to compare those scenes with the Antichrist’s reign of terror, as described in Daniel, Revelation, and other prophetic passages of Scripture.

Daniel tells us that during the time of the Antichrist “there will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (Daniel 12:1).

But the signs go far beyond Middle East conflict and much closer to home.

Today, the United States federal debt stands at $18.6 trillion, 74 percent of the GDP. And entitlement spending will soon explode the debt sky-high. Those who pay attention to the global debt crisis can easily envision the global economic collapse described in Revelation 18.   

Also today, we see US government officials trampling our First Amendment rights in ways unthinkable a few years ago.  

Today, religious liberty is endangered as it takes a backseat to political correctness.

Today, fundamental truths about gender and sexual behavior are cast aside, by secular and religious authorities alike. 

Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that in the church there would be a great “falling away” from the faith before the Day of the Lord. We already see a great “falling away” in the evangelical church. Many churches that once preached the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ have defected. 

Why is all this happening now? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but here’s my opinion:

I believe Satan is intensifying his actions against Christians because he senses that time is growing short. He is desperate to do as much damage as he can, to cause as much suffering as he can, to take as many souls with him as he can.  

Although the headlines are filled with evidence that society is on a collision course with the Book of Revelation, don’t be alarmed.  

God did not give us the Book of Revelation to frighten us, or certainly to let us predict the future. God alone knows the future. But He did give us the Book of Revelation to motivate and encourage us. 

Between the bookends of Genesis and Revelation, the Bible spans the history of the human race. Genesis tells the story of humanity’s creation and fall. Revelation describes the redemption and eternal destiny of all believers.

The Book of Revelation is indispensable. If we did not have Revelation, we would have an incomplete picture of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. 

The Old Testament presents a picture of Jesus, the promised Messiah. The Gospels present a picture of Jesus, the Teacher, Leader, Servant, the Crucified and Risen One. The Book of Acts gives us Jesus as the Ascended One. In the epistles, we see Jesus as Savior and Lord. 

But only in Revelation do we see Jesus fully glorified, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Judge of all.

In Revelation 1:8, the Lord says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” But the Alpha-Omega statement also appears at the end of Revelation. In Revelation 22:13, the Lord says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 

Jesus is saying: “I was here at the beginning, I am here now, and I will be here at the end. I was here at Creation, and I will be here when Heaven and Earth are made new.” Jesus is the King of Glory, worthy of honor and praise — the Lord of the Beginning and the End.

John, who was probably closest to Jesus of the Twelve, looked at the glorified Jesus and didn’t say, “I saw my good friend Jesus.” He said, “I saw someone like a son of man.” 

Then he proceeded to describe the Lord’s appearance. The Lord was:

…dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Revelation 1:13b-16).

The sight of the glorified Jesus was so awesome that John “fell at his feet as though dead.” 

Certainly we must long for the day when we will see Jesus fully magnified and ruling over all. But as readers of Revelation know, there will be a Great Tribulation, too. But when will that happen? And will the Lord take His church out of the world before the Great Tribulation begins? Only God knows the answers. 

But let’s not get sidetracked by minor details, because then we might miss the big picture. The “big picture” themes of the Book of Revelation are:

First, all who welcome Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be welcomed into Heaven when He returns. 

Second, Jesus will return as He promised. 

Third, Jesus will sit in righteous judgment over all who have refused to accept Him as Lord and Savior during their earthly lives.

Fourth, when Jesus appears, all who love Him will be with Him forever.

Christians of good will may debate the details of this prophecy, but those four principles are beyond debate. 

So we must be ready. As Jesus tells us:   

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Matthew 24:42-44).

If we study the Book of Revelation, it will not merely increase our knowledge. It will change our lives. Because of its life-changing truths, you and I can live each day with eternity in our hearts.

Are we ready for the Lord’s return? 

Thursday
Jan282016

End Times Secret

I have taken a hiatus from writing my blog in the last several months for a number of reasons; one of which was to write my new book, “End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi.” www.endtimessecret.com

This book is born out of studying the Scriptures regarding the End Times while simultaneously examining the widespread rise of Islamic thoughts on the subject. Perhaps the most amazing fact I uncovered is the shocking similarity between the biblical “antichrist” and the Muslim “Mahdi.”

Most Christians recognize that the rise and the fall of the biblical antichrist will lead to the return of the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ. Yet while we anticipate the return of the true Messiah, many modern Islamic writers (both Shiites and Sunnis) have a heightened sense of expectation regarding the appearance of their “messiah,” the Mahdi. To be sure, Sunni and Shiites do not agree on many of the details, but both anticipate the rise of such a person.

 

  •  Sunni Muslims believe that the Mahdi is none other than Jesus himself, whom they do not believe died on Calvary but rather ascended into heaven at the age of 33. They believe He will come back to earth and live for seven years at the end of which He will visit Mecca and declare himself a Muslim. Allegedly He will then turn against the Christians and the Jews and judge the world by establishing the Islamic Sharia.
  •  Shiite Islam has a different view of the Mahdi. Since they follow a different line of succession to Mohammed, their Mahdi (messiah) is identified as the “Twelfth Imam.” He was born in the 9th century, became Imam at the age of five, and supposedly vanished in an event called the “occultation.” Shiites believe that this Mahdi is alive now but hidden until Allah reveals him at a time when the earth is in political and economical turmoil.

 

Now consider the biblical depiction of the antichrist. Paul refers to him as “the man of lawlessness,” “the man doomed to destruction,” and “the lawless one.” Second Thessalonians describes him as one “who will exalt himself over everything that is called god or is worshiped so that he sets himself up in God’s temple proclaiming himself to be God.” (2:3-4, 8). (See also Revelation 13). In Mathew 24 Jesus affirms Daniel’s prophecy regarding the rise of the antichrist, noting that his arrival will spell out the End of the Age. (See Daniel 9:27)

The similarities between the Mahdi and the antichrist are chilling:

1)  Both are associated with the End Times and the Day of Judgment.

2)  They both possess political, military, and religious power.

3)  Both will endeavor to bring the world under one religion.

4)  The Mahdi will force all people to convert to Islam, and the antichrist will make himself the object of worship.

5)  Both will establish Jerusalem as the capital from which they will rule the world.

Whether you are a person who sees value in this or not, I write as a committed Bible- believing Christian who has spent many years in biblical study. My conclusion is simple but not simplistic.

Christ and Christ alone is the hope of the world. He spiritually rules in the hearts of His followers, but the day is coming when He will return to destroy ALL of the antichrists, regardless of their names. Jesus of Nazareth alone will reign and rule forever! 

In this charged political season, we do well to remember that we are not voting for a savior but a servant—one who needs to demonstrate that if he/she has served God faithfully, it is a clear indication that he/she will serve the nation similarly.

If you are looking to someone with a messianic complex, then he/she will simply pave the way for the biblical antichrist, Satan’s sinister representative, who will lead many away from the truth.

Choose wisely and prayerfully!