What Unparalled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future? – Program 3
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Zola Levitt, Dr. Randy Price, Peter LeLonde, Dr. Dave Breese; ©1995|
|If certain signs indicate Christ could return at any time, doesn’t that mean the Antichrist must be alive and well today?|
Today, on The John Ankerberg Show: “What Unparalleled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future?”
- Dr. David Breese: We have the Rapture of the Church and then the world drops into the very, very dark abyss of the Tribulation. The Tribulation sees the rise of Antichrist, the establishment of world government and world religion; and then the Antichrist decides that the irritant to his total power is this faint memory of the existence of God as represented by Jerusalem, Israel. So he initiates a global war against Israel.
- Peter Lalonde: We’ve got to recognize the world in which the Antichrist arises. First of all, you’ve had the Rapture take place. Millions of people have vanished off the face of the earth and while we’ve been debating that subject, maybe we’ve sometimes forgotten what that event really is like. People have watched family members disappear. Children have vanished off the face of the earth. You’re sitting with your wife—she’s gone. It is going to drive the world insane.
- Dr. Randall Price: Now, for the first time in 2000 years we see Jews. Maybe it’s a minority, maybe it’s a handful of Jews, but though that minority can be a very vocal and demonstrable minority, they are preparing to rebuild the temple.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Do you find it significant that we have the peace conference going on?
- Dr. Zola Levitt: Absolutely! Look, what would you say, what would any of us say, if the headline tomorrow morning is: “Here’s a new idea. We’ll let the Israelis have their temple worship. An amazing suggestion has come up. We can move the Dome of the Rock lovingly, carefully, to Mecca, Medina, Damascus, and by the way, the Israelis said they’re a little uncomfortable. They would sign for seven years.” That’s the ball game.
- Lalonde: CNN will go to immediate worldwide coverage. You know that there are going to be people just glued to their TV sets trying to figure out what’s taken place in this world. There will be chaos and confusion.
Ankerberg: My guests today are four of the premier teachers on biblical prophecy in the United States. They are: Dr. Zola Levitt, Host of “Zola Levitt Presents,” Peter Lalonde, President of “This Week in Bible Prophecy,” Dr. Randall Price, author of In Search of Temple Treasures, and Dr. David Breese, speaker on “The King Is Coming.” We invite you to join us.
Program 3: What Unparalleled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future? – Is the Antichrist Alive Today?
- Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re glad that you’ve joined us. We’re here in warm and wonderful Dallas, Texas, with a wonderful group of people in our audience. We have four of the best known, probably most authoritative people on television and radio today that are in prophetic ministries that are talking about biblical prophecy and how it’s going to lay out for us the world events that Jesus and the apostles said are coming to this world. You know, it’s such a serious topic, the one that we’re talking about today.
- After the time when Jesus Christ comes for Christians, that which we believe is the Rapture, the Bible talks about a seven-year period of time called the Tribulation that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24. And He said there will never be another time like it. It’s the worst the world will ever see and experience. And during that time, one of the things that makes it so bad is there is going to be a very charismatic figure that will come on the world scene, a political leader that the Bible talks about, both Old Testament and the New Testament. Hollywood has pictured this person, conveniently called the Antichrist. The Bible has a mess of names, a group of names, for this person.
- But, Peter, in your books here, in terms of the mark of the beast, the Beast is another name for this political ruler. You’ve written a lot about him. Do you believe that it’s possible that this figure that the Bible warns us about will come sometime in the future? Do you believe that he could be alive today?
- Lalonde: John, I think from a study of the Scriptures, if indeed we understand the times in which we live properly, he has to be alive today. To suggest that he’s not, he has to be a mature man by the time he comes onto the world scene—which according to the Scriptures takes place the moment the Rapture takes place—to suggest he is not yet born, we would have to wait at least 30 years until the Rapture took place, so I think there’s no question that whoever it is is alive and growing up. And the closer we are to the Rapture, of course, the older that he will be at this time.
- But I think a key distinction we should make about this person is, Hollywood as you mentioned, gives us these ideas of the Antichrist. You know, that he’s going to be born with “666” tattooed on his forehead, or if you just move his hair a little bit you’ll see it somehow. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I don’t think God would predestine someone to that role that they would have no choice. He says we have free will. We have free choice. This person may not be selected yet. It may be someone who makes a decision to completely sell out their decision that they are going to turn apostate against God or make a decision against God in the days ahead. I don’t think this person has to be preordained. It may be a group of candidates that exists right now.
- But, as you mentioned, the greatest charismatic leader that the world has ever seen. He’s going to make Mother Theresa look like a harlot, you know. And his great, peaceful messages to the world, he’s going to be the most loving character the world has ever seen. Built perfectly for the media age, the CNN age in which we live today. Built to arise on the world scene and capture the love of this world.
- And seemingly, “Antichrist” does not just mean “against Christ,” it means “in place of Christ.” He is going to be the seeming leader that is going to bring us towards the long awaited world peace. He’s going to deceive the world into believing he is Christ. I believe he is going to deceive Israel into believing he is the Messiah; finally bringing peace to this part of the world where Shalom, “Peace,” is what Israel has always wanted. In a word, do I think he is alive? Absolutely.
- Ankerberg: Dr. Breese, going into Revelation 6 and other passages of Scripture, and I’ll let you choose the ones that you would like, talks about a conqueror on a white horse that we believe is the Antichrist. And it’s interesting that it talks about him conquering the world in peace. Talk about that and other verses that describe who this person is.
- Breese: Well, that Revelation 6 passage is especially interesting because chapters 4 and 5 have a discussion in heaven centered around the question: “Who is worthy to judge the world?” The world is made by a holy God; therefore, there are no exceptions that have ever transpired to the will of God that will not be judged. Things must come out in moral balance.
- Who is worthy to do that? They wept because no one was found worthy and then they said, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honor and power, wisdom and strength, glory and blessing.” So Christ is honored to be worthy to bear the moral equalization or the judgment of the world.
- Then you have the picture of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding forth and the first one rides on the white horse. Now, the liberals in another generation said, “Here is a picture of the conquest of the world by the Gospel.” Now, of course, they were wrong about other things as well. But here we have not a picture of the conquest of the world by the Gospel, that being Christ; but, rather, Antichrist, the dominative Christ, the substitute Christ, and he “goes forth conquering and to conquer.” So the picture that the Bible gives us of the Antichrist is an imitation of Christ.
- And then from other passages we see that he is well received. I do not think that the Antichrist is going to have to conquer to his throne—wade through slaughter to a throne, as Thomas Gray said in his Elegy—but, rather, he will be acclaimed by people. If you have worldwide economic crisis to which we are very close, if you have global food shortages, if you have the threat of nuclear war, if you have the possibility of national collapse through, let’s say endemic disease, the world will cry for a human savior. It is a perfect moment for him, then, to step on the scene—the “man with the plan,” saying, “Follow me. I will lead you to a whole new cosmic order. We will redefine what life is all about.” And the world will be so impressed with this individual, his wisdom, his compassion, his willingness to identify with people, that they will follow him.
- And finally, the Bible says the whole world will be ruled by him. The whole world will worship him. He founds a global religion plus a global government. He will have it made totally in the shade—of course, until he finally institutes a war against God, which is actually formulated by this battle against the Jews in the city of Jerusalem and about which God says, “Why do the nations rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder.’” The Antichrist’s hegemony will turn into a total anti-God movement. “He that sits in the heavens shall laugh.” He will be “destroyed by the brightness of the coming” of Jesus Christ. And at that time, the time when Jesus returns in power, the Antichrist and his sidekick, the false prophet—of whom we should probably speak as well—they will be hurled into the lake of fire, the devil into the bottomless pit. But the Antichrist will have a juggernaut of power that will appear irresistible. He will be destroyed by the return of Christ and by some of us who are involved in that battle as well.
- Ankerberg: Zola, what a lot of people don’t realize is that this Antichrist, this world leader, will try to massacre the Jews. It will be bigger than any holocaust the Jews have gone into in past history. In fact, in Revelation 6, right after the conqueror goes out on the white horse and conquers the world through peace, it’s very interesting the next Horseman of the Apocalypse, he goes and he takes that peace. This coincides with Matthew 24—it talks about your Ph.D. dissertation—“When you see the abomination of desolation,” boy, Jesus says, “run for the hills.” And He was specifically talking to Jews as well as to Gentile believers. But tell the people, because they might not be familiar with what the Bible says about the Jewish nation and what they’re going to have to go through during this time period. Zola, lay it out for us.
- Levitt: Israel is a particular target of the Antichrist. This is the final triumph of anti-Semitism of which we are now seeing plenty of signs, just as we are famine, pestilence and earthquakes and the more noticeable ones. There’s a terrific increase in anti-Semitism even in democratic America. He stumbles on Israel. He commits the sin of the ages: he crosses the borders and invades Israel. And so he becomes extinct, like Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. He cannot abide the Jews, I guess because he wants to be God and they really won’t buy it. They’re not bowing down to him. They didn’t bow to Caesar. Some people say they receive him as Messiah. My goodness, when the real Messiah preached they didn’t receive him. I don’t think so. I think they’re going to take Jesus’ advice and flee into the hills of Judea and he is enraged, incensed.
- Well, for one thing, it upsets the military apple cart. He has consolidated his reign over the large part of the world but I think the Chinese are watching. I think the 200 million man army commanders over there look at the Jews bolt and say, “He’s not God. The Israelis don’t think he’s God.” And that, I think—and again, I’m saying “think” because it’s just not written here, but it’s logical—that’s what causes them to saddle up and start toward Israel. And where does a 200 million man army march? Anywhere it wants. Here we’re taking, robbing and raping and pillaging the whole Eastern Hemisphere in this mad idea to go and…I think the Battle of Armageddon is largely a clash of the West against what we’ve always called the “yellow peril.” At last it comes. But all precipitated by tiny Israel, the people who will not bend the neck to a man. He stumbles there and that is his undoing.
- Ankerberg: Alright, let’s pick it up right there. What is the “abomination of desolation”? Jesus, in Matthew 24, He picks out this one event and He says, “When you see this happen, watch out; run for the hills. It’s the tip-off.” What is it, Randy?
- Price: The abomination of desolation, like the concept of Antichrist, is Jewish, not Christian. We stretch all the way back through the Old Testament, we find that this is prepared for by every oppressor of Israel. Everyone who desecrated and destroyed the temple, from the Pharaoh, on to Nebuchadnezzar, or Antiochus Epiphanes, all of these individuals were “types” of a greater anti-Messiah or anti-Israeli people that were to come. And Daniel actually calls him “the prince of the people that shall come.”
- Now, Daniel 9 also uses the term, as Daniel 8 and Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 used the term, “abomination of desolation.” This is where Jesus got the term and where I think also Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 got the term and the whole concept. That is, that there is going to be an idolatrous usurpation of the place of God in the most holy place imaginable, the temple itself—that place of Jewish national sovereignty, that place where God’s own presence dwelt between the wings of the cherubim within the holiest of holies. At that very place, where God Himself is most centered on earth, this Antichrist will seek to take that place and present himself as God. And so the abomination—the actual term ha shiqquwts, for abomination, is a term that means something detestable, something idolatrous. It looks at everything that is oppressed, the people of God throughout history, and sought to somehow taint the holiness of God.
- And then the term meshomem, which is the idea of desolation, “an abomination that makes desolate,” or causes desolation, like in a war or famine or pestilence. This type of thing can be an image or it can actually be the event of the Antichrist himself seating himself in the most holy place. And this is what Jesus spoke of as the signal event that the Jews were to watch for. When the temple is rebuilt, when it’s consecrated, when the sacrifice returns on its regular schedule, at some point that is going to be interrupted by this man and he himself is going to take his place in the temple, not just as a false messiah, but as Elohim, as the God of gods. And when that takes place, Jesus says, “All must flee.” No religious Jew, not observant Jew, could ever have a part in that. But that’s the event that is clearly bringing the wrath of God on earth.
- Ankerberg: Peter, I’ve never heard more information being given by different preachers across the country than right now about the very thing that you’ve written a whole book about: the mark of the beast. But again, very few people outside of Christian circles and a lot of people inside Christian circles haven’t got the slightest idea of what we’re talking about when we say “the mark of the beast.” How does this come into biblical prophecy? What is it? Do you think that it is imminent?
- Lalonde: I think the phrase itself is telling in the first instance. It is the mark of the beast. And we have talked about the beast a great deal over this program, this great Antichrist who arises onto the scene; this great charismatic leader. We’ve got to recognize the world in which the Antichrist arises. First of all, you’ve had the Rapture take place. Millions of people have vanished off the face of the earth. And while we’ve been debating that subject, maybe we’ve sometimes forgotten what that event really is like.
- What is that going to do to the world left behind? Millions of people suddenly vanish. Suddenly, you have a real life episode of the Twilight Zone going on here. People have watched family members disappear. Children have vanished off the face of the earth. You’re sitting with your wife—she’s gone. It is going to drive the world insane. CNN will go to immediate worldwide coverage. You know that there are going to be people just glued to their TV set trying to figure out what’s taken place in this world. There will be chaos and confusion.
- We’ve talked about at the same time the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is gone from this earth. Think of evil, how that is growing in the world right now, and what will it be like when the restraining influence is removed, how quickly that’s going to happen. At the same time the Scripture says, “False christs and false prophets are going to arise,” so, powerful, so deceptive, that if it were possible, they would deceive even the greatest believers who had ever lived on this earth,” whether it was the apostle Paul, Moses, or Noah. The deceptions that are going to come forth. The world is going to be in a time of chaos.
- God Himself sends a strong delusion on the world. And as the people are glued to their television sets in this moment of panic, one comes in front of them through television. He is this Antichrist. And he speaks great words. You know, the Bible tells us the first words that come out of his mouth in Revelation 13. It says, “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God.” Immediately you have someone standing up saying, “Where is this God you’ve heard about? Where is all this division? It’s time for us to recognize the power that’s within us. It’s time for us to forget about a new heavens and a new earth and build a new age on this earth. Forget about that ‘pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye.’ Let’s build our own kingdom right here. Let’s forget all this God stuff. Everybody who’s on my side, let’s take this mark of unity to show.”
- It’s not about buying and selling. The Scripture says without the mark nobody will be able to buy or sell anything on the face of the earth (Revelation 13). But it’s not primarily about buying and selling, this is about allegiance. This is about a decision that people will make of which side they stand on. As a matter of fact the Scripture says, “Anyone who receive this mark will drink of the wine of the wrath of God poured out without measure for eternity.”
- This isn’t about choosing the wrong credit card. This isn’t about a wrong economic decision. This is the mark of the beast where people will make a decision and say, “I don’t believe God’s version of this thing, I believe this guy’s version!” They won’t be held down and forced to take any mark at gunpoint; this will be a voluntary thing. “Do you want to be a part of this system? Do you believe what this man says? Do you align yourself with this belief?” Which is exactly the lie out of Genesis 3: “You shall be as gods.” “You have the power within you. You don’t need God out there.” “Surely, God hath not said.” “We’ll build our own kingdom here right now.” It’s the heart of the pride of mankind and the mark of the beast is simply the mark that people take to say, “Hey, I believe this thing,” and at the same time they’re saying, “I don’t believe God.”
- Ankerberg: Yes. With the occult kind of revival that’s going on in our country and around the world where people are saying, like Shirley MacLaine, “I am God,” or looking for godhood within, now we have a whole generation of people that already are buying into the language that 2 Thessalonians 2 is already describing that this man will use.
- But, Dr. Breese and Zola, I want to come to you guys here as we come toward the end of this program. For people that might have joined us that are non-Christians and are saying, “I can’t believe what those intelligent people are talking about. I thought they were intelligent until I heard what they were talking about—a Tribulation and an Antichrist! Give me a break!” Okay? But it’s very interesting. I think one thing that ought to get their attention, if they forget everything else that we’ve said, is that the Bible says the midway point of that Tribulation period, anybody can look at it, is that this world leader is going to have a peace agreement with Israel that he will break. Now, that means you have to have Israel as a nation. You have to have them at the peace table. You have to have a peace arrangement. For 1900 years we haven’t had that. But right now there is a peace treaty going on, peace arrangements going on. What I want to ask you is to comment where the Bible talks about that and put that right in Scripture for anybody that wants to look it up. Then I want to ask Zola, who has come back from Israel, “Are the Israelis going to give away more land for peace?” I’m sure that will cut the rest of the program right there. So you better take it while you can.
- Breese: Well, John, I think in part the answer to that question is a very provocative one for the people of the United States because we have been the only friend to Israel in its recent history. America has stood alone with Israel, furnishing the military material and the rest of it for the five wars the Israelis have fought; therefore, when you see the scenario of Ezekiel 38 and that massive invasion from the north, among other things you ask, “Where is the United States?” that has been the protector of Israel up until now. No one has dared to attack Israel in any massive force, like especially the Russians, because of American power—in fact, America’s nuclear capability and its willingness to use it.
- So, the suggestion that Israel makes a new covenant with the Antichrist presupposes that America will have moved out of the picture as the great friend to Israel. Israel needs a new mentor because the Israelis cannot survive alone. That’s an unviable land without military force and the rest from the outside. So, you have a deal that Israel has to make. Israel is even looking now across the world. What is the emergent power? Who can I trust for the days to come? Because if you’re a small nation, you can only survive by dependence on a big one, humanly speaking. Israel will find out different. All they need is God in the end. They will make a deal, in my judgment, with the emergent power that is the controller of the future: Europe. And so the leader of Europe makes a deal with Israel, Israel dwells safely. And by the way, it’s a mutually beneficial thing: Israel gets protection; Europe gets a guarantee of oil supplies from the Middle East because it has a military landfall there. They make a deal.
- But then the Antichrist breaks that “in the midst of the years,” because he presents himself as God. It’s not good enough for him to be just a world ruler, he needs a heavy piece of apotheosis, a word you and I know very well: he makes a god out of himself. And that, of course, breaks that agreement thing.
- By the way, connected with that, we ought to throw in that the Antichrist that we were describing a moment ago is the embodiment of a piece of bad theology. The Bible says the “spirit of antichrist is in the world” and “any spirit that denies that Christ is come in the flesh, is the spirit of antichrist.” So, we might apply it to ourselves today. People think the Antichrist is a distant thing, but anybody in the sound of this voice who does not believe in the deity of Christ and His Saviorhood is already, in part, subverted by the spirit of antichrist. So it will be a small thing for them to be caught up into the system when it comes to pass.
- Ankerberg: It’s kind of mind-blowing, Zola, to realize that we have Israel at the peace table for the first time in 1900 years since Jesus talked about these things, alright? I mean, it’s got to be mind-blowing to you. I mean, there are all kinds of questions people would want to know. Do you think this is the peace arrangement? Do you think this is the time? Or, is this the prototype? What’s going on? And will Israel give up land and what does that mean if they do?
- Levitt: Yes, it’s a cataclysmic time to be alive and when you’re in the streets of Israel, that’s all that’s being talked about. You look up on the apartment buildings, there are signs: “the people are with the Golan Heights,” warning the government: “Don’t give away another foot!” At the beginning of this a year ago, 65 percent of the people in the streets in a poll said, “We’re for peace.” They meant, real peace, not what they’ve got. Now, the same questions asked only bring 32 percent favorable.
- On my television program we had Yitzhak Shamir, the former prime minister, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the opposition leader. And both men, who would love to have peace, who have fought in wars, my goodness; who have suffered, who have lost family, would love to have peace, say, “This is no way of doing it.” Shamir says, “You make treaties with a country such as a treaty with Egypt, you don’t make treaties with a terrorist group.” Seems reasonable. Netanyahu says people need to be autonomous and free. This is a democracy. Perhaps the Palestinians can learn to live in this democracy as people learn to live in a democracy anywhere.
- I’m in correspondence with a New York Times columnist. I pointed out to him, “You know, my father was not an American. My father was a Balt. He was from Latvia. He didn’t come here and claim land for the other Balts. He didn’t fight with policemen and soldiers. He took best advantage of a democracy; got a job; put three kids through graduate school. That is basically Netanyahu’s suggestion. If only there could be real peace, that sort of thing can happen.
- But what Dave says overrides it all. The spirit of the antichrist is in pagan faith, throughout pagan faith. The peacemakers who are riding up—Arafat, Hussein of Jordan, Assad of Syria, Mubarak of Egypt—these are of the Islam faith. They do not hold that Christ is Savior. And without indicting an entire faith of which there are many sincere adherents, it’s not going to get peace, it’s going to get war. And if they give away what God has given Israel. And specifically Ezekiel 36 cries out about the mountains of Israel. That’s the center, that’s the West Bank, so called—Judea and Samaria.
- When I went there to make TV programs, I wanted to make programs about how God gave this land, specifically this land, to Israel. “Israel, By Divine Right,” was the name of the series. And I went to Sichem where God gave it to Abraham; to Bethel where He came to Jacob in a dream and they anointed a stone. I anointed a stone myself, but for the first time in my life, with a .9 millimeter pistol in my shirt. I don’t know how to use a gun. It was considered “good negotiating position.” But imagine my going to my own land having to carry this thing because it was dangerous. Every member of the crew was armed and we had security guys pretending to be TV crew members.
- Ankerberg: Do you find it significant that we have the peace conference going on?
- Levitt: Absolutely! Look, what would you say, what would any of us say, if the headline tomorrow morning is: Here’s a new idea? We’ll let the Israelis have their temple worship. An amazing suggestion has come up. We can move the Dome of the Rock lovingly, carefully, to Mecca, Medina, Damascus. And, by the way, the Israelis said they’re a little uncomfortable, but they would sign for seven years.” That’s the ball game.
- Ankerberg: That’s the ball game.
- Levitt: That’s all that has to happen.
- Ankerberg: Well, that’s all the time we’ve got for this ball game, too, so we’re going to have to save that and that brings up the question: “Will the temple be rebuilt soon?” And you’ve got books on that right on the platform, guys that have written it. We’re going to bring that up next week.
- Dr. Breese, for people that are saying, “You know, I’m convinced. I believe the Bible is telling the truth. How do you get into a relationship with the King of kings, Jesus Christ? How will He accept me?”
- Breese: Well, we’ve talked this time about the emergence of the Antichrist and how a false faith will embrace the world, which points up the fact that every person needs, in order to protect themselves against that, people hear about these things: “What can I do?” The number one thing to do is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” for when a person does that, whatever else happens, he has eternal life. He knows that he is saved. And so all of us who are here today would recommend to every listener: Say that wonderful “Yes” to Christ and believe the Gospel. Then you know that you’re a member of the Body of Christ, you are a child of God, you have a heavenly destiny. You look on with a degree of dispassion because you will not be consumed by it—the events of this world—but you know that God presides over all and you’re on His side when you know Christ.
- Ankerberg: Next week we’re going to talk about, “Will the temple be rebuilt soon?” If it were to be started to be rebuilt tomorrow, what would that mean in terms of biblical prophecy? And I hope that you’ll join us then.