By Steve Willis
Many religions and religious teachers are calling the decade of the 1980’s the “Decade of Destiny” (Pat Robertson on the 700 Club TV program). In a new advertising campaign, Hal Lindsay, premillennial author of The Late Great Planet Earth, is pushing a new book: The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon. Essentially, Lindsay is updating many of the statements found in Late Great (as he calls it).
We should here say that we do not pretend to know when the Lord may or may not return. Should he come during the 80’s decade, none would be happier than me. Also, if any or all of Lindsay’s political predictions come about, so be it. It is evident by examining a few points made by Lindsay that he is on the wrong track spiritually, whether or not he may be right politically. Lindsay’s “countdown” scenario goes something like this:
1. There should be a rebirth of Israel. He claims that this occurred in 1948. One should note that the Israelites are not keeping the Mosaic Law as a majority; most are agnostics or atheists. This also ignores Jesus’ statement that their house would be left desolate (see Matt. 23:37-39).
2. There should be an Arab-Moslem confederacy. He points to the OPEC alliance as a fulfillment of this. The passages that support his claim are missing, for they describe events that took place during the fall of Ancient Israel to both Assyria and Babylon.
3. There should be a rise of Russia as a world power. Russia is not mentioned by name in the scriptures and it is doubtful whether it is mentioned at all. A nation to the north of Israel is described as an enemy of Israel. This description is very broad (see Ezekiel 38, 39), and the context seems to describe all of God’s enemies as one nation.
4. There would be a rise of China as a world power. He points to Red China as the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the Kings of the East. Again the identification of China is suspect; remember that both Assyria and Babylon were to the east of Israel, and had to attack from the north.
5. There should be a rise of a New Roman Empire. This empire would be led by the “anti-christ” – a man Lindsay believes is alive today and is about to come to political power over Europe. Actually the passage that mentions this fourth world power, says that the kingdom of God would be established during the time of that kingdom. Rome was the fourth kingdom (after Babylon, MedoPersia, and Greece) and Jesus established the kingdom which was not of this world during that time; He built the church. It is easy to see that the concept one has of the kingdom of God (and His son Jesus Christ) greatly affects the way one views whether the prophecy has been fulfilled or not. Many were expecting a physical kingdom in Israel, and they tried to take Jesus by force to make Him that king. Jesus would not have it for He established a spiritual kingdom. Some today are still looking for a physical kingdom Lindsay is.
Besides the physical reign of Jesus on earth, Lindsay teaches many other false doctrines: that Jesus will return twice (one time is the so-called “Rapture”); that the church is not the kingdom promised of old-time; that “this generation” in Matt. 24:34 is the generation of today not the one in Jesus’ time; and that all one needs to do to be saved is to pray for forgiveness (you will never see a gospel preacher in the Bible tell a non-Christian to do this – see Acts 2:38).
As a political book, Lindsay’s latest effort may have some insights. As a study of Bible prophecy, he practices eisegesis (putting ideas into a passage), not exegesis (gathering ideas out of a passage).
Another disturbing point is the avoidance of upsetting his Jewish readers with the fact that Jesus is not only Lord and Messiah, He is the Son of God! This was evident as well in the movie version of Late Great; Lindsay wore the six-pointed star of David (or, Solomon – depending on which tradition is followed), the same emblem which is on modern Israel’s flag. In the movie, Lindsay never called Jesus the Son of God, merely, “the prophet Jesus” an identity which some Jews will accept. In the book, Lindsay tells them frankly that it was Jesus the Nazarene whom the Jewish nation helped “pierce, and that it is this same Jesus who is the Messiah (Christ, or annointed one).” But he does not offend their belief by telling them what Jesus affirmed in John 5, where many Jews were angry with Jesus because He made Himself out to be equal with God. Blasphemy! – if it were not true. I do not doubt that Lindsay believes in Christ’s divinity, but Jews and Gentiles alike must believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of the living God (see Matt. 16:16).
It is exactly upon this confession that Jesus built His church, the kingdom of heaven. If the 1980’s prove to be the end of time, it will not be to establish a kingdom, but to deliver “up the kingdom to the God and Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power . . . . The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Cor. 15:24, 26).
Truth Magazine XXIV: 40, pp. 647-648
October 9, 1980