UPDATED: Shana Tova! Sunday evening at sundown in Israel begins a new Jewish year. And as we begin, the region is full of anxiety over what the future holds.
The good news is that the God of the Bible is the God who knows the future, is all sovereign over the past, present and future, and even gives us a glimpse into the future through prophecy. This year, more than ever, I encourage you to read through — and study careful — the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and especially the prophecies that tell us what the future holds.
Since publishing an article and two fact sheets (here and here) about the nature and threat of “Apocalyptic Islam,” people have been asking me numerous questions.
- Don’t Christians and Jews also believe in the End of Days?
- Are you criticizing all people who study, believe in, teach, or live according to eschatology (the study of things pertaining to the End of Days)?
- Is the study of eschatology inherently dangerous?
- What are some of the similarities between Shia and Sunni eschatology and Biblical eschatology?
- What are some of the main differences between Shia and Sunni eschatology and Biblical eschatology?
These are good and important questions. I’m glad people are asking, especially as we begin a new year. So let me provide some concise answers. I also provide links to more resources below that I think you’ll find helpful.
- Yes, many devout Christians and Jews also believe in various prophecies about the End of Days.
- JEWISH ESCHATOLOGY: Religious Jews believe the Messiah will come in the End of Days, will establish His global Kingdom upon the Earth (based in Jerusalem), and will rule the entire world with justice and righteousness. Such prophecies are described in the Hebrew Bible books of Daniel (7:9-14, for example), Isaiah, Jeremiah, as well as in the writings of other Hebrew prophets in the Bible.
- CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY: Those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah (born again Christians, as well as Messianic Jews) believe we are currently living in the End of Days, that the Lord Jesus will come back to Earth very soon, He will establish His global Kingdom upon the Earth (based in Jerusalem), and He will rule the entire world with justice and righteousness. We also base our beliefs on the Old Testament prophecies, as well as the Gospels, the New Testament epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Many followers of Jesus also believe that prior to the “Second Coming” when He establishes His official Kingdom on Earth, the Messiah will come in the air and “snatch away” or “Rapture” His true followers in “the twinkling of an eye” to be with Him in heaven while He pours out judgment on the nations. We base these beliefs on passages such as I Thessalonians 4:13-5:28, I Corinthians 15:50-58, and John 14:1-6. [NOTE: I Thessalonians chapter 5 explains that the Rapture will take place at a time when most people don’t expect it to happen and they will be caught unawares. “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly.” This is a curious passage in light of how many world leaders are currently describing the Iran nuclear deal as putting the world on the path to “peace and safety.”]
- No, I am not criticizing everyone who studies, believes in, teaches or lives according to prophecy and eschatology. As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ — as an Evangelical who studies and believes and tries to obey the Bible — I believe very deeply in what the Bible teaches about the End Times and how we are to live as we await the Rapture, the Tribulation and the Second Coming. Indeed, I have written and taught extensively on the importance of rediscovering the purpose and power of Bible prophecy. (see various resources below)
- Not all versions of eschatology are dangerous — but some are. The versions of eschatology believed, taught and practiced by the leaders of Iran and the Islamic State are very dangerous, as I have sought to explain.
- Some of the core similarities between Biblical eschatology and Sunni & Shia eschatology are these:
- Devout Christians and Muslims believe that there will be a period known as the “End Times” or “End of Days” or “Last Days” where God will consummate history as we have known it thus far, and then God will begin a new period of history.
- Devout Christians and Muslims that the Messiah is coming in the End Times to establish his kingdom over the entire world.
- Devout Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus is coming.
- Devout Christians and Muslims believe that time is short and that we need to living differently in light of the coming of the messiah and his kingdom.
- Some of the core differences between Biblical and Islamic eschatology are:
- While devout Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the crucified and resurrected Son of God, and thus the Messiah, the Savior, and the King who will reign over the world, devout Muslims believe Jesus was merely a prophet, that he did not die on the cross and was not raised from the dead, and that he is coming not to be the King but rather as the deputy to their messiah, known as the Mahdi.
- Biblical eschatology teaches devout Christians to love their enemy and seek to persuade unbelievers to repent of their sins and receive Jesus as the Messiah or Christ by faith for the forgiveness of their sins and to be adopted into God’s family and granted eternal life with God. If unbelievers refuse to receive Christ, Christians are still to love them, but they will be judged by God when they die and go to Hell forever. Islamic eschatology teaches Apocalyptic Muslims to give unbelievers an opportunity to repent. But if they don’t repent, Muslims are instructed to execute such “infidels.”
- Biblical eschatology teaches that in the last days — particularly during a period of time known as the “Tribulation” — God will pour out His judgment on all the nations of the Earth. During this period, individuals can repent and receive Christ as Savior by faith. However, the Bible teaches that they will go through the worst period of war, famine, natural disasters and many other traumas in all of human history. Followers of Christ are not to cause or lead such wars and traumas. Rather they are to love their neighbors and enemies and preach the Gospel to everyone. But the Bible explains that such wars are coming as a result of leaders and forces obedient to Satan and that many Christians will be martyred during this period. Apocalyptic Muslims, on the other hand, believe that in the last days it is their God-given duty to foment and lead genocidal wars against all unbelieving nations, and to violently establish their kingdom or caliphate on earth. They are specifically instructed to slaughter Jews and Christians in the last days.
- A careful study of Biblical eschatology reveals that it does not create a dangerous movement, but rather one motivated by love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion and a desire to create peace. It is given to us to motivate us to live more holy lives and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people in all nations, and care for the poor and needy, and follow more faithfully the teachings and example of Jesus as His return for us draws near. A careful study of Islamic eschatology practiced by Iranian and ISIS leaders, on the other hand, reveals that it creates a dangerous, violent, genocidal movement.
I hope you find this helpful in understanding and explaining important distinctions between Biblical eschatology and that of Apocalyptic Muslims. What follows are various resources to help you, and any of your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers who might be interested in understanding various issues concerning Biblical prophecy — such as the “Rapture” — and how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BIBLE PROPHECY:
- Sermon Notes: Rediscovering the Purpose and Power of Bible Prophecy
- What Is “The Rapture”?
- “Israel, Prophecy & The Day of the Lord: Understanding the Book of Joel”
- “Four Reasons God Is Shaking America & The Church” — text of “Wake Up Call” sermon on the 10th anniversary of 9/11
- Books I recommend on Bible prophecy
- Prophecy Q&A on my website
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GOSPEL:
- “My Spiritual Journey” — audio and text versions of how my parents and I became followers of Jesus the Messiah
- Would you like to know God personally? (a simple explanation of the Gospel in English)
- Read a simple explanation of the Gospel in Hebrew. …. or in Arabic. …. or in other languages.
- Watch on-line videos of Jewish people from all walks of life who came to know Jesus as Messiah. (over 8 million individuals have watched these videos so far)
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