Glenn Beck’s The Blaze published an article with the following title: “Best-selling Christian author looks for answers about the end times, says ‘Israel being reborn’ is ‘God’s super sign.’” This isn’t a new view, but it is an outdated view that cannot be found in the Bible. The idea of Israel becoming a nation again is a “super sign” leading up to the so-called rapture was advocated by the late prophecy writer and author of the Left Behind series Tim LaHaye. I cover the prophetic system of the series in my book Left Behind: Separating Fact From Fiction.
The article and interview by Billy Hallowell are based on Jeff Kinley’s new fiction book Interview With the AntiChrist: His Hour Has Come. You can listen to the interview here. As we will see, the hour of the antichrists has already come.
Kinley, like LaHaye and others before him, believes in a pre-tribulational rapture. The pre-trib rapture position (there are five different views of the rapture) has always taught that there aren’t any signs prior to the church being taking off the earth since the “rapture” is said to be an any moment event.
If the doctrine of an any-moment rapture is true to itself, the rapture could have taken place any time in history, no signs needed or indicated. Here’s John MacArthur, who is a representative of the signless any-moment rapture view, explains the position:
It could happen at any moment. It is a signless, imminent event, it is the next thing, no signs necessary … [There are] signs before the Second Coming, [but there are] no signs before the Rapture. We live in the light that at any moment in any fraction of a moment, trumps [sic] sounds, the angel calls and we go. This is the next event in God’s plan. ((John MacArthur, “The Final Generation of the Future Judgment,” commentary on Luke 21:29–33.))
That’s the first problem in Kinley’s view of the end times based on the specifics of the dispensational system. There are no signs, including Israel becoming a nation again, that indicate the so-called rapture of the church is near.
Kinley’s second problem is that the New Testament doesn’t say anything about Israel becoming a nation again or its significance for something called the “rapture.” Not a single word. You can read the NT from Matthew 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 and you will not find a verse that mentions Israel becoming a nation again.
A super sign requires a super text to support it, but there is no such text in the NT. Many prophecy writers have turned to Matthew 24:32–33 to find that support: “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these signs, recognize that He/it is near, right at the door.”
The fig tree putting forth leaves supposedly is Israel becoming a nation again in 1948. This interpretation was made popular by prophecy writer Hal Lindsey and others:
The most important sign in Matthew has to be the restoration of the Jews to the land in the rebirth of Israel. Even the figure of speech “fig tree” has been a historic symbol of national Israel. When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on 14 May 1948 the “fig tree” put forth its first leaves.
Jesus said that this would indicate that He was “at the door,” ready to return. Then He said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34, NASB).
What generation? Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs—chief among them the rebirth of Israel. A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so. ((Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), 53–54.))
This meant that the rapture should have taken place before 1988: 1948 + 40 years = 1988. That was 32 years ago! Prophecy writers are still pushing the same empty apple cart.
Kinley’s third problem is that the NT does not teach any of the five rapture positions. You will not find a single verse that says the church will be taken to heaven prior to, in the middle of, or at the end of a seven-year period. The book of Revelation is said to be about this seven-year period beginning with chapter 4, yet the phrase “seven years” is nowhere to be found. There is no mention of the church being “raptured” in the book of Revelation. The book was written to seven historical churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 2–3) and the events therein where to “soon take place” because the time was “near” (1:1, 3; 22:10).
The seven years is borrowed from the 70th week (seven years) of Daniel 9:24–27. To project these seven years into the distant future, the 70th week (seven years) must be separated from the other 69 weeks (483 years) and a gap of nearly 2000 years (so far) must be placed between the 69 weeks and the 70th week. There is no indication that there’s a separation or a gap. In addition, there is no mention of an antichrist making and then breaking a covenant with Israel.
Kinley’s fourth problem is his understanding of antichrist. He says a lot about the antichrist but does not deal with the specifics of the only four verses where the word “antichrist” is found. In the interview, he describes the antichrist as the “most talked about end times figure in Scripture other than Jesus Christ” and that there are move that “100 passages in the Bible about Antichrist.” The only reason the antichrist is the most talked about end times figure in Scripture is because prophecy writers talk about him so much.
What about the claim that there are “100 passages in the Bible about Antichrist”? Every bad guy found in the Bible is said to be THE antichrist, but unless they fit the biblical definition of antichrist and the timing of the antichrist (John’s “now”), they are not the biblical antichrist.
Here are the only passages that use the word antichrist:
- Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour (1 John 2:18).
- Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22).
- every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world (1 John 4:3).
- For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist (2 John 7).
Here’s how Kinley describe the antichrist.
Antichrist will have the charisma of John F. Kennedy, the mystique of Barack Obama, and the arrogance of Alexander the Great or Donald Trump depending on where you stand [politically].
Compare Kinley’s definition with what the Bible says. The Bible’s definition of antichrists (plural) is simple and to the point: someone who denies that Jesus is the Christ, denies that Jesus has come in the flesh, denies the Father and the Son.
You will notice something else about these antichrists. They were alive in John’s day and there were many of them (“even now many antichrists have appeared”). The fact that these many antichrists were alive in John’s day was evidence that it was “the last hour.” The last hour for what? The endpoint for the generation that Jesus said would not pass away until He came in judgment (Matt. 24:1–36, especially v. 34). While the disciples didn’t know the “day and hour” (24:26), “the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the inhabited earth [oikoumenē not kosmos]” (Rev. 3:10; cp. Matt. 24:14; Luke 2:1; Acts 11:27–28) of His judgment coming, they did know it was their generation that would experience it.
So, who were these antichrists? They were Jews who rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah (John 1:11–13; 8:31–59). They were those who were blaspheming, saying “they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9; 3:9; Rom. 9:6–8).
Kinley mentions the two beasts of Revelation 13. The most likely interpretation is that the sea beast was Rome (13:1–10), and the beast that came up out of the land that had two horns like a lamb and spoke as a dragon (13:11) was apostate Israel governed by the high priest and the Herods, both of whom had a hand in the crucifixion of Jesus and persecuted the church in the book of Acts.
The Herods were involved in the death of the innocents at the time of Jesus’ birth (Matt. 2:16–18), the execution of John the Baptizer (Matt. 14:1–12; Mark 6:14–27; Luke 9:9), the trial of Jesus (Luke 23:7–15), the death of James the brother of John (Acts 12:2), an action that “pleased the Jews” that led to the arrest of Peter (12:3), and Herod Agrippa II, who was devoted to the Roman Empire and controlled the priesthood (26:1–32).
A lot more was discussed in the interview, but these are the highlights. I’ve dealt with these topics in my books Last Days Madness, Is Jesus Coming Soon?, Left Behind: Separating Fact From Fiction, Wars and Rumors of Wars, The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation, Prophecy Wars, Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers, and 10 Popular Myths Exposed and Answered.