The exposure in the Western media of a new Iranian documentary film, “The Coming Is Near” (also translated, “The Coming Is Upon Us”) about the imminent arrival of the so-called Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam and a soon-coming apocalyptic war with Israel and the West is apparently causing turmoil within the regime in Tehran. It has led to the sudden demotion over the weekend of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff because of his involvement with the film, and sharp criticism from the top Shia Islamic cleric in Iraq.
Reza Kahlili, the former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officer who became a double agent against Iran for the CIA — and now the author of a must-read autobiography, A Time To Betray — first brought the film to the attention of the West two weeks ago through a report on CBN news, followed by extensive coverage on the Drudge Report, Fox News, this blog, and other media outlets. Kahlili now reports that “a heated argument has been taking place within the Iranian establishment” and that “there is panic and concern over the coverage of the movie in the West.”
“The film reveals the regime’s true ideology and plans for the world,” notes Kahlili. “Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei — President Ahmadinejad’s top adviser and chief of staff — was directly involved with this project, and he was the first one to be sacrificed over the movie’s publicity in the West. Ahmadinejad, who had strongly supported Mashaei, had no option but to fire him from that position, which was announced on April 8….The Iranian regime never intended for the documentary to be made public. Reports indicate that funds for its production came directly from the Revolutionary Guards: they intended to distribute it en masse throughout the Middle East to incite further uprisings, while calling for the unification of Arabs to overthrow U.S.-backed governments and promising the destruction of Israel and the imminent coming of the Shiite messiah.”
The Los Angeles Times confirmed over the weekend that Mashaei was demoted, though that article didn’t mention the film in particular.
Kahlili writes that “it is important to note that in the video, Grand Ayatollah Khomeni, the founder of the Islamic Republic, is quoted as saying that he had three goals for Iran: 1. Overthrowing the Shah; 2. Establishing an Islamic State; 3. Creating the situation for the return of the last Imam. Then it goes on to say that the one after him will be the one to pass the flag of Islam to Imam Mahdi for the conquest of the world by Islam. There is also a quote that Khomeni personally told Ayatollah Khamenei that he will be the one to bring about the End of Times and the final glorification of Allah.”
Kahlili reports that the Grand Ayatollah of Iraq has publicly criticized the Iranian regime for producing and distributing this one hour and fifteen minute film about the coming of the Twelfth Imam. “The revelations in this movie have even caused Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq to show concern as he has long opposed the radicalism coming out of Iran,” notes Kahlili. “He openly made this statement: ‘The analysis for the timing of The Coming of the last Imam is quite concerning. These analyses could weaken the very belief of Muslims. Such activities should not take place in Iran …This is very worrisome.'”
As I noted when the documentary was first released, the Iranian film is full of false teaching (the Twelfth Imam is not the true Messiah, cannot save mankind and will not set up a global Islamic kingdom). It is delivered by false teachers (Iranian clerics) who follow a false religion (Islam). But it is useful in that it is further evidence that our Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely correct when He warned His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that “false messiahs” and “false prophets” will come in the last days before Christ’s own return. Indeed, while we can’t know for certain that a false Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam is actually coming at all — much less soon — we must recognize that this is possible, would be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, would create much deception in the world, and would need to be countered with great courage and wisdom by faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
The good news is that the film is helping to accelerate and intensify an on-going conversation among Muslims and Jews throughout the world who are asking, “Who is the Messiah? When will He come? What signs will precede His coming? How shall we recognize Him when He comes? And how shall we live differently in light of His soon arrival?” This is one of the reasons I wrote the book, The Twelfth Imam, and why I just finished its sequel, due out in October 2011.
I pray that the film would immediately lead to Christian ministries all over the world — and particularly those focused on the people of the Middle East — producing films and TV programs explaining what the Bible says about the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how to both prepare for His return and live lives of holiness, prayer, evangelism, discipleship and church planting in view of Christ Jesus’ coming. Followers of Jesus Christ should be ready and willing to answer people’s questions from the Scriptures, and teach other believers how to answer these questions from the Bible, as well.