A Prophetic Question

In his stark and somber inaugural address, President Donald Trump vowed to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.” Is this promise a fulfillment of Bible prophecy?

"Better not speculate," someone warns. "Let’s stick with the safe and sure teaching of Ellen White. She said nothing about Islam related to end-time prophecy — so neither should we."

Well, Adventists who care about connecting with the 21st century might respond we must not fossilize ourselves in a 19th-century scenario. Ellen White herself warned, “A spirit of Pharisaism has been coming in upon the people who claim to believe the truth for these last days. They are self‑satisfied. They have said, ‘We have the truth. There is no more light for the people of God.’ But we are not safe when we take a position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth.”[1]

Twenty-five years ago, Pacific Press published a book that challenged blind traditionalism: “The Seventh‑day Adventist Church desperately needs relevance in our prophetic proclamation. We will not impress intelligent minds when we point to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake as a compelling sign of our times. That was big news in days gone by, but what about the 20th century? Certain prophecies in both Daniel and other Old Testament books, along with Revelation, have much additional light for the end-time church. Despite this, some ministers and church leaders prefer rehash over research.”[2]

Twenty-First Century Scenario

Let’s open our eyes and the Bible and through them consider the world around us. The book of Daniel predicts end‑time tribulation in the context of a colossal struggle between the King of the North and the King of the South.

“In Daniel's time [the King of the South] was Egypt. Remember, it was Pharaoh who scorned the existence of God: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord’ (Ex. 5:2). The modern counterpart could be Islamic forces allied with leftover communists.”[3] 

Some would nominate that King of the South alliance as the Antichrist. Well, certainly there is fierce opposition to the Christ who saved us on the cross. But remember that the Bible warns against deception in association with the Antichrist: "Let no one deceive you by any means" (2 Thess. 2:3, emphasis added).

Christians aren’t deceived when Islamic or atheistic powers persecute those who worship Jesus. Thus the King of the South, despite its fierce opposition to Christ as Lord, cannot be the end-time Antichrist. That deceptive power will be the King of the North. Militant expressions of Islam and Christianity have been enemies for most of the past 14 centuries. Why would hostilities cease at the end of time?

Christian Crusaders and the Mark of the Beast

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther and other reformers concluded from Scripture that the militant medieval church system was spiritual Babylon. While resisting the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, Rome rallied the armies of Christendom against Islamic invaders from the south.

End-time prophecy predicts a renewed theocracy in the name of Jesus — a collaboration of church and state to save Western civilization from the King of the South. Indeed, ISIS has pledged in a manifesto to fly its black flags in the city of Rome. Militant Islam is inspiring a movement among the nations of NATO to rediscover their Christian roots and unite to eradicate terrorism from the face of the earth.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush initiated a national day of prayer for terror-stricken Americans. Picture the next major jihadist event by ISIS or Al Qaida, followed by bombings in football stadiums, shootings in shopping malls and beheadings on campuses. Will there be more national days of prayer to save America — even a weekly day of prayer?

When religious observance is enforced throughout our nation and beyond, the Lamb of God will raise up a final remnant who will follow Him in grace-based faithfulness.

Next month in this column we will study this further. For now, let’s get this clear: The mark of the beast is about false worship — not mistakenly keeping the wrong day. Consider the Pharisees who crucified Christ and then hurried home to light Sabbath candles. Would these dedicated Sabbatarians receive the seal of God or the mark of the beast if they lived in these last days?

 

[1] Ellen G. White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 34.

[2] Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1992),  p. 94.

[3] Ibid., p. 110–11.

March 11, 2017 / Perspective
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