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Thursday
Dec182014

Turmoil, Terrorism, Racism . . . and an Inconvenient Christmas Message

Perhaps it was Al Gore who popularized the term “inconvenient truth.” Although his truth is disputable at best, it is a fact that real truth is often poorly received by the populous.

While few dispute that turmoil, terrorism, and racism fill our world, many people refuse to believe the real reason behind all this.

America has never been, nor will ever be, a perfect country. But there are not many other countries where people are lining up for hours to get in—not to mention the millions who sneak in illegally. So much for the imperfect country.

I totally understand the longing to come to this country. As someone who was not born in the U.S., but dreamed of America’s freedom, I am deeply grateful that I am “an American.” I am no hyphenated American. I love America’s exceptionalism and would gladly defend it.

But this country that I love is facing dark times. There are many questions to be asked:

Why does the American dream seem to be turning into a nightmare?

Why is racism on the rise despite having a black president?

Why are Christians who believe in Christian morals persecuted?

Why the sudden loss of so much liberty?

Why the colossal and unprecedented national debt?

Why the school shootings and suicides?

Why the distrust of governments and law enforcement officers?

Why the loss of peace of mind when the stock market is sizzling?

Why the loss of peace . . . period?

The answer should come screaming at us from the reason for this sacred season that we are currently celebrating. But even this season that should be ushering in peace has degenerated into the naked ugliness of materialism and consumerism. Now Black Friday shoppers end up with black eyes as they battle for prized Christmas gifts.

A cynic would be justified in asking, “Where is this Prince of Peace who came down from Heaven 2,000 years ago?”

Every Christmas we hear the story of the angels announcing the good news of peace. Yet, every year we seem to have less peace than the year before. More than any other time during my 60+ years, I am noticing how elusive peace in our society has become.

But herein lies the inconvenient truth: There can be no peace without the Prince of Peace at the center of life and society. And since our governments, courts, and educational institutions eliminate Jesus from public life, it stands to reason that peace will become more and more elusive.

No doubt some will accuse me of wanting to create a monotheistic government. But let me assure you, I love the system of government that our Founding Fathers envisioned, and I don’t have a monotheistic-government bone in my body.

Nonetheless, there are eternal and divine principles that transcend government systems. God gives us a choice; we can accept His divine moral principles or we can reject them.

The God who created us left the splendor of Heaven and came to earth 2,000 years ago to show us what is right and what is wrong. He invites us to come to Him and receive His peace, or we can reject Him and receive the consequences of our choice.

This Christmas, I appeal to those in authority. You have experienced the consequences of outlawing the only true peace-giver. Will you now admit that we are drinking from the well of the consequences of rejecting Him?

This Christmas, will you admit your failure?

Will you confess your arrogance?

Will you invite Him back?

Will you espouse Him and His moral laws without shame and embarrassment?

Will you stop harassing and persecuting His followers who are merely declaring His truth?

Will you stop your hate of those who are His?

Will you accept those who seek to live by His authority and the authority of His eternal morals?

This may be our final call as a nation to change our ways and plead His mercy upon our divided and troubled land. 

Friday
Nov212014

Why Do Leftist Liberals Love to Mislead?

Whether it’s church liberals or political liberals, they have at least one thing in common—they often speak one way, but walk in the opposite direction.

A prime example of that character trait comes from “Gruber-gate,” namely the recent scandal about remarks of Jonathan Gruber, a key architect of Obamacare. Mr. Gruber has stated that the bill’s passage was contingent on exploiting the “stupidity” of the American voter.

As with Mr. Gruber, most liberals—whether they’re from mainline denominations or liberal evangelical churches, or from the political sphere—believe that the average American is stupid.

As they view their world through that prism, they naturally use words and proclamations that are designed to mislead and sucker the poor saps.

Let’s first take a look at the world of religion.

Thirty years ago, well-organized forces opposed to biblical teaching began to invade the mainline denominations, which they viewed as “paternalistic.” Those forces couldn’t oppose biblical teaching directly, so they systematically used language to lull the unsuspecting into a soft surrender.

The misleaders used language such as: “We need to be loving to everyone.” Who could disagree with that? I mean, one could almost disagree with Jesus himself before disagreeing with that statement.

And they came with words like: “We are a big tent. We should include everyone.” And, again, who could quarrel with that?

What they intended all along, however, was to open the tent to all sorts of false beliefs, and even non-belief. Once they had conquered enough of the minds within the church, they moved in for the kill—namely, to crowd out the “close-minded” believers by making everyone in the tent convert to the new prevailing falsehood.

Of course, with the final move, out went the twin ruses of “loving everyone” and “the big tent.”

Similarly, when we look at this country’s national political developments, we find the same chapter and verse.

Once liberal progressives found an articulate spokesman in Barack Obama, they knew their moment had arrived. Who could ever forget his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004? Remember the smooth words that dreamed poetic about the desire for no red states nor blue states, but only United States?

 

Wow, a star was born! We would finally have that “big tent” in our political world, also.

Of course, in six years, we have traveled a long way from the dream of purplish, United States. We now have a leader in a permanent state of divisiveness. Now that a disapproving country is slowly waking up, he preaches a “my way or the highway” philosophy.

Any politicians who are inclined to oppose the president know that they will either have to get with the program or Mr. Obama will have the media slap the “obstructionist” label on them. So much for the big tent.

I pray regularly for our leaders, including Mr. Obama. As a Bible-believing Christian, I am commanded to do so—for not praying for our leaders is contrary to Scripture.

As a praying Christian who believes in the true message of “loving everyone,” I see a day when a heavy price will be paid by those who view godly, liberty-loving people as stupid. I fear for them.

They need to repent of their arrogance while there is still time. One day the truth will triumph, and all deceivers will have to face the Judge of the universe. I pray that they awake to their eternal reality soon.

Thursday
Oct022014

The Antichrist and the Muslim Mahdi (Part 2)

In my last article, I explained the Judeo-Christian understanding of the Antichrist, and that he will somehow be intertwined with Israel, and more specifically, Jerusalem.

Because Islam borrowed a great deal from Judaism and Christianity, it is not surprising that they too have a figure with a messianic complex—the Mahdi, or the Guided One.

Muslims see the Mahdi as a savior who will lead a global revolution and establish a worldwide Islamic empire. The Mahdi will rule the earth as the final Caliph of Islam (a caliph is both a political ruler and a spiritual representative of Allah on earth).

Muslims revere Jesus (whom they call Isa) as the Masih or Messiah. In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi will arrive at the same time that Isa returns. Isa will descend to earth in Syria, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes, and will assist the Mahdi, who will rule over the earth for seven years (or, in some Islamic traditions, nine or nineteen years). At the end of the Mahdi’s rule, there will be a Day of Judgment for the entire human race.

The parallels between the biblical Antichrist and the Mahdi of Islam are chilling. Both are associated with the End Times and the Judgment. Both possess political, military, and religious power, and head up a one-world religion. The Mahdi will force all non-Muslim people to convert to Islam. Like the Antichrist, the Mahdi will establish Jerusalem as his capital, from which he will rule the earth. Islamic scholars Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammad Arif write:

The Mahdi will be victorious and eradicate those pigs and dogs and the idols of this time so that there will once more be a caliphate based on prophethood as the hadith states. . . . Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi. . . . That will abolish the leadership of the Jews . . . and put an end to the domination of the Satan who spit evil into people and cause corruption in the earth, making them slaves of false idols and ruling the world by laws other than the Sharia [Islamic law] of the Lord of the worlds.[i]

Though Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet, they deny that Jesus is the Son of God. Jews and Christians are, to Muslim fundamentalists, “pigs and dogs” who must either convert to Islam or be eliminated. Bible prophecy makes it clear that the Antichrist will target Jews and Christians for destruction, just as Islamic prophecy states that the Mahdi will wage war against Jews and Christians. Those who oppose the Antichrist’s worldwide religion will be executed.

Muslim scholar Imam Muhammad Baqir states clearly how the Mahdi will establish his one-world religion: “There must be bloodshed and jihad to establish Imam Mahdi’s rule.” And Ayatollah Ibrahim al Amini of the Religious Learning Center in Qom, agrees: “The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it, they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed.”[ii]

Daniel tells us (and Jesus affirms in the Olivet Discourse) that the Antichrist will establish “the abomination that causes desolation” in the temple in Jerusalem. The apostle Paul adds that the Antichrist “will oppose and 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 Thessalonians 2:4). Since the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., as Jesus predicted, this has led some (not all Christians) to suggest that the Jewish temple must be rebuilt on the Temple Mount before the Antichrist can be revealed to the world.

Yet the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque stand on the Temple Mount today. One of the Islamic Hadiths (traditions) records that their Prophet Muhammad said, “[Armies carrying] black flags will come from Khurasan [Iran and Afghanistan], no power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Eela [the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem] where they will erect their flags.” In Islamic tradition, black banners symbolize violent conquest, and Muslims await the Mahdi’s conquest of Jerusalem, when he establishes his reign from the temple site.

Daniel 9:27 tells us the Antichrist will establish a seven-year covenant with Israel—but he will break the covenant after three and a half years, defiling the temple with “an abomination that causes desolation.” The Hadiths of Islam also speak of a seven-year covenant that the Mahdi makes with Israel: “The Prophet said: There will be four peace agreements between you and the Romans. The fourth will be mediated through a person who will be from the progeny of Hadrat Aaron [Honorable Aaron, the brother of Moses] and will be upheld for seven years.”[iii]

There can be no doubt: Muslims are preparing to accept the Mahdi as their leader—and the Mahdi is indistinguishable from the world leader we know as the Antichrist.

I bring all of this to your attention so we can have a knowledgeable perspective when viewing current events unfolding in the Middle East.

But Christians should not fear.

Regardless of whether the Antichrist comes in this generation or a hundred years from now, those who have placed their faith in God’s Messiah, Jesus the Christ, fear no one nor even death. Their eternity is secure in the one who is the only one to defeat death and rise from the grave.

 


[i] Chris Mitchell, Dateline Jerusalem: An Eyewitness Account of the Prophecies Unfolding in the Middle East (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 69-70.

[ii] Gary Barbknecht, We the People: An Action Guide (Indianapolis, Dog Ear Publishing, 2010), 108.

[iii] Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammad Arif, Al Mahdi and the End of Time, (London: Dar Al-Taqwa, 1997), 40.

Friday
Sep262014

The Antichrist and the Muslim Mahdi (Part 1)

Many people—religious and non-religious—are asking questions about a word they hear the media use when referring to ISIS and other Islamist jihadists. That word is apocalyptic, which is used when specifically referring to the fatalism of Islamists.

People wonder, why do so many Muslims (both Sunni and Shiite) operate with such an “apocalyptic,” end-of-world mindset?

Our secular society, however, coupled with the media’s carelessness, is bandying about words like apocalyptic without using them properly and without explanation. That creates a great deal of confusion for some, many of which just throw up their hands in resignation and say, “I don’t understand this.”

But for those who want to understand, I am offering this 2-part column, taking excerpts from my newest book, Jesus, Jihad, and Peace. I hope this will put things into perspective, so when the media says that an Islamist entity (such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, etc.) operate with an apocalyptic vision, you can make sense of it.

The word apocalypse does not, in fact, refer to a disastrous, catastrophic, end-of-world event. It’s a Greek word, the root of which means revelation, or revealing things that are hidden. For instance, we know the last book of the Bible as Revelation, but in the original Greek language, it is Apokalupsae. It reveals what is happening in the heavenly realm, as well as events in the future.

The Concept of the Antichrist

Both the Old Testament and New Testament spoke of an end-times figure, the Antichrist, some six hundred years or more before Islam came on the scene. That timing will be important when I explain Islam’s “end of time” coming of a Mahdi in my next column.

The Antichrist is known by various names. Paul calls him “the lawless one,”  “the man of lawlessness,” and “the man doomed to destruction” 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 Thessalonians 2:1-12). The most detailed description of the Antichrist is in Revelation 13, where the Apostle John refers to the Antichrist as “the beast.” The Old Testament prophet Daniel describes the abominable works of the Antichrist, but gives him no name or title (Daniel 9:27).

Who, then, is the Antichrist, whose brief but terrible reign is predicted in both the Old and New Testaments? He will be a world leader of unparalleled political, military, and religious power. He will be charming, persuasive, and popular beyond measure. The world will not know him as the “Antichrist,” but by some attractive name and appealing title. But just as the word “Antichrist” suggests, he will be the opposite of the Lord Jesus Christ in every way. Everything Christ is, the Antichrist is not; everything Christ is not, the Antichrist is.

Jesus came from heaven (John 6:38); the Antichrist comes from the Abyss, the spiritual domain of evil (Revelation 11:7). Jesus came in the name of the Father; the Antichrist comes in his own name (John 5:43). Jesus was despised by the world (Isaiah 53:3); the Antichrist is worshiped by the world (Revelation 13:3-4). Jesus came in humility as a servant (Philippians 2:7-8); the Antichrist comes in pride, claiming to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 11:36). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6); the Antichrist is the lie (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1; Luke 1:35); the Antichrist is the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV).

The Apostle Paul tells us that the mystery (or secret) of godliness is that God Himself has appeared to us in human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16)—and that the mystery (or secret) of lawlessness is that Satan has produced a counterfeit Christ, the Antichrist, Satan wrapped in human flesh (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8). Jesus is the true Shepherd; Satan will have his evil shepherd, the Antichrist. Jesus is the Holy One of God; the Antichrist will be the lawless one of Satan. Jesus is the Man of Sorrows; the Antichrist will be the man of sin.

One Antichrist and many antichrists

First of all, the Antichrist is coming—a lawless man who will come in Satan’s power, demanding to be worshiped as God, destroying all those who love God. But John tells us that there are many other antichrists, lesser deceivers who are also self-exalting, evil, and destructive. They are antichrists, but they are not the Antichrist.

Jesus tells us that, shortly before His return, the Antichrist will arise during a time of global chaos and confusion, when the world is in political, social, financial, and ecological upheaval. The terrified people of the world, desperate for a strong leader, will turn to this man and give him control of the governments of the world.

Daniel tells us that the Antichrist will speak “boastfully” (Daniel 7:8), yet it is clear that these will not be empty boasts. The Antichrist will appear to possess superhuman brilliance. He’ll be the ultimate smooth talker, the greatest con-man who ever lived, and he’ll unite the nations under his rule. At first, he’ll seem to be a wise and benevolent dictator, bringing peace, prosperity, and hope. But once he is firmly in control of the gears and levers of power, he’ll reveal his true intentions.

The way has been paved for such a leader. Atheists, humanists, New Age mystics, Hindus, Buddhists, and Islamists have little in common with each other—but they all share in the belief that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. There are even many self-styled “Christians” who deny the Lord’s claim to be the only way to God. So it will be easy for the Antichrist to establish himself to many as an acceptable alternative.

In these days of muddled and confused worldviews, it is vitally important to know the truth. After all, Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” As events unfold, we need to see them not only through the cameraman’s lens, but also through the lens of biblical revelation.

That the Antichrist is coming is known—only the timing is unknown. Although we know not the hour of night that the thief comes, we must be prepared nonetheless.

In next week’s article (Part 2), we’ll take a look at the striking parallels between the Antichrist and Islam’s Mahdi (savior).