A View from the Wall
(With Founder Scott Townsend of I Am A Watchman ministries)
Feb. 28, 2019, with co-host Dillon Burroughs.
Interview with Dr. Andy Woods based on his book,
The Middle East Meltdown: The Coming Islamic invasion of Israel
Andy: The book covers Ezekiel 38. At least read verses 2-7 which talk about a conglomeration of nations that would invade the nation of Israel in the last days. We can trace these nations from Gen. 10, Noah’s table of nations. You can find out where they settled, and the modern nations containing those people groups will invade Israel in the last days. Put is Libya; Cush is Sudan, Persia is Iran, Magog is central Asia, Rosh is Russia, Meshach/Tubal/Gomer/Tagorma is Turkey.
Israel is now in the land in unbelief, exactly what Ezekiel said 2,600 years ago, and this identical conglomeration of nations is arrayed against Israel. Think of the law of probabilities. This is one of the most exciting things in the Bible to study.
Scott: God called Ezekiel a Watchman and a prophet. Ezekiel lost his home, his wife, his country, and his freedom. He foresaw a war and destruction on a tremendous scale. Yet throughout his writings, there is optimism and hope. His book ends on a high note. It is not a message of despair. It’s a message that affirms the power and goodness of God.
With wars and rumors of wars in the news, what is your advice to those who are burdened by the rise of evil in our world and are tempted to lose hope?
Andy: My basic message is to read the whole story because it does – in Ezekiel 38 and 39 – talk about probably the most difficult challenge that the nation of Israel will ever face. But, at the same time, this is the mechanism that God uses to bring the nation of Israel—to win that unbelieving nation—to Himself.
Proverbs 18 talks about how “a man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The nation of Israel is about to find that out. All of us in our lives find that out in one way or another because God has a way of kicking out the props from under us where we have no one to trust in but Him. That’s a difficult experience.
That’s what’s in store for the nation of Israel; but through it all, you read Ezekiel 39:22 and 39. At the very end of the chapter the Holy Spirit is coming on the nation of Israel, and she is brought to faith through this. And believing-Israel has at that point God’s Covenants fulfilled through her. So there’s some treachery involved in the story but it ends on a very happy and optimistic note, and that’s the whole picture of Bible Prophecy.
Scott: Can you share a few ways Watchmen who are vulnerable to despair can guard against depression because we see that a lot in various forums? People are tired, they’re exhausted, they are discouraged, and they need inspiration and encouragement.
Andy: If I was just a Watchman without the perspective of the Bible I could see how people would be very discouraged. Bible Prophecy does reveal the reality of some treacherous times that are coming, but it also says things like this: Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed Hope and the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” The return of Christ is called our blessed hope. 1 John 3:3 “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself just as He is pure.” 2 Peter 3:13 “But according to His promise we are looking for a New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells.”
The Day of the LORD as it’s described in the Bible, biblically a day going back to Genesis 1:5 a day has an evening followed by a morning. The evening would be the events of the Tribulation period that are coming upon us very rapidly, but the morning would be the daylight breaking through, which would be the glorious Kingdom of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. When I study Bible Prophecy, it makes me a flaming optimist more than the pessimist that we’re sometimes accused of being.
Dillon: The term “prophecy” is everywhere, even secular news outlets quote ancient seers or psychic experts. How is Bible Prophecy different from the writings of famous seers such as Nostradamus or the writings of other religions such as what you might find in the Quran?
Andy: When you’re dealing with people like Nostradamus, and with the writings of the Quran, primarily you’re dealing maybe with the writings of one person in each of those different subsets or different groups. How different Bible Prophecy is!
It’s not written by one person. It’s written by forty different authors spanning a period of 1500 years, maybe going back 2000 years total if the book of Job is as old as everybody says it is. So you’ve got 40 different authors over a 1500 year time period, and yet they’re all coming together in concert, and they’re all agreeing with one another, not contradicting one another. They’re agreeing with one another concerning the future of our world and what the future holds.
And beyond that, when you look at the prophecies of Nostradamus–if I can even call them that–they’re very, very general. And what do you have in Scripture? They’re prophecies that are very, very specific. One of the most famous is Micah 5:2 pinpointing the exact birthplace of the Messiah, and how He would die: Isaiah 53:5 says “being pierced,” (as do Zechariah 12:10 and Psalm 22:16-18). These are very specific prophecies, and beyond that, you can look back and see a pattern of validation. These prophecies came to pass literally, specifically, and accurately in history, and I don’t think the Holy Spirit is changing horses in mid-stream.
The prophecies yet to come, also authored by the Holy Spirit, are going to be fulfilled with that same degree of specificity.
So those two factors, the specificity of prophecy, the past track record of prophecy, and the fact that they aren’t produced just by one person but by 40 different authors over a 1500 year time frame makes the Bible very, very different from anything you find in the Quran and very, very different from anything you find in the writings of Nostradamus. Bible Prophecy is one of a kind; it makes the Bible completely different from any other alleged holy book out there.
Scott: A recent guest cited 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Watchmen today can increase their effectiveness in witnessing in a skeptical world by increasing their knowledge of Bible Prophecy, but as you stated, that’s literally over 25% of the Bible. Where should Watchmen focus? And maybe, more importantly, where should a new Watchman begin?
Andy: That’s such a wonderful question, and a lot of people jump into the wrong place. The book of Revelation has about 404 verses, and probably about 278 of them are allusions to the Old Testament. So the reason why the book of Revelation is so strange to us is we really don’t know the Old Testament that well.
I was blessed when I was in seminary to be sitting under a wonderful teacher by the name of J. Dwight Pentecost. When he taught us Bible Prophecy and things like that he started us with the Biblical covenants. If you can understand the covenants (basically a contract), are a one-way contract that God has made with national Israel and how God cannot lie and how God moves His hand in history to fulfill what He has promised in these covenants, then all of a sudden the end times scenario starts making sense.
One of the things J.D.P. said in class is that the most important chapter in the Bible—and I didn’t really believe him at the time, but I’ve since been persuaded—is Genesis 15. That’s because God makes a covenant with national Israel.
When you study the different ancient Near East deities out there, this idea of God making a covenant with a specific people–that’s unilateral, one that’s completely resting on God’s shoulders–that’s totally unique to the Biblical presentation and Biblical world view.
If you can get into your mind that covenant of Genesis 15—we call it the Abrahamic Covenant—you can clearly see what God is doing in the end times. He’s simply moving His hand in history to fulfill what He has obligated Himself to do related to the Abrahamic Covenant and the covenant that He has made with national Israel. So, to answer your question, “where should people start,” I would suggest starting with the Old Testament, specifically the Biblical covenants. As they do that, the rest of the Bible, particularly the things at the end of the Bible—the book of Revelation—will fall more sharply into focus.
Dillon: That’s such a great point, and we’ve also heard that other Bible Prophecy teachers have drawn considerably on the events in Genesis to prove that if God is not faithful to His covenants to national Israel, a lot of things become questionable at that point. The whole foundation in Genesis 15 is really where a lot of that focus begins. Do you agree?
Andy: I agree. If God can’t be trusted to maintain His Word in Genesis 15, then how can I trust Him as a Gentile Christian to keep His promises to me related to my own eternal security? Paul gives us these great promises in Romans 8, and he goes and starts to explain Romans 9, 10, and 11 – how God has not forgotten His word to Israel. So if He hasn’t forgotten His word to Israel (Romans 9, 10, and 11), He hasn’t forgotten His word to me, a Gentile Christian at the end of Romans 8. So it all goes together.
Scott: Not to get distracted but that goes against the Replacement Theology problem that exists in the church today. Don’t you think?
Andy: Yes. Replacement Theology, of course, being the idea that God has cut the cord on Israel and the Church has replaced Israel in God’s program. And the whole problem with Replacement Theology is that it’s an assault on the character of God. If God can clip the cord on the Abrahamic Covenant, then He can clip the cord on anything. That’s why we need to be opposing in these last days Replacement Theology; as unfortunately, it spreads throughout the Church.
Scott: You’ve written with some of the most prominent apologists and prophecy experts in our time, including Josh McDowell, Tim LaHaye, David Reagan, and Billy Crone to name just a few. So I have a fun question for you, Dr. Woods. If our audience could be a fly on the wall, what do you talk about when you get together with other Bible Prophecy teachers?
Andy: Part of the discussion—part of the conversation—is the concern we all share about the silence of the pulpit related to Bible Prophecy, trying to understand why so few pastors—at least in the United States—really will speak up on the subject of Bible Prophecy. We all kind of recognize that as an issue, and everybody is sort of offering conjecture as to how that could possibly be resolved. That’s a big topic of conversation.
Why is the subject of Bible Prophecy left up to these para-church ministries, when your average pastor should be teaching these things aggressively from the pulpit?
And another thing that I like to do or like to discover when I get around these guys is Proverbs 27:17 which says “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And I love to find out areas where we differ. We may agree on 99% of the things, but where do we disagree? I don’t think anybody has a complete corner on truth, particularly this area of Bible Prophecy, and I love to find areas where perhaps my understanding is not as clear or sharp in an area as perhaps someone else. And I really enjoy the interaction involving what they are seeing and what I’m not and vice versa.
Scott: When I was at the Watchmen on the Wall conference in Surrey, British Columbia last year, one note that I had was just how much humor gets bantered about between you guys, and it was quite entertaining for me to see just how warm the relationships are and how much humor is involved.
Andy: We all need not to take ourselves too seriously, and understand that God Himself has a pretty good sense of humor. As the LORD said, He can get the stones to cry out if necessary, and He just uses people because of His grace. It’s just amazing that any of us have the privilege of being involved in God’s last days work.
Dillon: Amen to that. What would you like to say to pastors and teachers listening today about the importance of teaching and preaching Bible Prophecy in the local church today?
Andy: That number 27% of the Bible is a figure that comes from J. Barton Payne, who’s not in our camp prophetically. But he said 27% of the Bible is prophetic or eschatological at the time it was written. So when I run into a pastor that says he won’t teach prophecy, my response is basically, “Oh, so you leave out more than a quarter of the Bible?” I would say this, that if you’re interested in the full counsel of God’s Word, which we should all be interested in as shepherds, you’ve got to broach, at some point, the subject of Bible Prophecy since God in His Word has devoted an awful lot of the words to that subject.
Scott: Dr. Woods, we have a special tradition at the end of our podcasts to ask our guests to speak into the Watchmen community. One of the things that just continues—we are just in awe of what God is doing in our ministry today—starting from only a few months ago we’ve got 100 countries represented in our podcast and over 140 countries on our web site. So when we speak into the Watchmen community, we’re speaking directly into those who have declared they’re all in for the LORD as a Watchman, which they can do by subscribing to our newsletter on our web site.
We ask that you would directly speak into that because as we’ve already discussed, Watchmen need encouragement, they need inspiration, they need to hear from godly men who have tremendous ministries such as yours so that they can be filled again to take the battle onto the next day’s shift on the wall, so to speak…What would like to say to our Watchmen community?
Andy: Matthew 16:1-3 says, “the Pharisees and the Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus they asked Him to show them a sign from Heaven but He replied, ‘When it is evening you say it’ll be fair weather for the sky is red, and in the morning there will be a storm today for the sky is red and threatening. Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?’” The LORD is rebuking the religious leaders of His day back in the first century because they should have been paying attention to the signs of the times. There was a lot of prophecy concerning that generation that they were held responsible for, and if that’s true, I believe that there are even more prophecies related to our general time period that we are accountable and responsible for as well.
So, if the LORD held that generation accountable for their understanding of Bible Prophecy, how much more accountable are we? And it’s interesting that people today, like people in the first century, know how to interpret the weather, the stock market, interest rates, pick their favorite teams on the bracket concerning the final four, but how many people are paying attention to the signs that really matter?
All of those things are just trivia. This is the end of the age that’s come upon us, and so, people who call themselves Watchmen trying to look at the signs of the times through a biblical lens are directly fulfilling the will of God and are in the heart of God, based on what Christ disclosed there in Matthew 16:1-3.
And one other thing, if I can add this, is the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:1-3 says this, “…and according to Paul’s custom he went to them for 3 Sabbaths reasoning with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead and saying this is the Jesus whom I’m proclaiming to you is the Christ.” What Paul is doing there is appealing to Bible Prophecy.
He’s showing that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ are the fulfillment of a prophetic script. And these are prophecies concerning His first coming, but when we reason with people about prophecies related to His second coming—yet to come—we’re doing exactly what Paul did. We’re appealing to Bible Prophecy as proof that the Bible is different, and God who authored the Bible is, in fact, omniscient because the Bible reveals the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. So if we neglect prophecy, both the prophecies that have come to pass and the prophecies that are yet to come, we’re forfeiting one of the greatest apologetic tools that the Holy Spirit has given us in terms of persuading unbelievers.
So when someone calls himself a Watchman on the wall in terms of Bible Prophecy, that’s music to my ears because he’s fulfilling the will of God (Matthew 16:1-3), and he’s reasoning like a true apologist (Acts 17:1-3).
Dillon: Thank you for those words. It’s a great privilege to be living in today’s world because we get to see things that those in the past did not even see the beginning of these things beginning to unfold, such as the rebirth of Israel 70 years ago. So it is a privilege, and it should be a matter of joy for us to know that we have been created and placed exactly where we are at this point in history so we can contribute to that final push of bringing the Gospel throughout the Earth, and to help win souls for the LORD. Is that a fair summary?
Andy: Yes, it is. We shouldn’t be yawning; we ought to be yearning because you’re exactly right. If the generation that taught me—some of the older guys—were alive today and could see the things that we are regularly seeing in our newspapers they would be screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s almost as if our generation has gone to sleep about some of these things at a time when we should be yelling the loudest.
Just to give you one example: It talks there in Rev. 11 about two witnesses who are going to be killed and their bodies are going to lie in the city streets of Jerusalem. They’ll be brought back to life, and the whole world is going to see this event in Jerusalem. It’s interesting going back 100 years to older commentators trying to make sense of that prophecy.
I was just in Jerusalem recently, and there’s a security camera on almost every block. You can see how technology has finally caught up with the time period that the Bible predicts, how the whole world can see and will see this event happening in the city streets of Jerusalem. That’s terribly exciting we’re that close—we’re living in the general time period when all of these things are extremely believable and credible. God providentially has allowed our generation to see these things, so we’re very privileged people. We ought to incorporate this into our teaching and our evangelism.
Scott: One more thing that I think is incredible is the focus on Bible Prophecy and understanding where we are in the Bible Prophecy timeline is such that there’s this purification process to be ready as the Bride of Christ. There’s this reduction of noise in our life as we lay childish things aside, and we begin to focus on purity and the pursuit of the LORD. Isn’t it true that is a great source of joy as we feel the shackles of this world beginning to loosen their hold on our lives?
Andy: According to Bible Prophecy, there are only two things that are going to make it from this life into the next one, because Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 and following that this whole world is going to be destroyed by fire. What will survive the burning process? Only two things: first of all God’s Word because the “grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God abides forever.” Jesus said, “Heaven and Earth will disappear but My Word will remain forever.”
The only other thing that’s going to remain is the souls of men and women because God has placed eternity into the hearts of men. The more we’re invested in God’s Word and the more we’re invested in people, the more we’re making eternal investments. We’re investing our energy into something that’s going to last.
I would have no clue as to what those two things are if I was not a student of Bible Prophecy. So Bible Prophecy is a reminder to me of what is really important, which has a great role of allowing me to readjust my priorities in the present and not spend so much time with trivial things which are going to burn—rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic so to speak—but investing myself in the two things that are really going to last. That’s why God gave us prophecy, to alter our priorities in the present.
Dillon: That is so well said. The Word of God and the souls of people: the two things that will last for all eternity. Dr. Woods, thank you for your time today. Find teaching by Dr. Andy Woods and so much more at SpiritAndTruth.org
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