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WorldNetDaily Warns Bible Might Predict Destruction of Saudi Arabia

More mangled pseudo-scholarship from Joel Richardson, who at WorldNetDaily asks a Great Religious Question to Which the Answer is No:

Does the Bible predict destruction of Saudi Arabia?

Middle-Eastern media outlets are reporting that Israel may be about to launch a major attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Last week, Israel Today reported that Saudi Arabia had given Israel permission to use its airspace for an attack, and now the Iranian Fars News Agency has reported that a squad of Israeli jets has even landed at a military airstrip in Saudi Arabia. Could this development have any significance with regard to biblical prophecy? I believe it could.

And the reason is – because the weird symbolism of the Book of Revelation allows just about any interpretation to be imposed upon it:

As the story unfolds, we are introduced to the seven-headed beast, a being which represents the seven world empires of history that have sought to destroy Israel. In that the beast is seen to be a reflection of Satan the dragon, it is also believed that these gentile empires have been Satan’s primary vehicles or strongholds in the earth. The first world empire that made efforts to destroy the Hebrew people, of course, was Egypt. Egypt was followed by Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. This brings the number of empires to six. There is one more. Each one of these empires share the commonalities of having possessed the same destructive anti-Semitic spirit. Each sought, but failed, to exterminate the Jewish people.

…Identifying “Mystery Babylon” is actually far simpler than it might seem. The prototype of the ultimate last-days Babylon, of course, was simply Babylon, the spiritual and economic capital of the Empire of Babylonia. Later in the first century, however, the Apostle Peter, writing from Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, referred to Rome as “Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13). In this, we see that the early church understood “Babylon” to be a concept that migrated. Babylon is a symbolic codeword that refers to the capital of the reigning beast empire. In the first century, the persecuting beast empire was the Roman Empire. But today, the anti-Semitic beast empire of the earth is the Islamic Empire.

Where to begin? Yes, the early church regarded Babylon as Rome – but that was because of Roman persecution of Christians, not because of how the Roman Empire treated “the Hebrew people”. The author of Revelation’s villain is Nero, not Vespasian or Titus. The seven-headed beast thus simply represents Rome, which, as everyone knows, is famous for having seven hills. That’s the simplest solution to the problem of the “seven heads”: there’s no need to go ransacking ancient history looking for other empires that have attacked Israel, much less speculate about some future empire which isn’t even hinted at in the text of Revelation.

And Richardson’s “six world empires” that “made efforts to destroy the Hebrew people” is botched, anyway. Obviously, his schema is derived from the vision in Daniel 2 in the Hebrew Bible, but it’s not a close reading: Daniel’s vision is concerned with Asian empires from Babylon through to the Hellenistic period – Egypt does not figure, and Daniel’s empires are listed because they were successive world powers, not because of their antipathy to Israel. Richardson’s list is just his own speculation – and why would Persia be included as part of “Mystery Babylon”, when the Bible regards Cyrus as a Messiah who restored the Jews following the Babylonian capivity?

And if attempts to “extermine the Jewish people” are the author of Revelation’s primary concern, and he really did have a supernatural power to foresee the future (rather than writing for his own time and context, as with comparable Apocalyptic texts), surely he would have referenced the Third Reich?

As for Saudi Arabia, Richardson notes that it exports “radical Islamic pro-jihad” literature, while simultaneously being reviled across the Muslim world as corrupt. Thus,

As the spiritual and economic capital of the reigning anti-Semitic beast empire of our day, Saudi Arabia/Mecca may be identified as the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18… As I have traveled the nation, after teaching on this subject, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has rejected the idea outright.

Maybe he should meet a wider range of people…

Apparently, Saudi Arabia is likely to be destroyed because “the Saudis are collaborating with the Jewish nation, the enemy of all enemies, to launch an attack on Iran”. This is despite the fact that supporting Israel is supposed to be a good thing. Such is the convoluted thinking of Christian Zionism, in which bizarre speculations about geo-politics and global war seem to have completely displaced the historic concerns of Christianity.

10 Responses

  1. These men make money from religions who sadly had to justify their existence on the usual tales of the folk devils. Funny how they are all motivated by the destruction of their “devils” while they stay untouched.

  2. And now, reports are coming in that claim the Saudis are collaborating with the Jewish nation, the enemy of all enemies, to launch an attack on Iran. I would undoubtedly say that has deep relevance with regard to biblical prophecy.

    The article does indeed say this, but I think there’s a problem with paragraphing here. The “enemy of enemies” is a reference to the point of view of “true Islam” not to Biblical prophecy. I can’t explain how the last sentence follows, or makes any sense whatever.

    I’ve read the whole thing through again, and it’s simply incoherent. I don’t think it matters who the ‘enemy of enemies’ is: if these are the last days (as argued) then surely the destruction of every nation is imminent?

  3. Maybe he should meet a wider range of people…

    I like it :)

    What actually worries me Richard, is how seriously this is all accepted in the US. I mean WorldNetDaily is currently ranked as 2345 by Alexa, which makes this one of the most prominent websites in the world (I know this is not an exact science).

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I was once taken in by all of this, and wonder if there is the possibility that powerful folk in the US might be also.

    If this be the case, then is there the possibility of a self-fulfilling prophecy…..literally?

    What I’m trying to say, is that this is potentially extremely dangerous thinking and propoganda….

    Good work Richard..

  4. Hi Richard,

    Briefly… While I do appreciate many of your reports, such as the child-witch fiasco in Nigeria, I do think that you over-reach when you try your hand at being a Bible commentator and unbeliever at the same time. I do hope that being corrected by a bumbling pseudo-scholar, irrational Zionist isn’t too offensive to you. I will keep this as brief, polite and factual as possible.

    A few corrections:

    First, you said:

    Where to begin? Yes, the early church regarded Babylon as Rome – but that was because of Roman persecution of Christians, not because of how the Roman Empire treated “the Hebrew people”.

    Obviously Richard, as I would expect you to know, when 1 Peter was written there was not the distinction between Christianity and Judaism to the degree that you are inferring. Beyond this, your historical facts are simply wrong: Beyond the reference found in Peter, the Rome as Babylon motif is also found in a few 1st Century Jewish Pseudepigraphal works such as the Sibylline Oracles.

    Second, you said:

    The author of Revelation’s villain is Nero, not Vespasian or Titus.

    Obviously, many claim this. However this theory is largely based on the notion that the Rev 13 and 17 reference to a resurrected Beast ala a fatal head wound to be an obvious reference to the Nero-Redivus myth. Myself and many others however think it quite foolish to think that this Hebrew apocalyptic work is utilizing and supporting such a Roman mythical idea. If you personally think this reasonable, so be it. But simply stating that this is simply the way that it is, as you do, ignoring that other opinions exist among scholars… is either arrogant or dishonest on your part. I will not attempt to guess which.

    Third, you said:

    The seven-headed beast thus simply represents Rome, which, as everyone knows, is famous for having seven hills.

    Really? The “everyone knows” argument? While I will agree that it is a common belief, it is not without huge historical-grammatical problems. The word used in Rev 17 is not Greek for hill (bounos), but rather Mountain (oros). Rome does not sit on seven mountains, but hills. Not a small problem for this position. Mountain however, is a common biblical motif for Empire or Kingdom. The juxtoposition of the Book of Rev is the seven Satanic Mountains / Empires versus Mount Zion / the coming Messianic Kingdom. But do see for example the Book of Obadiah which pits Mount Zion against the Mountain of Edom. Numerous other examples could be cited. Beyond this, if you simply read the passage in Rev 17, it is quite clearly not speaking of seven literal mountains. The wording is clear: “The seven heads are seven mountains, they are also seven kings”. Which makes better sense: Kingdoms corresponding to Kings or literal mountains corresponding to seven kings? That would simply be incoherent.

    I could go on… but I’m sure that it would be meaningless to you. I am afterall a true-believer who is unconcerned with reason, logic or scholarship… unlike yourself.

    As always; be blessed Richard.

    Cheers, Joel

    • Thanks for your response.

      I am afterall a true-believer who is unconcerned with reason, logic or scholarship

      Plenty of “believers”, whether Jewish or Christian, do good Biblical scholarship, and plenty of “non-believers” come out with crank theories. That’s not the point.

      As to your rebuttal:

      (a) I suppose it is possible that 1 Peter 5:13 is derived from a Judaic dislike of Rome, but there’s nothing in the text to do with Judea, while there is mention of Christian persecution and the problems of being a Christian in a pagan society. And besides, the reference to Babylon seems to be a quip (or perhaps a discrete code word), there’s no suggestion of it being a mystical identification based on some grand theo-historical schema.

      (b) “the Nero-Redivus myth. Myself and many others however think it quite foolish to think that this Hebrew apocalyptic work is utilizing and supporting such a Roman mythical idea” – but this is an also idea (insofar as it goes) which also features in the Sibylline Oracles, which you just cited to support Judaic understanding of Rome as Babylon. But we don’t have to be that cryptic: “666” points to Nero (or perhaps a later emperor as a “new Nero”), as does the general context of persecution at the time the text was written.

      And besides, Revelation isn’t a “Hebrew apocalyptic work” – while it’s important and corrective to look at early Christianity in a Hebrew context, it can be overdone if other influences are ignored.

      (c) I don’t have the resources at hand to look into “oros” in any detail, although I see the same argument has gone on elsewhere, and it’s claimed that other ancient Greek authors have used “oros” in relation to Rome’s hills. But even if the author of Revelation has chosen an unusual word, what’s more likely: that he has chosen an unusual word to refer to Rome, or he is ignoring the context of Roman persecution all around him and making a cryptic comment that would not make any sense for thousands of years?

      And besides (again), the “Great Prostitute” is “drunk on the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”, not “drunk on the blood of the failed Jewish rebels of 70CE”. It’s about Christians in the context of Rome and Roman emperors, not Israel in relation to successive empires.

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  6. And thanks for your response as well Richard. Obviously, we could each do several rounds of this. My point was not so much to initiate and arguement with you, as it was to simply highlight that while we may disagree, ours are simply two opinions. While we may come from two radically different ends of some spectrum, there is no need to refer to one another with such purposeful mockery as you seem to lean toward. Though it can be fun occasionally.

    Blessings, Joel

  7. argument…

  8. I think we should avoid speaking with confidence about what the Book of Revelation was really,*originally* supposed to be about. Quite frankly, I don’t even know how relevant it is. The fact is that there is a long history of both Jews and Christians alike re-interpreting passages from prophetic scripture as referring to something other than their original, literal meaning. The New Testament writers, for instance, loved to take Old Testament passages out of their original context to be interpreted as prophecies of Jesus. Just look with how they dealt with Isaiah, for instance. Likewise, even if the Book of Revelation were referring to Nero, Domitian or anybody else originally, I don’t see anything wrong, from a Christian standpoint, with a more cryptic and futuristic interpretation of the text as well.

    But, in case we do care about the original meaning, I’d just like to add something to the “7 mountains” discussion: The First Book of Enoch contains references to a vision of “7 mountains.” I wonder if John the Seer was referencing this well known Jewish text instead of, or in conjunction with, an actual geographic landmark.

  9. […] leaves comments on this blog, and he is always polite and personable. In our last exchange, he wrote: While we may come from two radically different ends of some spectrum, there is no need to refer to […]

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