NOTE: I am so grateful to God that four Iranian-Americans were released from prison in Iran over the weekend, including a Washington Post reporter and an Evangelical pastor. Click here to read more about how God was using Pastor Saeed Abedini to preach the Gospel inside the worst prisons of Iran.
(Riverside, California) — Yesterday here in Southern California, I did a Q&A session and delivered a sermon on the differences between Apocalyptic Islamic eschatology (End Times theology) and Biblical eschatology.
I explained why this topic matters, and why it’s particularly important right now.
This was the first of a series of messages I will be delivering as part of our month-long book tour for The First Hostage, and I’m very grateful to my friend, Pastor Greg Laurie, for inviting me. My intention is to post notes and the video or audio of each message along the way. I hope you find them helpful. Please feel free to comment on our Epicenter Team page on Facebook, and to share this with family, friends and colleagues on social media.
First, some background: Radical Islam is a serious threat, but it’s not the most dangerous threat the West faces. Apocalyptic Islam is far more dangerous.
Radical Islam seeks to attack us. Apocalyptic Islam seeks to annihilate us.
Radical Islam (al Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, etc) uses violence for the purpose of persuading Jews, Christians and other so-called “infidels” to withdraw from — and leave entirely — the holy lands and holy places they consider their own, namely the Middle East and North Africa.
Apocalyptic Islam (such as the top leaders of Iran, and the leaders of the Islamic State) do not merely seek to drive infidels out of their region. They are driven by ancient Islamic prophecies. They believe the End of Days is at hand, that their messiah (known as the Mahdi) will come at any moment to establish an Islamic kingdom or caliphate that will rule over the entire globe, and that the way to hasten the coming of the Mahdi is to annihilate the infidels who refuse to submit to their brand of Islam.
To be clear: having an eschatology is not necessarily wrong. What is both wrong and horrific is having an eschatology that requires a person or an entire religion to rob, kill, destroy and even commit genocide to achieve their religious objectives.
Devout Jews believe the Messiah will come one day to establish a global kingdom (see Daniel 7, Jeremiah 23 and Isaiah 9, among other passages). Christians believe this as well and believe that Jesus of Nazareth is, in fact, that Messiah and that He will come again to establish His kingdom in the last days (see the Book of Revelation, among other passages). Having said that, it’s important to understand that both devout Jews and Christians believe God will supernaturally achieve these objectives. We do not believe that God requires us to slaughter our enemies en masse to bring about the End of Days and establish His kingdom.
Most world leaders do not understand these issues. Most citizens don’t either. But the rise of Apocalyptic, genocidal Islam makes it urgent that we and our leaders study and understand these distinctions. We cannot defeat an enemy we cannot or will not define.
There are some similarities within Islamic, Jewish and Christian teachings about the End Times. Indeed, when it comes to the study of eschatology, most devout Muslims (Sunnis and Shias), Jews and Christians — that is, those who take their holy books seriously and haven’t rejected or drifted from the orthodoxy of their religions — agree on five basic points.
- Ancient prophecies in our holy books give us signs to watch for that will indicate when the End of Days has come.
- So many signs are coming to pass in our time that we can be confident that we are, in fact, living in the End of Days.
- The Messiah is coming to earth, and it is possible that this will happen very soon.
- The coming Messiah is the King, He will establish a global kingdom, and He usher in justice and righteousness on the earth.
- Each of us must live differently in view of the fact that we are living in the End of Days and the fact that each of us will face the Final Judgment soon.
That said, the vast majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are not dangerous. Polling research indicates about 7% to 10% of Muslims worldwide subscribe to the concept of violent jihad to achieve their objectives. And while all devout Muslims believe the Mahdi is coming in the End Times to establish a global caliphate, the vast majority do not support violence much less genocide to achieve those ends. But some do, including the leaders of Iran and ISIS, and that’s what makes them so dangerous.
What, then, are the main differences between Apocalyptic Islamic eschatology (based on the Qur’an and the hadiths) and Biblical eschatology (based on the Old and New Testaments)? I’ve prepared a simple chart to draw out some of the important distinctions.Some important questions are these:
- According to the Bible, how does one enter the Kingdom of God?
- According to the Bible, how is one adopted into the royal family of God?
- What did John the Baptist mean when he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”?
- What did Jesus mean when he preached “the gospel of the kingdom”?
For more resources, please see below:
- Order The First Hostage today — a new political thriller about ISIS launching a chemical weapons attack against Israel, Jordan and the United States — it’s now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats.
- FACT SHEET: The Iranian leadership’s Apocalyptic Beliefs
- FACT SHEET: The Islamic State’s Apocalyptic Beliefs
- What the next US president will need to know about Iran and Islamic State. (my column in The Jerusalem Post)
- Subscribe (free) to the RSS feed (click here) and receive every new posting on this blog directly via email.
- Order THE THIRD TARGET today , the first in this new series — now out in paperback — the New York Times best-selling novel about ISIS capturing chemical weapons in Syria and plotting genocidal attacks.
- Make an investment in The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.net), our non-profit organization to help Christians care for Syrian refugees, educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, care for the poor and needy in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) with food and other humanitarian relief, care for Holocaust survivors, and strengthen the Church in the epicenter. Read our latest Donor Report, and make a tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution before the end of the year.
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