By Femi Olugbile
It was evening when the band of pilgrims arrived at Megiddo. The guide, a bronzed ‘sabra’ with the pretty-but-deadly looks of a veteran of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), stood at the edge of the enclosure and pointed to the valley below. That, she said, was the valley of Megiddo. Prophecy had it that in ‘The Last Days’, the battle of Armageddon would be fought in that valley. All the world would be ranged against the children of Israel. The children of Israel would prevail. There were no military siloes or battlements as far as the eye could see, just a vast lush valley filled with greenery.
A few years ago, historical events brought to world attention a different religion’s prophecy and a different scenario concerning ‘The Last Days’, also referred to as ‘Endtimes’. Dabiq, a town in Northern Syria, not far from the border with Turkey, would, so the ‘Islamic’ prophecy said, be the site of the final battle between ‘The Faithful’ and an invading force of ‘Infidels’. ‘The Faithful’ would, of course, triumph.
So convinced were the terror group known as ‘IS’ about the prophecy that they named their online magazine after the town and fought some of their most desperate battles to capture and control Dabiq, presumably to keep it till the final battle. When it was finally wrested from them, it spelled the beginning of the end for their movement.
Ontologic anxiety, creating a need to ‘see round the corner’ and tell what is going to happen in the future, is embedded in the collective psychology of human society. A desire to read the mind of God and divine His intentions forms part of every religion.
The evolution of ‘Democracy’ within the ambience of a predominantly Christian culture in the Western World has had, as one of its aspirational pillars, the ‘separation of Church and State’. The principle, only partially implemented at best, has guided the governance structure and political practice in some European countries, as well as, nominally, in the United States of America.
And yet a few short weeks ago, just before the American Presidential elections where Donald Trump was seeking a second term in office, video clips of ‘divine prophecies’ from some of the most revered names in Pentecostal Christianity went viral all over the world. They had heard, so they said, the voice of God. Donald Trump would win the elections.
Pastor Sid Roth, quoting the Bible from Amos chapter 3, verse 7, declaimed that God would not do ANYTHING without revealing his purpose to his prophets. Veteran and universally venerated Pat Robertson proclaimed ‘…I want to say without question- Trump is going to win the election…’. Prophet Sadhu Selvaraj from India chimed in ‘ …Three powerful prince angels are stationed with President Trump..’. And Pastor Denise Goulet declared ‘…at 4.30 am God said to me…I’m going to give you a win…’ Pastor Chris Oyakhilome from Nigeria was not to be left out ‘…If he can get through this, if he doesn’t give up, he wins…’. Michelle Bachmann declared ‘…Church bells will ring…’ Prophetess Kat Kerr was most colourful ‘…around the white house a hundred thousand angels are stationed about Trump.’ And Paula White capped it all ‘…I hear a sound of victory. The Lord says it is done.’
Shortly after the release of these ‘prophetic’ messages, Donald Trump resoundingly lost the election, by seven million votes.
So – what happened?
Surely God could not lie! Did the ‘prophets’ lie?
The relationship between Donald Trump and the Pentecostals – a right-wing, mostly white, domineering tendency within American Christianity is a subject for future discussion. It is difficult, on the surface, to see how a morally bankrupt, unscrupulous human being could be seen as champion and flagbearer of a cause bearing the name of Jesus Christ. But the gritty, merciless, ‘prosperity’ message that forms the core preaching of the ‘Pentecostals’, without an ounce of love for fellow man or compassion for the downtrodden is a giveaway to how the affinity with Donald Trump arose. They lifted him to victory in the first election, preying on the fears and hopes of many ‘white’ Americans who felt ‘unheard’.
To their minds, he should be a shoo-in for a second term. But perhaps not to the mind of God?
The reality today is that DJT has been voted out, and that he and some of his enablers run a significant risk of ending up in prison.
It is an unacceptable reality to many.
No, God did not lie. Sadly, the ‘prophets’ did.
Some of them are digging deeper into delusion, getting farther and farther away from reality, instead of walking back and apologizing to God and man.
Veteran Pat Robertson has walked back, although without apology. Biden will be President, he accepts, and Trump is amoral and unworthy.
One other ‘prophet’, Loren Sandford has sent out a message titled ‘An Open Apology: How and Why I Got It Wrong’. He now sees the failed prophecy as a rebuke from God for allowing himself to be caught up ‘in a prevailing mood’. He quotes 1st Kings 22 and gives the example of Micaiah who alone stood against four hundred false prophets who were telling lies to prophesy doom for the king of Israel. He is seeking forgiveness from God, and from his flock.
Sadly, his peers are not likely to follow suit.
These ‘Men of God’, in so deeply involving themselves in the political affairs of men and carrying the banner of a particularly flawed human being and a particularly virulent racist ideology, have done injury to the Christian religion of Love and Compassion which they purport to proclaim. They have falsely claimed to know the mind of God and gone on to mix their message with an industry of lies, half-truths and conspiracy theories. It may not be out of place to ask the mainstream of Christianity – the Catholics, the Anglicans, the Methodists and other not to stand by wringing their hands in distress but to stand up, define their Faith, and reclaim credibility for all Christianity.
Even if it is truly close to ‘Endtimes’ – whether in Megiddo or Dabiq, or Washington, it is a time that calls for soul-searching from all human beings. There is an urgent need to reassert common human values about what is right and what is wrong.