ARMAGEDDON, OIL AND THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS by John F. Walvoord (Zondervan: $8.95).

Whenever times have gotten bad during the past 2,000 years (e.g. during the Great Schism, the Reformation or the incursions of the Black Death), some people have interpreted these conditions as corresponding to images in the Bible that foretell the end of the world. John Walvoord's attempt to link the current war against Iraq with the Biblical predictions of Armageddon falls squarely within this tradition. For example, Walvoord cites a verse about the wars of a Persian king--"but tiding out of the east and out the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many" (Daniel 11:44)--as predicting an imminent conflict in the Middle East that will involve "millions of men from the Orient and Red China who will cross the Euphrates and join the fray." Previous commentators used similar passages to identify Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Martin Luther, Joseph Stalin and several Popes as the Antichrist and/or the Beast of the Apocalypse described in the Book of Revelations. Whether the reader chooses to believe these predictions, the enormous popularity of "Crisis" (more than 600,000 copies reportedly have been sold in recent months, and Billy Graham sent copies to members of the White House staff) suggests he has tapped an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty in contemporary America.

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