Yesterday I preached another message in my prophecy series entitled “Countdown – Are We Living in the Last Days?” The message addressed three questions: What is Iraq’s role in the end times; Is there an Islamic connection to Bible prophecy; and What is the Russian Alliance (of Ezekiel 38)? (You can go to our website and listen to the message if you are interested. This past Sunday’s message should be posted by Wednesday.) Within the context of dealing with the second question, I spoke about the end time prophecy that states there will be a one-world religion under the leadership of the “false prophet.” I spoke about the growth of the Islamic religion and the Islamic attempt to take over the world either through jihad or fatah (infiltration, moving into a country in numbers large enough to affect the culture). I pointed out that Islam was gaining great ground in part because of the blindness of political and religious “tolerance” in the world, and I can see how a religion like Islam could eventually be the one-world religion (especially if the Christians have all been raptured). I also quoted a Dutch Catholic Bishop (from 2007) that said we should call God “Allah” for the sake of religious solidarity. Have you ever compared the God of the Bible with the god of the Muslims? There is no comparison. David Jeremiah made this comparison in his book What in the World is Going On. He said:
The God of the Bible is knowable. According to the Qu’ran, Allah is so exalted that he cannot be known. The God of the Bible is a personal being with intellect, emotion, and will. Muslim theology tells us Allah is not to be understood as a person. The God of the Bible is a spirit. To Muslims, such a thought is blasphemous and demeaning to Allah. The God of the Bible is one God in three persons. The Qu’ran denies the Trinity and views it as a major heresy. The God of the Bible is a God of love. Allah does not have emotional feelings toward man. The God of the Bible is a God of grace. According to the Qu’ran, there is no savior or intercessor.
Obviously the God of the Bible cannot be the same as the god of the Muslims. One thing Dr. Jeremiah didn’t mention was that the God of the Bible says we are to love our enemies while the god of Islam says they are to kill them. I think that as we move ever closer to the end of time as we know it, there will be a greater effort toward religious solidarity.
Today I have read the most amazing article. I cannot speak to the credibility of this writer for I’ve never heard of him (the name of the article and the picture made me a little uneasy at first). I did Google the subject and found his comments were substantiated. The bottom line of this article is that yesterday in worship, a number of churches around the country read from the Qu’ran in an attempt to “to counter what they refer to as anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes’ that have been growing in the US.” My first thought was of Pastor Lee who was recently arrested in an Islamic region (India) for preaching the gospel. I have not heard whether or not he has yet been released. Obviously they are not very tolerant of Christianity. I doubt we’ll find any Muslim clerics reading from the Bible during their services. Actually Jesus never taught us to tolerate world religions but rather to pray for them and to share the Gospel with them.
I believe yesterday’s expression of religious tolerance is only taking us one step closer to the reign of the anti-Christ in our world. What do you think?
Are we living in the last days? My current message series on prophecy has stirred some interesting conversation. People have responded anywhere on the spectrum from great fear to unbridled excitement. This past Sunday I preached on Daniel chapter 2 and 7 and talked about some of the things that would take place during the tribulation period. One thing that came to me while I was preaching yesterday was that the antichrist is the one who brokers the peace treaty between Israel and “many” (which we can assume to be some of Israel’s Islamic enemies) to begin the tribulation period (Daniel 9:27). In order for the antichrist to be involved in this peace treaty, he must be a person of prominence in our world (like a prominent world leader, secretary-general of the U.N., a president or leader of another country, etc.). Someone will not gain that kind of position without some political posturing. This will take some time, and it will mean that though I believe the church will be raptured before the tribulation, we will be here to recognize the antichrist’s ascent to prominence. I also spoke Sunday about the fact that scripture speaks of the rise of the ten kings who lead the ten different divisions of the final world government. The antichrist will come and “subdue” three of those leaders. Again, it will take time for the one-world government to form and the ten leaders to take their place of world leadership. My point is, if we are living in the last days (which I think we are), then the one-world government is in the early stages of being formed. The ten leaders are jockeying for position, and the antichrist is alive and well, though possibly still relatively unknown.
While I’ve been preaching this series now for three weeks (you can listen to the messages at www.sonrisebaptist.org), I am convinced more than ever that Christ’s return for His church will be soon. There is no doubt that God is setting the stage for the final act (the tribulation period). How should we respond as believers? Surely we can’t just go on living our typical, apathetic lives. What should the church be doing in response to our current events?
What would a football game be like without instant replays? If you watch a professional football game today on television, almost every play is highlighted on a replay so the viewing audience can pick the play apart and observe every unobservable nuance of the play. On Monday night I watched a few minutes of the Colts/Tampa Bay football game. I thought the receiver for the Indiana Colts made a near 50-yard catch, run and touchdown, but the instant replay showed he stepped out of bounds just before catching the ball. The play was called back. The guy had no idea his heal was across the line, but the replay showed his fault clearly.
What if we had instant replays in life? Can you imagine how helpful or hurtful it could be if every move could be scrutinized by those watching. How many of us have rhetorically asked, “What did I do?” or “Surely I didn’t say that…!” Someone could hit instant replay, and you would clearly see what you did to step out of bounds. Or maybe you could be vindicated because someone accused you of stepping out of bounds when you actually didn’t (touchdown!). Unfortunately we can’t do that, so we must go through life with a “non instant replay” disposition. That means we choose not to be dogmatic about many things and give one another grace and space to work on being the kind of person that acts and reacts with game winning precision. We do not always have the right perspective on every matter, and we would do well to be open to the fact that we may have “stepped out of bounds,” and we just don’t know it. When we give someone “grace and space”, that means we give them the space to grow and the grace to fail. The reality is, sometimes we “step out of bounds” because we’re not mature enough to recognize our error. In dealing with others, we must give people the space to grow up. Regarding grace, we’re all going to fail. I could write volumes on all of my failures, sins, and just dumb things I’ve done in my life. I am grateful for the people in my life that loved me in spite of my failures. There have been a few people in my life through the years that even picked me up and helped me get started again.
I think the opposite is true as well. Even though we do not have instant replays to confirm certain “plays,” we ought to work hard to see the good in people around us and applaud it. It is easy for all of us to focus on the big picture and miss all the wonderful small things people are doing around us. Maybe we should pledge to look for those things and acknowledge them when they happen.
So maybe not having instant replays in life makes life a little more uncertain, or at least our interpretation of it more inexact, but I think with God’s help and a little effort we can work with this handicap. Just remember – Grace and Space.