Last night, I returned from a week in Europe where I had the opportunity to brief several dozen Iranian, Arab, Israeli, European and American pastors and Christian ministry leaders about the new feature-length documentary film produced by the Iranian government and its religious allies called, The Coming Is Near. As I will explain in more detail below, I believe now is the time for pastors and ministry leaders around the world to use the occasion of the release of this film to accelerate and intensify their own teaching about the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and to answer the questions being asked by millions of people throughout the Middle East and elsewhere about who the Messiah is and when/how/why He will return.
The film, The Coming Is Near, was brought to the attention of the West by Reza Khalili, a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps member who became a double agent for the CIA working against Iran in the 1980s. It explains how the current wars and revolutions in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and elsewhere throughout the Middle East and North Africa are signs consistent with Shia Islamic End Times teaching that the Twelfth Imam (or Mahdi) and Jesus will soon appear on earth to usher in the destruction of Israel, the establishment of an Islamic caliphate (kingdom), and the end of days. As I write about in The Twelfth Imam and Inside The Revolution, Shia Muslims are convinced that Jesus will come as a deputy to the Mahdi and force all Jews and Christians to either convert to Islam or die.
Why is this new film significant? I see several reasons:
- The film has attracted international attention through reports by the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Drudge Report, and other media outlets — this is good because it is further helping people around the world to understand what the current Iranian regime believes and why it is so dangerous.
- The film has been screened and approved at the highest levels of Iranian government, providing further confirmation that the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad believe their eschatology is being vindicated and thus emboldening them to continue pursuing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles.
- The film is being screened throughout Iran for military officers and soldiers as well as for paramilitary units, suggesting that Iran’s leaders are trying to prepare their forces for a rapidly approaching genocidal war against Israel, the U.S. and the West and to encourage them not to fear because Shia Muslims are on the winning side of history.
- The film is being translated from Farsi (the language of Iran) to Arabic, suggesting that it will soon be shown and distributed throughout the broader Middle East and North Africa to prepare other Muslims — Sunni and Shia — for a genocidal war with Israel and the West.
- The film is full of false teaching (the Twelfth Imam is not the true Messiah, cannot save mankind and will not set up a global Islamic kingdom), delivered by false teachers (Iranian clerics), who follow a false religion (Islam), but it is useful in that it is further evidence that our Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely correct when He warned His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that “false messiahs” and “false prophets” will come in the last days before Christ’s own return. Indeed, while we can’t know for certain that a false Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam is actually coming soon, we must recognize that this is possible, would be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, would create much deception in the world, and would need to be countered with great courage and wisdom by faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
- The film is full of evil, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-Christian teaching, but it is serving one particularly good function: it is beginning to accelerate and intensify an on-going conversation among Muslims and Jews throughout the world who are asking, “Who is the Messiah? When will He come? What signs will precede His coming? How shall we recognize Him when He comes? And how shall we live differently in light of His soon arrival?”
- The film, in my view, should immediately lead to Christian ministries producing films and TV programs explaining what the Bible says about the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how to both prepare for His return and live lives of holiness, prayer, evangelism, discipleship and church planting in view of Christ Jesus’ coming. Followers of Jesus Christ should be ready and willing to answer people’s questions from the Scriptures, and teach other believers how to answer these questions from the Bible, as well. One of the ministry leaders I spoke to who is responsible for broadcasting and webcasting programs that are seen by hundreds of thousands of Iranian and Arab Muslims and Christians throughout North Africa and the Middle East has already committed to having his staff make the Second Coming of Jesus Christ a new and important theme of their programming in the weeks and months ahead.
Please pray that many Christian leaders around the world will see this as an important moment to teach Bible truths in love and with great courage, that Jesus of Nazareth is the only true Messiah and the Savior of the world, and that He is coming back soon. As Jesus Himself said in John 14:1-3 and 6, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also….I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Also worth noting: Reza Khalili notes that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Ahmadinejad’s top adviser and chief of staff was directly involved with this project. Khalili quotes Mashaei as saying:
Therefore let us shout out loud that The Coming is soon and that evil should be fearful. We live with these thoughts every day and our lives are filled with The Coming of the last imam. That human will reappear and fill the world with justice and establish his promised governance on earth. The very world has witnessed too much bloodshed of the innocent for others to build their palaces. The very world is filled with shouts for justice. The innocent and the oppressed are losing their lives to world powers. It is in this very world where the oppressors rule and this world that Allah will command the last imam to appear and forever put an end to injustice. At that time the world will belong to the righteous.