This is my testimony of an experience that occurred which, going unmentioned until now, could fit between two sentences in Daniel Revisited. I’ve shared this story with a few friends and all have suggested I should share it. I believe it is time.
“In the months following September 11, it hit me how quiet it seemed in places like Europe in terms of incidents related to the prophecy picture. One could almost hear the crickets chirping there. Russia and Europe appeared to be out of the picture as the headlines were full of news about Iraq, suicide bombings, the ousting of Saddam Hussein, developments in Iran, and so on.
“These thoughts nagged me. At that time it was thirty-five years after Israel took the Temple Mount, and we were even past the year 2000. Surely we were in the end times. Surely Jesus’ return was now much closer. So wouldn’t news events be of great significance relative to, or at least somewhat applicable to, prophetic scripture? When ecumenical meetings in Europe or developments with the euro were touted as prophetically significant, I had problems with the proposition. Really? I thought. We are getting closer to Christ’s return, and this is all anybody can come up with as significant events?
“On the other hand, in the Middle East there were suicide bombings, riots, revolutions, and even major wars; yet, I hadn’t heard anything being specifically reported as prophetically significant there. These were all assigned to the “increasing wars and disasters” category. There seemed to be nothing in Scripture to connect ongoing Middle Eastern events to biblical end-times prophecy.
“Something just didn’t feel right. So I did what we as Christians are supposed to do; I sought the Lord’s counsel and wisdom on the matter. Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to send me on a journey of discovery. [The following account goes here.] Within days of beginning my quest for an answer, I found Joel Richardson’s writings on Answering-Islam.org, a forum where Christians and Muslims discuss theology.”
Daniel Revisited, p. 7
It was a strange time in those days after September 11. I was in thought and prayer wondering if there could be any sense made from what had just happened. Many I’m sure felt the same way.
At that time I worked for a defense contractor. My commute was very long so I took a train and a bus every day. The company facility campus was large, covering many city blocks. The bus would come to my building and take us to the train station. It was in those days while waiting for the bus my mind wandered to the events of 9-11. What did it all mean? And so I prayed that prayer I wrote about in Daniel Revisited. “Lord, would you please show me what you are doing?”
The next day – it must have been sometime in late October 2001 – I was again waiting for the bus at the bus stop. But on this day my heart quickened. A thought came – that kind of thought that takes you a little by surprise – it isn’t from the evil one or your own thoughts. It was the kind of thought really only a follower of Christ would understand – it pops into your head seemingly out of nowhere, peaceful, filling your being inexplicably with comfort both from the message itself and from the knowledge that He is guiding your life. Unexplainable but nevertheless there it is.
The bus stop structure was long – enough seating for perhaps twelve people with a roof to shelter us from the rain. At either end was a place for advertisements. A new movie poster had been put up there at the bus stop. I had never seen the title before and was unfamiliar with it. It was for Ocean’s Eleven.
The thought I received was to look at that movie poster. It would show me the connection between 9-11 and the end times. “Really?” I thought. I stared at it for a few minutes, anticipating what the Lord might show me. I knew from my own experience following Christ and from brothers and sisters that God meets you right where you are and can speak to you via all sorts of avenues. I was intrigued.
The poster is pictured. The first thing I noticed was the references to 9-11.
Now, I had been in much prayer about 9-11 in the days immediately following. I realized God’s signature was all over that day’s events. Not only was it a sign from God to our nation that we had fallen out of covenant with God, but that our nation from that moment was now under judgment. Three thousand people died – the same number used in the Bible to show a people entering or falling out of covenant with God. Two examples are the 3,000 soldiers sent on that ill-fated mission to conquer Ai in the book of Joshua, and the 3,000 that were baptized into the church on its first day. As far as judgment is concerned, it starts with the house of God. New York City set up a victim numbering system. I found it interesting that the very first victim at Ground Zero according to the city of New York, was victim No. 0001 – a Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic priest. Pieces of the World Trade Center fell on him. Interesting last name.
Judgment or chaos seems to accompany some of the occurrences of the number eleven in the Bible: the eleven Apostles, the eleven-year rule of two of the kings of Judah when Jerusalem was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar. The number eleven was all over the events of that day. The Pentagon is at 11 Dupont Circle. The World Trade Center, shaped like a giant “11” had 111 stories and was located in the eleventh state.
God can use our broken knowledge – what we think we know – to teach us his truths to lead us closer to Him. So he used my incomplete or broken knowledge of 9-11 to teach me the answer to my prayer. Looking at the poster I saw “Eleven” in the movie title, and the blood red shadow of an eleven, or what might have been the World Trade Center. At the bottom I noticed that the movie came out on the same day as that other infamous day to which 9-11 was compared – December 7.
That made three references to 9-11: half the movie title, the big red bloody shadow, and “12-07-01.” “Ok, Lord, I see the connections to 9-11.” Let every matter be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses, I thought. My mind started looking for the end times connection.
First was the catch-phrase at the bottom – “Are you in or out?” After Christ grabbed me in November 1997 and showed me He had to be my God, He gave me a hunger for his word. Matthew 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Are you in or out? Are you going to follow me or not? And when it comes to the end times, one must follow Him always and be close to Him in prayer every day, staying sensitive to his promptings.
The second thing that caught my eye was the first word in the title: “Ocean’s”. Not knowing what the movie or story was about, I looked it up online when I got home. “Ocean” was the last name of a “Danny Ocean.” Hmm. “Daniel’s ocean?” I wondered. My mind went to the beginning of Daniel 7, “Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.” (NIV 1984, emphasis mine) That’s Daniel’s ocean. Though at the time I believed the popular interpretation of Daniel 7, the eleventh horn was still viewed by everyone it seemed as the Antichrist – the overarching end time figure. That sea and Daniel 7 seemed to me to be associated with the end since the Antichrist, the little horn, appeared later in that vision.
Late afternoon the next day, there I was in front of that movie poster again. Three features of 9-11 blended and worked into a picture with two features of the end times. “Eleven” and “11” and “12-07-01” met “Ocean’s” and “Are you in or out?”
Alright Lord, you’ve shown me the poster connects 9-11 to the end times. Thank you for that. “What next?” I asked. My mind then immediately realized a possible common thread between the two. Islam? I knew 9-11 was carried out by 19 men who were Islamic zealots from Saudi Arabia. But, Islam have something to do with the end times? “How could this be?” I thought. If Islam did have something to do with the end times what role might it play? Maybe Islam has something closer to do with the Antichrist than I was taught? I decided on the spot in front of that movie poster at the bus stop, on that November day with the yellowing leaves of the poplar trees lining the street on both sides, to Google “Islam” and “Antichrist.”
When I got home, I did just that. Hmm. “Joel Richardson? Who’s that guy?” I thought. Hmm. Some writer on Answering-Islam.org. He thinks the Antichrist will be Muslim? It seems crazy, but on the other hand the Lord seems to be leading. Let’s check this out…
The rest is history. Joel’s writings led to a challenge to my own beliefs about the end times. This led to researching how the Bible supports such a notion, which led to my own discovery of the Signposts, which led to Daniel Revisited. So it all started with a prayer asking a question, and God planting me in front of a movie poster giving me an answer. I praise God for his reaching out to me and guiding me to the Signpost interpretation!