Is it the End of the World?

Tim LaHaye, the popular Christian author and speaker, died last month at age 90. To the end, he was vital and very engaged in one of his main passions: teaching Bible prophecy.

I met him 20 years ago and he was always the same. A very approachable, kind man. When his improbable success with the Left Behind book series began in the mid-90’s, millions became aware of the particular brand of prophecy LaHaye espoused, namely, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In short, this view claims that Jesus Christ will rapture, or “capture away from Earth” a remnant of believers before a time of great trouble falls over the globe.

In recent years, I’ve been intrigued to see the attacks on this view, from within the American Church. Specifically, from within evangelicalism, where LaHaye dominated for decades.

Times have changed.

Tim LaHaye speaking at the Pre-Trib Conference in Dallas, December 2014.

Tim LaHaye speaking at the Pre-Trib Conference in Dallas, December 2014.

I find that men like LaHaye and his colleague, Thomas Ice, are reasonable researchers and more than that, good men. Their detractors come close to something like loathing when discussing the prophecy guys.

But I would encourage you to check out the website for the Pre-Trib Research Center, in particular the articles, and see for yourself.

Another legacy of LaHaye’s, lesser known, is his work with creationists. When Henry Morris started the Institute for Creation Research in 1970, his friend LaHaye was there in support. Eventually, they, along with George Hillestad, founded Master Books, which is still the world’s most preeminent publisher of creationist books. LaHaye remained close with Master Books’ publisher, Tim Dudley, and was always interested in the latest offerings from the company.

I have always been interested in the fact that when one believes the creation accounts in Genesis, the person also tends to support prophecy teaching and the historic claims of Israel. Conversely, those who adhere to an “old earth” or theistic evolution stance tend to downplay prophecy and Israel.

Tim LaHaye was in the thick of those wars for 50 years.

Goodbye, sir. Many of us expect to see you again soon.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is under fire, so to speak.

Everyone agrees violence is roaming across the country: police are under assault, targeted for assassination by “activists” who have more in common with anarchists and Marxists than they do anyone else.

Added to this is the threat of terrorism rooted in Islam (few want to say that, couching it in terms of radical Islamist terrorism), and citizens of the U.S. feel threatened and unsafe.

In many ways we are facing unprecedented challenges. The Trojan Horse of jihadists will get worse if Donald Trump isn’t elected president. Hillary Clinton wants to follow the lead of Angela Merkel and allow millions of Middle Eastern refugees into the country, without vetting them.

This is a staggering display of insanity.

The issue of gun control is so polarizing, one wonders if tensions will ever ease over it.

And that’s the point, I think. It’s actually pointless to argue.

So long as we live in a flawed world, evil people will threaten peace-loving people, who are in the majority.

Liberals and leftists often decry the presence of guns in our world. Leftist Shane Claiborne, among other things, is involved in efforts to break down firearms and make them into plows, etc.

He’s able to do that from the relative safety of the United States. Yet his extreme naiveté ultimately endangers him, his family, and his followers.

The fact is, bad men like ISIS murder defenseless men, women, and children. We don’t live in an idealized world; we live in a world threatened by evil people.

Arguments over gun control won’t fade away. Happily for all of us, we can decide to follow our consciences.

As for me, I have some of the 300+ million guns in this country and I know how to use them. If it comes down to it, I’ll protect myself, and my family.

If Shane Claiborne wants to make dinnerware out of a revolver, let him.

You won’t get an argument from me.

If you ask many Americans what they think about Turkey, most will answer, “I like it with dressing.”

We don’t know much about geography or geopolitics, or even what geopolitics means.

Yet the events in Turkey this past week show just how fragile the world is—even if Turkey’s Erdogan in some way “planned” the attack in order to consolidate power.

For the longest, Turkey has been a stalwart ally of America, as both a secular Muslim state and member of NATO. It has been since Recep Erdogan came to power in 2014 as President. Previous to that, he served since 2003 as prime minister and before that, mayor of Istanbul.

Today, it was reported that Erdogan is demanding the resignations of all university deans across the country. Besides a military purge, he is going after the intelligentsia—the hallmark of an outright dictator.

The Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock

For several years, Erdogan has also signaled that he intends to bring Turkey into the community of Islamic dictatorships. The brutal civil war in Syria has slowed his plans the past five years, as he struggles to cope with mass waves of refugees on Turkey’s southern borders.

Turkey is much like Iran, pre-revolution, and Iraq before Saddam: a nation of smart, innovative people. But again, just as Lenin proved in Russia, cracking down on educators and innovators helps ensure a total control of the masses.

Beyond all this, Turkey plays a role in end-times Bible prophecy. In Ezekiel 38-39 (a favorite section for prophecy teachers and students), Turkey appears to be part of a massive coalition that invades Israel. Some teachers have identified Turkey with Gomer (Ezekiel 38:6).

In recent years, Erdogan has clashed sharply with Israel, particularly Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Turkey’s relations with Israel have been torn and frayed. Just before the military coup in Turkey, attempts were being made to repair the Turkish-Israel relationship.

Erdogan has also followed another script from Middle East dictators: blame Israel for ludicrous crimes, such as undermining the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aksa Mosque. Israel doesn’t do those things and Western leaders should forcefully reinforce that fact.

One serious mistake that prophecy teachers and students often make is to jump on the latest news item and claim that this event is “triggering” some cataclysmic end-times event.

The truth is, no one knows if this latest flair-up will trigger the famed Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39.

We just know it will happen.

Elie Wiesel died last Saturday, at the age of 87.

The iconic Holocaust survivor (he was at Auschwitz and Buchenwald) waited until 10 years after the war to write about his experiences; a friend, the French Resistance fighter (and Christian) Francois Mauriac, urged him to write.

The young Wiesel

The young Wiesel

One outcome of that endeavor for the Romanian-born moral voice was Night, a memoir of his time in the camps. I won’t even try to use many words to describe it, because that would be impossible. Suffice to say, the images will stay with you.

(I’ve long felt that a serious writer and reader should read the Bible, Mark Twain, and Night. Not necessarily in that order.)

My friend, Kenneth Bialkin (chairman of the America-Israel Friendship League), wrote a moving tribute to him this week, saying in part:

“His message was one of memory and was very personal. The memory he kept alive was shared with whoever would read or listen. He never claimed or searched or sought power or position, he simply said what he thought. His writing and commentary make out a guide for thinking, and acting, and believing for anyone who took the opportunity to read or listen or hear. It is as if a star that we were used to seeing when we looked toward Heaven is no longer there.”

Ann Bialkin, Elie Wiesel, Kenneth Bialkin

Ann Bialkin, Elie Wiesel, Kenneth Bialkin

What a perfect description of this wonderful human being. It reminds me much of Herman Wouk’s description of the Entebbe hero, Jonathan Netanyahu; he was, Wouk said, “an ember of sacred fire.”

I’ve visited both the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, several times, and the sacred fire is there. In particular, when one exits Yad Vashem, one can see across the valley countless homes where Jews live.

It is a thrilling site, one that I believe is eternal.

So, too, is the memory of Elie Wiesel.