Bible Prophecy drought1

Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Gary DeMar

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Greg Laurie Still Mixed Up about Bible Prophecy

Greg Laurie is a popular evangelist. Periodically he goes off topic and discusses Bible prophecy. A few years ago, another prominent evangelist went off topic and wrote an article on why we are living in the last days and how Bible prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes.

drought1I wrote a four-part series of articles critiquing his argument. He and I spoke on the phone about the topic and my point-by-point response. He told me that he was never going to write on the topic because “apparently I don’t know much about the subject.”

Most people who address the topic of Bible prophecy have not studied the subject on their own. They’ve trusted what others have written. Because they frequent churches that hold to a similar end-time belief system, they have no idea that there are well studied exegetical alternatives that don’t have to be revised every ten years or so.

Greg Laurie should sit down and read Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth and The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. It wouldn’t hurt to read Chuck Smith’s works on prophetic speculation that he wrote in the 1970s and predicted that the so-called “rapture” would take place sometime in the 1980s. Also, he should pick up Louis S. Bauman’s Russian Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy published in 1942. I have shelves full of books like these that I would be glad to lend to Mr. Laurie

Consider this claim from Laurie that appears on his blog:

“When I look at Bible prophecy, one thing that is of great interest to me, and of great concern, is the absence of the United States. It is interesting to note that a number of nations are mentioned in the Bible that will be active in the last days. Libya is mentioned by name. Persia, which became modern Iran and Iraq, is mentioned. Ethiopia is specifically mentioned. Quite possibly China and Russia are mentioned. And certainly Israel is mentioned. But the one nation that is strangely absent is the United States of America.”

The reason America is not mentioned in Bible prophecy is because Bible prophecy is not about us, and not just us but Canada, Central America, South America, Sweden, Norway, Vietnam, Singapore, India, and most of the continent of Africa. Why is it always why America’s not mentioned?

Laurie mentions Persia, Libya, and Ethiopia. There’s also Egypt and Israel. The Old Testament mentions these nations. Nothing is said in the New Testament about Israel becoming a nation again or prophecies about Persia (Iran and Iraq), Ethiopia, or Egypt as part of some end-time alliance with an antichrist. The fulfillment of these nation-state prophecies has already taken place. Under the new covenant, as Gentiles, prophecies were made about their inclusion in the covenant blessings that came to Israel in the first century. They were grafted into an already redeemed body of Jewish believers (Acts 2:1–11; Rom. 11).

If the Old Testament was really describing Iran and Iraq in prophetic terms, it seems that the Bible would have used the Hebrew equivalent of Iran and Iraq. If Russia is mentioned because the Hebrew word rosh sounds like Russia, as many dispensationalists wrongly claim, then why don’t we find equivalent sound-alike words for Iran and Iraq?

What about China? Isaiah 23:1 (Num. 24:24) has a prophecy that mentions “the land of Kittim,” which some prophecy speculators believe is modern-day China. The New American Standard translates Kittim as “Cyprus,” while the King James Version transliterates the Hebrew as “Chittim.”

“In Genesis 10:4 the word is applied to the descendants of Javan, and indicates, therefore, the Greek-Latin races, whose territory extended along the coasts of the Mediterranean, and included its islands. By the side of Kittim are mentioned Elisha, Tarshish, and Dodanim ( = Rodanim of 1 Chronicles 1:7), generally explained respectively as Sicily with Southern Italy, Spain and Rhodes. In its narrower sense Kittim appears simply to have stood for the island of Cyprus — it is mentioned between Bashan ( = Pal) and the isles of Elisha in Ezekiel 27:6, 7, and with this Isaiah 23:1, 12 agree, Kittim occurring in these passages between Tarshish, Tyre and Sidon.

Other prophecy writers appeal to Isaiah 49:12 and the Hebrew word sinim, i.e., the inhabitants of the land of Sin. (The Hebrew suffix im makes a world plural.) Since it’s only used once (hapax legomenon), it’s difficult to determine its definitive meaning. E. J. Young notes in his commentary on Isaiah that “an ancient interpretation would identify it with China, and this, despite alleged difficulties, is a possibility. . . .  One cannot, however, be dogmatic.”(1).

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If the use of sinim in Isaiah 49:12 is a reference to China, it’s an announcement of redemption not a prophecy of destruction: “Behold, these shall come from afar; and behold, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.” There are more Christians in China than in America.

Allan MacRae, a dispensationalist, writes:

“In verse 12 [of Isa. 49] the remarkable extent of the work of the servant is clearly indicated with people coming to his light from the north and from the west and even from the land of Sinim (China). What a marvelous prediction of the extension of the gospel of deliverance from sin through the servant of the Lord to the very ends of the world! How wonderfully it has been fulfilled in these days when groups of believers have come to the Savior from so many sections of the earth, even including this very land of China, which must have seemed in the days of Isaiah to be the utmost fringe of civilization. Truly He has become ‘a light to the Gentiles.’”(2)

In dispensational prophetic literature, however, China is seen as an end-time enemy, putting together 200 million troops on horseback to invade Israel (Rev. 9:16; 16:13–21)? Even some futurists see this imagery as symbolic.

Why would China mount such a vast army after a third of the earth’s population has just been wiped out by plagues and falling stars to the Earth? It doesn’t make any sense. The world would be in such chaos that the last thing on anyone’s mind would be to round up 200 million horses, soldiers, weapons, saddles, and enough food and water so they could make a nearly impossible trek from China (16:12) to Israel. Do we not remember how the world went on hold after 9–11? It seems obvious from Revelation 9:17 that this is a symbolic army, a demon-inspired army bent on destruction (9:1–11). The comments by Ralph E. Bass, Jr., are helpful:

“[This] is a number designed to terrorize. And indeed, that is its achieved result. As Carrington says, ‘. . . it is the empire of hell.’ There never has been such an army and apparently never will be one. . . . But the number appears to have another meaning than the number of Roman soldiers from that area; it appears to suggest the number of demons that were released on Israel and Jerusalem. Remember the story of the demon possessed man from Garasenes (Luke 8:30)? He was possessed by a legion of demons. A legion was from 5,000 to 6,000 men, and all this in but one man! At 6,000 demons per person, it would only require a little over 33,000 inhabitants of Judah to justify these numbers.”(3)

Then there’s the horse problem. There aren’t 200 million horses in the entire world today. At most there are about 60 million worldwide. China’s horse population is less than 7.5 million.(4) After the worldwide cataclysms described in Revelation 6:12–17 (if they are to be taken literally), there would be even fewer horses, and the horses that were still alive would most likely be used for food.

Laurie mentions Russia. I’m assuming he’s basing his view on Ezekiel 38 and 39. I’ve covered the rosh = Russia argument in my book Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future. There is no internal evidence for the claim that these two chapters are describing modern-day Russia. The reading of Ezekiel 38:2 should be “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (38:2; 39:1) and not the “prince of Rosh” as so many dispensationalists put it. Charles Ryrie, a well know dispensationalist and author of the Ryrie Study Bible and the book Dispensationalism Today (1965), acknowledges that rosh is not a proper name: “The prince of Rosh is better translated as ‘the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.’”

Daniel I. Block translates Ezekiel 38:3, “[Son of Man], set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince, chief of Meshech and Tubal.”(5) Here is Block’s explanation:

“[Rosh] is therefore best understood as a common noun, appositional to and offering a closer definition of [the Hebrew word] nasi [translated as ‘prince’]. Accordingly, the prince, chief of Meshech and Tubal, combines Ezekiel’s preferred title for kings with a hierarchical designation, the addition serving to clarify the preceding archaic term.”(6)

Then there’s the problem with the weapons. They are ancient weapons: bows and arrows, spears, clubs, shields (Ezek. 39:9) and chariots (39:20). The claim is often made that God was revealing modern-day weaponry in terms that Ezekiel and the people of his day could understand. Bows and arrows are really missiles and rocket launchers. Horses are “horse power.” Chariots are tanks.

Dispensationalists say they interpret the Bible literally. They don’t when it comes to Ezekiel 38 and 39. Revelation tells us early that the events described therein are “signified” (Rev. 1:1).

“Much of John’s symbolism derives from the Old Testament Scriptures and from the ecclesiastical context in which he spent his time. Let us note that the Jewish mind of the first century received and presented information by means of pictures, illustrations, and symbols.”(7)

Notice what these invading northern hordes in Ezekiel are after: silver, gold, cattle, and goods (Ezek. 38:12–13). What did the returning exiles from Babylon bring back with them as they returned to their homeland?: silver, gold, goods, and cattle (Ezra 1:4).

Ezekiel was told that the prophecy would be fulfilled in a time when there would be “unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). Today, Israel is a nation of walls. In the book of Esther, we see that there were Jews who were living in relative peace in “unwalled towns” (9:19, KJV) when Haman conspired against them. The Hebrew word perazah is used in Esther 9:19 and Ezekiel 38:11. It’s unfortunate that the translators of the New American Standard Version translate perazah as “rural towns” in Esther 9:19 instead of “unwalled villages” as they do in Ezekiel 38:11.

There are many more parallels between Ezekiel 38 and 39 and the book of Esther and other parts of the Old Testament.

Laurie needs to stick with what he knows, because he does not know Bible prophecy. I heard he’s a good evangelist. He should stick with it.

 Endnotes:

  1. Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), 3:282, 294. A person of Chinese descent made the following comment: “If they really knew China, they would not call China ‘Sino’ or ‘China’; they would call China ‘Han’ or ‘Huaxia’ or ‘Center Empire.’”()
  2. Allan A MacRae, Studies in Isaiah (Hatfield PA: Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, 1995), 237. See also MacRae’s The Gospel of Isaiah (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), 109-12.()
  3. Ralph E. Bass, Back to the Future: A Study in the Book of Revelation (Greenville, SC: Living Hope Press, 2004), 241.()
  4. World horse population estimated at 58 million.”()
  5. Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25–48 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 432.()
  6. Block, Ezekiel, 2:435.()
  7. Simon J. Kistemaker, Revelation: Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001), 16.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



14 Responses to Greg Laurie Still Mixed Up about Bible Prophecy

  1. MoGrace2u says:

    “Most people who address the topic of Bible prophecy have not studied the subject on their own. They’ve trusted what others have written. Because they frequent churches that hold to a similar end-time belief system, they have no idea that there are well studied exegetical alternatives that don’t have to be revised every ten years or so.”

    There you have the answer in a nutshell as to why Laurie remains ignorant on bible prophecy. And that is because Chuck Smith bought the Hal Lindsey book – hook, line and sinker, and has fed it to his disciples ever since. If you could change Chuck’s mind, then you might have a chance at changing Greg’s…

    Robin

  2. compugor says:

    if only everyone would read Millennialism And Social Theory by Gary North availabe for FREE in PDF: http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/2142_47e.htm

    once u see the light you’ll be back here buying all of a.v.’s stuff (“Last Days Madness” is a must have volume on Bible prophecy)

    i pray the church will become salt & light in the here & now of our culture, instead of bickering amongst ourselves

  3. jake hughes says:

    By the way, I don’t know Demar’s heart, and I am sure he’s sincere in his beliefs. This is not a personal attack on him or AV. It’s just that I and so many others think that Dominionism is such a farce and so obviously a failure, that it’s hard to conceive of how there’s even a small audience for it. The goal of AV is noble, but so totally and hopelessly Pollyannish, that you almost feel sorry for anyone holding these views rather than want to try to debate them. In other essential doctrines, I wholeheartedly agree with Demar and AV and stand with them completely.

  4. jake hughes says:

    I almost started to think about taking this article somewhat seriously, then I realized that it is put out by Dominionists. I don’t want to be unkind or rude or get into worthless arguments, but Dominionism is such a silly, facile belief system, that it’s really hard to get offended by articles such as this because more than anything, you actually feel sorry for people caught up in this belief system, sincere as though they may be. And that’s why I don’t want to be rude; these people really are sincere. But it is such a faulty system and so obviously misguided, that one struggles to take it seriously.

  5. Jellman says:

    “I heard he’s a good evangelist”. Mr. DeMar, You ought to think twice about whom you are calling out. Greg Laurie happens to not only be a great man of God, but above all else, a brother in Christ. I believe Jesus commands us to lift each other up, not put each other down or squabble over petty things. There are MANY different views of end time prophesy. the bottom line, is he’s coming. Period. God works through Greg Laurie’s ministry to bring people to salvation through Christ Jesus which is a far higher priority. If you have a difference with a brother or sister’s views on end times prophesy, there is no good reason to call them out by name. Especially to call them out in a public forum. It’s a good idea to get out from between the work and the hammer and stop diminishing God’s work.

    • Michael Earl Riemer says:

      “I heard he’s a good evangelist.” That may be, but he is teaching an evil doctrine. A doctrine is evil if it harms the Church of God, and teaching that nonsense, dispensationalism, does harm the Church.

      “there is no good reason to call them out by name.” Wrong! There is good reason to call them out by name. “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews” (Gal. 2:14). Peter was called out by name, and in front of everyone for his error!

      Greg Laurie may be a popular evangelist who has done great things. However, he is in error, great error dealing with this. In fact, this kind of error places him in the category of a false prophet, which thing God hates! A false prophet? Yes, for sooner or later all those who teach the “last days” and “end times” message, become false prophets, for what they are teaching never, never, comes to pass. They have been 100% wrong for the last 1900 years.

      • Jellman says:

        This looks to be a believers in preterism type forum which I am definitely not.
        I do not believe in the predictions of Christ’s return in terms of specific year/date, but I do believe in His return and that according to scripture, we can know the season.

        • Michael Earl Riemer says:

          “we can know the season” You are correct. Jesus narrowed it down to a generation. The generation that would see, “…not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). Jesus said that about the temple, and we know when that happened AD 70.

          Jesus said to the chief priests and elders, “…I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). The chief priests and elders were the ones who would see this happen, but they could not see this event if they were dead. We now know just when this happened, when they were still alive, in AD 70.

          Those like yourself who belief in a still future “season” of a return of Christ have a poor tract record of “seeing” the “season.” A failure rate of 100%.

  6. smg45acp says:

    The dispensationalists have a simple way of interpenetrating the Bible.
    If in their wildest imagination they can see something literally happening, then that scripture is literal.
    If in their wildest imagination they can’t see something happening, then that scripture is symbolic.
    Of course, people’s ability to imagine varies wildly from person to person so there is much confusion in the dispensationalist camp.
    I was a dispensationalist for many years and this is how their Biblical interpretation is done.

    • Wesley says:

      i would not go to say that if they could see it in their wildest imagination for people would not listen to them for they would see them as lunatics. there are times you wonder about their wildest imagination for some seem to try to out do another though. join the club of former dispies who have seen the errors of the system and stepped into the light. i left dispensationalism early last year, and by the time i read Revelation it started making since for by that time i had read more about preterist interpretation started seeing how certain things line up to John’s vision in Revelation.

      • Michael Earl Riemer says:

        I also left dispensationalism. It was a long and painful transition which took years. It was one verse of Scripture at a time. I would be reading a verse, and somehow it just did not seem to conform to the view of eschatology I had been taught and believed. But one real eye-opening book for me was Ralph Woodrow’s book “Great Prophecies of The Bible.” That book really was the catalyst, I think, that helped to open my eyes to the truth, that dispensationalism was error.

  7. Michael Earl Riemer says:

    “they have no idea that there are well studied exegetical alternatives that don’t have to be revised every ten years or so.”

    It is really a shame that you have to continually beat this dead horse (Dispensationalism). It should have died years ago, for its end time prophecies have been discredited over and over. It prophets have never gotten the “timing” right, and do have to revise their “prophecy” and their teachings over and over.

    If the “Church” could get its act together on this issue, eschatology, what great things could be done, could be accomplished for the Kingdom of God.

    I am praying that some “big” name popular evangelist/s will someday acknowledge that they have been wrong and embrace preterism and present it to the needful masses.

    Thank you brother for not getting tried of beating this old dead horse.

    • Wesley says:

      in order to acknowledge they were wrong would destroy their media empires just like harold camping did just two years ago. the best thing they think for them is to ignore their previous claims and change their books in secret. dispensationalism is dying even though and in 2016 will no longer be the most popular system for by that time the last set of four blood moons on passover and feast of booth will be over for almost 500 years although the holidays always fall on full moons and lunar eclipses only occur during full moons. after 2016 dispensationalism will only be popular among an aging population that still can not accept that they will someday physically die.

    • Eric Heil says:

      That, and there’s just too much money to be made, unfortunately.

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