In Agents of the Apocalypse, Dr. David Jeremiah, noted author and Bible teacher, takes a new approach to unpacking what is possibly one of the Bible's most popular yet confusing books — and he recently shared his thoughts on why America seems absent from the Book of Revelation and other prophetic writings regarding the eschaton.
Revelation, the final book of the Christian Bible, has long served as a source of inspiration and speculation for pulpits, printing presses, and movie studios. The colorful apocalyptic work is credited in the text to Jesus Christ's "servant John," also described as a prophet. John, not to be mistaken with Jesus' apostle, some scholars argue, tells of experiencing several visions, some of them related to future happenings, such as Jesus Christ's Second Coming and God's final judgment of the world.
Apocalyptic work by its nature reveals hidden or secret things, but, perhaps unlike John's original audience in the first century, modern Christians have long wrestled over possible meanings of Revelation's pervasive and perplexing symbolic imagery.
Dr. Jeremiah, 73, has written several prophecy-related books and was described by Tyndale House Publishers as a "noted prophecy expert." The Shadow Mountain Community Church senior pastor described to The Christian Post his unique approach to making Revelation approachable for readers of Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times.
"We took 10 characters from the Book of Revelation and told the story of that book built around those individual characters or groups of characters and we introduced every chapter with a fictional element that drives this down into the hearts of people," the California megachurch pastor explained. "It's really been fun to see how it's opened up this book (Revelation) to so many people."
The characters and groups that begin each chapter of Agents of the Apocalypse, published in October, include "The Exile," "The Martyrs," "The Two Witnesses," "The Dragon," "The King," and several others, including the two "beasts," one from the sea and another from the earth.
In the transcript below of Dr. Jeremiah's interview with CP, the prophecy author explains his approach to personifying the two "beasts." He also comments on the Middle East crisis involving the Islamic State and speculates on the United States' absence from Bible prophecy, among other issues. The transcript has been edited for clarity.
CP: Congratulations. I see that Agents of the Apocalypse is pretty popular on Amazon at least.
Jeremiah: Yes, it's done very well and we're very excited about it, because it's a different kind of book than I've ever done and it seems to be resonating with people everywhere.
CP: You have two interesting characters in Agents of the Apocalypse — Judas Christopher, the Beast from the Sea, and Damon Detherow, the Beast from Earth.
Jeremiah: Yeah, these are really cool characters that we created. Judas Christopher is the name we gave to the anti-Christ, the one who's going to come and take over control of the world. Damon Detherow is the false prophet who is his religious and economic czar. And the Bible talks about these two people as a part of what I've called the unholy trinity. Satan, the false prophet and the anti-Christ are the evil trinity, just like we have God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit which is the Holy Trinity. These three characters, Satan, anti-Christ and the false prophet, are gonna dominate the news in the tribulation period and they're gonna destroy everything in their path and bring devastation of this world. Only the coming back again of Christ at the end of that 7-year period to defeat them would be the only thing that would stand in their way.
The Bible speaks of these three people as evil incarnate. I mean, everything that you see going on right now with the beheading of people and all of the evil in this world is nothing compared to what these people will do when they are given that opportunity during the seven years of tribulation on this earth.
CP: What are you thoughts on the Middle East crisis and the persecution and killing of Christians and other religious groups by ISIS?
Jeremiah: I don't know. ... I feel really bad about that. You know, the Bible just tells us that's gonna happen. I have to honestly tell you, I wasn't quite ready for the term "beheaded" to be used in the daily newspapers. I mean, that's a term that's used in the Bible about people like Nebuchadnezzar and other wicked rulers. But that's a term now that's in the paper almost everyday because of the awful evilness of ISIS and the people over there that have no regard for human life.
I do know that here in this country, it's more unpopular to be a Christian than it's ever been. I know of some people who really take a lot of heat because of their faith in Christ. But I also know the Bible says that those who will live godly in Christ Jesus are gonna suffer persecution. So we better get ready for it and it's gonna be a part of our life if we really are committed to Christ.
CP: Touching on another Middle East issue, and there's often debate about this when there's a conflict involving Israel, in terms of Christians supporting the government and the nation of Israel. Can you clarify, as much as you can, are Christians commanded by God in the Bible to support the country of Israel?
Jeremiah: Well, I can just kind of recite for you what the Bible says. In the Old Testament Book of Genesis in the 12th chapter which is usually referred to as the Abrahamic covenant, when God conceived of the nation of Israel, He came to Abraham and said, "I'm gonna give you a great nation and land, and I'm gonna bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." In other words, God said there is a blessing for those who honor Israel.
I know a lot of people say, "Well, That's not true today. This is not Israel." But you cannot get past that. The Bible is very clear that if we are Christians, we are to have a role in honoring Israel. Does that mean we don't care about the Palestinians? Of course not. But it does mean we better be careful of how we treat Israel because how we treat Israel, according to the Bible, is how God treats us. If we are not supportive of Israel, we will not only miss the blessing that He's promised to us, but we'll end up on the other end of the curse. He said, "I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you." That's one thing God said that I don't want to mess with.
CP: Another question that often arises when Christians discuss end-times prophecy involving America. Does America have a pivotal or prominent role in the End Times?
Jeremiah: You know what, the Bible doesn't say anything at all about America in prophecy, and I've had that question asked to me by a lot of people over the years, and why isn't America there at all.
One of the reasons could be that before the tribulation starts, the Rapture happens and those who have put their trust in Christ go to heaven. Then again, how many people you think live in this country who are Christians, that could decimate this country to the point where it would have no role.
The Bible doesn't say anything about America, perhaps because America was not even in existence when it was written and therefore, the Bible speaks about those nations that were known and near Israel at the time.
The other thing that has been more recent in my mind, is that if we keep going the way we are, we're not gonna be here because we'll be so bankrupt we'll be subservient to China and other nations. If we don't figure out our financial situation, we could be rendered inoperative, totally, because of financial collapse. I know that sounds pretty bizarre to most people but if you look at where we are with our debt and what's happened to other nations who've been down the road we're going, it could very well be that by the time all of the end-time things happen, America will just be an also-ran nation and not important at all.
Dr. David Jeremiah succeeded Tim LaHaye, another popular Bible prophecy teacher, as pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in 1981. The San Diego County church, located in the city of El Cajon and affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, attracts more than 7,000 worshippers weekly. Jeremiah's Turning Point Ministries, founded in 1982, makes his teachings accessible to tens of millions of people around the globe via television and radio broadcasts.