Harvest Ministries Pastor Greg Laurie has warned that recent events such as the rise of Islamic extremism and the ongoing crisis in Israel prove that Christians are now living in the "last days" before the fulfillment of End Times prophecies revealed Revelations.
In a November 30 sermon entitled "Israel, Iran, ISIS and Bible Prophecy," Laurie said that the numerous tragedies that have occurred around the world in recent years indicate that Christ's return is "very, very close."
"The last day's events can be likened as I've said before to a lot of dominos [closely] stacked together.... There's a chain of events that are going to unfold in rapid succession beginning with the emergence of the antichrist and ending with the battle of Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ and once that first domino falls these things are going to happen like this," he said.
The Southern California pastor also quoted Bible passages and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to show that the Great Tribulation, or a period of severe religious persecution, is close at hand.
"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was quoted recently stating that the world is experiencing 'historic defining times that will result in a new world order' while questioning America's role in the emerging world. Elaborating further Hagel said 'This is a time of global transformation. We are essentially seeing a new world order evolving and being built. I don't think we've seen such a time since right after World War II.'"
Laurie noted, "I don't know what Defense Secretary Hagel meant by that but I believe a new world order is coming."
"Originally they were written off as junior varsity and we were told these guy are not a formidable threat. In fact, former Secretary of Defense Hagel said they were a formidable threat but some didn't believe they were and then they emerged as this terrorist army. We've never faced a terrorist group like this before."
As this order forms, Laurie, citing Old Testament prophecies found in Ezekiel 39, predicted that Russia, Sudan and Iran will come together to take on Israel.
However, United States will be missing during that conflict and will likely fade as a world superpower, either because it will join with the antichrist or it will be diminished by the rapture.
"[As] the forces of antichrist emerge, I believe that America will fade from the scene. [The United States is] not found in the End Times scenario," he explained.
"No one can say with certainty, but it would appear that we're going to fade as a world power [because] maybe we fall in line as one of the confederated nations under the antichrist but the version I prefer the most is we would have the rapture and so many Americans would be taken to heaven that would be the explanation for our demise as a nation."
In concluding his sermon, Laurie said that as a pastor, he is obligated to discuss what he considers a Biblical take on the end times even if many Christians may not agree with him.
"I will not avoid a political issue because it's controversial," he said, "As far as I'm concerned, I want to know what the Bible says and that's where I'm going to stand and land every time."
Ultimately, Laurie hopes to encourage Christians to spread the Gospel as the rapture approaches.
"It would appear to me that God is waiting for that last person to believe and then rapture of the church happens and then it would seem to me looking at the big picture prophetically that these events that we're talking about today will start to fall into place," he said.