An Evangelical Christian Perspective: The Prophecy of the End
Every time war erupts in the Middle East there is a renewed interest in end-times prophecy. During the Gulf War, long-established books on the apocalypse were bought up while publishers worked diligently to put out dozens of new titles on the subject. This should not surprise us; prophecy fever was also at its height during the World Wars and the Cold War.
However, there is no need for alarm. Concerning the end of the world, Jesus Himself said, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” Wars do not signal “the end”! Wars will be part of the landscape throughout this age of humanity.
Nevertheless, the Bible does speak of a coming “end of the world”—the world as we know it. The Christian worldview is not one of history dragging on aimlessly into eternity, but of history moving toward a point of reckoning—the coming “Day of the Lord.”
The apostle Paul records these words: “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ’Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly.”
Many secular minds abhor this view because, among other reasons, they fear it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Others fantasize about how this day will come about, as evident by the popularity of the Left Behind book series. And we can’t fail to make mention of the tabloids which insult the dignity of the Christian faith by sensationalizing Bible prophecy and the end of the world.
Without going into a deep theological Bible study about the apocalypse, we should be able to deduce what can generally be known about the end of the world and the signs thereof, and answer the question, “How does operation “Enduring Freedom” fit into the scheme of things?” The Evangelical Christian community generally believes that the Bible foretells that the following major events will transpire in preparation for the Day of the Lord.
Number one, Jews from around the world will return to Israel and Israel will once again become a nation. This event is now history and was precipitated by the effects of WWII.
“And I will whistle for them to gather them together, for I have redeemed them; and they will be as numerous as they were before when I scatter them among the peoples; they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back.” (Zechariah 10)
Number two, according to Revelation chapter 11, Israel will rebuild the great temple in Jerusalem. How this will take place is anyone’s guess. Israel would first have to regain control of the temple mount in Jerusalem and be at peace with her Muslim neighbors.
Number three, Revelation 17 is interpreted as Europe uniting and emerging as the world superpower—a quasi renewed Roman Empire under the head of a world leader. Just as America gained world supremacy after Europe was ravished by two world wars, wars could once again change the balance of world power. The EEC (European Economic Community) is only a foreshadowing of the unity that is to come to Europe.
Number four, the future world superpower will control all commerce through some type of personal identification. This is widely know as the infamous mark of the beast
“And he causes all . . . to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)
All this is merely preparatory for the Day of the Lord. Will operation “Enduring Freedom” be the start of WWIII? Sanctified wisdom seems to indicate that it is highly unlikely, but this war will help change world attitudes and the balances of power in preparation for a future day of conflict. How future? Jesus said “But of that day and hour no one knows . . .but the Father alone.” It could be 10 years, it could be 100, but most evangelical theologians agree that the Day of the Lord is not too far in the distant future.
Now this is the evangelical Christian perspective- – some will take it or leave it, but at least all should be aware of it. What is astonishing about Bible prophecy is that it seems to always take place whether one believes in it or not.
Bradford E. Winship
Laurence Harbor, NJ