Mideast conflict studied for links to Bible
People who seek to align today’s headlines with
ancient Scriptures have been working overtime lately, monitoring the
daily developments in the Middle East.
Words spoken by Old Testament
prophets such as Isaiah, Amos, and Ezekiel are undergoing a new round of
scrutiny as Israel battles the Muslim guerrilla group Hezbollah in
How — or whether — the 10-day-old
conflict ties in with Bible prophecy is a matter of debate in Toledo and
around the globe.
“We’re getting comments from
around the world,” said Todd Strandberg of Omaha, who runs the Web site
RaptureReady.com. “Most of them are from the United States, but for some
reason, Australia is a big one.”
Mr. Strandberg, who is in the Air Force, said he
works about eight hours a day, seven days a week, compiling information
about the End Times — the days leading up to Earth’s final battle,
Armageddon — for his Web site, which has been in operation for 20 years,
since the era of dial-up online bulletin boards.
“I try to be practical with
everything. My main goal is not to be spectacular or push the conspiracy
thing,” Mr. Strandberg said. “But God says he is coming back, so sometime he
is coming back.”
The latest round of fighting in the Middle East is being
closely watched for any signs of Syrian involvement — a step that some feel
will lead to the destruction of its capital city, Damascus, as described by
two Bible prophets.
PREDICTING THE END
the Bible states in Matthew 25:13: “For ye know neither
the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh,” it
has not stopped people from predicting the Second Coming
of Jesus Christ and the End of the World. Here are a few
selections from “The Date Setters Diary” compiled by
Todd Strandberg. The full list is online at
www.RaptureReady.com/rr-date-setters.html:• 53 A.D.:
Thessalonians panic when they hear a rumor that the day
of the Lord was at hand, fearing they missed the
A.D.: A Roman priest living in the second century
predicts Christ would return in 500 A.D., based on the
dimensions of Noah’s Ark.
A.D.: The new millennium leads to hysteria, based solely
on the number 1,000; buildings are left unrepaired,
farmers opt not to plant crops, and prisoners are let
out of jail because people believed the end of the world
was at hand.
“The Letter of Toledo” warns everyone to hide in caves
and mountains because the world is going to be destroyed
when the planets align.
Mary Bateman, fortune teller, has a magic chicken that
lays eggs with end-time messages on them, including one
that said Christ was coming. She later is hanged for
poisoning a wealthy client.
The revisit of Halley’s comet is seen as an indication
of the Lord’s return. One enterprising man sells comet
pills to protect people from comet gases.
The book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Is in 1988, by Edgar
Whisenant, creates a stir among churches. When the
Rapture does not occur, Whiesnant says he miscalculated
by a year. His sequel, 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Is in
1989, sells just a fraction of the numbers that the
original version tallied.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan predicts the Gulf
War would be “The War of Armageddon … the Final War.”
Since 666 times three equals 1998, some see this as a
prophetically significant year.
2011-2018: For the past several decades, Jack Van Impe
has hinted at nearly every year as being the time for
the Rapture. His new match uses 51 years as the length
of a generation. If you add 51 years to 1967, the year
Israel recaptured Jerusalem, you get 2018. Once you
subtract the seven-year tribulation period, you arrive
Isaiah 17:1 states:
“Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a
ruinous heap,” while Amos 1:3 says, “Thus saith the Lord; For
three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn
away the punishment thereof.” (King James Version).
will be eliminated as a city and there will be nothing there,”
said the Rev. Tony Scott, pastor of Cathedral of Praise in
Monclova. “Whether this is the war leading up to it or not, that
is what’s going to happen eventually.”
The Bible says Armageddon
will start after Israel is invaded by armies from the north, so
any time military conflict strikes the Middle East it is a
something to pay attention to, Mr. Scott said.
“I think the story is
this: This is the region from which the battle of all battles is
going to originate — in these cities, in these countries. I
don’t know if this is the war leading up to it or not, but I
think it should make people think about it, to realize that the
Bible is real.”
Al Adams, an author of
books on the End Times and host of a weekly television show in
Lafayette, La., also believes the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict
provides an opportunity to get people to open their Bibles.
“My main goal is to create
awareness,” Mr. Adams said. “I’m sitting back and watching this,
and this really has potential to fulfill a couple of prophecies
that have not been done.
“Usually, seeing Bible
prophecy fulfilled before your eyes is a good chance to show
people that the Bible is real and every word in it is the living
Word of God.
“If Russia gets involved,
oh boy, this isn’t good,” Mr. Adams said, because it could be
the start of Armageddon — with Russia the “gog and magog” that
the Bible says will invade Israel.
Not all Bible scholars
believe that the words of ancient prophets apply to today’s
The Rev. Kenneth Mormon, a Toledo
Catholic priest teaching at Mount St. Mary Seminary in
Cincinnati, said according to Catholic doctrine, the
messages of Isaiah, Amos, and other prophets were intended
for the people of their own time.
“Usually when we’re
talking about Bible prophecy, we’re talking about apocalyptic
works. But the messages are directed to their own
contemporaries,” Father Mormon said.
“When God inspires an
author to write for his people, he chooses a form — a letter, a
parable, a drama, a short story, whatever it is. Apocalyptic
writing is a kind of literature. If a prophet uses apocalyptic
writing, he phrases the message in terms of a vision, a seer,
with the symbolism explained to him by a heavenly messenger,” he
But although the message
was intended for people living thousands of years ago, the Bible
is always relevant and modern readers will still get something
out of it, only in a different way than the prophet’s
contemporaries, Father Mormon said.
Gary DeMar, an
Atlanta-based author who has written several books on the End
Times, also believes that many people are taking the prophets’
writings out of context.
“People who claim to
interpret the Bible literally are very selective in terms of
what they interpret,” Mr. DeMar said in an interview. “In
Ezekiel 38 and 39, it obviously is about an ancient battle, the
people are on horseback, they have shields, the loot they want
is cattle, and this really has nothing to do with our time.”
Mr. DeMar, author of Last
Days Madness, said it doesn’t make sense that prophecy watchers
are always looking to verses in the Old Testament, while the New
Testament is rarely cited.
“The New Testament is kind
of an update of the Old Testament. It’s the new covenant. Yet
they have to continue to go back to the Old Testament,” he said.
Neil Little, a Toledoan
who has programs on WGGN-FM (97.7) in Sandusky, said he is
concerned that the networks reporting on the Middle East
fighting are not making any references to Bible prophecy.
“Nobody is bringing up
that this is what was prophesied in Jeremiah and Isaiah — that
Israel would be bombarded,” Mr. Little said. “I understand what
the geopolitical issues are all about, but I believe the coming
of Christ is just around the corner. I preach it. I don’t want
to scare people, but Christians should know what’s going on.”
The Rev. Todd Hostetler of
Toledo said Christians should always keep an eye on the Middle
East situation, but he does not believe the latest conflict is a
sign that doomsday is at hand.
“In Ezekiel 38:11 and 14,
it says Israel is dwelling in safety,” Mr. Hostetler said.
“Israel will have no gates or walls, so they are secure with
their neighbors, indicating that in the End Times there will be
Armageddon cannot come
until Israel experiences a time of peace, he said.
“There’s no reason to
panic, but the events in the Middle East should stir in us a
desire to spread the Gospel. The clock is marching forward. Step
by step the Bible is being fulfilled.”
Contact David Yonke at firstname.lastname@example.org
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