Michael D. Evans is an evangelist, writer, and founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, whose mission is "to guard, defend and protect the Jewish people...until the redeemer comes to Zion." Among its supporters are televangelist Pat Robertson, and Tim LaHaye, author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels.
Two weeks ago, Evans published a book, The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation's Future, in which he theorizes that biblical prophets predicted America is doomed unless it stops accommodating the Arab world in exchange for its oil. He believes Americans are risking God's wrath by not supporting what he believes is God's biblical mandate that Israel have full control of the West Bank and Gaza. Evans also theorizes that many of America's problems--including September 11--are evidence of God's fury that America doesn't fully support Israel.
Similar books about biblical prophecy have been written in the last 30 years. Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth was the first and most popular of the genre, and remained the best-selling book of all time from the 1970s into the late 1990s, when it was edged out by an even more successful apocalyptic series of books: Left Behind.
So far, Evans' book isn't quite at that level, though it stands at #10 on the New York Times Best-Seller List and #9 on Amazon's religion & spirituality best-seller list. It is also #2--just below Rick Warren's wildly successful The Purpose-Driven Life--on Amazon's Christianity best-seller list.
Intrigued, we interviewed Evans to see how he views America's role in biblical prophecy.
Why do you say that America's story is contained within biblical prophecies?
America stepped into the eye of a prophetic storm when it took covenant with both Ishmael and Isaac, the sons of Abraham, the Arab and the Jew. With one of them, Isaac and the Jews, American carries guilt over the death of six million Jews. That's because Franklin Roosevelt for eight years refused to acknowledge Hitler was killing Jews because Roosevelt was trying to appease Stalin, Mussolini and King Saud so they would join him in the war.
The second one, Ishmael and the Muslims, America used for political expediency-for oil. America stepped into the middle of a prophetic storm because of cutting its covenant with two brothers which are part of prophecy. Most of the Bible talks about this battle between these two brothers, and we're right in the middle of that.
On Sept. 23, 1979, the founder of Israeli intelligence over dinner told me that America was developing a tolerance for terror. The gentleman's name was Isser Harel, the founder of Mossad Israeli intelligence-he ran it from 1947 to 1963. He told me that America had developed an alliance between two countries, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and that the alliance with Saudi Arabia was dangerous and would develop a tolerance for terror among Americans. He said if the tolerance continued that Islamic fundamentalists would ultimately strike America. I said "Where?" He said, "In Islamic theology, the phallic symbol is very important. Your biggest phallic symbol is New York City and your tallest building will be the phallic symbol they will hit." Isser Harel prophesied that the tallest building in New York would be the first building hit by Islamic fundamentalists 21 years ago.
So extrapolating from the scenarios of the Bible, what do you believe is our nation's future, based on prophecy?
The story of prophecy that has to do with the Jews goes all the way through to the end of the Book of Revelation. Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24. The disciples said, "What shall be the signs of the coming of the ends of the age?" And he said, "The first sign would be deception." Now, there's never been greater deception then what happened on September 11, 2001. In the 1990s, New Age relativism redefined a terrorist as just an "extremist." Bill Clinton and his moral relativism wanted [a Middle East peace agreement] because he was trying to get a postage stamp of himself over Monica's face. By doing that, he sent a signal to the Islamic fundamentalist world that was already in a rage, that America would embrace terrorism.
In the 1990s, Jews were being blown up almost weekly, and we would not acknowledge it as terror. We called it a "cycle of violence." We would not define morality, and we allowed the disintegration of our moral values to affect not only the private life of a president, but also the domestic policy in America and also our foreign policy.
What does your theory mean for the coming presidential election?
Number one, we're in a horrendous battle between darkness and light. We began with a distraction of our moral principles We saw it through the 1960s and the 1970s. We saw it through abortion and prayer in school and all these other issues. We saw it in the White House through Clinton. Then we saw that it translated into our foreign policy--not just our domestic policy. It spread like the Ebola virus.
And now we realize that the holy grail of understanding is that 9/11 was the most apocalyptic day in American history. And we woke up from our innocence to realize that we cannot put our heads in the sand any longer. We've got to stand up to the New Agers who believe that a terrorist is not a terrorist.
No American who saw those buildings fall and that black smoke could think of anything but the horrors of the Book of Revelation. No Hollywood producer could have described something so awful.
But this did not have to happen. We had redefined terrorism and terrorist. Now the dilemma is, terrorism was rationalized as a valid response to its root cause, namely repression and desperation. In the 1990s, the New Agers said, "The reason terrorists happen is because they're repressed and they need to be appeased. These are really just people that are homeless and hungry."
Well, when you believe that, you empower them. The people in India do not commit terrorism and they're very poor, much poorer than those in the Middle East. Once we gave the terrorists the justification for terror, it empowered them to unify to do more of it because they got political concessions from it. Case in point: We offered Yasir Arafat $30 billion plus East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, even though he's committed 2,300 acts of terrorism. What were we saying? We're saying crime pays.
I want to get back to the presidential election. You support President Bush. What happens if Kerry wins?
If Kerry wins, we get Clinton all over again because Kerry has already brought in most of Clinton's holdovers. We'll get New Age liberals who will have the same Middle East policies that Clinton had, which is no Middle East policy. We'll go back to more peace conferences, we'll go back to getting the Jews to give up more land, putting more pressure on Israel. It will be the liberal, New Age, kumbaya mantra that will wreck this country.
But in a prophetic sense what does that mean?
We'll get two Sauls in a row. King Saul was rejected by God. We'll have gone from a Clinton Saul to a Kerry Saul.
Do you envision an apocalyptic scenario as a result?
I think it will open the floodgates for more terror. Because the only things terrorists understand is power. This is a battle between two books, two kingdoms and two spirits.
One of the things we need to be prayerful about is the issue of Saudi oil. Saudi oil is being used as a weapon to try to influence the U.S. elections. Right now, the Saudis are pushing the price of oil up, they're going toward $50 a barrel. The U.S. economy has been completely ravaged through oil. I believe the Saudis are willfully and intentionally decreasing oil production, because they desperately want George Bush to lose.
I don't understand that, because the Saudis have said they would add more oil production.
In the world of the Middle East it means nothing. These are just words. [Radical cleric] Muqtada al-Sadr, who right now is killing American troops and has been for the last six months, has said he was going to stop doing it. Arafat has said he denounced terrorism more than 10,000 times. The Saudis, of course, are going to say that because it's politically correct--but [in the fall], you'll see oil prices higher than they are even now.
The Saudis are terrified of Bush. Bush believes in moral absolutes and democracy. If a democracy comes to Saudi Arabia, then their family-owned corporation collapses.
But how does it help them if Kerry is elected?
Kerry is going to be a New Ager. He's going to be a One World boy. He's going to unify France and Germany and a lot of the countries that the Saudis kiss up to. So the Saudis are going to feel like, "Happy days are here again,"--like they were under Bill Clinton. George Bush believes that a war is going on, and that the Saudis are helping fund it. Kerry doesn't feel that way. Kerry is going to be kinder and gentler to the Saudis, and he'll talk to them. Bush will probably continue fighting the war on terrorism, whereas Kerry will try to find a way of redefining the war on terrorism as good terrorists vs. bad terrorists or good terrorist states vs. bad terrorist states.
You've compared the 1990s and the 1930s. What do you mean by that?
In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with his political advisers, his military planners. He was told that America might have to go to war, and if it does have to go to war, it needs to support Stalin in Russia, Mussolini in Italy, and King Saud in the Arabian Peninsula. And they also told him that all three of those were bigots, that they were Jew haters. And that in order for him to get their support, he must not show any favoritism to the Jews--so for eight years, FDR completely hardened his heart to the Jewish question. He sent the St. Louis ship back to Germany with 925 passengers on board. They tried to land four times--he wouldn't allow Jews into America. He passed anti-immigration acts. Adolph Eichmann held negotiations for a deal called Blood for Trucks, in which they were going to barter a million Jews for 20,000 trucks--and FDR said no. It got so bad that the Allied pilots were begging to allow them to bomb railroad tracks in Germany because they saw the Jews going to Auschwitz--and he wouldn't even allow them to bomb because he wanted to keep appeasing the anti-Semites who were supporting him. [For an opposing view, click here.]
We did that in the 1990s. We appeased bigots who called Jews "monkeys" and "pigs" and cut their heads off for being Jews--like Daniel Pearl who was killed in Pakistan and Nicholas Berg who was beheaded in Iraq. We refused to acknowledge a terrorist as a terrorist. They were considered revolutionaries, freedom fighters. While the Jews were being blown up, we forgot that in the 1930s they first started killing Jews--then they killed Christians in the 1940s.
During World War II, we found out that the same Hitler who despised Jews turned and vented his spleen on Christians. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the champion who understood that Christians were being slaughtered only because they were standing up for righteousness.
Is there an analogue to today?
We have a battle that can only be won by the church, because the church has moral clarity. When we tolerate 100 million fundamentalists intimidating us and threatening us and using oil to do it, then we face a dilemma. We got into this crisis because of America's foreign policy with Saudi Arabia, like we did before World War II. We have appeased a bigoted regime, a racist regime. We got into this crisis because we refuse to acknowledge racism or bigotry as something that's lethal that can kill you. And we got into this crisis because we refused to acknowledge that this is a religious war-that the 100 million Islamic fundamentalists are religious.
My mother's grandfather was burned to death in his synagogue in Minsk Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church members boarded it up and burned the whole congregation alive and wrote "Christ-killers" on the walls as they burned it to death. Her aunts and uncles were burned to death in Auschwitz and called "Christ-killers" during that period of time. My mother survived and moved to America, but as a child, I pushed her grocery cart to the grocery store. Catholics and others would drive by in their cars and throw rocks at me and my mother, calling her a "kike" a "Jew witch," a "Christ-killer."
This was in the 1950s in Massachusetts. I was beat up for being a Jew. I was told as a little child, "You murdered Christ." I heard that over and over, by Christians who were anti-Semites.
My father would go get drunk every Friday night at the Twilight Café, and he'd come home and beat up my mother and accuse her of being a whore. She'd wear sunglasses a lot because she'd have black eyes. And then he'd go to church Sunday and sing "Amazing Grace." And haul us to church. And beat us with extension chords if we didn't have devotions. Now six of my brothers and sisters will not enter a church because of this. My mother hardened her heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of this.
One night, my father had strangled me and left me for dead in my dried vomit. I was eleven years old. Later that week, I woke up and heard my mother crying. I stood at the top of the stairs, and I desperately wanted to help her and didn't know what to do. I was afraid, I was a skinny little kid, and I was scared he would kill me for sure because he almost did. I heard him say, "You are a whore, and that bastard upstairs is the reason I'm beating you." I realized that my poor mother was suffering because of me. That he believed I was illegitimate, that my mother had an affair and that I was illegitimate--so not only was I despised and rejected by my father, but my mother was suffering horribly because of me. I ran into my room crying. I did not believe in Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, I despised his name.
Given all of that, how could you convert to Christianity?
I was in a terrible state because number one, I had a speech impediment, I had a stomach ulcer, I had hundreds of fears because of the abuse. I had been beat hysterically until I wet my pants and thrown in a canning cellar for eight, 10 hours at a time as a little kid. He had abused me unbelievably. And that week I had gone to school and they said, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And I said, "20." Now, everybody laughed, but I said 20 because I though he'd kill me before I was 20.
But that night when I ran in my room crying, I prayed my first prayer. And I'll never forget, I put my hands over my eyes and I cried and I said, "God, why was I born?" And when I prayed that prayer, all of a sudden with my hands over my face, 11 years old, the room lit up like snow. I was afraid to look because I thought it was my father turning the light on, fixing to beat me, and I was getting ready to dive under the bed--but I peeked through my fingers, and as I did I saw two nail-scarred hands stretched out toward me, and it frightened me half to death because I did not believe in Jesus Christ. Then I looked up, and for the first time, I saw a man's eyes smiling. The eyes were not blue or brown, every color in the rainbow was in the eyes. Jesus was standing before me smiling. I could see rivers and angels through the eyes. He looked at me, and then said three things that transformed my life. The first is a word I had never heard. He said, "Son." The first person to call me "son" was Jesus. Second, he said, "I love you." And the third thing he said was, "I have a great plan for your life." And he left.
That night, without knowing what it was to be born again, I was gloriously born again. Without even praying the traditional sinner prayer, I knew I was gloriously saved and I believed in Jesus. I was delivered of all my fears. The stomach ulcer was gone in the morning, and the speech impediment was gone. I didn't tell a human being on the planet this story until I was 32 years of age. I got married at 22 and didn't even tell my wife because it was too holy, too precious, and I didn't tell her about the abuse because that was too painful. So I kept all of this in me until I was 32, and then realized that I needed to tell it. I ultimately ended up leading my father to Christ.
Yeah. I went to him and I got on my knees and I said, "I want you to put your hands on my head and pray for me." And he said, "I can't pray for you." And I knew he couldn't, but I humbled myself and out of my humbling myself, he started crying and he said, "I'll go to hell. I can never be a Christian for what I did to you." And I said, "Christ has forgiven you of your sins and he's forgiven me of mine." And he wept, and I led him to the Lord.
Do you think your mission now has to do with the fact that you are Jewish?
One-hundred percent. I am a product of my mother's suffering. All of my divine purposes lead toward the Jewish people, because Christ's great plan for my life had to do with the nation of Israel, its prime ministers, its leaders, its destiny. It has to do with the issue of bigotry and racism. That's why I chair the Corrie ten Boom house and that's why I chair the Jerusalem Prayer Team.
Why do think your book has become so popular?
I think Christians are rallying. They did it during the film, "The Passion," and they realized they had enormous force and power. It looked like the film was going to crash and burn, and it didn't crash and burn at all.
Is the book's success partly a function of talk radio?
This is a grassroots movement. The book is becoming a banner for Christians to rally around because the secular world has completely rejected what we believe.