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Mideast Peace Treaties and Preparation for the Antichrist?

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I knew it was going to happen. On September 16 I did an hour and forty-minute interview with Hank Hanegraaff for his “Hank Unplugged” podcast that is scheduled to air Tuesday, September 22nd. I mentioned that the various peace talks with Israel and Arab nations will be seen by some as an end-time event that will usher in the antichrist.

According to some prominent prophecy writers, the antichrist must be alive somewhere in the world today setting the stage for the rapture of the church and another Jewish holocaust. This was the theme of Dave Hunt’s 1983 book Peace Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust and his 1990 Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist. On the other hand, if there are “wars and rumors of wars,” these are signs that we are living in the last days. If there is peace in the world, this is also the antichrist’s agenda.

It was in 1970 that Hal Lindsey believed the antichrist was alive somewhere in the world. Lindsey repeated this in a 1977 interview when he stated that it was his “personal opinion” that “he’s alive somewhere now. But he’s not going to become this awesome figure that we nickname the Anti-Christ until Satan possesses him, and I don’t believe that will occur until there is this ‘mortal wound’ from which he’s raised up.” [1] Dave Hunt voiced a similar view in 1990: “Somewhere at this very moment, on planet Earth, the antichrist is almost certainly alive—biding his time, awaiting his cue.” [2]

According to this prophetic view, nothing can be done to stop an end-time slaughter of the Jews. This popular prophecy system claims God is going to redeem His chosen people only after another bloody holocaust. Don’t believe me? Here’s the evidence:

  • Mark Hitchcock writes in his book Could the Rapture Happen Today? (94) that the prophecy found in Zechariah 13:8–9 states that “two parts” of the Jews living in the land of Israel during the post-rapture tribulation period “will be cut off and perish.”
  • Prophecy writer Hal Lindsey describes the judgment against Israel in AD 70 as a “picnic” compared to a super-holocaust that will lead to the slaughter of two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel during the Great Tribulation. [3]
  • Jack Van Impe states in his book Israel’s Final Holocaust that when the prophecy clock starts ticking again after the “rapture,” it “will be traumatic days for Israel. Just when peace seems to have come, it will be taken from her and she will be plunged into another bloody persecution, … a devastating explosion of persecution and misery for Israel....” [4]
  • Thomas Ice writes “that before Israel enters into her time of national blessing she must first pass through the fire of the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30:5–9; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:14–18). Even though the horrors of the Holocaust under Hitler were of an unimaginable magnitude, the Bible teaches that a time of even greater trial awaits Israel during the tribulation. Anti-Semitism will reach new heights, this time global in scope, in which two-thirds of world Jewry will be killed (Zech. 13:7–9; Rev. 12).” [5]
  • In his book The Best is Yet to Come, Charles Ryrie writes that during this post-rapture period Israel will undergo “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.” [6]
  • John Walvoord follows a similar line of argument: “Israel is destined to have a particular time of suffering which will eclipse anything that it has known in the past…. [T]he people of Israel … are placing themselves within the vortex of this future whirlwind which will destroy the majority of those living in the land of Palestine.” [7]
  • On the September 18, 1991, edition of the “700 Club,” Sid Roth, host of “Messianic Vision,” stated that “two-thirds of the Jewish people [living in Israel] will be exterminated” during a future Great Tribulation. He bases his view on Zechariah 13:8–9.
  • Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that during the Great Tribulation “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28; Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.” [8]
  • The authors of Are You Rapture Ready? continue with the Jewish holocaust theme describing it as “Holocaust II” when “66 percent of Israel is wiped out.” [9]

In his book When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really says About Israel in the Plan of God, Joel Richardson’s writes that in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) Jesus Himself “spoke of a time of unparalleled tribulation just before” His return that “would indicate that what was to come in Israel could even be worse than the Holocaust. While this certainly seems to be the case,” Richardson writes, “I would suggest that we should not try to quantify the suffering to come or calculate the lives that will be lost.” It will be a time “of such magnitude and horror” that it’s “a pit too deep and terrifying. I cannot bring myself to peer over the edge. The point is that something terrible is coming and we need to get ready.” [10]

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This means that after nearly 2000 years, God is about to redeem His chosen people but only after He lets someone called the antichrist kill millions of Jews. This makes no sense. It doesn't help that that there were many antichrists in John's day that served as evidence that "it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18). These antichrists were not political figures; they were religious, most likely unbelieving Jews who were persecuting Christians (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). They denied that Jesus had come in the flesh (2 John 7) by denying "the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22).

The prophecy in Zechariah 13:8–9 describes the period between around AD 30 and 70 when a division was evident between believing and unbelieving Jews. At the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, more than one million Jews were killed. Jesus warned that this would happen and described how it could be escaped. All someone living in Judea had to do was “flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:16). For the stragglers, there was one more warning: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). Near for that generation not some future generation (21:32: Matt. 24:34).

No such warning is being issued today to Jews living in Israel or planning to live there. In fact, Christians are encouraging Jews to return to the land often not realizing that according to their prophetic belief system that for every three Jews returning to Israel, two will be killed. In the end, however, as I mentioned above, Zechariah 13:8–9 is fulfilled prophecy as are most New Testament prophecies.

Dr. Michael Brown has weighed in on this topic in a recent article. He buys into an end-time scenario that includes an antichrist and prophecies related to Israel. In a debate I had with him, I asked about the Zechariah 13:8–9 prophecy. He did not have an answer. He told me that he would get back with me. He hasn’t.

He points out that “some prophecy-minded evangelicals … say, “Not so fast! After all, there will be no true peace in the Middle East until Jesus returns. Plus, there are prophetic scriptures that speak of a false peace orchestrated by the antichrist that will lull the world to sleep, leading to the slaughter of millions. Beware!”

There is no such “false peace orchestrated by the antichrist.” You will search the Bible in vain to find a verse to support this doctrine. Yes, I know how it’s manufactured, so don’t tell me it’s somewhere in Daniel 9:24–27 because it isn’t.

Dr. Brown uses the following as an example of how a distant future peace treaty with Israel is taught in the Bible. I’m not sure if he believes this or that he’s only presenting what others believe:

Scriptures that would come to mind include 1 Thessalonians 5:3, where Paul wrote, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

In 1 Thessalonians 2 we find the following:

For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Judea that are in Christ Jesus. You suffered from your own countrymen the very things they suffered from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and drove us out as well. They are displeasing to God and hostile to all men, hindering us from telling the Gentiles how they may be saved. As a result, they continue to heap up their sins to full capacity; the utmost wrath has come upon them (vv. 14–16).

Paul is describing events in his day. It was this group of Jews in Paul’s day who were declaring “peace and safety” all the way up until the hammer was dropped on Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed and those who did not heed Jesus’ warning were either killed or taken into captivity. They were the “scoffers/mockers” of 2 Peter 3:3–4 (also Jude 18).

Dr. Brown then turns to an Old Testament passage that he believes refers to a yet future event:

Also relevant is Ezekiel 38:11–12, where the hostile nations will say about Israel, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.”

The land at that time was “a land of unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). Compare with Esther 9:19 where the phrase “the rural towns” is used instead of “unwalled villages” in the New American Standard Bible translation. The Hebrew word perazah is used in Esther 9:19 and Ezekiel 38:11. The KJV has “unwalled towns” (Esther 9:19) and “unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). Israel today is a land of walls.

Walls in Israel

Why would today’s nations plunder and loot Israel for “livestock and goods”? Consider Ezekiel 38:13: “to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil.” Israel doesn’t have an abundance of any of these. The prophecy is describing events surrounding the return of the Jews from captivity who brought back the following:

Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:4).

The Ezekiel 38–39 prophecy is fulfilled prophecy. See my book The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance for a detailed study of the prophecy.

The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance

The Gog and Magog prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39 has been used for centuries to describe present geopolitical events in propheticv terms. Russia has been seen as the end-time bad buy throughout the 20th century. A study of the prophecy in its historical context shows that it is fulfilled prophecy when it is studied against the background of one the Bible's most neglected books.

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Dr. Brown is not an end-time fanatic. He’s careful in his comments. Like me, he is cautious about any Mideast peace process, as we all should be. “What I do know is that it is better for Israel to have more friends than more enemies. That being said, if sudden and dramatic peace came to the Middle East, I would be both hopeful and cautious.”

  1. “The Late Great Cosmic Countdown: Hal Lindsey on the Future,” Eternity (January 1977), 80.[]
  2. Dave Hunt, Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1990.[]
  3. Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), 220.[]
  4. Jack Van Impe with Roger F. Campbell, Israel’s Final Holocaust (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979), 37.[]
  5. Thomas Ice, “What do you do with a future National Israel in the Bible?”[]
  6. Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86.[]
  7. John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 107, 113.[]
  8. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 262.[]
  9. Todd Strandberg and Terry James, Are You Rapture Ready? Signs, Prophecies, Warnings, Threats, and Suspicions that the Endtime is Now (New York: Dutton, 2003), 77.[]
  10. Joel Richardson, When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really says About Israel in the Plan of God (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015), 234.[]

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