Saturday, September 20, 2008

America and prophecy. Where is America?

I am frequently asked about the role of America in biblical "end-times" prophecy. Often the question arises "What does the bible have to say about America's role in prophecy?

The short answer is "nothing". The bible does not address America in any way in our end-times prophetic scriptures.

What does this mean?

This answer is more difficult. The books of Daniel and Revelation, which include detailed accounts of the events of the seven-year Tribulation, give great detail to the world's powers during the last days of "this generation". We hear about the growth of the revival of the Roman Empire, which we consider to be currently represented by the EU/Mediterranian Union; we read about the "Kings of the East", and their military forces; we also read about other potent countries and regions, mainly located in the European theatre, but nothing whatsoever as far as America. In fact, we don't even see scriptures which mention our general region of the world.

Its hard to imagine that America would not have a significant role in end-times prophecy, with such epic, world-wide events taking place, but the fact remains, America is not mentioned, either by name, or by region. There are several theories which attempt to explain this:

- The first and perhaps the most plausable theory is the Rapture of the Church, creates a scenario which would immediately weaken the U.S. and create financial and military collapse. The most obvious rebuttal to this theory is that the entire world would be affected by the Rapture, but a closer analysis might lend more information. The fact is, the U.S. has a greater percentage of Christians than the countries/regions that ARE mentioned in prophetic scriptures. We know that the Islamic countries, surrpunding Israel will be a potent force, and the Rapture of the Church will create little damage to these countries/regions. Unfortunately, Europe is in the same situation, as the Church is dying a slow death in most European countries. The same can be said for the "Kings of the East", a vague reference to the regions east of the Euphrates River, which are not predominately Christian. This theory holds that the U.S. would be damaged far more than these other countries and the financial and military collapse due to the Rapture would weaken the U.S. irreversibly, and essentially remove the U.S. from the world stage.

- A second theory considers the fact that Islamic terrorists, who are committed to destroying the U.S. and Israel, may finally acquire weapons of mass destruction and damage the U.S. with a series of nuclear, chemical or biological attacks, or perhaps an "EMP" (electro-magnetic pulse) attack, all of which could render the U.S. as completely ineffective during these final years.

- Yet another theory considers a possible financial collapse of the U.S. as hastened by China, Russia and other countries manipulating the dollar and global oil in order to severely weaken the U.S.

There are other theories as well, but the above seem the most plausable. We could also see a combination of the above.

Regardless, we do have some instructions from God, which should direct our path during these difficult times,.

First, we are told to NOT have a spirit of fear. We must remember that God remains firmly in control, and He has given us the final chapters of earth's history. We know how the book ends, we just don't have every detail. Jesus began His dissertation on end-times prophecy by telling us not to face these days with fear: "...but see to it that you are not alarmed" (Matt. 24:6). Even more comforting, Jesus informed us of another germane fact: "Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near." (Luke 21:31)

If the above scriptures aren't comforting, then we may focus on this message from Jesus: "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28)

We are told not to have fear during these times. We are also told to "watch" for His return during these times. Lastly, we are told that by seeing the various signs around us, which are in abundance, we should know that His return is near.

These are not empty words. These are not words to ignore. These are not words to dismiss.

As we face these last days, the temptation is to submit to fear - fear that we could face economic collapse; fear that the U.S. could be attacked by terrorists, making 9/11 look like a minor event; fear of an uncertian future. But the future is very very certian. We have promises from Jesus; we have assurance from Jesus; we have absolute certianty about our future.

There is a certian irony in all of this. The more uncertian the world around us seems, the more assurance we should receive from the scriptures - Jesus knew we would be facing these times, and He responded by reassurance, hope and knowledge. When things look the bleakest, we should have our strongest convictions. When the world around us seems the most ominous is when we should be the most optimistic - because our future is certian.

Jesus told us to forget about fear, and to focus on His return.

Good news in bad times. Keep watching: His return near. Its a promise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Rumors of War

We're watching developments in the Middle East very closely. Most end times events are centered around Israel and the surrounding countries who are sworn enemies of Israel, consistently calling for Israel's destruction.

Just this week, we can see this powder keg nearing an event which would serve as the triggering mechanism in the region. We believe this event to be an ominous and seemingly imminent conflict between Iran and Israel. In one article this week we can see the window of opportunity for Israel to take action is rapidly closing.

In a separate article we observe the fact that Iran's nuclear facility, as built primarily by Russia, is reaching its final stages.

The clock continues to tick. Each passing day brings us closer and closer to the final prophetic events which will close this era of history. The Tribulation is rapidly approaching and that fact should be of tremendous comfort to those Christians who are obedient to Christ's multiple commands to watch for the world events which indicate His coming is near:

Luke 21:36: "Be always on the watch, and pray..."
Mark 13:33: "Be on guard! Be Alert! You do not know when that time will come."
Mark 13:35: "Therefore keep watch..."
Mark 13:37: "What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!"
Matthew 24:42: Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."
Matthew 25:13: "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Jesus also gave us additional instructions:

Luke 21:31: "Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the Kingdom of God is near."
Mark 13:29: "Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door."

But perhaps more importantly, Jesus gave us the following bit of information - one that should give us hope and comfort during these perilous times:

"When you see these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

We are most definitely seeing "these things" - a reference to the various signs that could be observed - signs that indicate we are indeed living in that last generation.. The signs are all here. It can only mean one thing. Our redemption is drawing near.

It is always good to have a periodic reminder of the promises given by Jesus. We should be watching. And we should also be acutely aware that our redemption is close. Jesus is close. He is at the door.

Are you ready?