At the funeral of Billy Graham on Friday, his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, made a surprising statement. Here's what she said:
“I believe from heaven’s perspective that my father’s death is as significant as his life, and his life was very significant. I think when he died that was something very strategic from heaven’s point of view. And I know that before the foundations of the world were laid February 21st 2018 was the date that God chose to take my father home. Why? I had a sweet friend who urged me to look that up on the web, so I looked up what was significant about that day and I found out that February 21st 2018 is the day when Jews focus on scripture readings that focuses on the death of Moses.
"Moses was the great liberator – he brought millions of people out of bondage to slavery, got them to the edge of the Promised Land and God took him to heaven. Then God brought Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land to take them home. My father also was a great liberator; he brought millions of people out of bondage to sin and he gets us the edge of heaven, the edge of the Promised Land and then God has called him home.
"Could it be that God is going to bring Joshua to lead us into the Promised Land, to lead us to heaven? And do you know what the New Testament word is for Joshua is? It’s Jesus. I believe this is a shot across the bow from heaven – I believe God is saying wake up Church, wake up world, wake up Anne. Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming. And Jesus said…in Matthew 24:14 when the gospel is preached to the whole world then the end will come.”
“I pledge to you, daddy, that in view of his appearing, and in front of all these witnesses, I will preach the word! I will do the work of an evangelist and I will share the gospel and I will run my race and live my life so that five minutes before I see Jesus I have no regrets. I will live my life to glorify and exalt the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is not a new message. Back in 2014 Anne Graham Lotz also wrote a letter to the chairman of CBN, Pat Robertson, urging America to pray because the end times were near. She spoke of God warning her of impending judgement and said: "This is all about calling God’s people together to pray, before it’s too late, and judgment falls on our nation.”
But Anne Graham Lotz is not the only Christian figure to make predictions and prophecies concerning the death of Billy Graham.
In 2011, Maurice Sklar, a world-class concert violinist who ministers through music, also suggested Billy Graham's death would be prophetically significant.
Going further than Graham Lotz, he spoke of financial disasters, such as the American dollar losing value and causing economic distress, wars, terrorism and rioting in America. He said a financial disaster would also come to Europe and the Euro would collapse. He believed an “all-out war in the Middle East” would take place, with Israel emerging as the victor. But he also said all this would spark a revival. According to Sklar, the sign that this would soon take place, would be the death of Billy Graham: “I am taking Billy Graham home to heaven soon. When you see this, know that my time of grace for the Gentile nations is coming to a close.”
In December 2015, TD Hale, a pastor from Calvary Christian Center in Galipolis, Ohio made a similar prediction. He stated: "the grace of peace is about to be removed from the nations". He predicted war would come to the Middle East and "shields of protection" would be lifted from "wealthy nations who have hoarded their money and resources from the poor".
He too claimed that the sign these events were about to take place would be the death of Billy Graham: “Look to when I take my servant Billy Graham home. When I do, it shall be a prophetic sign that the age of grace will end soon after. Wake up and be ready for my appearing in this midnight hour, O backslidden church – I am coming for my bride who has made herself ready. Repent and prepare to meet thy God, or to be left behind to endure my wrath upon the wicked of the earth who have hardened their hearts against me."
The well known and controversial preacher Benny Hinn has also made comments about Billy Graham's death in the past. A filmed conversation from 2012 begins with Mark Chirona talking about different signs of the end times converging, such as "a company of people that have been hidden in God for a season…coming out of hiding." He speaks of manifestations of the Spirit coming from many rather than just a few and the Church becoming what God desires it to be, having been through trials.
Billy is about to go home, and when he does, I’m telling you, the whole Church, get ready
Benny Hinn then adds to this: "The sign will be Billy Graham’s death. You are talking about a people in hiding, just like Elijah was in hiding, but when he came out, he challenged the prophets of Baal. And the Lord said to me in 1989, when Oral Roberts and Billy Graham go home, it will be the key, it will be the sign of the beginning of the greatest revival. Oral is home and Billy is about to go home, and when he does, I’m telling you, the whole Church, get ready."
What should we make of these predictions?
Ultimately, only time will tell whether the finer details of the prophecies are true. However, the general call within all of them is that the Church should not remain ignorant of what is going on in the world, and should wake up to what God is doing. Surely that is a message worth listening to?
It might be hard to hear such stark words from fiery American preachers. It's not hard to find past examples of Christian preachers making predictions that have failed to come to fruition.
But it's not just televangelists and self-describing prophets who have urged the Church to take serious action. Pete Greig, in his letter to the UK Church, also spoke of urgency and the need for unity: “Dear Church, The Lord is doing a new thing among us. There’s a new urgency in our hearts; a new spring in our steps. St Augustine said that God rubs salt on our lips to provoke a keener thirst for his presence, and as I travel around the UK, praying and talking with a lot of leaders, I see more and more salty lips. The Spirit seems to be bringing us to our knees, and calling us to cooperate in new ways for a kingdom beyond our own little empires.”
We should be challenged by Pete Greig's encouragement to read the signs of the times. The above prophecies suggest further turmoil could be coming. We know from recent world events that the West has been shaken by economic uncertainty, and that wars are rife around the globe. It isn't hard to believe that more trouble is on the way. After all, In Matthew 24:6-8 Jesus himself warned us: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains.”
Rather than responding with fear, we must take heed of words spoken by Christian leaders such as Anne Graham Lotz. We should indeed fall to our knees in prayer and pledge a renewed passion for sharing the gospel with those around us. After all, it is the best news we have to share – and we can follow in Billy Graham’s footsteps by keeping the message of the Gospel simple and uncomplicated.
None of us - not even those with prophetic ministries - know how long there is until Jesus returns. But if Graham's passing sparks a new urgency within us to share the gospel, the Church will be all the stronger for it. And surely that will be the most fitting and appropriate legacy Billy Graham could have ever hoped to have.