piątek, 30 marca 2012


Mike Bickle’s End-Time Teaching
& the International House of Prayer

Mike Bickle, the one-time charismatic leader of the controversial Kansas City
Prophets in the 1980s and 1990s,1 is now positioning himself to become an
end-time specialist to thousands of Christian young adults around the world.
He preaches an obscure interpretation of the book of Revelation,2 and
proclaims, with a conviction of certainty, that the world is now entering an
“eschatological revolution” that will lead to Jesus’ second coming within the
next fifty years.3
In A.D. 2000, the now 54-year-old Bickle resigned his senior pastorate
position at Metro Christian Fellowship to launch Kansas City’s International
House of Prayer, identified by the acronym IHOP.4 Today, Bickle is the
executive director of the multiple ministries of IHOP, and is the senior pastor
of Forerunner Christian Fellowship. IHOP boasts over four hundred full-time
staff that identify themselves as “Intercessory Missionaries,” and raise their
own financial support.
According to Bickle, the launching of IHOP was a direct fulfillment of a
prophecy he received in 1983 from Bob Jones, one of more disputed of the
so-called Kansas City Prophets.5 Jones predicted that God would raise up a
Kansas City prayer and worship movement “in the spirit of the Tabernacle of
David” that would be made-up of thousands of Christian young adults.6
The IHOP movement has motivated many Christians towards a passion
for Jesus and intercessory prayer. However, in light of Bickle’s escalating
eschatological enthusiasm, it is very timely and significant for Christians,
especially leaders and pastors, to become more informed concerning his
personalized brand of “Forerunner Eschatology” he is now spreading far and
The purpose of this article is not to critique Bickle’s lifestyle and
ministry, wherein there is apparently much to be admired.7 Rather, I will
explain, and interact with, Bickle’s teaching that is embedded in his eclectic
interpretation of the book of Revelation.8 It is my prayerful desire that this
introductory article will encourage a broader, and more in-depth,
conversation and evaluation of Bickle’s eschatology among those inside and
outside the IHOP movement.
Today, the primary interpretative systems of biblical eschatology are known
as premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism,9 and within these
distinct systems there are varying perspectives. Bickle identifies his endtime
teaching as an exclusive brand of premillennialism that he calls
“Apostolic Premillennialism.”
Apostolic Premillennialism
Bickle distinguishes his Apostolic Premillennialism from Dispensational
Premillennialism by rejecting a pre-tribulation rapture10 for a conquering
church that prays and ministers through Revelation’s Great Tribulation,
resulting in the salvation of Israel and the largest mission harvest in history.
Otherwise, Bickle’s Apostolic Premillennialism differs little from
Dispensational Premillennialism,11 and incorporates many of the core
interpretative and chronological scenarios popularized by Hal Lindsey.12
These are, for example, a literalist hermeneutic13 of the book of Revelation,
separate redemptive plans for Israel and the Church, a personal Antichrist
leading a revived Roman empire and one-world government, a rebuilt
Jerusalem temple and re-instituted sacrificial system, the mark of the beast
as a microchip implanted in the hand or forehead,14 a seven-year Great
Tribulation, and the earthly millennial reign of Jesus following his second
Bickle uses the adjective “Apostolic” in describing his premillennialism
in an effort to emphasize the kind of church he is laboring to build. He
believes he is preparing an army of Christians who will triumph during the
soon-coming crisis of the Antichrist’s global rule and the Great Tribulation.
He preaches a self-identified “Apostolic Christianity” characterized by
intimacy with Jesus as bridegroom,16 wholeheartedness of the Great
Commandment, self-denial holiness, Sermon on the Mount living, Holy Spirit
empowerment, justice, fasting, prayer, and worship. Whereas Bickle has
taught many of these worthy topics since the 1980s, my primary concern is
that in the last couple of years he has begun to re-teach them, wrapping
them tightly in his exclusive end-time teaching and his distinct interpretation
of the book of Revelation.
Forerunner Eschatology
You don’t have to be around the IHOP movement very long17 before you are
exposed to a large glossary of insider terms and phrases, such as,
wilderness lifestyle, friend of the Bridegroom, Daniel anointing, eating the
scroll, fasted lifestyle, burning and shining lamps, wholehearted lovers,
zones of glory, corridor of glory, and many more that could be added.18
A cautionary red light should go on whenever we discover any church
or Christian movement creating, and extensively using, their own exclusive
language. The habitual use of insider language by a Christian movement
can develop a “we-are-different culture” within the greater church. Soon a
person’s use of prescribed terms and phrases is the way to determine
whether they are true “insiders.” It can also easily create a “us” and “them”
attitude within the Body of Christ. Many Christians living within such a
cloistered culture can often find it difficult to leave or relate with other
Christians, who do not speak “their language,” and who are frequently seen
as spiritually luke-warm or compromising.
This becomes especially disconcerting when most inside a Christian
movement begin to “talk alike,” and parrot the same terms and phrases in
their prayers and songs. This emerging reality at IHOP can be demonstrated
by listening to the rapid prayer times in their “Prayer Room,” or to the lyrics
of the songs of IHOP’s quality worship musicians and singers.
More than all of IHOP’s inside terms, however, it is the word
“Forerunner” that is most omnipresent. It is everywhere. Among IHOP’s
ministries, there is the Forerunner Christian Fellowship, Forerunner Music
Academy, Forerunner School of Ministry, Forerunner Media School,
Forerunner Evangelism, and Forerunner Books. It is safe to say that
“Forerunner” is the brand name of Bickle’s IHOP ministry. The use of the
word “Forerunner” is no accident. In fact, “Forerunner Eschatology”
provides the greatest insight into the inner ethos and ministry thrust of
Bickle and IHOP.
Although Bickle admits that Christians can’t predict the exact “day or
hour” of Jesus’ second coming, he firmly claims that we can know the
specific “season” of his return, and boldly tells his followers that he believes
the end of the world will unfold in this generation.19
In light of Bickle’s conviction that we are living in the generation of
Jesus’ second coming, he preaches that as God raised up John the Baptist to
be a forerunner preparing his generation for Jesus’ first coming, God is now
raising up an elite end-time forerunner movement within the church.20 This
movement will prepare this generation for the soon-coming Great Tribulation
and Jesus’ return.
Bickle believes God has anointed him to call forth and train these endtime
Christian forerunners.21 He is praying for thousands of last-day
“forerunner Christians” to be raised up within this generation as special
prophetic voices that will emerge in the spirit and power of Elijah, and defeat
the Antichrist’s soon-coming one-world government and religion by praying
the “battle plan” of the book of Revelation.
The End-Time Forerunner Church
Bickle teaches that Jesus’ second coming can be delayed or sped up
according to the degree of the church’s spiritual maturity and readiness. He
declares that most Christians are waiting passively for Jesus to return, when
in actuality, Jesus is waiting for the church to prepare itself as the pure Bride
of Christ, and ready itself to launch the last-day divine war to drive evil from
the earth, and cleanse it so that it can be filled with God’s love and glory.22
Bickle does not simply preach that the church will go through the
Great Tribulation sealed by God’s sovereign power, but that the end-time
church will actually cause God’s judgments to be released on the earth
through prophetic prayer.23 The end-time praying church will not simply be
helpless martyrs during the Great Tribulation; it will victoriously establish
justice on the earth by releasing the devastating Great Tribulation judgments
on the Antichrist’s global evil empire.24
At the end of December 2008, Bickle ratcheted up his end-time
enthusiasm by passionately announcing that IHOP’s OneThing Conference
would mark a major defining moment within the IHOP prayer movement,
and would primarily center around his interpretation and implementation of
the book of Revelation.25 Bickle declared that it was time for the prayer
movement to realize that it will be the primary agent to transition human
history to the age to come through “prayers of faith that not only heal, but
also kill,” releasing the heavenly arsenals through intercession that will strike
the Antichrist’s political, military, and economic power bases across the
earth.26 The end-times will reveal a “killing Jesus” who is covered with blood
as he does physical combat against the Antichrist’s army as he marches
through Jordan to free Jerusalem.27
Based on Bickle’s end-time teaching, Jesus’ second coming has
preconditions. He teaches that Jesus will not return until the global church
is crying out “Come Lord Jesus” with a full understanding of her identity as
the Bride of Christ. Jesus will only return when the church is functioning in
the unity of the Spirit, and is anointed in prayer to release the destructive
end-time tribulation judgments.
Bickle envisions that the end-time forerunner church will be an
advanced “Apostolic” movement. They will experience “greater things” than
the Apostles themselves. They will function as the last day Moses who
through prayer releases God’s plagues on the Antichrist, the end-time
Pharaoh. Bickle emphasizes that during the end-times, Moses’ miracles and
the miracles of the book of Acts will be combined and multiplied on a global
level as the praying church looses God’s judgments on the earth.28 This is
why Bickle calls the book of Revelation the “End-Times Book of Acts,”
meaning that the book of Revelation reveals the acts of the Holy Spirit that
will be demonstrated through the end-time praying church.29
Bickle goes even further to add another eschatological interpretive
twist to Matthew 16:18-19, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will
not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven;
whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose
on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 30 He claims that Jesus’ statement refer
to the end-time church’s possession of the keys of the kingdom through
prayer that will drive hell off the planet during the Great Tribulation. The
church will exercise binding and loosing end-time authority over God’s
judgments assuring that the gates of hell - the Antichrist’s evil empire - will
not prevail.31
Forerunner “Wilderness Lifestyle”
Bickle engages in another eschatological twist of the Bible when he exhorts
Christians to follow the example of John the Baptist, and dedicate
themselves to live a “wilderness lifestyle” of fasting and prayer so that they
can emerge one-day as “forerunner voices” prior to Jesus’ second coming.32
In May 1997, Bickle claims that the Lord spoke to him to believe Him to raise
up 10,000 forerunners who live in the spirit of John the Baptist as friends of
the Bridegroom (John 3:29).33
The primary problem with Bickle’s “wilderness lifestyle” exhortation is
that the Bible is basically silent about the specifics of how John the Baptist
lived his life. Simply because he lived in the unpopulated Judean region
near the Jordan River, and dressed and ate like the Old Testament prophet
Elijah34 does not mean that John the Baptist lived a heroic sacrificial lifestyle
that is to be elevated and emulated by New Testament Christians.
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and
functioned as a transitional figure between the eras of the Old and New
Covenants. This is why Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 11:11 that
anyone who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the
Bickle’s elevation of John the Baptist’s lifestyle seems motivated more
by his effort to substantiate his Forerunner Eschatology than by solid biblical
interpretation. The use of an Old Testament prophet like John the Baptist as
a stellar model of Christian living can easily result in an unhealthy ascetic
form of Christianity. For example, IHOP leader Lou Engle encourages young
Christians to take Old Testament Nazarite vows based on Numbers 6:1-21, a
practice not taught in the New Testament.35
To undergird his Forerunner Eschatology, Bickle exhorts Christians to
follow the “wilderness lifestyle” of an Old Testament prophet, instead of
modeling their lives completely on Jesus’ incarnational lifestyle as lived-out
by the New Testament Apostles none of whom mention John the Baptist as a
life example for Christians to follow. John the Baptist declared that Jesus
must increase, and he should decrease (John 3:30). Bickle could return to
biblical soundness if he abandoned his eschatological “wilderness lifestyle”
emphasis, and focus totally on the plentiful New Testament teachings
concerning living a sacrificial and consecrated lifestyle as mission people for
the salvation of God’s world.
The End-Time Prayer Movement
There is nothing more central to Bickle’s eschatology than his teaching
concerning the end-time prayer and prophetic movement. Building on the
24/7 prayer example of the historic Moravians, and the contemporary South
Korean practice of fervent prayer and consecrated prayer mountains, IHOP is
spreading a passion for intercessory prayer and worship throughout the
Bickle’s primary vision is to promote the escalation of the Harp (worship
music) and Bowl (intercession) prayer style derived from Revelation 5:8,
which is implemented in the night and day model of IHOP.36 IHOP claims
that it has been practicing this kind of prophetic prayer and worship without
ceasing since September 19, 1999.
Bickle’s mission is to multiply 24/7 prayer rooms throughout the world
that use the book of Revelation as their prayer guide concerning Jesus’ endtime
battle plan. He often quotes Jesus’ statement in Luke 18:7-8, “Will not
God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and
night? I tell you, he will see that they get justice and quickly,” to support his
assertion that day and night prayer will quicken the second coming of Christ.
God is indeed stirring up a fresh intercessory prayer movement around
the world of Christians who will consecrate themselves to worshiping Him in
Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). The multiplication of 24/7 prayer rooms
filled with mature intercessors and worshipers would certainly be a blessing
to the church today. However, prayer and worship primarily increases
worldwide through the extensive growth of the global church among all the
ethnic peoples of the earth. Through a basic understanding of cosmology,
the church is praying night and day at all times right now. When it is night
in one geographical location, it is day in another. The swelling increase of
prayer over the last few decades can be significantly attributed to the
growing church, especially in places like China, South Korea, Southern
Africa, and Latin America.

One of the more troubling teaching promoted by Bickle through the years related to
the relationship of the Old Testament tabernacle of David and the end-time prayer
movement.37 In his Tabernacle of David article published in Charisma Magazine38 he makes
three interpretative errors, (1) He writes: I believe I have found the secret to a vital prayer
life. I came across this secret when I was studying the tabernacle of David in Acts
15:16-17, the effective model of a 24-hour-a-day prayer and worship ministry. In Acts
15:16-17, however, James is speaking about the restoration of the fulfillment of the line of
David in the first coming of Jesus as Messiah.39 (2) He writes: In Moses' time, the glory on
the ark was hidden in the holy of holies behind a thick veil. But in David's tabernacle, there
was no veil to keep the people from seeing the glory of God. It was unprecedented: David
set the ark of the covenant in open view! Instead of the thick veil Moses used, David made
musicians and singers into a human veil around the ark. This statement has no biblical
basis, and would have been a complete violation of Mosaic Law. (3) He writes: I believe
God will fully restore the tabernacle of David--which is the very embodiment of intercessory
worship before the beauty, holiness and glory of God--in the generation in which the Lord
returns according to Acts 15:16-17. I believe it will be the means of releasing the fullness of
salvation and revival for all the nations. Through this model of intercessory worship, the
Great Commission will be fulfilled so that every tribe, tongue and nation will be present on
the last day. Again, a misinterpretation of Acts 15:16-17.
I address Bickle’s printed teaching on the tabernacle of David because it is now being
promoted and taught by many Christians. However, a very encouraging development is that
Bickle has told me that he no longer believes most of what is contained in his article.
However, he still emphasizes the spirit of the tabernacle of David as a worship and prayer
ministry style (1 Chronicles 15:1), and emphasizes that the restoration of the tabernacle of
David refers to Jesus establishing His Jerusalem millennium throne and ruling the earth in
the context of prayer and worship (Amos 9:11–15; Isaiah 56:7). Although the New
Testament does not teach that Christians should model any Old Testament worship style and
Acts 15:16-17 is primarily the fulfillment of the first coming of Jesus as Messiah, Bickle’s
teaching concerning the tabernacle of David is moving in the right direction.