(CP) Michael Youssef, bestselling author and cultural anthropologist, doesn't want to give folks the wrong impression.
"I am not an End Time preacher," the 73-year-old Egyptian-American pastor told The Christian Post during an interview Tuesday.
Instead, said Youssef, his new book, Is The End Near?, which walks Christians through Jesus' depictions of the biblical end times in the Gospel of Matthew, is merely pointing out what many have already chronicled, namely, the rise in demonic content in popular culture and an increase in the frequency of global catastrophes.
Popular shows like TV's "Lucifer" and "Little Demon," said Youssef, underscore a common theme of acceptance and humanization of the biblical Antichrist figure referenced in the book of Revelation.
"Little Demon," a Disney-owned animated program, features a woman who is impregnated by Satan and gives birth to an Antichrist daughter. The show contains nudity, violence, and witchcraft.
The series has earned warnings from pastors and condemnation from groups like One Million Moms, which said the "show makes light of hell and the dangers of the demonic realm."
Youssef called such programming content an example of how secular media plays a "major role" in practicing a form of indoctrination when it comes to truth-telling.
"So many so-called journalists are saying that objectivity is really a passe among journalists and broadcasters, that there ought to be no objectivity," he said. "So they're already sanctifying and praising subjectivity, so that when the Antichrist comes, they're all going to be ready. ... The media is playing a major role in all of that."
"If anybody had doubts about that, the last six years should have cured us of that doubt."
He compared the current state of the media to the high-profile push for mass vaccinations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You see the sheep. We've got a sheep mentality," he said. "When I see the preparation in the hearts of people ... 'Oh yeah, yeah, the Antichrist is good for us just like the vaccine is good for us.'"
He then clarified, "I'm not against vaccines, but I'm just saying, we've all got to fall in line. Not all, of course, because some of us are going to stand up and say, 'Absolutely not.'"
The global COVID shutdowns, such as the harsh restrictions implemented in Australia, where Youseff lived and was ordained, "taught us how easily and how quickly some authoritarian power rises in democracies," the pastor said.
"As authoritarian regimes are rising even in Western democracies, you see this is Satan's way of preparing the world for the Antichrist," he added.
Youssef's book focuses on six signs explicitly mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24 and 25, which include the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 AD and the time just before Jesus' return.
While he acknowledges the world has always had earthquakes, famines and storms, Yousseff said the difference is that now "they're coming faster and faster."
Using his expertise as a trained anthropologist, Youssef said after studying those passages, he "became convinced that what Jesus is talking about, those days before the return of the Son of Man, are the days we're living in."
"Now, have these things happened before? Sure," he added. "But the image that our Lord gives us of labor pains, of a pregnant woman ... is that when the labor pains start coming in close intervals, you better get ready for the big event."
He said one of those signs mentioned in the Bible is a great "falling away" from the faith mentioned in Matthew 24:10 — a trend Youseff believes to be currently underway.
Youseff pointed to a study from last October which found up to 70% of Evangelicals believe there are many ways to God, rather than exclusively through faith in His Son, just as Jesus said in John 14:6.
"[Jesus is] not talking about the world falling away, because the world doesn't know Him," said Youssef. "This is the falling away of Christians, of people who claim to be believers."
Youssef, who has authored over 40 books and whose programs are broadcast in 26 languages worldwide, said apostasy — a total desertion of or departure from one's faith — is underway not just in America but in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and other Western countries.
But even as more Christians stay home on Sundays, Youssef said thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ in the Arabic world, where Youseff reaches up to 195 million homes with his Arabic TV station, The Kingdom SAT.
"That is an indication to me the Lord is gathering His elect," Youssef said. "He's bringing his faithful ones together in preparation of His return."
Youseff hopes the book will stir pastors and other church leaders to prepare their people for some potentially hard times ahead — even persecution.
"We need to train people how to be faithful in the midst of difficulties," he said. "Here in America, this is new to us. As much as we should resist it ... we should also be prepared as the onslaught comes; how are we going to stand?"
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