Here is a analytic thought exploriment for you: Sit down and juxtapose current events (especially the darker side of the news) with the prophecies in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. I suspect that if you weren’t concerned about where civilization is headed before this exercise, you likely will be afterwards.
If you happen to be a Baby Boomer you probably have watched a succession of popular books and films on eschatology themes (“End of Era” events and corresponding prophecies) such as those of Hal Lindsey (Author of the bestselling 1970 book, “The Late Great Planet Earth“) come and go. A look back through these makes it very clear that nailing down the “End Times” is an iffy enterprise. However, today events are unfolding that line up with ancient prophecies in ways that are both starling and difficult to dismiss or gloss over.
And it isn’t believers in the mainstream religions that are blogging and tweeting on “End Times” prophecy. The Web abounds with fearful speculation on the part of people who are more secular in their thinking than religious or spiritual.
Many people are turning to prophecy teachers for help in piecing together and understanding what is unfolding. They are not so much asking “Is this stuff true?” but, rather, are saying things like “The books of Daniel and Revelation (among others) are being fulfilled right before our eyes. But are we yet in the End Times?”
There is no lack of books and videos by prophecy experts who have tackled this question. One of most cogent recent books (which I recommend) is Sid Roth’s book* “Sooner Than You Think: A Prophetic Guide to the End Times“.
I have read Roth’s book and probably one hundred other recent tomes on the subject, distilled down what I deem on target, and come up with the following tentative conclusions:
First off, I do, yes, believe we are on the cusp of what is so oft called “The End Times”. However, with this said I do not believe we are not as close as some writers and believers think, although things could come together quickly to herald in the “final chapter”.
We are, I believe, at a crossroads in history in which the timing of prophetic events rests with what people (especially believers) do or don’t do. If for instance, believers intercede and begin behaving themselves and eschewing sin, then I believe the Almighty will give humankind more time before the seven year “Great Tribulation” kicks off. But if believers do not make teshuvah (i.e., repent & then do what is pure, right & holy) and get their ducks in a row in every respect, the Great Tribulation could commence in no time at all.
Here is what I am certain must happen that will signal we are entering the seven year Great Tribulation:
Before I get into the meat of the matter, let me share some thoughts on the very popular line of speculation that states a future Mahdi will be the Anti-Messiah, i.e., a phony messiah who gives lip service to keeping the rules governing Jewish conduct laid out in Torah but whose actions will encourage lawlessness. This is illogical as the prophesied Anti-Messiah is a false messiah, and the only way this man could qualify as a messiah Jews will accept is to be Jewish. However, with this said it is possible the anticipated Mahdi could fulfill the prophesized role of “False Prophet”.
Now for a rundown of “what’s coming down the pike” including those specific events that precede and declare that “The Great Tribulation Lies Immediately Ahead”:
(1) There will be a war in the Middle East in which Iran, Syria and other Arab countries will try to attack & conquer Israel. This is prophesied in Psalms 83. This invasion will fail. However, I believe that during the attack an Arab or other missile will veer off its prescribed path and strike and destroy the Dome of the Rock (The one major physical impediment to the rebuilding of the Temple). Damascus will also be utterly destroyed. As a result of Israel’s victory, she will also acquire vast new territory and think herself safe. Walls will come down and a false sense of invulnerability will take hold.
(2) With the Dome of the Rock gone and the Islamic world paralyzed by widespread destruction, Israel will be commence building the Third Temple unopposed and, following its completion, resume animal sacrifices for sin (Check out The Temple Institute’s website at https://www.templeinstitute.org/ and http://www.jewishroots.net/library/end-times/rebuilding_the_temple.html).
(3) During this period of time the world will be in economic and social chaos, most likely due to the Psalms 83 Arab-Israeli war and the destruction of many oil refineries and other industrial complexes across the region (Not to mention nuclear contamination unleashed by the military destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities and any others in existence in the area at the time). Things will get so bad that it will seem as though the 1930s in Germany have come roaring back (As in it will take a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread). Stocks and such will likely become worthless or nearly so. And, as you might expect, It is during this dire time — when the world is desperate for leadership that will set things right — that the Anti-Messiah will rise to power rapidly and forge a peace treaty that will formally end Arab-Israeli hostilities (A prophesied 7 year peace covenant)..
(4) At the mid-point of his reign, the Anti-Messiah will enter the Temple in Jerusalem and declare that he is not only the Jewish messiah, but divine or semi-divine to boot (A malignant narcissist whose self-serving evil will dwarf that of his “spiritual predecessor and twin”, Adolf Hitler). This will result in the Jewish people (among others including genuine Christian believers) turning against the evil one’s regime.
(5) Following the Anti-Messiah’s sacrilegious announcement, the “Wrath of Satan” laid out in the book of Revelation will then begin. This includes almost 3.5 full years of persecution (Jews and believers) and the inauguration of a cashless economic system in which only those who embrace the Anti-Messiah as their source and take his “mark” (radio frequency identification biochip most likely) will have access to goods & services. The church will see the “Great Apostasy” unfold quickly, as many believers will be expecting to be spared the Great Tribulation and will be unable to deal with living in the midst of it (A great many will willingly receive the implant and even turn against believers who do not). Apparently, though, there will be “cities of refuge” in which genuine believers who have God’s favor will be able to escape the reach of the Anti-Messiah. [This “Pre-Wrath” perspective is ably laid out in Sid Roth’s book and also in Robert Van Kampen’s “The Sign” (1992) and his “The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple” (1997), among other cogently argued works on the subject]
(6) Towards the end of the 3.5 year Great Tribulation period, perhaps about 45 days before the final curtain goes down, God’s Wrath will be loosed on the inhabitants of this planet. As believers will not be subject to this, they will be removed to Heaven (Parousia or Rapture). They and all the saints in Glory will return with Messiah at the end of this period of God’s Wrath to restore & inaugurate the Almighty’s reign over men.
So, bottom-line — once people see the Psalm 83 war, the construction of the Third Temple, and the enactment of a 7 year peace treaty between Israel and her Arab neighbors (and possibly others), the Great Tribulation will be at-hand. I am hoping and praying this will not happen for many decades yet. However, if believers (and it is they and not unbelievers who stay God’s anger with sin) continue to “play church”, chase women, drink heavily, and pretty much do whatever the world offers in the way of pleasure & narcissistic self-indulgence, the Great Tribulation could be realized within a few year’s time.
The good news is that many, many ministers, priests and others – men and women who have been given the gift of prophecy by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), – are saying a Great Awakening (like those in past history such as the one spearheaded by John Wesley) is coming to America and to other lands as well. Many of these spiritual turnaround periods lasted for decades. If this one does, then the Great Tribulation will (I posit) come to pass in the 2060s.
* Readers interested in hearing what Sid Roth has to share from his book and other sources, should click this link (Video)
YOUR “GET SPIRITUALLY EMPOWERED CRASH COURSE”:
- Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness by Dr. Michael L. Brown
- Good or God? by John Bevere
- Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible by Larry Sparks
But let me add this caveat: A lot of Christian theology and beliefs (including portions of the books above) draw on the very flawed letters (epistles) of Paul (Saul of Tarsus). It is therefore important that you also acquire the knowledge and insight to identify what is edifying and true from what is not. These two free, online resources will help you mightily in this regard:
Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (Free online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.
ARE YOU IN AN ADULTEROUS MARRIAGE?
If you are in a 2nd (or..etc.) marriage you need to dig into these websites:
© 2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
A lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.
Has America faced the issue of how to deal with antidemocratic, intolerant ideologues in modern times (20th century forward)? Sure thing. In the 1930s there were more than a few individuals and organizations that wanted to see Nazism replace democracy in the US. Some were immigrants (many of these, Germans), others naturalized citizens and others US born. More than a few spokesmen for and leaders of prominent pro-Nazi organs wound up running afoul of the law and in jail or prison. A few were deported and others interned in camps built to house enemy aliens and such after America went to war with Japan and then Germany. The solution then was pretty much this: Outspoken Nazis were rebuffed by their fellow citizens, monitored by law enforcement especially the FBI, and prosecuted when they did anything illegal and were caught. Yep, the people back then were doing pretty what we are doing now with extremists and antidemocratic elements in our midst (With the exception of establishing internment camps).
Should we do more? I guess your answer to that depends on how much freedom you are willing to sacrifice for your sense of security. It’s not an easy equation to work out without risking opening the floodgates to terrorism on one hand — and turning American into a police state on the other.
Whatever your answer, I’d wager many of you reading this will find certain remarks made back in 1938 by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Henry (on the heels of the conviction of a group of Nazis in Suffolk County, NY State) appealing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYWlSmn2Ou4
The salient part is 45 seconds into this 1m:23s video. Quoting Mr. Henry, “If these persons prefer some other form of government let them get out of the United States and stay out.”
At the tail end of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical and brilliant 1964 anti-Cold War movie “Dr. Strangelove” the wheelchair bound German scientist (played by Peter Sellers) manages to stand up and take a step or two forward and then excitedly proclaim, “Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!” (This was reportedly an unscripted improvisation on the part of actor Peter Sellers) People in the throes of extreme excitement, passion or even religious ecstasy sometimes yell out to God, their mate or, in the case of Dr. Strangelove, to his leader (The American President whom he not infrequently calls “Mein Fuhrer” during the course of Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece).
I suspect Sellers added the dramatic final touch not as an expression of the neurologic malady which landed his character in a wheelchair but, rather, as an upwelling of Dr. Strangelove’s impossible to suppress fascist sentiments and loyalty to Hitler.
In addition, I would offer a slightly different take on Dr. Strangelove’s outburst: I believe it was meant to represent the transcendent march of evil across time. That is, Seller’s was acting out the fact that evil, like death, haunts humankind and is impossible to totally suppress, manage or banish. Of course, we all know that those who do not resist and oppose evil not infrequently find their lives overshadowed by it.
The late writer-director-producer Rod Serling actually captured this theme very adroitly in a 1963 episode of the Twilight Zone titled “He’s Alive” (“He” being Hitler) that focuses on a “bush league Fuhrer” named Peter Vollmer.
Of course, we all are cognizant of the fact that evil permeates the human experience and has countless modern day incarnations. It is certainly one wheel that gets reinvented without ever showing much wear or loss of perpetrators and victims. Sometimes, though, the expressions are so continuous across time they appear to come out of some kind of historical-cosmic Xerox® machine. Click these links and reflect for a moment:
OK, so evil is perennial. What we can do about it? Laugh at and ponder comic portrayals such as Seller’s, yes, but never make the mistake of viewing evil people as clowns or easy to control (A mistake many German pre-Nazi leaders made with respect to Hitler and his cronies). But above all learn everything we can about the nature of evil and its subtlest expressions and then work to expose and oppose them.
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Rabbis and Christian theologians down through the centuries have wrestled with biblical accounts of the Almighty in which He imposed punishments or sanctions, as well as direct military and civil action that flies in the face of what is deemed fair, just or decent in most cultures, past and present: http://www.angelfire.com/pa/greywlf/biblegod.html
Of course, contemporary religious experts tend to agree that a great many of these stories are fables or myths borrowed from ancient societies that predate the authors of the various books of the Bible. They also recognize the anthropocentric and ethnocentric biases and cultural filters of the writers and scribes who committed these biblical tales to parchment (as it were). But even with all these allowances and concessions, there remains a disturbing pattern of supposedly divinely ordered brutality towards and outright wholesale slaughter of foreign tribes and entire nations. These biblical “cleansing actions” and fiats have underlying premises and logic that appear to have informed some of the darker chapters of history, including the ideology and policies of the penultimate incarnation of evil, Adolf Hitler.
One writer who very adroitly goes into how Hitler’s beliefs and actions parallel and mirror Biblical morality and standards is Jim Walker whose writings are found on a website bearing the moniker “Hitler compared to God/Jesus/Christians” http://nobeliefs.com/hitlerchristian.htm. Here are but a few of Walker’s insightful notations (Excerpts pieced together):
|Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have,
and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling,
ox and sheep, camel and ass.
-I Samuel 15:3
Hitler attempted to utterly destroy the Jews and all that they had and had millions of men, women, and infants executed. As for animals, Hitler had far more compassion than the Biblical God; he felt kindness for animals.
(Note: In no sense do I mean that Hitler fulfilled any prophesy, mind you, but rather that Hitler’s actions remained consistent with the actions of the alleged God described in the Bible.)
|I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Hitler created peace when it suited him and created death and destruction when it fit his needs, which by Christian standards means “evil.” Hitler did all these things in similar God-like actions reported in the Bible.
Not only did Hitler’s atrocities remain consistent with God and Jesus’ actions in the Bible, but his intransigent attitude parallels many of the fanatical beliefs of Right-wing conservatives of today. Hitler even used his faith in the same way as many mainstream American Christians. It appears clear from the history of Christianity that Hitler brought nothing new to Christianity, albeit he brought its violent nature to new heights.”
This is not to say Hitler didn’t distort and infuse such standards with perverse beliefs of his own, but this alone does not permit one to dismiss logical contradictions, conundrums and catch twenty-two’s between Nazi philosophy and the murderous campaign against “impurity” (Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political dissenters, etc.) it gave rise to—- nor ancient Israelite beliefs and their wholesale slaughter of peoples that were designated as “defilers” of their culture & community. Slaughter attributed to HaShem.
If you look closely and resist facing what history and scriptures plainly disclose and declare, you will come to see more clearly than ever before the vast array of incredibly discomforting parallels between the reasoning of the ancients and the Nazis (and all other perpetrators of genocide). And while abundant apologetics exist that try to distance Biblical accounts and actions from the moral malignancy of the Nazis, the arguments given can be recast easily & readily to support the Nazis (And they were – by the Nazis — creating a movement with all the trappings of messianic fervor and religiosity).
http://www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/2000/4/004anti.html http://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/darkbible3.htm, http://freethoughtfirefighters.org/a_wager_on_old_testament_atrocit.htm, http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/atrocities.html, http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/godbible.html, http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter10.html
So moral reasoning and logic alone cannot (to my way of thinking) explain, defend or justify the many dark episodes and pronouncements in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Scriptures, of course, reflect the human element — ideas, interpretations, contradictions http://home.freeuk.net/jesusmyth/page5.htm etc. – they serve human needs (Social coherence and personal wholeness, according to religion scholar Prof. Loyal Rue in his thought-provoking book, “Religion is Not About God”) – and reflect more about human nature than that of the Divine. It is said all scripture is Misnah – commentary – and not so much history and especially not science. I agree wholeheartedly with this. And, of course, regional values, myths and views intruded everywhere and suffused and informed what the various scribes and religionists believed and recorded. But be that as it may, there is a recurrent theme of almost cold-blooded malevolence in the Hebrew scriptures: God appears to invoke the very arguments for cleansing conquered lands and peoples, as well as punishing those who deviate from keeping the Law (Oral & written) that were used by pagan religions, kings and later genocidal dictators like Adolf Hitler to reinforce and perpetuate their ideologies (And some of these ideologies, like Nazism, had some aspects of their belief system and practices Biblical beliefs, laws and such).
Of course, according to scriptures the Almighty’s agenda is one that will redeem and reconcile humankind (in whole or part depending on whose spin you agree with) while evil men tend to enact laws and take actions that lead to a life that is at odds with the program and objectives He sanctioned (And by so doing estrange people from Him). Yet while the ends are presumably different, the means to them seem disturbingly similar and in many instances are virtually identical. Indeed, the methods, language and some elements of reasoning attributed to the Divine and that voiced by various evil personalities such as Hitler differ little in kind or degree.
We must, of course, allow for the limitations imposed by human language itself, culture, as well as our neurobiology. We must also do our best to wrestle underlying truths and subtle messages from hyperbole, corrupted text, myth and legend in the scriptures.
That the scriptures are filled with borrowed, fallible, contradictory, and corrupted myths, legends and fables should not disturb us. Consider what the Almighty had to work with, as it were: A tribal people who were steeped in regional myths and superstitions. Some in the fundamentalist or Orthodox camp actually believe God dictated scripture pretty much like a boss might to a secretary or executive administrative assistance; at least with respect to the Torah (Pentateuch). This is nonsense, for had this been the case He would have given humanity a document or set of documents immune from flaws, and by so doing handed down proof of his own existence. In short, no faith would be needed to believe in the Almighty or his stated agenda. A set of flawless, infallible scriptures impregnated with scientific and historical truths centuries ahead of those He was inspiring or speaking to would remove all doubt as to origins and make it impossible for doubt to exist about the reality of the Divine. Indeed, “No faith needed” would have been axiomatic and there would be no legitimate grounds for agnosticism or atheism.
A fallible set of scriptures is not so disturbing really. It makes us dig and work and argue to arrive at what God meant and how we should respond. What is disturbing is not the flawed image of the Almighty nor the presence of various distorted or mythic things attributed to Him, all having been rendered by flawed men and women, but the seeming reliance of God on violence, cruelty and outright “ethnic cleansing” to forge and maintain His hold on the hearts and minds of the Jewish people of antiquity.
Was He so seemingly bloodthirsty and quick to punish because fallible, almost primitive men and women left Him little to work with in an ancient setting but this? Or was this just how these ancient people’s interpreted things and acted accordingly? Or could it be that the Almighty was both learning and growing with His people, and had His hands tied in terms of available means to preserve the Jewish people from corruption and conquest? (Limited in that He would not override human free will and also utilized human nature and social mechanisms rather then supercede them?)
To invoke a crude analogy: Picture a group of trainee mechanics standing before a car – hood up – a limited set of tools sitting before him – parts scattered everywhere — their goal is to create a harmoniously running engine. There are two instructors present – “good mechanic” and an “evil mechanic” — standing on either side of the trainees. The good instructor wants to help the students create a smoothly functioning automobile. The evil mechanic wants to thwart the good instructor by influencing as many of the trainees as he can to mess things up by doing things like putting useless or ill fitted parts into the engine. The evil instructor’s machinations quite naturally force the good mechanic to get those trainees who follow his lead to take and use some of the tools in the same fashion as the evil mechanic, doing violence as it were to extricate ill-fitting or even dangerous parts from the engine so that they can get the right and proper ones installed. This tug-of-war goes back and forth seemingly endlessly.
Scriptures depict God’s ultimate goal as being one of harmonizing and reconciling as many people to Himself and His sanctioned ways as possible. But in order to pull this off, He must rely on a limited set of tools and options,….as limited as we are. It is, in a very real sense of the word, a pitched struggle that is part of an experiment in-progress; an experiment with a goal, of course.
Indeed, the Cosmos and humankind in particular are, in my opinion, expressions of a divinely initiated experiment (Rats in the Cosmic Laboratory) whose ultimate goal is harmonization with HaShem and his being (“Holiness”) for as many as will “walk the walk”. As such, those impulses and elements and actions that lead to good or conversely evil ends would seem to represent the variables in the ongoing experiment — the “drugs” if you will — that by act-of-will (choice) leads to genuine harmonization between subject & experimenter (HaShem) — while the other appears to do so, but degenerates into greater disharmony and the ultimate chaos unleased by unbridled selfishness (Estrangement from HaShem and what this entails in this world and the next). This aspect of the Divine experiment constitutes a sorting mechanism of sorts; the one referred to by various biblical writers as “sorting the wheat from the chaff”. It tests both men and women, revealing to us individually and collectively our inner nature and the consequences of our choices along the way.
Because the tools, methods and sometimes even the reasoning employed by good and evil people are virtually identical, discretion becomes paramount. This is where many religious and political systems fail utterly — trading that which reconciles people to each other and the Almighty for that which winds up accomplishing the opposite.
In the end, scriptures indicate the experiment will run its course and produce a final result: Harmony twixt humankind and HaShem for many. Many who die in sin/error/missteps get redeemed and participate in this harmonious world (material and incorporeal), while an unrepentantly evil, unredeemable few are separated from this redeemed plane of existence — presumably for eternity. Or until obliterated, which some Jewish sages considered their ultimate fate. This is certainly more merciful than what many Christian denominations fancy for the unredeemed/unredeemable — Hitler, Stalin, Caligula, etc. A mercy more characteristic of the Almighty that sages like Hillel knew and championed by virtue of their faith, teachings and deeds.
Pulvis et umbra sumus
by Jim Walker