In his discourse on the Mount of Olives, Jesus speaks about His Second Coming and the signs of the last days and warns his disciples, “See to it that no one deceives you.” Jesus then lists a series of sobering events which would earmark the end of the age. Two thousand years later – with endless wars, earthquakes and famines in various places, political upheaval, alarming hatred of “the other”, and a world-wide pandemic – many wonder if we are finally on this long-predicted precipice.
Author Ron Rhodes has been considering the signs of the end times since he was a teen. Rhodes has written over 85 books which have sold in the millions, and are translated into numerous languages. But unlike some sensationalists who have seized upon one “sign” or another to captivate a credulous crowd, Rhodes has always championed a reasonable approach to understanding the Word of God. We recently spoke with Rhodes about his life and conversion to Bible-based Christianity; his views on cataclysmic cults, the malevolent Antichrist, and Israel; happenings he believes are clear signs of a coming apocalypse; and about his latest books, Basic Bible Prophecy and Spiritual Warfare in the End Times (Harvest House.)
This is the final installment of a three-part interview.
BPE: I’d like to return for a moment to this idea of a convergence of prophecies. Does your latest book, Basic Bible Prophecy, get into what you term “chronological clues”?
Rhodes: It does, although as a preface, let me say that my book, The End Times in Chronological Order, has turned out to be a definitive book in terms of biblical prophecy. The tragic thing about it is, the more catastrophes that hit our nation – including the pandemic, the lawlessness and riots – the more that book sells.
I think people want to understand how biblical prophecy ties into this stuff.
As an example, when people talk about the pandemic, they want to see what Jesus said about (calamities) in his prophetic sermon on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24 and 25.) When people see lawlessness, they want to understand how that relates to the spirit of lawlessness – which is the spirit of the Antichrist. When they see the rebirth of Israel, they want to understand how issues in the Middle East relate to Bible prophecy.
BPE: For the novice, diving headfirst into this subject, it could be quite overwhelming.
Rhodes: Well, the Basic Bible Prophecy book is the book for people who may be scared of Bible prophecy – people who are confused by the many views and think it is just too hard to understand. I designed that book specifically to answer the five “W” questions. It’s a simplified strategy to make understanding Bible prophecy easy.
BPE: Is Basic Bible Prophecy a book you would also recommend to prophecy agnostics?
Rhodes: Sure; that book, as well as The End Times in Chronological Order. I would want to know – if I was dealing with an agnostic – exactly what their motivation was for being an agnostic? I know one agnostic, for example, who became an agnostic mainly because his wife left him in marital problems.
“If there’s a God, God would not let that happen.” At least that’s what he said.
There are going to be a lot of people for whom Bible prophecy will not ring their bell in terms of answering the agnostic objections. But for many people, it will lead them to say, “Wow, maybe the Bible is the Word of God. All these things do seem to be happening in the very day in which we live. Maybe it’s time to take a second look.”
So that’s where the Basic Bible Prophecy book would be a big help.
BPE: Let me ask about another End Times term that I think most of my readers will immediately recognize: The Antichrist. What do we know about this individual? Is this a real person or a cleverly contrived character?
Rhodes: Well, the Antichrist is real and is not going to have a badge on his lapel that says, “Antichrist.” He’s going to be a very charismatic world leader, who will have tremendous oratorical skills, and will be able to whip crowds into a frenzy with his political speeches. He is going to come into power in what you might call a Revived Roman Empire, or the United States of Europe. He will emerge in Europe, and his emergence really becomes clear when he signs an all-encompassing covenant – or peace treaty – with Israel.
Now, this is not to be confused with the recent treaties that were in the news.
This individual will apparently solve the Middle East problem. And he will make sure that people obey the covenant by the might of the revived Roman Empire.
The Antichrist will initially seem to solve the world’s problems and bring unity to the planet. But then, his true nature starts to surface, because he claims to be God on earth. And he’s called Antichrist, not only because he’s against the Christ of the Bible, but the word anti in Greek (ἀντί) can also mean “instead of.” He is trying to take the place of Christ and build his own kingdom on earth. So he demands to be worshiped by everyone on the earth, and people have to take what’s called the Mark of the Beast.
BPE: I’d like to jump in right there, if I may, because, as I’m sure you know, a lot of Christians are asking if the vaccine passports are related in some way to the Mark of the Beast. Do you believe the fallout from the pandemic (disease/death, lock downs, shortages, vaccinations and vaccine passports) are some of the signs Jesus said we should watch for?
Rhodes: In a recent poll, over 44 percent of people said they believe the coronavirus is a wake-up call to turn back to God and may be a sign of coming judgment. Some 29 percent say that the coronavirus indicates we are living in the End Times.
It is certainly true that Jesus affirmed that there would be “pestilences” in the last days (Luke 21:11). He then warned of “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” (21:26). I think we’ve seen some of that this past year. But what we’re witnessing today is merely a fore-glimpse of the much worse pestilences that will emerge in the years before the Second Coming of Christ.
I think it is significant that the coronavirus is occurring at the same time we witness other events of prophetic significance. Israel has been reborn as a nation. Jews are streaming back to the holy land. Alignments are now taking place between Russia and Muslim countries, laying the groundwork for the Ezekiel invasion against Israel. Preparations are being made for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. We witness the global rise of apostasy, persecution of Christians, martyrdom, and much more. Virtually ALL of these things are prophesied to occur in the last days in the Bible. So, the coronavirus is part of a much larger convergence of biblical prophecies unfolding in our day.
BPE: Can we consider the coronavirus to be a warning from God?
Rhodes: God always warns before He judges. Coronavirus might be a warning from God, preceding the judgments God will bring in future days before the Second Coming of Christ. And indeed, many are turning to God today for the first time.
As for how vaccine passports might relate to the Mark of the Beast, I know that many are concerned about this.
Prophetic Scripture reveals that, in the years before the Second Coming of Christ, the Antichrist and his cohort – the False Prophet – will subjugate the entire world so that those who refuse the Mark of the Beast cannot buy or sell (Revelation 13:16-18). This mark will be a passport to commerce. This ultimately means that those who accept the Mark of the Beast will be able to buy food and eat well. Those who refuse the Mark of the Beast—such as believers in Jesus—will find it hard, if not impossible, to acquire food. It will be a difficult time.
I do not believe that today’s vaccine passport is in itself the Mark of the Beast. But the technology used to enforce the vaccine passport might be similar to the technology that will one day be used to enforce the Mark of the Beast.
Certainly, people won’t be deceived into taking the Mark of the Beast as a mere vaccine passport. Rather, people will know (with both eyes open) that receiving the mark constitutes a commitment of allegiance to the Antichrist and his cause. And once they receive that mark, they become direct objects of the wrath of God. I’d rather go without food and trust God for eternal life, than take the Mark of the Beast and suffer God’s wrath.
People need to take “the long look.”
BPE: So the Antichrist will have a world-wide following?
Rhodes: The only people who won’t follow him would be Christians who know better, because they understand what the Bible has to say about this prophecy in particular. And at the end of the tribulation – without going into detail – this individual will seek to destroy the Jewish people in Jerusalem. He’ll move against the Jewish remnant that escaped out of Jerusalem earlier and will try to destroy all the Jews. In fact, what Scripture says: at that moment, the Jewish remnant finally recognizes their Messiah as Jesus Christ, and they cry out to Him for deliverance.
This is when the Second Coming of Christ occurs.
That’s kind of a thirty-second summary. It might sound ridiculous to some, but once you understand the details of the way things will unfold, it makes a lot of sense.
BPE: And this apocalyptic scenario is all laid out in the book of Revelation?
Rhodes: Yes. I might mention that a lot of people look at the book of Revelation and ask, “How can all of that stuff happen so suddenly?” because it seems like things just unfold in rapid succession.
For those people, I point them to the state where I now live: Texas.
Look how fast Texas was brought to its knees by a brief ice storm last winter. All of a sudden, we were without food and water. Our electricity was gone, meaning that the refrigerators everywhere turned off. So the food they had in the refrigerators at home and in the supermarkets went bad. The distribution system was stopped. Nobody could get trucks in to get them to the stores. Many of our livestock died; we had cattle and deer, dogs and cats and birds just lying dead on the landscape from this horrible ice storm.
That is unprecedented.
We were literally brought to our knees in the mighty state of Texas, and look at how fast it happened. Well, in the book of Revelation, it talks about a variety of cosmic disturbances that will also unfold rapidly. And just like things went south very quickly for Texas, scripture indicates that at some point in the future, things will go south for the entire planet.
But here’s the good thing, as my old friend Walter Martin used to put it:
“I read the last chapter, and we win.”
BPE: How so?
Rhodes: You see, the book of Revelation was written to people who were being persecuted and martyred. They were suffering tremendously. Revelation told them that – even though there is a lot of bad stuff in the world – in the end we win, because we are face to face with God in Heaven. We’ll be gone, and Satan will be gone; all bad things will be gone forever.
Ultimately, Bible prophecy is encouraging, because it shows that, in the end, God does overcome evil. You look at the world today and see some of the horrific things that people are doing, and just think, “How long will they get away with this stuff?” Well, they won’t get away with it forever. So ultimately, prophecy is good news.
BPE: You mentioned earlier that certain things on the prophetic timeline have clearly already happened. The rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and some military alignments that are happening in the Middle East. What is the next thing we should be looking for on the prophetic calendar?
Rhodes: The next thing on the prophetic calendar that Christians are looking for is something that’s called The Rapture – even though I should tell you that Christians have different views on when the rapture takes place.
In First Thessalonians 4, we read about what will happen when Christ comes for the church. The dead in Christ will rise first, and they’ll be resurrected from the dead. Then those Christians who are alive on the earth will instantly be transformed into their glorified bodies, and both groups will meet Christ up in the air and will be with Christ forever.
That’s the event called The Rapture, and it’s the next thing on the prophetic landscape – strictly speaking – because there’s not a single prophecy that has to be fulfilled before that can happen.
There are other things that are imminent; things that we’re waiting for simply because it has been well said prophecies tend to cast their shadows before them.
What that means is, even though there are certain prophecies that are predicted of the future – particularly the future tribulation period – we now see the preliminary phases of those prophecies starting to come to pass.
You might remember, in Matthew 16, Jesus criticized some of the Jewish leaders, telling them that, by looking at the sky, they could tell a bad storm was coming; however, they were failing to interpret the signs of the times. The point that Jesus was making is the religious leaders of His day missed all the signs of the First Coming of Christ. So, the warning for us is, let’s not miss the Signs of the Times today. The Bible gives us a lot of signs of the End Times. The question is, will people ignore these signs or will they take interest in them and what they portend?
My hope is that there are a lot of people out there who will take it seriously.
BPE: That’s a lot to digest!
Rhodes: Well, there’s one more thing I’d like to tell you about the End Times, if I could.
When people look at the book of Revelation, one of the things they don’t understand is that God is bringing about a grand reversal.
You know, Genesis and Revelation are bookends.
In Genesis, we witness God creating the heavens and the earth; while in Revelation, God creates the new heavens and a new earth. In Genesis, God created the night. But in the book of Revelation, we learn, in the eternal state, there is no longer any night.
In Genesis, human beings succumbed to the temptations of the serpent, i.e. Satan. But in Revelation and the eternal state, Satan is quarantined and can no longer harass the people of God. In Genesis, the first man and woman succumb to sin, but in Revelation, redeemed humans are free from sin and live in a perfectly holy environment.
Genesis says that, as a result of sin, God pronounced a curse on the earth. In Revelation and eternal state, [there] is no more curse. Paradise was lost in Genesis; in Revelation, Paradise is restored. In Genesis, the first man and woman were barred from the tree of life. Human beings are restored to the tree of life in Revelation.
In Genesis, tears, death, and mourning entered human existence. But in Revelation’s eternal state, tears, death, and mourning are forever gone. And then, finally, in Genesis, the Redeemer is promised. In Revelation, the victorious Redeemer reigns and lives face to face with all of His people. So, that’s what I mean by a grand reversal that is coming in the book of Revelation. And that’s why we can say truthfully, “I read the last chapter in the book, and we win.”
Prophecy, ultimately, has an awful lot of good news for those who believe.
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Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A one-time newsboy for the Evening Sun and professional presence at the Washington Herald, Tony’s poetry, photography, humor, and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!, Destination Maryland, Magic Octopus Magazine, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Voice of Baltimore, SmartCEO, Alvarez Fiction, and Tales of Blood and Roses. If you notice that his work has been purloined, please let him know. As the Good Book says, “Thou shalt not steal.”