How Should Christians Respond?
Responding With Prayer
The Antidote For Hopelessness
After reading this book, I’m sure that many may feel slightly hopeless. "Well then," you might ask, "If this Satanic/Islamic Empire is going to take over the world and kill multiplied millions of people, then what can we do? It seems so pre-determined, so hopeless." This chapter addresses God’s primary provision and antidote to all seemingly hopeless situations: Prayer.
Prayer is absolutely the most significant power available to mankind. Yet sadly, it is significantly neglected, even within the Church.
So here’s the question that must be asked: If the Bible says that all of these things are going to happen, then why not simply resign ourselves to "God’s will" and simply let Islam take over our nations and get it over with? Why prolong the inevitable? These are legitimate questions. But they are based on some very false assumptions. Let me explain.
Is Our Fate Already Determined?
Some Bible teachers have speculated that literally every nation of the earth would be taken over by the Antichrist system. We have already looked at some of the Bible verses that suggest such. My take on this subject is slightly different than those who take this position in an absolute manner. Let me explain why. First let’s look at the verses that are used to conclude that every last nation will fall to Antichrist and join him in his attack against Jerusalem:
I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. Zechariah 12:2,3
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it Zechariah 14:2
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel. Joel 3:2
The beast…was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. Revelation 13:7
Let’s look at the first three verses first. Since these verses use the word "all" and specifically the phrase, "all the nations of the earth" when speaking of the attack against Jerusalem at the battle of Armageddon, then surely, it has already been determined that every last nation will fall to the Antichrist’s empire and support him in this battle. I can fully understand how many would arrive at this conclusion.
There are at least two problems with this interpretation however: Firstly, there are plenty of other verses in the Bible that likewise use this very same type of language, yet are clearly not speaking of every single last nation in the world. These verses as well as the ones above all use a Hebrew grammatical construct that essentially uses an exaggeration of sorts or an emphatic type of statement in order to convey their point. Grammarians call this construct a hyperbole. It is the type of statement like, "Everyone loves ice-cream!" or "You never clean the kitchen," or the ancient, "Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons." Oftentimes for the sake of brevity, elaborating on the exceptions would entirely blunt the impact of the statement. For instance, imagine a speed limit sign that had several various exceptions painted on it: "Speed limit fifty five, except ambulances, fire trucks, police giving chase, etc." It simply wouldn’t work. Thus exceptions cannot be ruled out on the basis of exclusive language. This type of language is actually found quite frequently in the Bible. For instance, Daniel the prophet, speaking to King Nebuchadnezzar said this:
"O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Daniel 5:18,19
So, I ask you this question: Did every single nation in the earth fear Nebuchadnezzar’s father? Or did only those nations that had heard of Nebuchadnezzar’s father dread him? Was Daniel speaking of every single last nation of the earth? Or only those nations that were in a close enough proximity to Babylon to be affected by her? Were the native peoples of Papua New Guinea living in dread of Nebuchadnezzar’s father? Personally, I think that Daniel’s use of the phrase, "all the peoples and nations and men of every language" was more of an emphatic expression used to convey his point. Or how about another similar example:
Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. I Kings 4:34
Was Solomon’s wisdom so impressive that not a single king in all the earth failed to hear of it? Or is this verse another expression used to convey the great amount of renown that Solomon had? How about this one:
And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 1 Samuel 15:8
Should we find it odd that a people here recorded as being "utterly destroyed" come back making trouble just a few chapters later in 1 Samuel? Again, there are numerous such examples like this throughout the Bible. Do you see my point?
Now, if we look at the verses in Zechariah again, we even see that there seems to be a more specific mention of just which nations will be primarily involved in the attack:
I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Zechariah 12:2
Of course, the surrounding nations are the Muslim nations that encircle Israel on every side. In fact, the Prophet Joel confirms this as well. Speaking of the final attack against Jerusalem, Joel prophesied:
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel… Now what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia?… Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, "I am strong!" Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD ! "Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Joel 3:2,4,9-12
The New American Standard Bible words the italicized segments of the above passages as, "all you surrounding nations." Again, who are the "surrounding nations?" Does this include New Zealand? Canada? It could. But contextually, the Bible is specifically referring to the Islamic nations that surround Jerusalem/Israel on every side.
The second reason that the position that every single last nation will fall to Antichrist is impossible, is quite simply because the Scriptures state outright that not every nation will fall to him. In fact there will even be some nations that will resist the Antichrist after he attacks Jerusalem. Consider the following verses from Daniel:
At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him. Daniel 11:40-45
At a minimum it clearly says here that Edom, Moab, and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from Antichrist’s hand. This is speaking of modern Jordan. So at least Jordan will not submit to the Antichrist nor fall to his control. The verse specifically goes on to define the nations that will fall to him. It says "many countries." Not all. Is the Bible contradicting itself? I don’t believe so. I do believe that every tribe, people, language and nation will be utterly affected by the Antichrist’s influence. I believe that the Antichrist will at least be given a measure of influence and authority over every last nation in that within every nation he will have many followers. Many nations will be completely dominated by him, but not every nation will completely fall to him. I believe that this is the only way that we can fully reconcile all of the verses relating to this issue.
Okay, so let’s say that I have demonstrated that not every single last nation of the earth will attack Jerusalem with the Antichrist, but instead enough nations that Zechariah and Joel were justified in using such emphatic expressions. Why am I taking so much time making this point in a chapter on prayer? Simple. The reason is because I believe that while the Bible indeed gives us a general prophetic framework of what will happen in the last-days, many of the specific details have yet to be determined. God did not reveal every final detail for a reason. He rarely does. If He did, then we would be justified in simply waiting for the Antichrist to come and get us. We would be entirely justified in digging holes in the ground as secret hideouts to store our survival food. But instead, God desires us to actually wrestle with Him in prayer, not only for our own souls and our families, but also for the very nations that we live in and call home. God did not warn, for instance, David Pawson that Islam may indeed eventually take over England in order to give him fair time to flee, but rather to warn the Church in England to join together and fight for the very soul of their country through prevailing prayer! Islam may have an attitude of almost fatalistic resignation to Allah’s will: "Inshallah," (If it be Allah’s will… it will be) they say. But we serve a God who asks us to participate with him as He affects the nations. We serve a God who expects us to spread His beautiful kingdom throughout the earth through preaching (invitation) and prayer.
The point here is that if you find yourself feeling a tad hopeless after reading the scenario that has been opened up in this book, do not fear; there is always something that you can do: You can pray, you can pray and you can pray some more. And you can join with those who are doing likewise. Never underestimate the ability of prevailing prayer to effect reality and the final end of any matter. Remember, the story is not over, until it is has come to pass. I believe that it will be specifically the lack of, or the presence of an abundance of prevailing prayer that will literally determine the final chapter in the story of many nations. The Lord has given us the ability to literally affect the measure of His mercy verses the measure of His judgment that will touch our homes, our cities, our regions and even our nations. Every nation will receive its own measure of God’s judgment. Indeed, every person on the earth will undergo a deep refining process during the last three and a half years of this terrible period. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. So now is the time to cry out for God’s mercy for the days to come.
There is also another very important aspect of prayer that must also be mentioned. I also believe that prayer can forestall the judgment of God and buy more time for positive changes. We must remember that the reason that the Lord has held off His return thus far is for the sake of more people coming to know him and be saved:
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
There are dramatic revivals in many nations that would be cut short if the end came now, and there may very well be future revivals that would never take place if the end came now. While I personally believe that the day will indeed come when all of the terrifying prophecies in the Bible will come to pass, I believe that we can beseech God to give us more time and to pour out revival on our nations before these the dark days come. Prayer can forestall his wrath in order that his mercy will have more time to work in the heart of a nation.
God came and spoke to Moses. He said that he was about to judge and destroy the children of Israel. For most of us, that would have been enough. God said it – it was a done deal. But Moses would not accept it. He interceded with God:
"I have seen these people," The Lord said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. "O Lord ," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ " Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. Exodus 32:9-14
Now go back and rewind this scene. First God speaks to Moses and says, "Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." Okay, press pause… Now let’s insert a few theologians into the scene at this point to discuss whether or not God will destroy the Israelites. "Of course He will," they all agree, "God said it and that settles it." Many might argue the same thing today. Maybe you feel as though judgment is inevitable for our nation. Okay fine. What are you doing about it? Are you complaining really loudly? Or are you interceding for mercy like Moses? Indeed, maybe God will pour out his judgment on your nation. Or perhaps He will relinquish:
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger. Zephaniah 2:3
"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing- Joel 2:12-14
I personally believe that we are now living in a crucial time when the future of many nations is hanging in the balance. Now is not the time to fear. Nor is it the time to gripe. Now is the time to pray!
I want to end this chapter by quoting a portion of an article written by prominent Bible teacher and author Francis Frangipane. I felt particularly inspired by Francis’ article as he addressed this very issue that we are discussing and I believe you will as well. The title of the article is "This Day We Fight!"
The conflict before our generation is no less threatening than Nazism and Soviet Imperialism. Radical Islam is a demonic power that seeks world domination. We cannot lose the war against terrorism or morality. We must not open to fear or unbelief, for we were born to fight and win the battles of our times. Again the argument arises, "I was taught that life is supposed to only grow more evil until Christ returns." Yes, such a day will come, but we must not assume that it has arrived. In every age God requires we walk as overcomers. The very fact that there are nations today that are experiencing great harvests and breakthroughs reminds us there is still time for our nations. One of our readers sent us the following excerpt from Aragon, king of Gondor, in The Return of the King. The book’s author, J.R.R. Tolkien, an Englishman, denies his work had anything to do with the Great War. Yet, much of his manuscript was written during the height of WWII. The book is a metaphor of all the battles that each generation must face to conquer evil…
"Hopelessly outnumbered, King Aragon sought to inspire his men against what seemed like sure defeat against the swarming hordes of their hellish enemies. Riding in front of his gathered, but rather lowly army, he shouted, ‘I see in your eyes the same fear that would break the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. This day, we fight! …by all you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand with me, men of the West!‘" 1
To which I can only add a very heartfelt Amen!
1. Francis Frangipane, "This Day We Fight!" http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=2294
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