OK. I know I said I won't have anything to do with the warped fundy wackiness of so-called "Christian" apocalyptic "literature" like the awful Left Behind series. Truthfully, I probably can't criticize those books as effectively as Fred Clark at slacktivist can, so go visit his weekly LB series archive when you're done here.
But, I couldn't resist a free shot at such nonsense when I came across this BS at the books' website (I just hope going there didn't give me a virus):
One of the hardest things for American prophecy students to accept is that the United States is not clearly mentioned in Bible prophecy, yet our nation is the only superpower in the world today.
-- Tim LaHaye
What explains this scriptural silence? Mark Hitchcock, contributing editor to the Left Behind Prophecy Club, outlines four possible explanations on why America is not specifically referred to in prophecy.
America will still be a powerful nation in the last days, but the Lord simply chose not to mention her specifically.
This is possible, but it seems unlikely. In Scripture, the dominant political and military power in the end times is centered in the Mediterranean and in Europe. This scriptural silence concerning America seems to indicate that by the time the tribulation period arrives, America will no longer be a major influence in the world.
America is not mentioned specifically in Scripture because she will be destroyed by other nations. She will suffer a fall from the outside.
Those who hold this theory are quick to point to the notion that America will be crippled by a nuclear attack. However, in recent days the terrorist attacks on our nation have led some to conclude that our own freedom and technology will be the Achilles' heel that brings us down.
America is not mentioned in Bible Prophecy because she will have lost her influence as result of moral and spiritual deterioration. She will suffer a fall from the inside.
As you can imagine, this is a very popular view today in light of the moral malaise we see all around us. Proponents of this view have no trouble citing alarming statistics related to drug use, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, children born out of wedlock, divorce, pornography, abortion and on and on.
America is not mentioned in Bible Prophecy because she is brought to her knees by the Rapture.
If the rapture were to happen today and all the true believers in Jesus Christ were whisked away to heaven in a split second, America would be devastated. It is estimated that America will lose somewhere between 25 and 65 million citizens: Christians and their small children. Not only would the country lose a minimum of 10% of her population, but she would also lose the very best, the "salt and light" of this great land (see Matthew 5:13-14).
These people need a very loud wake-up call.
This line says it all: "the dominant political and military power in the end times is centered in the Mediterranean and in Europe." The scriptures these people like to quote were written at least 2000 years ago. America isn't mentioned because she didn't exist.
Many of the Old Testament "prophecies" refer to Assyria, Persia, or Babylonia not as symbols but in reality because those nations dominated the Middle East for long periods of time. The Book of Daniel and other "prophecies" have nothing to do with 21st Century life.
Similarly, the New Testament "prophecies" refer to ROME, which was then the superpower, and are largely veiled political statements slamming the imperial regime and its occupation of Judea. At best, they were somebody's reasonable assumptions that, in the then-not-too-distant future, the tensions in Judea would boil over and spark a massive Roman backlash. Such a thing did happen in CE 70, culminating in the infamous seige of Masada and the sacking of Jerusalem. At worst, they were an expression of someone's serious psychological disorder; we often see such pronouncements coming from the disturbed minds of schizophrenics.
When valid, such predictions need no divine guidance, just a good grounding in politics and social issues. "Prophecies" that are so grounded are more likely to be clearly expressed and accurate, or at least disprovable. That's also true of some of the things we've been talking about in this blog -- peak oil, nuclear war, etc. I don't believe in prophecy, but I do believe in reasonable predictions based on fact.
Anti-occupation "prophets" and "messiahs" pop up frequently when a people is undergoing severe cultural crisis. Anthropologists and historians have documented this phenomenon very clearly among several Native American tribes in the late 1800s (Wovoka's Ghost Dance was the most famous), the Cargo Cults of Papua New Guinea, Mayan end-time prophecies that date back to interaction with the Toltecs, and elsewhere. I'd bet that if we looked at a random selection of cultures who faced oppression by an expansionist society, we'll find similar stories in most of them.
Stories that claim to peer centuries into the future really come in two types. The best of it exists in modern science fiction. Those authors make no claims of prophecy, but our distant descendants might find what they wrote to be true and affix the label of "prophet" on some of them long after the fact. If their insight into how today's technology and society may change stands the test of time, they should be honored then, but hopefully not in a religious sense. The thought of somebody finding the works of good SF writers like Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, or David Brin "sacred" in CE 3000 is unnerving & ridiculous... probably even to them.
I do not, BTW, consider Left Behind to be SF, even if it's shelved as such in stores. To be science fiction it has to be based in some conception of science, even a mistaken one, not nonsense.
The vast majority of stuff purported to predict the future is so confusing it could mean anything, or nothing, and is very easily twisted into any form proponents wish to twist it. That, of course, is particularly easy if the "prophecy" was written a long, long time ago, in some language nobody can now read, or one that wasn't written in the first place. That's the big problem with most biblical "prophecy" and New Age distortions of the legends of various Native peoples.
The most obvious case is Nostradamus. Have you ever tried reading his weirdness? It's a mishmash of (mostly) French, Latin, Spanish and words the guy made up himself. There are several translations (I'll admit, I once owned Erika Cheetham's version), but they often disagree. Even when they do agree, what they say frequently makes no sense.
There's more like this nonsense all over the Web, and such BS riddles prophetic communication throughout history. Certainly, "prophecy" is communication, and at times it's done with good intentions, usually as part of an effort to renew the culture it comes from.
But Left Behind and similar claims of modern bible-prophecy (Hal Lindsey, the so-called Dominionists, and their ilk) represents the worst kind of chiliasm. Instead of being creative and forward-looking, today's fundamentalists steal and distort their prophecy from a culture (ancient Judaism) that's not their own. Unlike Wovoka and the others I noted, they do not promote renewal of the culture that gave them birth; in fact, they promote its destruction as a requirement for their own narcissistic salvation. Although they talk about fighting cultural decay, they are actually a cause of it, because they impede and reject genuine efforts at renewal.
Such peddlers of "prophecy" & distorted reality need to be reined in by the rest of us before their delusions become self-fulfilling and cause a lot of suffering.