"There'll come a time when we can't even buy or sell, because we don't take the mark of the beast. And all these things are part of the tribulation time. And at the very end is when the armies will gather around Jerusalem, called the Battle of Armageddon, and Christ will come and destroy the world with fire. But til it happens I feel like we're gonna see wars, rumors of wars, unrest in that area from now until the Lord returns. I fully believe that."
Jerry Patton has been preaching at Pleasant Union United Baptist Church in Brownsville for 26 years. " I believe we're getting close to that. It's a seven year span of time that God's people will suffer things that no one in life has ever suffered before."
Reverend James Britt has been the chaplain at The Medical Center In Bowling Green since 1978. He believes the first sign of Jesus' return occurred during the six-day war Israel fought in 1967 when the Jews took back the city of Jerusalem.
"And Jesus said Jerusalem would be trodden under by the feet of the Gentiles until the end. So that's the reason I look to '67. The Muslim population was reduced greatly, and Israel gained control of Jerusalem. There are a number of things He points to as significant signs. And He said, 'this generation shall not pass away, till these signs have come to pass.' Now He was NOT referring to the generation he was addressing, but to the generation that would witness the signs."
And Reverend Britt believes we are now moving into some kind of climactic experience. "Gene, I have said we're either witnessing the decline of Western Civilization, or the coming of the Kingdom. So much has happened in our own country where we've deserted our heritage. There are no prophecies that include America, so it seems that something happens to us between now and then, that we're not as significant in the scheme of things as we are now."
Brother Jerry Patton adds, "Every great country that morals has decayed, they've turned away from God, they see things begin to happen to them. They see where they're beginning to lose a lot of things they've enjoyed in all their lives, and I'm afraid this could very well happen to our own country. And if it does, the world power that we've been for years, we very well may lose. And I believe those people that are still serving God, is the reason why the world is still here today. And when that time comes that He sees that we've suffered enough, I think He's gonna say, 'Go get my children.'"
These two religious scholars believe the current unrest in the Middle East points to the return of Jesus Christ. Not everyone agrees with that position. Many, even inside the Christian community, say the "book of revelation" was never meant to foretell the future. We'll hear from two such religious scholars in part three of "Apocalypse Now?"