Evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the late Billy Graham, put forward the question of whether God is working through President Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. troops in Northern Syria to usher in a war prophesied in Ezekiel 38.
During the episode, Bakker asked Lotz to comment on Trump’s decision last month to pull back U.S. troops from that border region two days after Turkey's President Erdogan warned that a military offensive was planned. Although Turkey claimed to be ridding the border region of its terrorist threat, the Kurdish People's Protection Unit, Turkey was accused of committing war crimes against civilians.
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Trump’s decision to clear the way for Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring came under the scrutiny of some prominent conservative evangelical leaders, including televangelist Pat Robertson.
Robertson wondered on "The 700 Club" in early October whether Trump would be at risk of “losing the mandate of Heaven” over his decision to expose Kurdish militias who partnered with the U.S. to defeat the Islamic State in Northern Syria.
Although she, too, was baffled by Trump’s decision, Lotz had a different take on the matter.
“But because I believe God has used [Trump], whether he really knows it or not, I believe like King Cyrus or others in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar, God uses them,” Lotz explained.
“So I thought, ‘Has God caused [Trump] to go against all of his advisers, all of the military people and done something that God wanted him to do, whether he knows it is God or not?’
Maybe [he is] just bullheaded or stubborn or somebody rubbed him wrong. But anyway, he pulled us out.”
Lotz explained that the thought occurred to her that there is a war prophesied in Ezekiel 38 that “has not yet taken place.”
“I am not a prophecy expert, but I feel like some of that chapter mixes it up with Armageddon,” she said. “You know how prophecy does. You can have a verse about this and next verse about another one, but it all seems to go together.”
“Anyway, there is a war that is predicted that has never happened,” she continued. “When Gog, the prince of Magog — who some people believe is Putin in Russia — they come down from the north and they align with Turkey and Syria and the Sudan and Libya, and then they come up and they go against Israel.”
Lotz noted that Ezekiel 38 explains that God brings those forces against Jerusalem “because He is going to judge them and He’s going to destroy them.”
“So I wondered, did God move Trump to move Americans out of the way, freeing up Russia to come down like the Bible says they will?” Lotz asked.
The evangelist detailed that after the Turkish operation in Syria began, one of her friends in the news industry sent her a picture of an American base in northern Syria filled with Russian troops.
“They are now in northern Syria,” she said. “So I’m just wondering if it’s like a chessboard and if the pieces are being moved to set up maybe the last of the last days, but maybe also that Ezekiel 38 War that has yet to be.”
Lotz's interpretation of the Ezekiel prophecy was criticized by Gary DeMar, president of American Vision, a nonprofit that aims to “restore America’s biblical foundation.”
“There are many problems with Lotz’s interpretation of the famous but repeatedly debunked Gog and Magog prophecy,” DeMar wrote in a blog post.
“The most obvious problem is that the battle of Gog and Magog, in the dispensational system Lotz believes and teaches, doesn’t take place until after the thousand-year period described in Revelation 20: 7-8.”
“This means that this battle, following dispensationalism, is at least a thousand years in the future and has nothing to do with what’s happening in Syria or anywhere else,” he asserted.
DeMar says his book, The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance, that there is nothing in the New Testament about Syria and that any mention of Syria in the Old Testament is fulfilled prophecy.
“Why is this topic important? Some rabbis and many Christians believe that such an end-time war ‘is unavoidable’ based on the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy,” DeMar wrote. “According to their understanding of the prophecy, there must be a war of an apocalyptic nature that will encompass the globe. How you understand the meaning of Ezekiel 38-39 makes all the difference in the world.”
“The claim is made that the Ezekiel prophecy is about Russia and Iran and other current Middle East players,” he continued. “There is no mention of either Russia or Iran in Ezekiel 38 and 39.”