What started as a post on the famed “The Cross and the Switchblade” evangelist’s David Wilkerson Today blog has turned into a red hot topic of discussion among Christians, spilling over into news sites and reports all over world media outlets. What did David Wilkerson write that has not only believers in Christ but also the mainstream media rising up and paying attention to? The answer is judgment on the United States in the form of the soon destruction of New York City.
Posted as “An Urgent Message” on Saturday, March 7, 2009, the Reverend David Wilkerson wrote:
“I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world.
AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE — EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.
For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires — such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.
There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting — including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath…
God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations. He is destroying the secular foundations.”
Reverend Wilkerson then goes on to warn God’s people to prepare for the calamity and “lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials.”
What does one make of Pastor Wilkinson’s warning? This is a difficult call, because David Wilkerson the evangelist and the prophet are two different things.
David Wilkerson the evangelist is truly one of the greats of the 20th Century. His brave work in witnessing to New York City street gang members since 1958 was made into the book “The Cross and the Switchblade” that is a must read for urban missionaries and caught the eyes of movie makers whose video rendition has become a Christian video classic. Tens of thousands of people through New York City’s Times Square Church that Wilkerson founded have come to know Christ and been saved from very rough backgrounds. Hundreds of thousands more have been touched by Wilkerson’s ministry World Challenge through crusades, ministers’ conferences, book and tract publishing, video production, street evangelism, literature distribution, feeding programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and other charitable outreaches.
David Wilkerson the prophet, though, is a different story. Who’s Who in Bible Prophecy at reports:
“Best known for his popular book ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ he has been a prominent predictor of end-time events. Sadly, his numerous doomsday predictions have never come true, making him a significant false prophet. Since the 1970s he has consistently written about the destruction of America. Many turn to him for prophetic wisdom, confused about Bible prophecy vs. prophetic predictions. Wilkerson is known to avoid Bible prophecy topics, rather suggesting a ‘pan-rapture’ theology, meaning ‘if we trust in Jesus, it will all pan out.'”
Is Reverend Wilkerson correct in proclaiming such a specific, extra-biblical prediction of judgment from God?
I don’t put any stock in extra-biblical predictions for obvious, biblical reasons. But, David Wilkerson is a man who has earned at least being listened to. For one, he passes all the ethical tests for being a prophet (see “How to Recognize a False Prophet”). And secondly, Reverend Wilkerson may not be prophesying per se, but may be living out Acts 2:17 which declares, “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
We are certainly hurtling towards the Tribulation with increasing speed and intensity, like “birth pains” as Jesus stated in Mark 13:8. We have all read in the news the evidence of this progression. If the Holy Spirit is giving David Wilkerson a dream of the future that’s part of the global judgment to come, then we can take it as that. If it is prophecy, then we need to heed Deuteronomy 18:22 which warns, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously…”
Whatever the source of the warning concerning judgment upon America, believers in Christ should take God’s national judgment on sin very seriously. As Dr. David Reagan writes:
“I am very respectful of Dave Wilkerson’s prophetic statements. I consider him to be God’s Jeremiah to the United States. He stated over 20 years ago that God had given him a vision of New York burning and American disintegrating into civil lawlessness. He warned then that we should repent. He believes now that we have reached the point where God has decided to deliver us from judgment to destruction, and that his visions of years ago are about to become a reality. I would agree. We need to be praying for our nation as never before.”
American Christians must pray and evangelize like David Wilkerson to make a difference for Christ in the United States and in the world. We also must understand that judgment can fall upon America without that judgment having anything to do with the Tribulation, or seek escape by the Rapture. The Rapture and Tribulation are special events meant for God’s pouring out his wrath upon the whole world in judgment and for creating a Jewish nation that accepts Jesus as Messiah. If America falls, like many nations and empires have over the last 2,000 years, it could well be separate from the global judgment to come. Heed David Wilkerson’s advice and prepare for tough times ahead, but keep your eyes set on the nation all believers will one day call home — Jesus Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.