Is Our Latest Fight With Iran A Prophetic Sign of the Last Days?
Several articles claim that “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the main force that pushed Trump into assassinating Iranian Major General Soleimani” because of his belief in the “rapture.” The articles often quote the following comment Pompeo made at a “God and Country Rally” on June 28, 2015. Note the ellipsis:
We will continue to fight these battles. It is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture.
The context makes it clear that he was not talking about war with Iran or any other country but with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges pro-homosexual marriage decision:
We will continue to fight these battles. It is a never-ending struggle. Until that moment Pastor Fox spoke about, until the Rapture be part of it, be in the fight. Ask for forgiveness seek His wisdom, and heed your pastor’s call to actions, and great things will be bestowed upon our nation and our world.
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Pompeo does believe in the false doctrine of the “rapture,” especially the view (there are at least five views) that claims the church will be taken to heaven prior to the reign of antichrist who makes a covenant with Israel, breaks it, and then hell is unleashed on the Jews living in Israel and the rest of the world. Pompeo is not the only one who holds this unbiblical interpretation of Scripture. Millions of Christians believe in one of the five rapture positions, with the pre-trib view being the most popular.
I don’t know if Pompeo has an end-of-the-world political philosophy. The Left is certainly trying to make it seem that he does.
Unfortunately, there are many Christians who do have an end-time political philosophy based on Bible prophecy, something that Newsweek took note of in a January 2018 article:
Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly support President Donald Trump because they believe he’ll cause the world to end.
Many have questioned why devout evangelicals support Trump, a man who has bragged about sexual assault, lies perpetually and once admitted he never asks God for forgiveness. Trump’s lack of knowledge of the Bible is also well-known.
Nevertheless, many evangelical Christians believe that Trump was chosen by God to usher in a new era, a part of history called the “end times.” Beliefs about this time period differ, but it is broadly considered the end of the world, the time when Jesus returns to Earth and judges all people.
I doubt, however, that Christians voted for Trump because he would bring in the end times. Still, the rapture doctrine often immobilizes Christians. They don’t need to “be in the fight” because their prophetic position tells them that a prophetic inevitability is always on the horizon.
Christians need to abandon the false premise of the rapture and get back to kingdom work. The final message of the book of Acts isn’t a message about the “rapture of the church” but “preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 28:31).
The “rapture” is an important topic, that’s why I’ll be debating Kent Hovind on the “rapture” doctrine on January 21, 2020:
The thing of it is, anyone familiar with the pre-trib view should know that there are no events preceding the so-called rapture since it’s an “any moment” event. There are no signs leading up to the rapture, not even Israel becoming a nation again in 1948. The following is from pre-trib advocate John R. Rice’s article “False Teaching About the Last Days”:
There is no sign of Christ’s coming promised before the rapture.
No preacher has a Scriptural warrant, I think, for preaching that current events are signs of Christ’s soon return. Mussolini was not the Antichrist, as some Bible teachers said, and they will be as foolish if they so designate Stalin or Tito.1
End-time speculation based on the rapture must stop. It’s embarrassing, unbiblical, and dangerous. This is why I wrote The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation. You can click on the image below to be notified when this product is available.
In 1927, Oswald J. Smith wrote Is the Antichrist at Hand?–What of Mussolini? Smith believed that the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who had ruled Italy since 1922 (nearly 100 years ago), was the predicted antichrist. Ample biblical evidence was put forth to establish his claim. In addition, Smith also believed that the Bible’s prediction about a revived ten-nation Roman confederacy was on the horizon. All the prophetic pieces were in place. Smith was so sure of his views that in subsequent printings of his book, he included the following on the front cover:
The fact that this book has run swiftly into a number of large editions bears convincing testimony to its intrinsic worth. There are here portrayed startling indications of the approaching end of the present age from the spheres of demonology, politics and religion. No one can read this book without being impressed with the importance of the momentous days in which we are living.
Following the prophetic script outlined by C. I. Scofield in his note-filled edition of the Bible, Smith was emphatic that “Ten nations, no more, no less, are to become allied and known as the Roman empire because Rome will be the centre, the capital, and it will be in Rome that the Emperor will reign.”2
Similar predictions have been made by more modern prophecy writers. In his book The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey wrote about a “ten nation [European] confederacy” that would be in place by 1980. For support, he quoted Dr. William Hallstein, the former president of the European Economic Community, who described how a “Common Market could someday expand into a ten-nation economic entity whose industrial might would far surpass that of the Soviet Union.” Lindsey remarks, “Imagine that. A ‘ten-nation economic entity.’”3
But something happened to Smith on his road to prophetic certainty. In April 1945, just before the Allied armies reached Milan, Mussolini was caught by Italian Communist partisans as he tried to escape to Switzerland. Mussolini was executed by an Italian partisan in the village of Giulino di Mezzegra in northern Italy. His mistress, Clara Patacci, was also shot. “They were then hung upside down from a metal girder above a service station on the square [in Milan]. The bodies were beaten, shot at, and hit with hammers.
Now that’s a monkey wrench in a well-oiled prophetic machine.
Lindsey was also off the mark. The European Union is much bigger than ten nations and includes nations not originally part of the old Roman Empire and excludes the nations of northern Africa.
But Smith did what no modern-day prophetic speculator has dared to do. He apologized for his presumption. John Warwick Montgomery adds this bit of historical perspective: “I understand that after the fall of Mussolini, Smith himself tried to buy up all remaining copies of the book to destroy them.”4 This may be one of the reasons why Smith’s book is difficult to find today.
The ten-nation common market idea is beginning to take a back seat to historical reality. The union is now made up of fifteen nations. “Eight former Communist states and two island Mediterranean nations are poised to join the European Union in 2004, creating a unified economic and political force in a continent long divided.”5 This will bring the total to twenty-five. Part of a revived Roman Empire also includes Israel and northern Africa. For apologetic purposes, prophetic certainty has proved to be a disaster. Montgomery’s warning needs to be heeded:
We are not saying that such efforts at end-time prophecy reach the level of the false prophets condemned in the Old Testament: those who “speak a vision out of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 23:16). But we are saying that end-time prophecy lacks the necessary factual grounding to make it an effective apologetic to the unbeliever—and that it can be and often is in reality counterproductive, lowering rather than raising the credibility of Christianity in the eyes of the outsider.6
None of this means that prophetic speculators have not tried to fit current events into end-time events. The most natural end-time culture is Islam. That’s why someone like Kent Hovind argues that “this final nation empire will be 10 Muslim nations since they all hate each other and fight all the time just as God said they would in Genesis 16:12.”7
Does this mean that Christians should dismiss world events as outside the searching eye of Scripture? Not at all. There are enough non-prophetic examples in the Bible that can be used to analyze current social, moral, cultural, and political events. Consolidated political power is certainly a biblical issue, both in its efficiency (Ex. 18) and its potential for danger (1 Sam. 8). Christians can offer a reasonable voice without the dogmatism inherent in the ever-changing pronouncements found in prophetic speculation.
- While I disagree with Rice on his prophecy views, one can’t dismiss his evangelism efforts: “The staff counted 22,923 letters that had come to Rice between the beginning of his writing ministry and his death, each reporting that the writer had found Christ through Rice’s books or booklets or through a sermon published in The Sword of the Lord.“ [↩]
- Oswald J. Smith, Is the Antichrist at Hand? (Harrisburg, PA: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1927), 18. [↩]
- Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 96-97. [↩]
- John Warwick Montgomery, “Prophecy, Eschatology, and Apologetics,” Looking into the Future: Evangelical Studies in Eschatology, ed. David W. Baker (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic/Baker Book House, 2001), 366. [↩]
- Daniel Rubin, “European Union Close to adding 10 nations,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (October 13, 2002), B4. [↩]
- Montgomery, “Prophecy, Eschatology, and Apologetics,” 366. [↩]
- What On Earth is About to Happen…For Heaven’s Sake? (2013), 93. [↩]