A few weeks ago, I was reading a piece on President Trump's inner circle. The story talked about how Trump's son-in-law saved the family fortune by selling their real-estate holdings and investing them all in a single building: 666 Fifth Avenue ... and how he then leveraged the profits from 666 Fifth Avenue to buy a new property adjoining the family's $666 million development in New Jersey.
Want to guess how high the new building being built from the profits of 666 Fifth Avenue will be? Yup, 666 feet!
I did my thesis in divinity school on Revelation and apocalyptic literature, so I was intrigued by those numbers and will admit it became a bit of a game to see what else I could find.
My favorite is that 666+666+666+6+6+6 = 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected President!
But to be fair, you can make most anything add up to 666 with enough mathematical gymnastics. So I decided to search for others signs of the apocalypse.
As it turns out, a super lunar eclipse, the phenomenon when the "moon turns to blood," is very rare. Only five "blood moons" occurred in the last century and only four during President Trump's lifetime.
Again, want to guess when the first blood moon was? The night Donald Trump was born. And the most recent time the moon turned to blood? The night after the "Values Voter Summit," when Trump articulated his vision for why Christians should follow him.
But the truth is that the imagery in Revelation wasn't intended to turn Christians into an End Times Scooby Gang, looking for clues and cosmic signs to unmask the Devil. Instead, the Biblical apocalyptic authors were delivering a powerful warning to Christians of their time (and all of us today) of how easy it is—especially in times of fear and uncertainty—for Christians to put our faith in worldly powers and strongmen, even when those leaders proclaim a message that is anti-Christ.
The problem with a singular focus on signs of the "End Times" (exegetical accuracy aside) is that doing so blinds us to the daily struggle we are called to as Christians.
No Rapture yet? Good, we don't have to worry which side we're on and can vote for a leader who denies the need for forgiveness, brags about his affairs with other men's wives, and lies about conversations his campaign now admits it had with the Russian dictator who openly meddled in our election. Because four horsemen haven't ridden out of the sky, we can continue to affirm leaders who say torture and killing women and children are necessary to keep us safe and protect American values.
So while I found the blood moon links eerie, and many of the 666 connections intriguing, there was one connection between President Trump and 666 that I found chilling.
666 Fifth Avenue falls almost perfectly in the "middle" of Fifth Avenue from north to south. And candidate Trump's famous proclamation that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue (where 666 Fifth is) and shoot somebody without losing any voters reflects precisely the environment and cult the Bible warns about.
President Trump didn't shoot anyone ... but look at all he has done and said and encouraged others to do in his name. Yet his followers — including most American evangelicals — did not abandon him. And this is precisely what the Biblical apocalyptic authors warned us to watch for.
The word "antichrist" is never used in Revelation. It comes from John's first letter, when John exhorts Christians to beware of false prophets and test the spirit of new leaders — to watch and listen to see if their spirit is from God or "the spirit of antichrist ... which speaks from the view point of the world and is listened to by the world."
So I ask, from which spirit do these words come: "The beauty of me is that I'm very rich ... The point is, you can never be too greedy ... You know, it really doesn't matter what the media write as long as you've got a young, and beautiful, piece of a**."
All the Biblical authors are clear that "the antichrists, the beast, the son of perdition" are most clearly known by their rejection of Christ. Is there a more fundamental rejection of Christ than to say that you alone are not in need of God's forgiveness? Cursing Christ at least acknowledges his significance — but denying the need for grace and forgiveness dismisses the necessity and efficacy of Christ's sacrifice and the foundation of all we believe.
President Trump's view of America is a fearful and dark one, to which he presents a single source of salvation: "I alone can fix it." He has told the Pope that only Trump can protect him. And Trump's only response to Senate Chaplain Barry Black's powerful words at the Prayer Breakfast was to proclaim to all that Rev. Black need not worry about his job because he had found favor with Trump — as if a godly man like Rev. Black needed or prioritized either.
Trump says he's a Christian but never talks about Jesus or what God has done in his life. Listen. When Trump talks about Christianity, it is only in terms of his own greatness and what he will give Christians.
He embodies Christ's warning of those who say, "Lord, Lord did we not do many things of power in your name" but ignore the sole criteria Jesus gives us for how He will judge the world: "feed the hungry, welcome the foreigner, comfort the prisoner."
John tells us that if all else fails, there is one certain way Christians can distinguish between the animating Spirit of truth or the spirit of falsehood that reveals the antichrists: let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God ...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
Watch President Trump's inaugural address ... or most any speech he gives. When he says his favorite Bible teaching is "an eye for an eye" or advises his followers, "when people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I always get even," ask yourself: which spirit is reflected?
I do not believe Donald Trump is a supernatural spawn of Satan, ushering in the end of the world. As a total-depravity Calvinist, I know we don't need some supernatural Antichrist for humans to do horrible things or for societies to fall so far that they commit historic sins.
But after Trump's most recent executive order denying safe haven to Christians fleeing ISIS and genocide in Darfur, I feel I must speak the Biblical truth that Trump is anti-Christ.
It's not because he was born the night of a blood moon or has more connections to 666 than he does to Kevin Bacon. It's because his is a spirit of fear and emptiness, that seeks only to fill his bottomless insecurity with worldly affirmations and idols, instead of humbling himself before the only One who can make him whole. And it is that antichristian spirit that is both leading so many Christians astray and gathering such evil human forces around him in his alt-right and Russian enforcers.
I continue to pray for Trump because he is a man — like all of us — in need of God's guidance, forgiveness, and mercy. He was legally elected and is my president. But as a Christian, I absolutely reject his spirit. And I find myself in the same positions as the authors I studied in divinity school, pleading with my fellow believers flocking to his banner to remember that the federal government and worldly rulers are not from whence our salvation comes.
Don't pick the wrong side. None of us know what the next four years will bring, but I do not despair because the hope that is in me does not depend on Trump.