John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas, is a well-known American evangelist who often preaches and writes books on end time events such as the restoration of Israel, the rapture, the Antichrist and the tribulation period. However, as far as prophecies on Babylon are concerned, he (like Hal Lindsey and others) succumbed to the replacement theology by making highly doubtful and unjustified conclusions. According to him, Babylon has all of a sudden become Rome, which, in effect, means that the pope must be the Antichrist. It is not clear how the Antichrist can be described as the Assyrian (Isa. 10:12-14) and the king of the North (Dan. 11:36-45) if he would rule from Rome.
If Babylon is not Babylon, then it will definitely also not be Rome as Rome is not an important trade centre. John Hagee is not consistent with his interpretation of Babylon. The one moment he says that Rome is the new Babylon, while the next moment he says that Iraq is Babylon and that the prophecies of Jeremiah 50 were fulfilled in 1990 during the American-led war, Operation Desert Storm. It is only a patriotic American who is highly impressed with the world-reforming role of his own country, who can make such far-fetched allegations. It is very obvious to anyone that conditions such as those described in Jeremiah 50:39-40 did not prevail in Iraq after the 1990 war.
Premillennialists should stick to the Bible by believing in its literal fulfilment. When the Bible refers to Jerusalem or Babylon, it refers to historically known cities and not metaphorically to other places. John Hagee is presumptuous in accrediting the US with the fulfilment of prophecies related to the destruction of Babylon, which will only be fulfilled when divine judgements are poured out upon this wicked, antichristian centre of the future during the coming day of the Lord.
What we presently see on television is America’s inability to contain insurgency and terrorism in Iraq, or to create peaceful and prosperous conditions in that troubled land. The Antichrist will fulfil this ideal for a short time after being accepted as prince of peace by the deceived nations of the world. That will only happen after the rapture. In the meantime, the US will most likely make a bigger mess of its intervention in the Middle East. What the US does, demonstrates to us very clearly that not even the strongest superpower in the world can bring peace and stability to the Middle East. A prince of peace with supernatural powers is needed to unite humanity under his leadership and to bring about sweeping changes in Iraq with full international co-operation.
John Hagee underestimated the economic importance of Iraq completely when he said that this country is so backward that they cannot even make a bicycle. Iraq has the second-highest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, and not even John Hagee and his large congregation will in future be able to survive and keep their long V8’s on the road without enough crude oil from the Middle East (including oil from Iraq). But they can easily get along without Rome and the pope if they wish to! (PS. Read the article: “The Restoration and Destruction of Babylon” on the website www.bibleguidance.co.za).
The question could be asked: Why taking issue with John Hagee on a prophetic subject that might be open to different interpretations? The answer would be that these views of his are not the only serious misrepresentations of the Word of God. As a staunch supporter of Israel one would expect John Hagee to also support Jewish evangelism. He does not, and openly made the unbiblical statement that orthodox Jews can be saved without the Messiah. In his article, “The other gospel of John Hagee: Christian Zionism and ethnic salvation,” G. Richard Fisher says:
“Hagee reported to the Houston Chronicle that he believes that Jews already have a covenant with God and a relationship to God and do not need to come to the cross. Hearing this is startling. Hagee told the newspaper: ‘I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption.’ This certainly is a shocking statement in the light of Jesus’ words that ‘no man comes to the Father but through Me’ (John 14:6). John further writes: ‘He who does not have the Son of God does not have life’ (1 John 5:12). The Apostle Paul, as well, would say the opposite of Hagee: ‘I do not set aside the grace of God: for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain’ (Gal. 2:21). Paul is affirming that nothing that the Old Testament offered could avail apart from the death of Jesus.
“The Houston Chronicle article further reported: ‘John Hagee, fundamentalist pastor from San Antonio and friend of Israel, is truly a strange fish… The man has a mission. He’s out to attack anti-Semitism. He also believes that Jews can come to God without going through Jesus Christ.’ The Houston newspaper then quoted Hagee’s own shocking words: ‘I’m not trying to convert the Jewish people to the Christian faith,’ and further revealed: ‘In fact, trying to convert Jews is a waste of time, he said. ‘The Jewish person who has his roots in Judaism is not going to convert to Christianity. There is no form of Christian evangelism that has failed so miserably as evangelizing the Jewish people. They (already) have a faith structure. Everyone else, whether Buddhist or Baha’i, needs to believe in Jesus,’ he says, ‘but not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced by Christianity,’ he says.
“Hagee went on to tell the Houston reporter that Paul abandoned the idea of Jews knowing Christ when he went to the Gentiles. Jewish evangelism, both presently and in antiquity, is not a failure as Hagee stated but a huge success as many missions and missionaries can report. The Christian Research Institute has also reported on this highly unorthodox view held by Hagee: ‘Information about Hagee from other sources reveals he seriously differs with the vast majority of dispensational teachers because he believes that Jewish people do not need to be saved, since they are under a different covenant” (end of quote).
Another concern about John Hagee is his promotion of the prosperity gospel. He regards poverty as a curse and says that the Lord Jesus has delivered us from poverty on the cross and gave us the riches of Abraham. He shamelessly twists the Gospel account to depict Jesus in earthly terms as a rich man. He says: “Jesus was not poor… Jesus had a nice house! John 1:38-39 says that Jesus turned to those that were following Him and said, Come with Me. And they said, Where dwellest Thou? He said, Come and see. And Jesus took that whole crowd home with Him to stay in His house. That meant it was a big house. Jesus wore fine clothes. John 19:23 says that He had a seamless robe. Roman soldiers gambled for it at the foot of the cross. It was a designer original. It was valuable enough for them to want it… Poverty is caused by sin and disobeying the Word of God… Poverty is a curse.”
It is not difficult to refute these statements from Scripture. To a scribe who wanted to follow Jesus, He said: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20). He had no permanent home and did not offer fame and a comfortable life to His disciples. Jesus said that it is hard for rich men to enter the kingdom of heaven because they trust in their earthly wealth rather than trusting the Lord (Matt. 19:23). They despised the Lord Jesus and His lowly lifestyle and thus forfeited the riches of His grace. The rich members of the congregation in Laodicea did the same and were as a result of their materialistic attitude declared spiritually bankrupt by Christ and rejected (Rev. 3:16-17). Jesus counselled His disciples not to lay up treasures on earth, but in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20). Do not be carried away by the false teachings of the prosperity gospel. We cannot serve two masters.
More than ever before, we need spiritual discernment in order to avoid being deceived by the many wrong teachings that are proliferating in the world today. A thorough knowledge of the Bible will direct our steps away from the paths of sin, iniquity and deception (Ps. 119:101,133; Josh. 1:7).