An excerpt from Countdown to the Second Coming
In spite of terrorismand looming war clouds in the Middle East, the prospect of a peace such as the world has never known seems to be a realistic hope. That the nations of the world will indeed establish an unprecedented international peace, and perhaps fairly soon, is certain, because the Bible has for thousands of years foretold a false peace in the last days.
That time of peace is prophesied, however, not with joy but with sorrow, for the prophets declared that it would precede a holocaust that would threaten the survival of all life on this planet. Why? The answer to this question comprises the entire subject matter of the Bible, which in fact prophesies the coming of two periods of global peace. The first will be realized for a time under the Antichrist, and the second will be established by the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory to rule this planet where He was so cruelly rejected and crucified.
Earth’s war-weary inhabitants will greet the first period of peace ecstatically, convinced that the Millennium has dawned. And, for a time, it will appear that the world’s economic, social, and ecological problems have been solved. That will, however, be a great delusion. Biblical prophets have warned that this false peace will usher in the Great Tribulation (after Christ takes His church to heaven in the “Rapture”) and will culminate seven years later in the most destructive war in earth’s history—Armageddon! In somber revelation, the apostle Paul declared:
When they [the world, not true Christians] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians:5:3)
On the one hand, it seems incomprehensible that international peace at last attained should be the prelude to disaster. Yet what else could result from a “peace” established by Antichrist? As always, so today, the world’s leaders pursue their negotiations among themselves in utter disregard for the essential role that must be played by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. If mankind could by its own efforts establish a just and lasting peace, it would disprove the Bible—which declares that true peace can come only through Jesus Christ reigning upon earth. In fact, all such humanistic attempts are doomed by man’s inherent sinfulness.
Where Are the Voices of True Peace?
Are we suggesting that the world’s leaders shouldn’t even attempt to achieve global peace? Of course, they must try. But those who are not Christians, driven by necessity to pursue every possible means to establish peace, don’t realize the futility of their efforts. Christian political leaders, of course, are also compelled to join their secular colleagues in pursuing world peace. At the same time, they must declare solemnly and clearly to the rest of the world that the only true hope for global peace is to repent for having violated God’s laws, to receive Jesus Christ as the Savior who has died for the sins of the world, and then to ask Him to come back to this earth to reign.
Where are the Christian political leaders with the courage to do so? And if they did, who would listen? To stand fully for Christ without any compromise would end any political leader’s career.
Peter explained to the first Gentile converts after Christ’s resurrection that peacewas to be preachedthrough Jesus Christ (Acts:10:36). To most of today’s Christians, that is a radical thought. What pastor or evangelist on radio or television today is preaching global peacethrough Jesus Christ? Paul declared that this peace was both “to you which were afar off [Gentiles] and to them that were near [Jews]” (Ephesians:2:17)—and that this peace was only possible through Christ having died for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians:5:18,19).
Those who set out to establish international peace through a world government over which the Lord Jesus Christ is not invited to reign are necessarily on the side of Antichrist. They are preparing the world for his rule, whether or not they recognize or acknowledge that fact. Such is the danger that attends all earthly efforts to establish international peace and unity.
The Delusion of Ecumenism
There are only two persons who will hold absolute rule over this world. The first is the Antichrist and the second is the Lord Jesus Christ. Every person must choose between these two antagonists and their opposing kingdoms. There is no neutral ground.
Those who suggest that we can retain the idea of Christ’s return to reign over Planet Earth as the symbolof some “spiritual truth” suitable for all religions deny the very foundation of the Christian faith. Christianity is based upon the claims that Christ made about Himselfand the eyewitness accounts of His life, death, and resurrection as recorded in the New Testament in undeniable fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The distinctions that make Christianity unique are irreconcilable with any other religious belief, and any attempt at ecumenical unity is a denial of biblical Christianity. Consistent with the distinctiveness of Christianity, the Bible also teaches that peace will not come to this world through the triumph of Christ’s teachings, but only through His personal return to reign from Jerusalem. In fact, His teachings cannot be separated from Himself. That was the very challenge with which Jesus confronted the Jewish religious leaders in His day:
Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:39,40)
How dare anyone think that a world ripening for judgment can be rescued by Christians working together in political/social activism with the followers of all religions, and with humanists and atheists! Scripture says repeatedly that nothing but the personal and physical return of Christ to this earth can put an end to its wickedness and suffering. Paul declared that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” as it longs for a release that can come only through “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans:8:19-22). Paul makes very clear what this means: That only when Christians have received their immortal bodies and are glorified with Christ (verses 23-25), ruling and reigning upon this earth with Him, will earth be delivered from its turmoil and pain.
The last days before Christ’s return are indeed prophesied as a period of growing evil, error, and spiritual delusion, manifested in both the world and the professing church. There are also, however,
indications in Scripture that in the last days, millions of people around the world will receive Christ as Savior and Lord, thus hastening His return. Many of them will be the most unlikely candidates for salvation—New Agers, drug addicts, prison inmates, communists, Muslims, Catholics, the poor and outcasts of society—as Christ seemed to indicate in the parable of the great supper:
Then the master of the house being angry [at those who accepted his invitation, but failed to come to the feast and tried to cover up their unwillingness with pitiful excuses] said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke:14:21-23)
Evangelicals tend to present the gospel exclusively as a remedy for personal sin and the procurement of an eternal home in heaven. They generally neglect to proclaim it as God’s means of bringing peace to this troubled planet, as did the angels at the birth of Christ and as did the early church. It is the duty of every Christian political leader, whether president, ambassador, or other official, to make very clear to the entire world that all human efforts to achieve peace are in vain unless Jesus Christ is invited back to this earth to reign in individual hearts and over all nations.
Viewing Current Events Through Scripture
From the perspective of biblical prophecy, extreme caution is in order, rather than the popular euphoria, in appraising the recent introduction of new freedoms in communist nations and improved relations with the West. We dare not neglect the guidance of Scripture in evaluating current events. And if we will heed God’s Word, we will see that what we have been witnessing increasingly around the world could well be leading not to the solution of mankind’s problems but to history’s greatest disaster.
How can we make such a definite declaration? Isn’t it dangerous to attempt to correlate current events with biblical prophecy? Indeed it is. Nevertheless, if Bible prophecy concerning the “last days” is truly inspired of God, the time must come when what the prophets have written describes current developments.
The euphoria of millions freed from communist rule in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was quickly followed by the misery of even worse poverty. Government oppression was replaced by increasing lawlessness, the influx of cults, the explosion of incipient immorality, corruption, and occultism. The Eastern republics witnessed an Islamic takeover with accompanying terrorism. Is history repeating its endless cycle? Humanistic hopes for a new and bet-ter world seemingly find justification in technology’s amazing promises. Yet biblical prophecy offers sober insights to those who will give heed.
William Manchester’s gripping biography of Sir Winston Churchill confronts us with unpleasant and haunting reminders of Hitler—a man who came extremely close to being the Antichrist, and who deceived the entire world for a time with his promises of peace:
Thomas Jones, who had been in and out of Whitehall for a quarter century, wrote in his diary: “...all sorts of people who have met Hitler are convinced that he is a factor for peace....”
Meeting the press after he had been closeted with Hitler for an hour, Lloyd George said he regarded him as “the greatest living German....”
Arnold Toynbee...equally spellbound by the Reich chancellor, declared that he was “convinced of his sincerity in desiring peace in Europe and close friendship with England.”
Winston Churchill was not deceived by Hitler, but he stood almost alone in warning the world that the Fuhrer’s real intentions would envelop Europe in war. Looking back with the clear view we now have, it seems incredible that the leading figures of the day were almost unanimous in their praise of the irrational demigod who had become Germany’s leader, and in their confidence that peace was assured. The deception was well-nigh universal. Yet the rising political star whom everyone praised was a dangerous megalomaniac who would one day take his place with the most inhumane monsters in history. Moreover, he had frankly revealed his evil designs from the very beginning, in Mein Kampfand other writings, and in his speeches. Yet so hopeful was the world for peace at any price that almost no one was willing to face the painful truth.
So it is today. Like Churchill in England, Netanyahu is one of the few Israeli leaders who was not deceived by Arafat’s promises at Oslo. He wrote: “…my party and I were virtually isolated in our warning that Arafat would not keep his word…. We were widely castigated as enemies of peace…. Our argument was that handing Gaza over to Arafat would immediately create a lush terrorist haven….” Of course, he was right.
History has proven again and again that international leaders can be both mistaken and misunderstood. Key events can be badly misconstrued. Assurances of peace and security can seem never more certain than when the world, in fact, is teetering on the very brink of disaster. On the other hand, the worldwide terrorism still unchecked despite another Gulf War...and continuing hopelessness in Israel, could very well be the necessary catalyst to bring about the prophesied false peace. The unforgettable statement by Tajikistan’s ambassador to the UN at the UN’s emergency session in the wake of the devastation on September 11, 2001, may well be prophetic: “Nothing else in history or even conceivable could possibly unite the world as this event.” [Except, perhaps, another national or international cataclysm which will galvanize political support for the globalist agenda to establish a New World Order.]
Unfortunately, truth in politics is almost impossible to uncover—which makes it all the more important that we discern what the Bible says. If ever there were a time when we needed to ask God for wisdom and seek to understand what His Word has prophesied for our own day, it is now.