Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six. Rev. 13:18

Michael David Crawford

Copyright © 2006 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

Are we in the End Times? A lot of people seem to think so.

We may be the generation that sees Armageddon.

-- Presidential candidate Ronald Wilson Reagan during 1980 interview by televangelist Jim Bakker.

In the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, it says that the land of Israel will come under attack by the armies of the ungodly nations, and it says that Libya will be among them. Do you understand the significance of that? Libya has now gone Communist, and that's a sign that the day of Armageddon isn't far off.

Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia...

For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. It can't be too long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God's people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

-- California Governor Ronald Wilson Reagan, addressing a banquet for State Senator James Mills, 1971

Let me first state that I mean no disrespect whatsoever to those who sincerely practice any of the faiths discussed here. I was raised as a Presbyterian Christian, and while I no longer believe, I still regard Jesus as a profoundly important teacher. My problem is with the cynical and insincere, as well as with the insane.

I knew to look up these Reagan quotes because I first heard about them on a lengthy radio show that detailed Reagan's fascination with the book of Revelations. It made my blood run cold, leading me to believe that the reason Reagan sought the Presidency at all was that he felt God himself had chosen Reagan to initiate the Second Coming of Christ.

After the fall of the USSR, a former Soviet spy reported in Time Magazine that the Kremlin was absolutely convinced early in his Presidency that Ronald Reagan was out of his tree and ready to let the missiles fly at any instant. The spy was assigned to London, where his duties included counting the number of lit-up windows at Defence Ministry offices each night. They'd be working late, you see, when the war was about to start.

But that was a long time ago, and Reagan was always considered an unconventional thinker. What about today?

Consider the Left Behind Series: at PageRank 6 it is undoubtably a popular website, with Google reporting over nine hundred inbound links. As I write this, a media alert on the homepage says:

Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye will be interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America Thursday, July 27 (2006 - ed.). They will discuss The Rapture, the third prequel to the best-selling Left Behind series. The Rapture explores the incredible moment when, in the twinkling of an eye, millions of believers will be ushered into God's presence. The program airs between 7-9 AM, Eastern. Check local listings for the broadcasting schedule in your region.

While undoubtably commanding the attention of the press while tapping into a rising groundswell of popularity, Left Behind's website suggests to me the authors of the series are cynical in the same way as many televangelists are: I was presented with a Javascript popup on my first visit to the site, which has prominent links to products and gifts, books for kids, free offers for such products as screensavers bearing the Left Behind logo, and a private, password required Media Room for the press, with access granted to "qualified media professionals only".

Left Behind is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Their website's copyright bears the notice "All Rights Reserved", as Tyndale places a high priority on preserving their revenue stream. Evidence of this is their legal notice's request to "Report all copyright infringements to:". Maybe you'd like to drop them a line.

The problem I have with folks like Tyndale is that they work relentlessly to dupe the sincerely faithful into believing that the Rapture really is imminent as a way to move their products. But these faithful are well-known to be responsible citizens: they write letters to their elected representatives and the editors of the newspapers they read, and they make generous campaign donations. And therein the problem lies:

While I'm convinced Ronald Reagan was sincere in his beliefs, I don't think many of today's elected representatives are. While professing their love for Jesus, their campaign staff conduct public opinion surveys to determine just what Act of Faith might win them the most votes and campaign contributions. Increasingly, religious leaders and their flocks expect Congress and the President to pave the way for the Second Coming of Christ:

... mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

-- Los Angeles Times, 'End Times' Religious Groups Want Apocalypse Soon, June 22, 2006

There is no question of George W. Bush's insincerity, as from one mouth he said "We must err on the side of life" to explain why life support must not be withdrawn from persistently-vegetative patient Terry Schiavo, while with his other mouth he authorized the torture of Iraqi POWs and secret military tribunals for the Prisoners of War held at Guantanamo. These prisoners would be on trial for their lives, a violation of the Geneva Convention's prohibition against murdering POWs. The Laws of War require that prisoners be returned home alive when hostilities cease.

Muslim Eschatology

Consider the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission's mission statement:

To promote a religious, political and social foundation in preparation for the imminent return of the leader of our time - Imam Al-Mahdi (May Allah hasten his return).

-- About us - AhlulBayt Islamic Mission

Muhammad al-Mahdi (born 868) is the twelfth and final Shi'a Imam, believed by the Shi'as to be Mahdi, or "Guided One", who will change the world into a perfect Islamic society before Yaum al-Qiyamah, or "Day of Resurrection".

While the Shi'ites believe al-Mahdi has been alive for over a thousand years, but hidden, the Sunnis believe Mahdi is yet to be born.

The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission says in their Frequently Asked Questions that one factor preventing the return of Mahdi is corruption in the Muslim world. Thus their homepage, which reports a million hits per month, denounces such terrorism as the 7/7 London Bombings and announces a fatwa against terrorism in Canada.