The Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, has questioned whether news coming out of the Middle East is a sign of the end times.
First published on billygraham.org last week, Franklin Graham noted the various incidents of persecution facing Christians throughout the world.
"The killing of Christians by Muslims from Indonesia to Bangladesh to Pakistan. China tearing down church buildings," wrote Graham.
"Christians tortured, beheaded, and crucified in Iraq, with villages burned and churches destroyed, and much the same in Syria."
Graham went on to speak of "signs of the end of the age" documented by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, including "wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilence."
"As I read the news, I can't help but wonder if we are in the last hours before our Lord Jesus Christ returns to rescue His church and God pours out His wrath on the world for the rejection of His Son," wrote Graham.
"I don't know if we have hours, days, months, or years — but as Christians, God calls us to take the truth of the Gospel to the ends of the earth."
This is not the first time that recent news from the Middle East has prompted talk of whether or not end times prophecy was being fulfilled.
Last year, as the civil war in Syria escalated, many Americans felt that the events unfolding were prophesied back in the Old Testament.
By last September Damascus, Syria's capital, had been devastated by fighting, with some arguing that passages in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 regarding the end were fulfilled.
Others, including Robert Mulholland, recently retired professor of New Testament of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, were more skeptical.
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Mulholland argued that the passages on Damascus in the Old Testament were not connected to the end times.
"In this case, Isaiah was predicting the demise of Damascus at the hands of Assyria in the eighth century [Before Christ]," said Mulholland.
"If one wanted to try to make the case for Isaiah 17 predicting the end times, then Iran (the present day successor to Assyria) would be responsible for Damascus' demise and not its primary ally."
Graham's comments come as the United States plans to sustain its efforts to stamp out the terrorist organization Islamic State, which recently beheaded another American journalist.
Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that efforts against the Northern Iraqi terrorist group will be unrelenting.
"They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice," said Biden.
"We came back after 9/11. We dusted ourselves off and we made sure that Osama bin Laden would never, ever again threaten the American people … when people harm Americans, we don't retreat."