Each generation of Christians believes that theirs may be the last. In these deeply troubled times, the question once again rises to the fore: Is Christ about to come back? Leading religious figures explore the myths, the doctrines, and the controversies.
And we ask, What’s this mean for America?
|god’s will: Lora and Ken Uptegrove, anticipating Christ’s return, are planning to create a remote self-sustained Christian community.
en and Lora Uptegrove of Springdale, Ark., live in a bustling suburb of about 65,000 in the state’s northwest corner. They’re like many of the God-fearing folk in these parts, with one notable exception: They are actively preparing for the end of the world.
They may not actually leave their irenic neighborhood until “the day the hammer falls,” as Ken, a 72-year-old retired government computer programmer, puts it. But when the end times foretold in the Bible finally come, the Uptegroves intend to be ready.
Ken and Lora plan to build a self-sufficient Christian community on about 150 acres in a remote area of northwest
Arkansas. An extreme reaction to the nation’s economic woes?
Actually, they say they are more motivated by what they read in the Good Book than by what they see in the headlines.
They point to the biblical promise that Jesus Christ will return to earth one day. Before his return, the Bible predicts, will come wars, natural disasters, and famine. Christians call that troubled era the Tribulation. Matthew 24:21 describes it in harrowing terms: “For then shall be great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Bible scholars say these events will serve as signposts along history’s highway, signaling that the end times are just around the corner.
Ken and Lora say they’re just obeying Christ’s admonition to be ready. They plan to join other Christians in creating an economically self-sufficient farm from which they can minister to others. “We can’t save everyone,” Ken says. “But we can save the ones God sends us.”
“It might come to a point, in a depression, where we live on a barter system,” says Lora, 57. “My parents went through the Depression, and we never lacked for anything because they lived on a farm.” Self-sufficient communities seem less far-fetched following the September collapse in the international credit markets, the Lehman Bros. bankrupt-cy, the loss of more than 4 million U.S. jobs, and news that 2 million mortgages could be headed down the tubes.
Experts of various stripes tell Newsmax that public buzz about the biblical last days is at its highest level since 9/11. Although the Second Coming may appear purely theological to some, end-times beliefs can profoundly influence where people worship, where they donate their money, which politicians they vote for, and how they spend their time and energy.
If the Uptegroves, for example, believed that they would be whisked away to heaven before the Tribulation — the pre-Tribulation rapture concept that dominates today’s evangelical Christian right — they wouldn’t bother laying the foundation for a self-sufficient Christian community. After all, they would not be around to use it.
Surveys consistently indicate that about 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Of those, an overwhelming 79 percent believe in the Second Coming, according to the Pew Research Center. That means Americans overwhelmingly reject the secular-progressive view that the Second Coming is essentially a cleverly constructed fairy tale.
Indeed, Americans’ faith in Christ’s return is much stronger than generally recognized. A widely publicized Ipsos poll in 2007 reported that 25 percent of Americans expected to witness the Second Coming of Christ — in that very year!
Pew’s findings are more conservative, but they still indicate that a large number of Christians — about 1 in 5 — believe that Christ will return in their current generation.
Overall, Americans are pretty sure that reality’s clock is winding down rapidly. A 1994 U.S. News & World Report poll showed that 6 in 10 Americans — people of all faith backgrounds — believe the world will come to an end eventually. And about 20 percent say the global life expectancy is just a couple of decades. So the idea that creation’s clock could strike midnight at any time turns out to be as American as apple pie, pink slips, and debt collectors. If you mix the morning headlines into the average American’s eschatology, you stir up a powerful, angst-inducing brew.
In December, The New York Times reported that church attendance is rising nationwide, adding that people historically crowd into places of worship during periods of national difficulty. Religious leaders tell Newsmax they’re seeing the same trend.
“There is rising concern over the economy and national security, as well as downright open alarm at the leftist drift of our national government in the Obama era,” says Tom Minnery, the Focus on the Family executive who frequently co-hosts Dr. James Dobson’s influential Christian radio program. “Although evangelicals are confident about the outcome in the long run — that is, the Second Coming — we are very concerned about the short term.”
Similar concerns are voiced by radio host, author, and Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson. Prison Fellowship is a nonprofit prison ministry. Colson has seen his share of personal tribulations, including his front-row view of Watergate, the Arab oil embargo, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.
Yet with all that perspective, Colson confides, “If I were in the business of speculating when Christ will return, I would certainly have a field day today. There is enough going on to make you think that Western Civilization is in the balance. If civilization falls there’s nothing to keep stability in the Middle East and then, of course, you could see the Armageddon.”
Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the best-selling Left Behind series, is among the world’s leading authorities on rapture theology, the pre-Tribulation doctrine that Christ will gather up his followers to heaven before the end times.
LaHaye sees ominous parallels between today’s times and Christ’s message to his disciples in Matthew 24:5-8. In it, Christ said: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: See that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
In an exclusive interview, LaHaye tells Newsmax: “What we see going on in the world is just like Jesus said — in the last days, perilous times will come. Well, they are perilous, not only in the political field. And socialism is sweeping the world. Even Newsweek magazine recently announced on its cover that ‘We Are All Socialists Now.’
“It’s a new thought, for the American people anyway. World socialism is the forerunner to the Antichrist kind of government that he is going to run during the Tribulation period.”
Twenty centuries have passed since the Apostle John, cloistered on the tiny Greek island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, noted Christ’s words: “Surely I come quickly.”
Upon hearing those words, John all but pleaded for the Lord’s quick return, responding, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Christ’s followers have been speculating on the Second Coming ever since. And they’ve been getting different answers.
(Well, Maybe Later)
Jesus Christ told his disciples that “The son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40). That has not prevented legions of religious leaders from trying to predict the time, however — often with embarrassing consequences.
Among false starts littering history’s rocky road to the Apocalypse:
Jan. 1, 1000 — “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day,” declares 2 Peter 3:8. Based on this passage, and recognizing that about 1,000 years have passed since Christ’s birth, the bishops who gather for the Ecumenical Council of 999 declare that the world would come to an end on Jan. 1, 1000. Weeping throngs gather at St. Peter’s in Rome on New Year’s Eve, expecting Christ’s return.
1300s — A real-life apocalypse of sorts — a series of black plagues that claims millions — leads religious seers to predict a series of second comings that never arrive.
1657 — Christopher Columbus projects in his 1502 Book of Prophecies that the Judgment Day will fall in 1657. His prediction is based on St. Augustine’s statement that the world’s clock would strike its last in the seventh millennium following creation.
1715 — Date for Christ’s return is set by physicist Isaac Newton. One writer remarks, “Great scientist, poor theologian.”
Sept. 11-13, 1988 — Former NASA engineer Edgar C. Whisenant sells 4.5 million copies of the book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. He had the rapture narrowed down to a two-day period in September. When 1988 came and went, he recalculated that he had been off by one year. So he issued another book predicting 1989 as the year to end all years — followed by one designating 1993, then 1994. After that, he didn’t sell many more books.
1999 — The French mystic Nostradamus, writing in 1555, sets this as the year that “The King of Terror” will come down from the heavens.
Year 2000 — Christian ministers such as Lester Sumrall and Grant Jeffrey predict that 2000 is the likely date of Christ’s return. As the dawn of the new millennium draws near, rising tensions, stoked in part by fears of the Y2K computer glitch, spawn apocalyptic predictions and cults. In January 1999, Israeli police arrest eight members of a group called Concerned Christians, who plan to kill themselves to hasten the Second Coming. The millennium celebration comes and goes, hangovers and all.
2012 — Proving that apocalyptic prognostications are hardly the exclusive province of any one culture, look for the next great wave of catastrophic predictions to center on 2012. Based on the Mayan calendar, there’s already a spate of books on the topic. Some go so far as to mix Christian and Mayan theology. There’s even a Complete Idiot’s Guide to 2012 — no kidding. — D.A.P.
The Great Disappointment
To say predictions of Christ’s return have a checkered past is putting it mildly. Christ himself warned followers that no one could know the time of the Second Coming. In 2 Peter 3:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Scripture says Christ will return “like a thief in the night.” The idea is clear: He’ll appear when you least expect him.
Still, that hasn’t kept generation after generation of Christians from trying to figure out the date — usually with embarrassing consequences. And trying to anticipate the day and the hour isn’t just a contemporary phenomenon stoked by Bible-thumping, hellfire-and-brimstone preachers, either. Indeed, the Apostle Peter expected at one point that Christ would return in his own lifetime: “The end of all things is at hand,” he wrote in his first letter to the church (1 Peter 4:7). “Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
Of course, that was nearly two millennia ago.
Simon Peter is in good company, however. Other great figures of history taken in by the lure of decoding the specific date of Christ’s return include Christopher Columbus (he designated 1657), Nostradamus (keep an eye peeled in 1999, he said), and even Isaac Newton (he thought the final apple would fall in 1715). History is littered with other examples.
One of the most notorious cases of date-setting involved a 19th-century U.S. soldier named William Miller. He fought against the British in the War of 1812 and found the American victory so miraculous it sparked an interest in God.
Miller began perusing the Bible. As recounted in Coming Again by Christian author Jerry Newcombe, Miller decided after a period of intense study that Christ’s thousand-year reign of peace, known as the Millennium, would begin in 1843.
Naturally feeling obliged to share this information, Miller published a book in 1836 that bore the windy title: Evidence From Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year 1843. Several newspapers covered Miller’s prognostication, and he became something of a popular sensation.
Perhaps feeling the “About the Year 1843” part was a bit too indefinite, Miller further honed his prediction for the debut of God’s closing act: The end of the age, he proclaimed, would fall between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. When life proceeded normally on March 22, 1844, however, Miller’s acolytes were undeterred. One of his followers simply revised the Second Coming to Oct. 22, 1844.
When Christ did not appear on that date either, however, Miller became known as “Mad Miller,” and historians labeled the whole episode “The Great Disappointment.”
Through the decades, the guessing game continued. In more recent times, prognosticator Edgar C. Whisenant published a small book entitled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. It generated quite a buzz in Christian circles that year.
The book declared that the Second Coming would occur on a Tuesday. Not long before that fateful day, the late D. James Kennedy, the respected pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was asked what he made of the book. Kennedy’s reply, as told by Newcombe: “Well, let’s have breakfast on Wednesday and discuss it.”
Benefit of Accountability
The Y2K computer-bug scare generated more needless angst among the faithful at the dawn of the millennium. Despite various predictions of calamity, both religious and secular, revelers woke up on New Year’s Day pretty much as they do every year: Suffering from personal tribulations — resulting from overindulgence the night before — and little else.
Undeterred by the poor historical track record, writers continue to release new tomes linking Christ’s return to a specific year. And 2012 seems to be the latest annum du jour. Why 2012? That’s the end of the current age — as predicted by, of all things, the Mayan calendar, which has no more to do with Christian theology than the temple of Nike Athena.
One national leader and Christian who discourages assigning a time slot to Christ’s return is former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Huckabee says looking forward to Christ’s return is beneficial when it encourages people to be accountable for their behavior.
“When it becomes unfortunate is when we get obsessed with what the deadline is, and not what it is we ought to be doing in preparation for the deadline,” Huckabee says. “When people become more focused on when the moment is, they’re not actually preparing for it. That defeats the whole purpose. They’re focused on when the test is going to be given, not what’s on the test.”
Of course, apocalyptic predictions are hardly exclusive to Christianity — as any observer of Al Gore’s inconvenient jeremiads on global warming knows. Indeed, most of the Mayan end-of-the-world books are in the New Age, rather than Christian, tradition.
Still, those who accept Christ’s final word on the unknowability of the Second Coming timetable have, like Huckabee, had enough with the date-setting already. That sentiment spans a broad range of denominations.
A Trio of Faiths and a Never-Ending Conflict
It’s up to Christ, says Jimmy Akin, apologetics and evangelization director for Catholic Answers, the largest lay-run Catholic apologetics organization in North America. “And in fact, he warned us against trying to be specific in terms of predicting when he is going to come. So it’s really up to him.”
Colson concurs: “Jesus will return, and judge the living and the dead. We know that as a matter of our faith. That is an essential element of Christian orthodoxy. What we don’t know is how or when, because he tells us no man will know how or when.”
Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, comments: “Most of the Southern Baptists I run into are very much aware of the fact that the Bible tells us no man knows the hour or the day of his coming. And there have been lots of people who were mistaken in the past.”
Newcombe, of Coral Ridge, goes further, insisting that the timing of Christ’s return must be approached with humility. “Yes, he will come back,” he says, “but when is not known and frankly, any date-setting is horribly irresponsible.”
Gary DeMar, author of Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, agrees with Newcombe’s view that rampant speculation over the Second Coming is actually harmful. DeMar’s book recites a litany of unfulfilled predictions, and he calls out a host of major evangelical preachers and writers for making them.
DeMar is president of American Vision, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “restore America to its biblical foundation.” He knows his outspoken opposition to those he sees as overly focused on Christ’s imminent return hasn’t won him much favor in some evangelical circles. But Second Coming clamor, he says, “does damage” to the Christian faith and hurts the Bible’s credibility in the eyes of the secular world.
“When prophetic writers make the claim that everything is lining up for the end times today, they have done that in the past,” DeMar says. “The question you have to ask yourself is, If I were a skeptic, why would I believe you? You have been saying this for 20 years, 40 years, 100 years, 200 years, and 300 years, using the same Bible verses, and things did not come to pass as you have claimed.” DeMar says that theological and social liberals have used unfulfilled prophecies to question the validity of other biblical teachings.
‘Christians Are Better Able To Weather
|Redeemed: Author Chuck Colson says Christian
values have made this “the most humane society ever.”
Dan Barker stands as one example. A former evangelical preacher who fell away from the faith after five years of studying non-Christian authors, Barker is now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. That’s a pro-atheist activist group that places messages such as “Praise Darwin, Evolve Beyond Belief” on billboards and buses around the country. “You can’t have a Second Coming if there was never a first coming,” Barker insists.
Barker and his organization reflect the strong secular-progressive momentum building in American society, an influence many Christians encounter on a daily basis.
“He’s a historical fabrication,” Barker says of Jesus. “There may have been a Yeshua the Christ, but Jesus of the New Testament is a legendary cartoon character.”
So although overzealous date-setters may chip away inadvertently at the great Judeo-Christian pillars supporting Western Civilization, Barker and others like him would have at them with a jackhammer. For now, though, they are a small, vociferous minority. Too many failed predictions, however, could abet atheists who are busy conducting their own dark form of evangelism.
Secular Progressive ‘Fear-Mongers’
Thomas Ice, director of the Pre-Trib Research Center at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., sees another worrisome indication that Christ will be coming soon: persecution. Specifically, persecution of evangelicals and charismatics who believe in the rapture and Jesus’ “near return.” Ice, who has a Ph.D. and is working on a second, has an involuntary “starring” role in a new film called Waiting for Armageddon. The documentary explores evangelical prophecy beliefs, and concludes that they may threaten world peace and international stability. “They titled it Waiting for Armageddon,” Ice says, “as if we just can’t wait for Armageddon to come. And we never talk about waiting for Armageddon. We talk about waiting for Jesus.” In the past 10 years, Ice says, secular progressives have begun systematically “fear-mongering” about Christians and their beliefs.
“Rosie O’Donnell already said we’re more dangerous than Muslim terrorists,” Ice says, “even though we haven’t blown up anything that I’ve ever heard of. That would be a symptom that we’re moving toward the end times.” He attributes the secular attacks on faith to “an epistemological self-consciousness on the other side, that somehow what we believe is a challenge to them making the world safe for their unbelief.”
LaHaye, co-founder of the Pre-Trib Center, concurs. “The one thing that the seculars hate more than anything else is Christians,” he tells Newsmax. “You see that in our newspapers today. It indicates that they don’t trust Christians. They hate Christians. They want to stamp us out and keep us out of the public schools. Well, Christians started the public schools.”
Views From the Pews
— a Variety of Perspectives
The 23,000 residents of Stockbridge, Ga., can tell you exactly when the Tribulation is coming. Everyone here knows: It happens every October. It’s called Tribulation Trail.
The event, presented each fall at the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in this quiet town 20 miles southeast of Atlanta, attracts more than 15,000 people.
Groups from as far away as Indiana make the pilgrimage to Stockbridge to experience the church’s vision of the Tribulation. And quite a vision it is: More than 350 actors, elaborate lighting, sound systems, pyrotechnics, and a host of special effects. It’s all designed to portray over a dozen scenes from the Book of Revelation.
The show is presented from a pre-Tribulation perspective. Some actors are raptured and disappear early on before the going gets really tough. Everyone else, including the audience, marches onward to the eventual Doomsday.
In the script, law and order dissolve steadily. People are persecuted for their beliefs, and there’s even an enactment of a beheading. The Antichrist sows deception, and rogue students shoot up a school in a scene hauntingly reminiscent of the tragedy at Columbine.
Christ dispatches the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Spec-tators suddenly realize there’s no neutral zone: They will have to decide which side of the battle they’re on.
It’s no show for the faint of heart. Allen Green, who organizes the event each year, says it’s not supposed to be.
“What we provide is a visual reference for the Scriptures,” Green says. “Once they can see what is actually happening, rather than just read the words on the page, it really impacts them and their lives.”
One thousand attendees were especially affected on Tribulation Trail last year, when they gave their lives to Jesus Christ, Green says.
“It can scare the hell out of you — literally,” one pastor quipped.
On Tribulation Trail, people easily can tell which stage of the end-times narrative they’re watching. The scenes provide clues and there are explanatory signs for those who haven’t read Revelation.
The trail illustrates the central end-time issues now confronting Christianity. For Christendom at large, there are two key questions churches must consider: How soon will Christ return, and will believers have to suffer any or all of the Tribulation before they meet their Lord?
In other words, how far along is Christianity on the trail ultimately leading to the return of Jesus Christ?
Christian views of that question vary widely by denomination. Some see the promise of the Second Coming as figurative — that is, as a spiritual event rather than a literal, physical return of the Son of God.
Southern Baptists and Methodists allow individual churches to decide their own position on the timing of Christ’s return and the rapture. (See “Views From the Pews” Sidebar, Page 50.)
Catholics are less focused on a future date with destiny, because they believe the thousand-year reign of Christ is occurring now, as Jesus sits enthroned in heaven and works through the church to accomplish his objectives on earth.
Theologians call this view “amillennial,” in contrast to the predominant Protestant view that the current age will lead to a thousand-year reign in the future, called “premillennial.”
Akin notes, “There have been Catholics who have tried to do the same thing. But in general, the church is going to say that kind of speculation isn’t helpful.”
Today’s evangelical Christians tend to follow “pre-Tribulation dispensationalism.”
That’s the belief that Christ’s thousand-year reign has not yet begun, and that before the Tribulation gets under way, Christ will gather his followers to safety and protect them from suffering.
Given its prevalence in American religious thought, it’s interesting to note that the dispensational view is a relative newcomer to the stage of the world’s religions.
Its modern form was introduced by the English evangelist John Nelson Darby in the 1830s, and later was popularized in the United States via Cyrus Scofield’s reference Bible. The doctrine may have achieved its broadest popular expression in evangelical Hal Lindsey’s controversial 1970s best-seller, The Late Great Planet Earth.
Dispensationalism holds that history is divided into seven ages, or dispensations.
The current church age is the sixth. Because the seventh age will mark the return of Jesus Christ, dispensationalists naturally tend to keep a close eye on events and biblical prophecy. Like workers waiting for their shift to end, they’re watching the clock. Dispensationalism matches current events to biblical prophecies and concludes that the return of Christ is imminent.
Many of today’s most influential Christians, including preachers Billy Graham, John Hagee, and Tim LaHaye, subscribe to the dispensational view.
Pre-Tribulationists share several core beliefs based on their elaborate perusal of the Bible:
Christ is coming soon. Although no one can set the date of his return, it is imminent and real. Believers should busy themselves with spreading the Gospel in a dark world, living as Christ directed in the Sermon on the Mount. “My friend,” Hagee writes in his book From Daniel to Doomsday: The Countdown Has Begun, “every time I pick up a newspaper, I grow more and more convicted that God’s doomsday clock is ticking out the final seconds on the last hour.”
Current events offer valuable clues that prove the end times are drawing nigh. Careful study and interpretation of biblical prophecies will help believers see God’s master plan being put into action.
Israel will play a key role in preparing the way for the Second Coming. Because Christ promised to gather his people back together before his return, the re-emergence of Israel has great significance for “pre-Trib” believers. Hagee frequently cites Genesis 12:3, which contains God’s promise to Abraham that, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee.” This is why many evangelicals demonstrate heartfelt support for Israel — support that Jewish activists and theologians receive with mixed emotions.
The Tribulation is all too real. It will be a soul-rending period of death and destruction poured out upon the world. The Tribulation is inevitable, and no one would wish to experience it even for a single minute.
As suggested in the Book of Ezekiel, Russia and its Arab allies will join forces and attack Israel in a tremendous battle. They will be defeated. Individual nations will give way to a one-world government, which will be taken over and dominated by the evil figure known as the Antichrist. (This interpretation is a major source of the widespread evangelical skepticism toward globalism in general, and the internationalist approach of President Obama specifically.)
A cataclysmic, final battle between the armies of God and Satan will be fought on the plains of Megiddo, a place whose name bequeaths us the root word “Armageddon.” Megiddo, an actual place in the Jezreel Valley in northwest Israel, is referenced only once in the New Testament: Revelation 16:16.
Before God opens the door to Tribulation, he will rapture to safety those who accept his son, Jesus Christ, as their savior. To support this view, pre-Trib believers cite Bible verses promising that only love, not punishment, await those who believe that Jesus Christ died to save their souls (John 3:16).
Protestant churchgoers recognize many of these beliefs because they often hear them preached from America’s pulpits every Sunday. But these ideas tend to hinge on one thing: Belief that Christ is coming soon.
Liberty University’s Thomas Ice agrees that nothing in the Bible indicates the timing of the rapture. But he offers a common-sense metaphor to explain what the signs of the times should tell Christians about the proximate return of Jesus Christ.
“If you’re in the mall, and one day you see the decorations are up for Christmas,” Ice says, “then you know that Thanksgiving is near.”
Long before Mike Huckabee embarked on the path to become a leading GOP contender for the presidency, he was a young college student during the tumultuous era of Watergate and Vietnam when he learned that several of his classmates planned to drop out.
He relates this story: “They said, ‘We’re leaving school and there’s no point in sitting around here because the Lord’s coming back immediately. Why should we be sitting here in the classroom, when we need to go out and try to change the world now before it’s too late?’”
Huckabee recalls the reaction of a wise old professor when he learned about the young students’ plans.
“He just took his glasses down on his nose, looked at them, and said, ‘Boys, oh my. Wonder what the Lord did before y’all came along?’”
That story raises an interesting question: Why would God tell his faithful flock to watch and prepare continuously for his return, yet also caution them that they could not discern when he was going to return?
“It’s almost a God-given tension that each generation might think that theirs is the last, so that we will be busy,” Newcombe says.
Ice says that approach keeps the focus where it ought to be: on God.
“The real preparation for his return,” Huckabee says, “is not to act like we know it’s coming right now and do something different. It’s to do what we should have been doing all along.”
Huckabee advises his fellow Christians “to be ready if it happens today, but not to be disappointed if it doesn’t happen for another 10,000 years.” What Christians are waiting for may appear bleak to some: increasing persecution, leading up to a war to end all wars.
Yet Christian leaders continue to maintain that eternal fellowship with their Lord renders the troubles of this world insignificant by comparison.
“We have enormous hope,” Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL Ministries, and the daughter of Dr. Billy Graham tells Newsmax. “Right now we have what the Bible calls tribulations, difficult things, but God uses those in the life of a believer to develop our character, to strengthen our faith.”
“We don’t get fixated on it,” she says, “but our hope is that this world is coming to a purpose, and that purpose is going to be Jesus Christ who will come to rule this earth.”
As a former pastor, Huckabee knows firsthand what it’s like, as the sun rises on Easter Sunday, to gaze out on a crowd of believers waiting for words of hope. He would tell them about a God who loved them so much he left heaven, came to earth, and traded his life for theirs.
Huckabee’s message for believers in these faith-testing times: “I think the most important thing for a believer is we should not be surprised that there is turmoil, tribulation, and trouble or trial on earth. We were promised this was going to happen.
“So this is not anything that should catch us by surprise, or make us feel that, ‘Oh, we’ve been abandoned.’ No, we’re simply seeing the fulfillment of what we were told would be the case.”
He adds, “We should not somehow think our lives consist of the things we have.
“In fact, I think times like this remind us of how insignificant, how fleeting those things are, and how much more important it is to put our true value into something that is going to last beyond our lifetime.”
Glenn Beck on Armageddon:
Not So Funny. Look for War
the whole seven-year Tribulation thing, which
is going to
Talk-show host Glenn Beck earns his living by boldly voicing his opinion where no one else dares to venture.
His endeavors include a national radio program, a popular Web site, books, Fusion magazine, comedy tours, and his eponymous TV program each week night on Fox News Channel. In short, Beck works like there’s no tomorrow — and his interview with Newsmax may explain why.
Newsmax: Do you agree that people are talking more about Judgment Day and Armageddon these days? Why?
Glenn Beck: I’m not standing out on the street corner with signs or anything, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. There are wars going on in Iraq, Afghanistan; there’s the war on terror; genocide in Africa — and more people have been killed in warfare in this century than at any other time in history. Wars are a big sign to look for, plus there is a major shift towards one-world government.
America’s blatant move towards socialism has caught the eye of the world, especially those who love the idea of a one-world government. They think this could be their opportunity to achieve their goal, and they are attempting to cash in on socialism’s current favorable public view.
The sad part is they are succeeding. The world views the European Union as a wild success and other leaders want to emulate the EU. Why do you think that Obama had such huge crowds in Germany? Because he thinks like they do.
Do you believe there will be a Second Coming of Christ?
I absolutely believe that Christ is coming again — although I hope it’s not soon because I’m dreading the whole seven-year Tribulation thing, which is going to be very, very ugly. Think Helen Thomas naked. Some of the things that have caught my eye as far as end times: The fact that, for the first time, Russia and Iran have alliances — something that has to happen for end-times prophecy to be fulfilled; America’s weakened standing in the world. America is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, implying that it would be crippled or taken out of the picture in some way.
Will the United States be around to witness the Revelation, or will we be long gone by then?
The United States will have to be diminished in some way. Perhaps we will still be around, but in a North American Union-type meld . . . not America as we know her now. The way things are currently going — it looks like our best-case scenario for the future is “France West.” So we may be around, we will just have hairy armpits and we’ll all be wimps.
Iran is trying to speed things up. They are trying to hasten the end times and the return of the 12th Imam by doing things like trying to acquire nukes, wiping out Israel, and generally creating havoc. When you understand that, for the return of their savior (who happens to be the Antichrist to Christians), the world needs to be in chaos, the things that Iran is doing start to make sense.
Do you think President Obama’s policies are exacerbating people’s worries?
The policies he is proposing are like policy pornography for the progressive left — they are literally getting their jollies off of the trillion-dollar spending bill and the billions of dollars going towards pork items. But to the rest of us — even moderate Democrats — this guy is frightening because not only is he jamming his far-left agenda down our throats, he’s changed his campaign message of “hope” and “change” to one of “sign my bill or else we are all going to die.” He gets in office and literally says if we don’t pass his first piece of major legislation that America won’t make it. That is a change — and a pretty scary one. So I’ll take “making it worse” for 100, Alex.