What the American Presidential Campaign Means to a Student of Bible Prophecy
Our Drift Toward Secularism
By Tim Moore
Secular and religious Americans alike have been amazed at the tone of the 2016 Presidential campaign raging in our land. To say that most voters have been underwhelmed would be an understatement.
As always, Bible–believing voters need to pursue true discernment when choosing between various candidates. While this article will not focus on any specific candidate — nor call out any individual or party — suffice it to say that a candidate’s position on innocent life, their track record of faithfulness to their spouse, their demonstrated exercise of the fruits of the Spirit recorded in Ephesians chapter 6, and their commitment to integrity should guide anyone seeking to support the individual who hopefully will serve us honorably. Sadly, many of those traits (let alone a clear recognition that the “Lord, He is God”) are lacking in our leading candidates for the presidency.
The Sovereignty of God
As a student of Scripture, we can take great solace in the proven truth that God is the one who elevates kings and presidents, whether as an outpouring of His blessing on a nation and people, or as a manifestation of His judgment. That is not to minimize our responsibility in advocating for godly leaders or voting for those who best meet a biblical standard. It is rather, an affirmation of the sovereignty of God. It is also a testimony to the continuing necessity for “the righteous to live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).
Scripture records the ascendency of Jewish kings who were clearly evil in the eyes of the Lord. Their unrighteous reign was not only a blot on the history of Israel, they were in fact the natural consequence of the nation’s rejection of their one true King. At other times, the Lord blessed Israel with righteous kings, who led the nation back to Him and oversaw periods of blessing and peace.
But, the purpose of this article is to consider what the dynamics driving this election should teach us about Man’s natural inclination and what Bible prophecy tells us will soon be the culmination of recorded history. Consider with me the American electorate.
Our Drift Toward Secularism
For many years, our nation has been growing increasingly secular. The “signs of the times” clearly document the accelerating spiral into disorder and unrighteousness all around us.
We have returned in America to a period like that in Judges, where Scripture tells us, “there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). But, this orgy of unrestrained liberty (not the 4th of July kind, but the “cast off their fetters” and dance before the golden calf of our age kind) has not resulted in increased peace or comfort. Yes, we remain the most prosperous nation in the world and in history, but America is suffering from spiritual heart disease.
Our Inherent Sin Nature
I would like to turn your attention now to the dynamic this particular election has demonstrated once again about the heart of man and the ease with which a people can be led astray. Isaiah said, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). That is why time and again Israel wandered away from the very Lord who promised to be their eternal provision.
Even Christians are not immune from this tendency to stray. The hymnist wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” That sentiment echoes the truth captured by Paul in Romans 7:19. He wrote, “For the very good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”
Sadly, the world in general (and even Christians living too large in their own flesh) tends to seek temporal solutions to the problems of their own making. The worse the problem, the more desperate we become, and the more radical the solution we are tempted to embrace. That is why the Communist Party made tremendous gains in this country during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is why the American electorate has at times dallied with extreme candidates holding radical positions. And, it is why we stand at a precipice today.
The Example of Germany
Consider another classic example from the recent past. Have you ever wondered how Germany — one of the most culturally and technologically advanced nations in Europe or the world — could embrace a man like Adolf Hitler? How could a nation steeped in Lutheranism, blessed with the world’s highest concentration of scientists and artists, and trained in rationalism descend into the hell of Nazi–driven hate?
The answer is desperation. Sociologists have studied the tremendous strain on Germany following the First World War, both economically and mentally. The victorious allies imposed a crushing war debt on Germany and showed no mercy when Germany’s currency became worthless and its citizens began to starve.
Germans longed for a great leader — or fuhrer — to lead them out of this morass. The masses cared less for lofty ideals than practical (if illogical) solutions to their problems. At a critical moment in time, Adolf Hitler offered himself as that individual. As Henry Ford admiringly observed, he stabilized the currency, eliminated unemployment, restocked the grocery shelves, and made the trains run on time. Most Germans were also ecstatic that their sense of national pride was restored — so much so that they were willing to overlook Hitler’s abominable treatment of Jews in their midst. By the time Germany’s dream turned into a nightmare, it was too late.
The Example of Joseph
This tendency toward willing acceptance of dictatorship and blindness toward unfathomable excess (if not evil) is age old. Consider the account of Joseph in Egypt. We tend to focus on the provision of God to keep Joseph through his various trials, so that he could in turn preserve the lives of the very brothers who had sold him into slavery. Indeed, Joseph is an exemplar of confident faith. Instead of abandoning hope during either of his several moments of discouragement, Genesis records that time and again he rose to greater and greater responsibility and acclaim.
But, not everything Joseph did is worthy of repeating. With Pharaoh’s blessing, Joseph enacted the plan his dream suggested: he gathered up excess food and stored it against the seven years of famine in Egypt. When the famine started, Joseph sold that grain back to the Egyptians. When their money ran out, Joseph bartered grain for their livestock. When Pharaoh possessed all the livestock, the people offered their land and themselves in exchange for food.
So, Joseph bought up all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, and forced the people to be gathered into cities. In the course of seven years, Joseph oversaw the collection of all the people’s money, all their livestock, all their land, and all their labor — bought with the very grain they had harvested and given to Pharaoh in the first place. Genesis 47 records that he then doled out just enough seed for the Egyptian people to plant, on the condition that one–fifth of their produce would belong to Pharaoh. The people rejoiced and actually declared, “we will be Pharaoh’s slaves” (Genesis 47:25).
The Coming World Dictator
This brings us to our prophetic application. When conditions get bad enough, people will gladly accept and desperately cling to any offer of hope or salvation. That truth is exactly why the most fitting opportunity for most people to embrace the truth of the Gospel is not while they are basking in prosperity, but when they are wallowing in desperation. The Prodigal Son only returned to the Father when he came to the end of himself and was reduced to eating pig slop.
We know from Scripture that soon, and very soon, the world’s accelerating slouch toward Gomorrah will turn into a headlong rush. We hear much these days about the global economy — that something will trigger a global economic collapse that will make the Great Depression look like a slight market downturn. Simultaneously, great social upheavals will cause nation to rise against nation — as we are seeing already both at home and abroad.
In the midst of this chaos, one great and willing leader will step forward offering solutions that will appeal to the masses. He will propose to reunite a divided world and restore prosperity and pride and hope. He will even craft a solution to age–old animosities that have existed between Israel and the nations of the world, providing an opportunity for Israel to finally have real peace and rebuild the temple it has longed to see for 2,000 years. This great leader, this global emperor, this exalted fuhrer, will be none other than the Antichrist.
Looking back to the very first book of the Bible, we can see how a free people facing a seven year famine were induced to give away their own food, their wealth, their possessions, their land, and even their own freedom. Likewise, the very last book of the Bible tells us that someday soon, most men will accept a mark to buy and sell. They will embrace a dictator unlike any the world has ever seen. In other words, if you wonder about enlightened and freedom–loving Americans embracing candidates that seem to turn our Judeo–Christian heritage on its head and promise to lead us further away from the truth, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The Key Event
What will inspire the depth of global desperation that will lead governments to yield their collective power to one aspiring leader? What cataclysm will cause billions of the world’s inhabitants to follow the ultimate megalomaniac? What dynamic will enable this crafty man to quickly attain the dream of global domination harbored by every despot and dictator the world has ever known?
In a word: the Rapture.
While the world will inevitably grow darker and despair will increase exponentially in the years to come, the Rapture is the cataclysmic event that will shake the world to its core and set off unprecedented economic and social meltdowns. In the blink of an eye, millions of Christians from around the world will be snatched up to be with Christ. Their sudden disappearance will decimate the ranks of leaders in business, government, religion, and the military. In our own country, although our influence will continue to dwindle in the years to come as persecution rises, committed Christians are still scattered throughout the hierarchy of America. Their sudden departure will plunge our nation into chaos. America’s sudden disintegration will add to the global cataclysm.
The ensuing anarchy and economic calamity will cause governments to collapse, interrupt shipments of food and medicine, pit nation against nation, and threaten the so–called “civilized” survival of the human race. Into this maelstrom of confusion and panic, one man will quickly rise, offering himself as the savior of the world’s problem. In that very secular sense, he will present himself as the messiah for the modern age. And, in very quick order, he will consolidate his power and crush his opposition.
The Antichrist will reign throughout the Tribulation. He will perpetrate hell on earth, killing a majority of the earth’s inhabitants as he consolidates and exercises his unprecedented power. He will eventually demand to be worshiped. He will turn on the Jewish people and all those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord. Wielding absolute power, he will prove himself to be absolutely corrupt.
Whether we reflect on ancient Egypt, 20th Century Germany, or 21st Century America, we can see that the heart of Man is darkened by sin, easily deluded by false promises of peace, and — short of the touch of the Holy Spirit — unwilling to bow before the true and righteous God. Without Jesus, people will seek any alternate answer to their problems — no matter how outlandish or ultimately harmful.
In 2016, many are desperate for hope. Only Jesus offers Himself as the Blessed Hope. He is at the very gates of heaven, ready to burst forth and gather those who have put their trust in Him. He has promised to rescue us from the horrors of the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
As I recently heard, “If you know who the Antichrist is, you’ve been left behind.” Do not wait. Join the great company of saints who are credited with righteousness because of their faith in Jesus. And then, look up and be watchful, for our Redemption — the Lord Jesus Himself — draws near!