Few will argue that President Barack Obama fueled his campaign with a textbook populist message. By claiming to stand up for the poor and the vast middle class, while negatively targeting “the wealthiest top 1 percent,” he only ran the risk of offending that 1 percent of the population. In terms of the political risks versus potential benefits, populism has always been a no-brainer for transparently ambitious politicians like Obama.
Even fewer will argue that Obama has now launched his presidency with an all out blitzkrieg toward radical wealth redistribution. What began as, “Ahhh … I just want to spread the wealth around” has become a near frantic fight for a nationalized health care system that he will admittedly fund through a surtax on the wealthy. According to the current plan being set forth by Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress, roughly half of the money needed to fund this nationalized health system will be extracted from individuals earning over $280,000 or couples over $350,000 a year. For now, Americans who fall into this category can expect to see between 1 to 5.4 percent of their income confiscated by the Obama administration.
Despite the brazen use of classism to get this big idea through, it seems as though even a good percentage of the rich themselves possess an innate desire to stick it to the rich. Apparently, envy is an endemic human trait. Robert Reich, professor at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor during the Clinton years, demonstrates just how easy it is to pitch such a message. “First of all [the plan] is fair,” Reich explains. After all, only “a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent” will be needed. A small price to pay for the millions of thank-yous (read: future votes) from the multitude of Americans who believe that they have only to get free stuff out of the deal, right? This is populism. What Obama has reached for is the hero status of Robin Hood. For Obama, this is an all gain, no pain, win-win scenario. Again, when the people are gullible enough to swallow the populist message, it’s a politician’s dream. Just ask Hugo Chavez.
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But is Obama really a champion of the lower classes? Opponents of the bill point out that the money taken from the rich will ultimately only cover about half of the cost. Inevitably, the remaining half of the $1 trillion needed over the next 10 years will have to be extracted from those who earn less than $280,000. Few economists believe that in the end the middle class will escape painful taxation as well. Remember Obama’s ever-changing figures during the campaign? First, he began by promising that if you earned under $500,000, you would not see a tax increase. Soon thereafter, that figure was lowered to $300,000. Then it seems as though Obama finally found the sweet spot of a quarter million dollars. “If you make less than $250,000, you will not see a tax increase under my plan. No matter what John McCain says.” Later Obama applied this figure to couples, effectively lowering the actual amount to $125,000 per individual. And before it was all done, then-vice presidential nominee Joe Biden lowered the figure to $200,000. And this was before they even came into power. This was before the Democrats gained control over both the House and the Senate. This was before the stimulus package. The American taxpayer hasn’t even begun to feel the sting of all Obama’s change will cost them.
The dirty little secret about populists is that they only pretend to stand for the poor and the middle class – which brings me to my main point. Though it isn’t hard for me to see through Obama’s transparent populist propaganda and radical left-wing economic agenda, in no way do I claim to be an economist – I am a Christian theologian with some very important observations. Obama’s populist message, his appeal to class envy and his overt move toward wealth redistribution find some very clear and dark echoes in the pages of the Bible.
Most people who have never even read the Bible have heard about the one Christians most often refer to as the Antichrist. In brief, according to many prophecies throughout the Bible, the Antichrist will be a satanically empowered man who will emerge as a powerful world leader shortly before the return of Jesus Christ. He will first emerge as a man of peace with a populist message and a large and popular following. Eventually, however, in his quest to expand his power base, he will seek to revive a powerful Middle Eastern empire. But even after his military campaigns begin, he will continue to use wealth redistribution as a tool to maintain his followers.
Before I continue, I want to make it very clear that in no way do I believe that President Obama is the Antichrist. For now, he is my president, and despite my deep disagreement with many of his policies, as an American, I pray for his protection and covering and that God would guide both his actions and his decisions.
As I said, I believe that there are some very important lessons to be gained from President Obama’s meteoric rise, the cult like fervor displayed by his followers and, again, the populist message of wealth redistribution he is pursuing. In the book of Daniel, it is revealed that the Antichrist will invade the wealthy nation of Israel specifically to plunder and gain control of its commodities and wealth. But what is so interesting is that the Bible tells us that his reason for seizing this wealth is to give it away to his followers. While slightly more violent than Obama’s tax plan, it is no less populist in its methodology of radical wealth redistribution:
When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them. … He will distribute plunder, loot, and wealth among his followers. – Daniel 11:24
While this view may be new to some, it is certainly not a novel observation. This view was also well-established in the early church. In his celebrated work, “Against Heresies,” Irenaeus, a bishop from the early third century wrote that the “[Antichrist] pretends that he vindicates the poor.” It is fascinating to note that 1,800 years ago, this leader in the early church was well aware of the fact that the Antichrist would not truly be a man for the lower classes, but simply that he would pretend to be such a champion. Between the one who gives a fish and the one who teaches to fish, the teacher is rarely celebrated. Obama understands this concept, and the Antichrist will understand it as well.
When I listen to the average Christian express his expectations regarding the coming of the Antichrist, I often feel as though I am listening to something out of a science fiction novel. But will the coming of the Antichrist really be so otherworldly? We have just watched as an entire nation rallied around a populist leader with an observable religious fervor. What we have just observed and are even now watching unfold is but a foreshadow. Another man is coming.
That reminds me of another very fascinating prophetic figure. This man, known as the Mahdi (or rightly guided one), is known little throughout the Western world, but is awaited with an increasing fervency by many of the world’s roughly 1.3 billion Muslims. The Mahdi is Islam’s primary messiah figure, emphasized more so by the Shi’a but also awaited by the Sunni. Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America declares that, “The coming of the Mahdi is established doctrine for both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, and indeed for all humanity.”
Like the biblical Antichrist, the Islamic Mahdi is expected by Muslims to emerge on the world stage at the end of the age in order to revive a vast empire. Muslims believe that the Mahdi will cause Islam to conquer the whole earth, leading to the ultimate victory of Islam over other religions and over unbelief. The numerous parallels that exist between the Antichrist and the Mahdi are shocking, but for the purpose of this article I want to highlight the Islamic expectation regarding their populist wealth-distributing Mahdi.
According to Islamic tradition, under the reign of the Mahdi, the Islamic religious community will be so blessed, so wealthy, that anyone who asks the Mahdi for anything, it will be granted. According to Sahih Hakim Mustadrak, a source of non- Quranic sacred tradition:
In the last-days of the Islamic community, the Mahdi will appear. … He will give away wealth profusely, flocks will be in abundance, and the Muslim community will be large and honored. … (Emphasis mine)
Elsewhere, At-Tabarani relays that Muhammad once said:
In those years my community will enjoy a time of happiness such as they have never experienced before. … A man will stand and say, “Give to me Mahdi!” and he will say, “Take.” (Emphasis mine)
I just recently returned from Istanbul to meet with Adnan Oktar, a Turkish Muslim intellectual and author of literally hundreds of books. Over 65 million of his works are in circulation worldwide. He is also a prolific writer with regard to the Islamic expectation of the coming of the Mahdi. In his work “The Awaited Mahdi,” Oktar states:
During the Golden Age, people will enjoy great wealth, prosperity, and peace. The Mahdi will use all of his wealth to spread Allah’s religion, and will follow the noble morality and the dictates of peace in the countries he comes victorious. His unparalleled practices will soften people’s hearts and lead them to Islamic morality. Thus, within a very short time this morality will rule the world.
We live in peculiar times. Many theologians and prophecy teachers are in agreement that world trends and events are clearly merging toward the final period of this age. If this is the case, then many of the biblical prophecies regarding the coming of the Antichrist will soon become real. It is imperative that Christians and non-Christians alike become aware of all the Bible has to say about these things. It is imperative that we learn how to identify the signs and trends that appear to be good, that have a veneer of “justice” about them but are in fact merely time-tested tools of men of ambition used to curry favor with the poor “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
It is also imperative that we become aware of just how perfectly these expectations align with the prophetic religious yearnings of roughly 1.3 billion Muslims. As Robert Allen Zimmerman once opined, “the times, they are a changing.” Let us wake up and remain awake during these days. As buzzwords like “economic justice” swirl around us, it is imperative that all freedom-loving people learn how to recognize the subtle tactics and the candy coating that dictators, men of ambition and even the devil himself have used down throughout history to manipulate, to divide and to conquer. Just because something is called “social justice” does not mean that it is just. The goal of genuine “social justice” is determining what is actually fair. Today the top 1 percent of income earners in the U.S. – a mere 1 million families – pay for over 30 percent of the United States budget each year. If Barack Obama’s health bill goes through, that 30 percent will jump to closer to 40 percent. For many American families, over half of their earnings will literally be plundered by the IRS. Let us not rejoice.
Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul warned the church in Colossi not to give in to that human propensity toward racism, classism or any other form of envy.
In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. – Colossians 3:11
We have just watched as a man lacking virtually any proper qualifications rose to become the most powerful man in the world, almost solely on his charisma and his shallow appeal to class envy. Today, throughout the Islamic world, the masses are yearning for and longing for a populist messiah figure known as the Mahdi who, according to their very own prophecies, will employ precisely the same methods as Obama. And as we have also learned, the Bible and the understanding of the early church also clearly warn that a man is soon coming who will also employ these very techniques in his to rise to power. Over half of the American people fell for it this time. When the soon coming imposter messiah arrives, will be any wiser? As the Apostle Paul warned, “Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6) The days we live in demand no less.
Joel Richardson is the author of the latest WND Books offering, “The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast.”