United Nations vs Israel
and the End of the World

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"Jerusalem will be...
burdening the world...
all the nations of the earth
unite in an attempt..."
- Zechariah 12:3 LB

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Home
Bible Prophecies Don't Endorse Israel's Behavior
As Foretold, the Nations Are Already United and Prepared to Act
But the Bible Contradicts Itself - Doesn't It?
Many of the Prophecies Have Already Come True
Jerusalem a Problem for the Whole World
Ezekiel's Prophecy: a Coalition Attack on a Restored Israel
Will You Have Seven More Years to Decide?
God Doesn't Send Natural Disasters - Or Does He?
Anti-Semitism Foretold in Scripture
The Holocaust Foretold in Scripture?
Jerusalem, Canaan, Sodom and Today's World
"Chosen People" - Chosen for What?
Promised Seed
"Promised Land" - Promised to Whom?
"Holy City"
Promised Messiah
An Islamic Antichrist
Daniel's Beasts and the Beasts of Revelation
What Jesus Said about Jerusalem and the End of the World
How to Survive
Many "Christians" Won't Survive
What Happens Next?
America's Role
Nations United and Resolved
Why Do Churches Fail to Preach about the End?
Are You Ready?
Prophecy Timeline
About the Writing of this Book
Dedication, copyright, ISBN & Scripture references
Contact

United Nations vs Israel, and the End of the World
online edition of the book by David A. Reed
"Jerusalem will be...burdening the world...all the nations of the earth unite in an attempt..." - Zech. 12:3 LB
"Jerusalem shall be...administered by the United Nations." - UN General Assembly Resolution 181


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Will You Have Seven More Years to Decide?

 

 

 

Readers of the popular Left Behind fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins may feel that they can safely wait and see before choosing to follow Jesus.  If Christ returns and they miss the Rapture of the Church to heaven, they can just wait for the second bus.

That second chance after the Rapture is one of the basic teachings of the Left Behind novels.  According to the story line, a broad coalition of nations led by Russia and Iran stage an all-out attack on Israel (in fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39), that attack is blocked by the invisible hand of divine intervention, and then millions of Christians worldwide are raptured to heaven—followed by a seven-year-long Tribulation, with the final war of Armageddon climaxing the end of the seven years.  The characters in the novels who never gave a second thought to the Bible and its prophecies find they have a second chance to do so during the Tribulation.  So the story goes.

That view of coming events was popularized by the sale of well over 80 million books, videos and other products in the Left Behind series.

According to the Left Behind books the seven-year Tribulation period will afford seven more years of opportunity to come onto God’s side.  Jesus returns at the beginning of the seven years, according to that view, and takes his true followers to heaven with him.  Then he returns again at the end of the seven years to execute judgment on the rest of mankind.

But that is not the traditional view long held by Bible believing Christians down through the centuries.  The Scripture passages Tim LaHaye uses to support his view were all understood quite differently by the great Reformation teachers Martin Luther and John Calvin.  Others who agreed with Calvin and Luther rather than the authors of Left Behind included William Tyndale (English Bible translator), Jonathan Edwards (Congregationalist missionary in colonial America), Roger Williams (the first Baptist pastor in America), John Knox (early Scottish Presbyterian), John Wesley (Methodist founding father), John Huss (martyred by the Inquisition) and John Wycliffe (Bible translator).  None of these Bible scholars saw a seven-year post-rapture Tribulation in Scripture.

The passage where supporters of the Left Behind teaching find their seven years is this:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

—Daniel 9:24-27 KJV

The New International Version renders the same verses this way, with that translation’s footnotes shown here in parentheses to provide alternative renderings:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ (Or ‘weeks’; also in verses 25 and 26) are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish (Or restrain) transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.  (Or Most Holy Place; or most holy One) Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree (Or word) to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (Or an anointed one; also in verse 26), the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.  After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. (Or off and will have no one; or off, but not for himself)  The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.  He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ (Or ‘week’)  In the middle of the ‘seven’ (Or ‘week’) he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him (Or it).” (Or And one who causes desolation will come upon the pinnacle of the abominable temple, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolated city)”   (NIV, Revised Edition of 1983)

So, as you can see from the many alternative readings, this is one of the most obscure passages in the Bible.  Many different interpretations are possible.

Although the writers of Left Behind claim that Daniel 9:24-27 points to a future seven-year tribulation, the great Bible scholars of the Reformation understood it quite differently.  Both Martin Luther and John Calvin apply the seven years to the time of Christ.  The final “week” or seven-year period covered Jesus’ three-and-a-half year earthly ministry, followed by the work of the Apostles for three and a half years preaching almost exclusively to God’s covenant people, the Jews.  Christ’s sacrificial death at the midpoint of that seven-year “week” caused the animal sacrifices that were offered at Jerusalem’s temple to cease having any value in God’s eyes.

The portion of this passage that Luther, Calvin and other Reformers understood as applying to Christ, the Left Behind authors now apply to the Antichrist instead—a complete reversal of what Bible readers believed for hundreds of years.

LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and others who share their viewpoint believe that the events they portrayed in the Left Behind novels actually “will happen someday.”  They wrote the books, not to entertain readers, but to present “the truth of end times prophecy in fiction form.”  (Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, pages 355-356)  However, their presentation departs from the understanding Bible readers have held for centuries and contradicts Christ’s teaching.

Jesus never taught that unbelievers would be ‘left behind’ for a seven-year-long ‘second chance’ when he returns.  Rather, he said that his coming will be like the days of Noah when eight people entered the safety of the Ark and the wicked world was swept away, and like the days of Lot when that righteous man’s family was led to safety while the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were burnt up.  Jesus’ parables—the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, the ten talents, the wise and foolish virgins—and his plain teaching make it clear that we must “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”  (Matt. 24:42 NIV)  His coming will be as it was in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot.

The Left Behind novels tell a different story.  They show half-hearted occasional churchgoers left behind with a second chance—seven more years to make up their minds about Christ.  This teaching is not biblical.

Moreover, as noted above, the ‘left behind’ scenario was unknown among Bible-believers down through the centuries.  Tyndale, Huss, Wycliffe, Knox, Calvin, Luther, Wesley and Charles Haddon Spurgeon were serious students of the Word of God, but they never encountered in Scripture a two-stage return of Christ that would give unbelievers a seven-year reprieve.  The founders of the Baptist, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Congregationalist, Lutheran and Reformed traditions would not recognize the beliefs that millions of their nominal adherents today have learned from the popular novels by LaHaye and Jenkins.

By the same token today’s churchgoers are largely ignorant of the traditional Protestant understanding of end times prophecy.  Hence they are oblivious to the warnings that all the great preachers of the past gave concerning the apostasy, the man of sin, and the antichrist that arose from the ruins of the Roman Empire—entities that continue to lead much of the world’s population away from Christ.  These enemies of God are seldom named from pulpits today, but they were clearly identified by the great preachers of the Reformation.

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the new teachings of one John Nelson Darby were quietly adopted by one theology professor and then another, by one seminary and then another, by one church and then another, by one denomination and then another.  Darby’s “dispensationalist” teachings taught his followers to put off the end times prophecies until a supposed future Tribulation.  It was more ‘politically correct’ to accept Islam and the papacy as acceptable alternative viewpoints, and to discard the embarrassing accusations that filled the writings of the Reformation.  Now that a few more generations have passed, the teaching of the Reformers has been so completely forgotten that it is foreign to the thinking of most church-goers.

If the Left Behind scenario is wrong, does that mean the excitement about end times prophecy that the novels stimulated is also wrong?  Far from it!  Rather, there is every reason to believe that our Redeemer’s coming is imminent.  The history of divine intervention in ages past identifies the types of situations that provoke God to act.  The flood of Noah’s day was sent to cleanse a planet that had become full of sexual immorality and violence, much like today’s world.  Surely this age of internet pornography, motion picture sex goddesses, and weapons of mass destruction tries the Creator’s patience to its limits.  If God sent fire and brimstone to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, when the homosexual practices of those towns brought an outcry to his ears, how much longer will he put up with the open gay pride movement that is spreading like wildfire today, and the world that welcomes it with hardly a cry of complaint?  When the builders of the Tower of Babel abandoned God to create an urban society capable of accomplishing the impossible, He stopped them in their tracks.  So, what about today’s predominantly urban world that boasts of human achievement and looks to science to solve all man’s problems?  How much farther will God let this world go in crediting blind evolution for the Creator’s handiwork, developing nuclear weapons, manipulating the genome, and performing sex-change operations?  The One who put a stop to Babel, to Sodom and to the pre-Flood world will soon put a stop to today’s antichristian culture—this time through the promised return of his Son. 

The failings of Left Behind do not in any way negate the scriptural injunctions to “keep watch” and “look forward to the day of God.”  (Matt. 25:13; 2 Pet. 3:12 NIV)  Without Left Behind’s promise of a post-Rapture ‘second chance,’ that biblical warning is to be taken even more seriously.

The seven-year struggle of the Left Behind characters against the novels’ Antichrist is fast-moving, and therefore captivates modern audiences accustomed to such dramatic action on television and at the movies.  But, what about the centuries-long struggle of real-world Christians against the dark forces Martin Luther and John Calvin identified as the real Antichrist?  That true story may not be as fast moving, but we should recall that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  (2 Pet. 3:8 NIV)  In fact, the real-life history of this struggle is even more fascinating than the Left Behind novels.  Take the time to read about how John Huss was burned at the stake for preaching the truth.  Read how William Tyndale was killed for translating the Bible and standing up to the Antichrist.  Read about modern-day Muslim men and women who learn the Gospel message and embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, only to be jailed, abused, stoned or beheaded for the crime of converting to Christianity in strict Islamic nations today.

Unfortunately, the Left Behind novels have validated unbelievers’ “wait and see” attitude by assuring them of seven more years to get right with God after Christ returns.  While the novelists urge their readers to accept Christ now rather than later, they undermine this by offering a future tribulation period as a seven-year safety net.  If the penalty for postponing a personal decision about Christ is nothing worse than a seven-year adventure after his return, why worry? 

However, if the traditional understanding of the Second Coming turns out to be correct, and Christ raptures the Church at the same time that he metes out swift punishment to the rest of the world, the undecided who relied on Left Behind’s interpretation may be in for an unpleasant surprise with eternal consequences.

But this is not the place to refute the Left Behind teachings point by point.  I offer such a refutation in my book LEFT BEHIND Answered Verse by Verse, which is available in print, and which can also be read for free online at http://www.LeftBehindAnswered.com.

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