Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (October 2014)
During the international dispersion of Israel in New Testament times, ideologies and power structures originated in the world which are unprecedented in the history of humanity. In consequence, the political, military, economic, technological and religious landscape of the planet has greatly changed, giving rise to a renewed struggle for world domination in various spheres of life. Because of these developments restored Israel is confronted by hostile powers, reminiscent of the Roman Empire in the first century AD, which increasingly threaten their future survival. However, the end-time situation is much more complex as a worldwide attack is launched on the Jewish state from various fronts.
During Old Testament times, Israel was the only representative of God’s kingdom on earth, but because of their poor dedication to the Lord the New Testament command of world evangelisation was given to the church among all nations. That was a comprehensive and demanding commission to fulfil, and only a small minority of people everywhere reacted positive to the gospel message. After many centuries, greater breakthroughs followed, particularly during the revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries, thereby laying the foundation of the Western Christian civilisation.
The building-blocks of a Christian society are believers who have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, who testify of their salvation from sin and superstition, accept accountability to God for all their deeds, observe biblical morality, practise Christian education, promote creative thinking for innovation and problem-solving, allow greater personal liberties, establish transparent and just societal institutions, develop fair and competitive practices in an economic free market system, and commit themselves towards peaceful coexistence with other peoples and nations. Christians have an obligation to share their faith, as well as their spiritual and moral values, with the unsaved in their own societies and also with the entire non-Christian world as that is the only true solution to humanity’s problems.
During the initial stages of the church dispensation, very slow progress was made in Christianising societies. Opposition from the pagan world, and serious deception which blinded and paralysed the large medieval church, severely restricted the establishment of Christian societies in Europe and the Middle East. Eventually, after a long and spiritually dark period in the history of Europe, the message of the Bible was heeded by larger numbers of people, and spiritual as well as intellectual enlightenment followed. One of the effects of this renaissance was that the Western world adopted a more tolerant attitude towards the dispersed Jews, except for certain countries, e.g. Germany under Nazi rule, where biblical tenets were rejected because of a hostile political ideology. During and after the First World War, Britain played a leading role in allowing Jews to return to their ancestral land and establish the modern, independent state of Israel. During the subsequent years, the USA played the biggest role in supporting and protecting Israel. This was mainly due to a stronger evangelical impetus in American society, and particularly the fact that many Christians in that country entertain premillennial views on Biblical eschatology. These views focus strongly on the end-time restoration of the people of Israel in preparation for their national conversion when the Messiah comes.
However, the Christian civilisation did not expand to other parts of the world without opposition. Due to the embracing of the Marxist ideology by countries in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, an opposing communist block of countries were formed (the so-called Second World). Ideologically and spiritually they were opposed to the West (the First World) and also hostile towards Israel. Because of their commitment to atheism they did not recognise or accept the Bible, the Chosen People or the Christian church. Countries in the communist block (particularly Russia and China) would later conclude various treaties with the enemies of Israel in the Middle East, and also supply them with arms to fight against Israel. The Bible specifically mentions Russia as one of the major end-time enemies of Israel (Ezek. 38 & 39), while China is clearly implied in the description of a major invasion of the Free World by the kings of the East (Rev. 9:13-21; 16:12).
The greatest immediate threat to Israel is posed by their Arab and other neighbours in the Middle East, who have all adopted the Muslim faith. By doing so they became extremely radicalised – not only against other faiths such as Judaism and Christianity but also against other Muslim factions that differ from them on who were the rightful heirs of the prophet Muhammad. The ideological struggle and intolerance of Muslims towards their adversaries is even more severe than the former animosity between capitalists and communists. In his book, Muslim Society (1983), Prof. E. Gellner says: “It is evident that Islam enjoys the biggest political support of all the world’s religions during the 20th century. It supports a number of governments which are highly traditional and conservative, but it is also able to generate intense revolutionary fervour and to combine with extreme radicalism. As a means for political mobilisation Islam has surpassed Marxism, as well as all other religions.”
In the resumption of Israel’s Old Testament struggle against the king of the North, the influence of Islam on this ancient enemy should be duly considered. Babylonia and Assyria of old – the present Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, as well as the rich oil-producing states along the Persian Gulf – have, through embracing Islam, obtained an even stronger motivation for their negative relationship towards Israel and the Western world, as well as the financial and military capacity to give expression to their anti-Jewish and antichristian sentiments.
We must take note of the way in which the ancient king of the North (Babylonia or Assyria) is presently conducting his affairs, how he handles internal faction fights in Islam, to which degree he gains military and ideological support from certain superpowers for his contemplated war of annihilation against Israel, and what his attitude is towards the Western allies of Israel. All the nations of the world have difficult choices to make on the nature of their involvement with the complex struggle in the Middle East. Those among them who still have Christian convictions should maintain strong ties with Israel since all professing Christians owe support and loyalty to the people of the Book (Gen. 12:3; Rom. 11:11-12).
The final objective of Islam in their march towards world domination is very dark and ominous. Due to their origin and strong support base in the Middle East, Islam is well positioned to launch a devastating attack upon Christianity and Judaism which both originated in Israel as the heartland of the Middle East. It is Islam’s express purpose to discredit Christianity and Judaism by branding them as false and obsolete monotheistic faiths, and replacing them with the Muslim faith which is based on the Koran as the alleged “final revelation of Allah” to humanity.
Many Christians are not aware of the full implications of the rise of Islamic states in the Middle East. They do not realise that these countries are building up their power and capacity with a view to establishing a comprehensive Islamic lifestyle in the whole world. The basic drive of their ideology is indeed religious but it also encompasses the entire culture of a people as it is aimed at promoting Islam’s political, social and educational practices, as well as Islamic morality and legal principles (their sharia laws). Islamic fundamentalism is hostile towards all other ideologies and religions in the world, and therefore irreconcilable to them.
Islam sees itself as the only true monotheistic faith and is firmly committed to its objective of world domination. Muslims use a wide variety of methods to achieve their purpose. On the one hand, there are soft methods by which they endeavour to falsify certain tenets in Judaism and Christianity in order to convince them that they should maintain interfaith ties with Islam and subject themselves to the Koran as the youngest and most authentic revelation of God. In this way they seek to lure away members of all faiths into multireligious organisations where they will be welcomed into the arms of Islam. On the other hand, there are militant groups who use hard methods of intimidation and violence by which their adversaries are forced to unconditionally accept the authority of Allah and the Koran. The jihad (holy war) is used to achieve this purpose. Jihadists are becoming more revolutionary and violent in their efforts to advance Islam’s objectives by force. They use various verses in the Koran to justify their militant actions, e.g. Surah 5:33, 47:4 and 2:190-191.
During the ten years before Mohammed’s death (622 to 632) the entire Arabian Peninsula was conquered and subjected by Islamic forces. In 637, a successor of Mohammed took control over Jerusalem, and by 650 Egypt, large parts of North Africa, Palestine, Syria and the Persian kingdom were all in the hands of Islam.
In 691, the Dome of the Rock was built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The rock beneath this mosque is very important to Islam. According to a mythological account (Muslims maintain that it really happened) Mohammed travelled one night on a flying horse from Mecca to Jerusalem, ascended to heaven from this rock on the Temple Mount in the company of the angel Gabriel, prayed with different prophets in heaven (also with Jesus) and then returned to earth with a vision to Islamise the world. Since that time, the Temple Mount increased in prominence to Muslims. In 705, the Al Aqsa mosque was also erected on this site, and after it was destroyed several times by earthquakes it was finally rebuilt in 1033 in its present form. To Muslims, the Temple Mount is the third holiest place after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that Jerusalem is not even once mentioned in the Koran.
Islam’s influence spread rapidly to territories far outside the Middle East – stretching as far as Spain in the west, Turkey in the north and India in the east. In 1453, Constantinople (Bisanthia; presently Istanbul) was conquered by the Turks and brought directly under the influence of Islam. Some of the Christian churches in the city were converted into mosques while impressive new mosques were also built. Islam’s further expansion to the east was also very successful, and around 1500 the conversion of Indonesia began.
The Muslim kingdom of Ottoman in Turkey controlled Jerusalem and surrounding areas for four centuries, from 1517 to 1917. During the First World War, Turkey sided with Germany and that contributed to their fall as a colonial empire. This defeat had serious consequences to the influence of Islam, and their diminished status continued until the discovery of vast oil reserves in the barren desert region of the Middle East where many of the Arabs practised a precarious subsistence economy as nomads.
In the second half of the 20th century, various Islamic countries acquired great financial wealth and prominence – particularly in the rich oilfields around the Persian Gulf. These countries soon became an economic and political force to be reckoned with, and that inspired their spiritual leaders (mullahs and imams) to again strongly proclaim the ancient vision that Islam is destined to spread its influence globally as the only true religion. It is their final objective that all nations will only recognise the supreme authority of Allah and his prophet, Muhammad, as set out in the Koran. This vision has prompted a comprehensive programme for the Islamising of other countries, as well as the building of thousands of mosques for use by the faithful. Adherents of all other religions are regarded as infidels by Islam, and they are subjected to the judgements of Allah until they convert to Islam. It is regarded as an inexcusable offence if a Muslim converts from Islam to become a member of another faith, and in countries such as Iran an offence of this nature is punishable by death.
A further important factor in the modern awakening of Islam is the restoration of Israel in 1948, as well as the strong support which the Jewish state receives from America. Islam is hostile towards other religions, but they are particularly upset about Israel having been established in the area which they have in mind for the founding of a leading Islamic caliphate. They are adamant that Al Quds (Jerusalem) should be the capital of this Islamic world state, and that its ruler will be a descendant and successor of Muhammad.
The fact that the Jews lay claim to the land of Israel and city of Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount with its famous mosques) has often been the reason for declaring a jihad against Israel. Since 1948 when the modern Jewish state was founded, their Islamic enemies could not succeed in winning a single war against them. Islam blames America for this sad fact, because of the extensive financial and military support which Israel receives from the US. Because of this collaboration America is described as “the big Satan” while Israel is merely referred to as “Satan”. The military opposition which the Muslims offer to Israel and its allies, have also given rise to the forming of highly militant jihadistic groups who are continuously involved with the planning and execution of a campaign of terror against Israel and its supporters. These groups also fight against moderate Muslim governments who are not as fundamentalist and militant as the jihadists would like them to be.
About 85% of all Muslims are Sunnis. “Sunnah” means “Tradition” and refers to the fact that this group upholds a collection of traditions (the hadiths) which are observed on the same level as the Koran. They recognise all the kalifs who ruled in the Muslim world as successors of Mohammad, while the Shias (or Shiites) regard the first three kalifs as intruders who usurped the position of Muhammad, and whose teachings are also rejected. The Sunnis and Shias each have their own mosques and spiritual leaders, and there is an increased degree of intolerance and bitter enmity among them which has lately become very violent in parts of the Middle East – particularly in Iraq and Syria.
Iran is the most powerful bastion of the Shia Muslims, and they also constitute the majority of Iraq’s population, which includes the Kurds. In Syria they are a minority group opposed to the Sunnis, but President Bashar al Assad and his government belong to the Shia group and are keenly supported by Iran because of that. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian areas of Israel are also Shias, and they serve as active fronts for the advancement of this power block in Islam.
Shia Muslims have a strong eschatological expectation on the reappearance of the 12th Imam. According to the Shia version of Islam the 12th descendant of Mohammad, known as the 12th Imam or the Mahdi, went into hiding in 941 at the Jamkaran well in Iran. Shias believe that he will reappear when the world has become full of oppression and tyranny, and that he will be joined by Isa (Jesus in the Koran) to fight against Jews and Christians until the whole world has been subjected to the authority of the Koran. They entertain the view that the more violence and warfare there is in the world, the better are the chances that the Imam Mahdi will appear to eradicate evil and bring about peace.
The Shias, like the Sunnis, do not believe in a Jesus who is God, the Son of God or Christ, since the Koran’s Jesus (Isa) is merely a prophet and the son of Mary. They are proclaiming an Isa who is a close associate of his “brother” Muhammad. These views are at variance with that which is taught by the Bible (2 Cor. 11:3-4; 1 John 2:22)
The large majority of Sunnis are, apart from their common opposition against the Shias, also divided by serious internal differences in their own group. Some of them are more moderate while others are strongly committed to the continuation of the jihad against Islam’s enemies. A number of the most militant groups in die world are Sunni Muslims, e.g. Al Qaeda, IS, Khorasan, and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. During the reign of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the minority of Sunnis oppressed the majority of Shias in their country for many years and were also, since 1980, engaged in an eight-year war against neighbouring Shia dominated Iran. However, through the USA’s military intervention and subsequent elections in Iraq the majority of Shias were enabled to become the new rulers, but ever since they were the victims of a Sunni uprising.
In 2014, a new and extremely militant Sunni group made their appearance, i.e. ISIL – Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant refers to territories to the east of the Mediterranean, forming a land bridge between Turkey and Egypt. These countries include Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian areas, as well as Jordan. ISIL plans to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region, with Jerusalem as its capital. Shortly after their founding this new group changed their name to ISIS – Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In a short space of time they conquered a large parts of Eastern Syria as well as an adjacent region in the north and west of Iraq. However, they are not content with their present area of control and now only refer to themselves as IS – Islamic State. Their options therefore remain open to also conquer and annex other territories in the Middle East.
The leader of IS is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and he claims to be a descendant and successor of Muhammad. The group has access to liberal funding from the yields of conquered oil fields, banks in the occupied areas, illicit trade, as well as donations received from other countries and also from certain oil tycoons. The militants who form part of their armed force come from various countries, and they also plan attacks to retaliate against countries participating in the American airstrikes on IS targets. According to one of their members they are also planning an attack on New York.
IS uses the cruellest methods to wage a reign of terror – also against Shia Muslims and members of other faiths wherever they encounter them. Mass executions by firing-squads as well as decapitation are commonly practised. Prisoners of war from other countries are often beheaded and videos of these repulsive deeds are posted to the Internet to serve as deterrents to their attackers.
It is conspicuous that the present military action by IS, as well as the conquering of territories in Iraq and Syria, all occur within the boundaries of the ancient kingdom of the North, which was during certain periods known as Assyria and at other times as Babylonia. However, IS is not the only militant group which is active in this region as there are also various Sunni opposition groups operating in Syria. In their common struggle these groups are all resisted and opposed by the Shias in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, who are intent on breaking the power of the Sunnis. Iran is the major military, economic and religious power behind the Shia governments of Syria and Iraq, as well as the terrorist groups of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Iran has repeatedly announced plans for the extermination of Israel and envisages, with the assistance of the Russians, to establish themselves as the dominant power in the Middle East. Is IS and the other Sunni groups really able to stand against this mustering of power?
The present power struggle between Shia and Sunni Muslims will, according to the Bible, continue until a clear winner emerges. Daniel 11:31-45 refers to the wars for supremacy that will be waged in the end-time between the king of the North (Syria) and the king of the south (Egypt). The kingdom of the North will be victorious, and its final leader will be the Antichrist who will also control Israel. At this stage it is not yet clear who will gain the leadership position in the north – will it be Iran and its allies, IS and its allies, Turkey and their allies, or perhaps other Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates? It is likewise impossible to determine who will ultimately rule over Egypt, since the president of the dominant Muslim Brotherhood was unseated during a military coup and his party declared to be a terrorist group. Because of uprisings and power struggles in virtually all the Arab countries, warfare, revolutions and bloodshed are bound to further increase in the Middle East.
There is only one way in which a superficial, temporary unity can be formed among the different Muslim countries and Islamic terror groups, and that is by means of their common hatred of Israel. According to Psalm 83 that will indeed happen as all these nations will, at opportune times, bury their differences and join forces in an effort to annihilate Israel:
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have helped the children of Lot. … Who said, ‘Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession’” (Ps. 83:1-12; the KJV rendering of the Hebrew word na’ah is not “pastures” but “houses”. Strong’s Concordance translates it as: “a home – fig. habitation, house, pasture, pleasant place”). This Psalm therefore refers to a holy war (jihad) against Israel as well as the God of Israel, since the earthly house of God on the Temple Mount is also claimed.
Psalm 83 mentions the ancient ancestors of the modern Arabs. The northern Arabs, among whom were also Muhammad and his followers, descended from Ishmael and regard themselves as Ishmaelites. According to them, the promises to Abraham were inherited by his eldest son, Ishmael, and through him they were bequeathed to Muhammad and his successors. The southern Arabs (Egypt and neighbouring nations) probably descended from Joktan (Gen. 10:25-30), which also render them Semitic peoples. It is therefore contradictory to say that the Arabs are anti-Semitic when they hate the Jews, since they themselves are Semites. This term was coined by Hitler before World War II when the Jews were regarded as the most prominent representatives of the Semitic people.
How did the Arabs develop into such a mighty group of nations? Large-scale assimilation into the Arab culture and religion followed upon the Islamic conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. Many of the subjected people adopted the Arab language and subsequently regarded themselves as Arabs. There are presently just over 370 million Arabs in the world, up from 284 million at the end of 2000, of whom the great majority live in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab League which was founded in 1946, defines an Arab as follows: “An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic-speaking country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic-speaking people.” Many of the descendants of Nimrod in the present Syria (the ancient Assyrians) also regard themselves as Arabs. The Psalmist says that Assyria has joined the other Arab people (Ps. 83:8), and it is clear that they were voluntarily assimilated into this cultural group by embracing Islam.
Israel is surrounded by a very large number of Islamic Arabs in the Middle East. Many of them actively seek the destruction of Israel so as to be able to establish a leading Islamic state in its place, with Jerusalem as its capital. Sheikh Riyad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, is also boldly teaching the tenets of the Islamic revolution: “We are at the gates of the Islamic revolution,” he proclaims in his sermons to Arab citizens of Israel. “The global forces of evil will be eliminated from the world and the Islamic nation will remain in place in order to bring about the world Islamic revolution, with its capital, Jerusalem”. Before that can happen, Israel has to be completely removed from the scene and replaced by the Palestinian nation. Hatred of the Jews is inherently imbedded into the Islamic worldview and instilled in children from a very young age.
The hostility of Psalm 83 played an important role in all the wars which Arab nations waged against Israel since 1948, but subsequently they again became divided because of internal quarrels. Their hostility towards Israel persists and Arab unity remains an elusive dream.
A real but short-lived unity between the various Islamic factions and people will only be achieved under the leadership of the Antichrist after he has been revealed. All the other nations and religious groups on earth will be party to this unifying movement and greatly rejoice in it: “And all the world marvelled and followed the beast. … And they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:3-4). He will simultaneously be their religious, political and military leader. Since he will be a false messiah, the peace and unity which he achieves will not last very long before rebellion will break out against him. He will then resort to violence to save his new world order from completely disintegrating.
According to the Bible, Russia will play a decisive role in the realisation of the major objective of Muslim nations to destroy Israel. The Russians will provide these nations with the necessary military hardware to overpower Israel before occupying their land. Russia is a very big military superpower, and from the vantage point of Israel they are situated in the far north (Ezek. 39:2). Jerusalem and Moscow are on the same degree of longitude, and for that reason alone Jews know very well who their end-time enemy is. Russia will empower the king of the North (Muslim nations north of Israel) to subject and annihilate the Jewish state, and then to replace it with a Muslim caliphate. This will be an open challenge to the God of Israel.
According to Ezekiel 38 and 39, Gog in the land Magog (that is the land to the north of the Caucasian Mountains, which is modern Russia) together with Persia (Iran), Togarmah (Turkey), Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer and various other countries will attack Israel. The leadership role of Russia (Ezek. 38:7) has not only been determined by virtue of their strong army and sophisticated weaponry, but because the Lord intends to judge them (Ezek. 39:1). The reason for divine wrath against them is because Russia has played a leading role in promoting hatred of the Jews – among others, by having consistently armed the enemies of Israel since 1948. Furthermore, Russia also played a key role to spread atheism in the world. Because of their iniquity the Lord will enter into judgement with them on the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 39:4).
The Lord says that Russia will be pulled out of their land with hooks in their jaws to become involved in this war. They will therefore be forced by circumstances to assist their Arab and other Muslim allies. The Lord says to Gog: “After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel. ... You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days” (Ezek. 38:8, 16).
Among the allies of Russia that are mentioned by Ezekiel there are Muslim states such as Iran who have, for many years already, committed themselves to the annihilation of Israel. Their hatred of Israel often flares up to new heights when the Jewish state attacks Lebanon to fight against Hezbollah terrorists, or on Gaza to stop Hamas from firing rockets at Israel. Nevertheless, Iran and Russia continue to arm the enemies of Israel, while also being strong supporters of Bashar al Assad’s government in Syria that offers free passage to terrorists and weapons from Iran to Lebanon and Israel.
Syria and Iran acted on the supposition that by supplying thousands of rockets and missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel would already have been driven from the northern parts of their territory. Together with offensives by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad from Gaza and the West Bank these attacks would, according to them, certainly have caused the fall of the Jewish state. However, that did not happen because “the Lord fights for them” (Ex. 14:25). In reaction to their numerous defeats, radical Islam seeks new ways to wreak their anger on Israel, and also on countries such as America and England who have shown themselves to be friends of Israel and therefore enemies of Islam. This time they will not only operate through terrorist groups but wage a full-scale conventional war against Israel in an effort to kill the Jews and occupy their land. For this purpose they need a multinational attack force to carry out a surprise attack and invade Israel from different sides – from the north, the east, the south and also from Libya in the west across the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel’s enemies fix their hope on securing Russia’s involvement for this big war. To Russia there is the advantage of interests in Middle Eastern oilfields. By participating in this war they will also avert the possibility of military intervention by China, should Russia refuse to give their support to the Arabs. Although Russia may be reluctant to cooperate, the Bible says that they will agree to wage a war of annihilation against the Jewish state.
The war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 is certainly in the offing. The Lord will reveal Himself in a very special way by ending this war. He says to Russia: “I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes” (Ezek. 38:16). The destruction of this invading force is clearly described: “You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you. … You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken, says the Lord God” (Ezek. 39:4-5). There will also be a very big earthquake that will cause great devastation in the Middle East while its trembling will be felt all over the world (Ezek. 38:19-20). This disaster will make people everywhere to realise that God is judging them because of their wickedness.
Russia, Israel and all the nations will give recognition to God because of this undeniable supernatural intervention. That will bring about a very big change in their thinking since all nations on earth, including the majority of Jews, have predominantly lapsed into agnosticism, materialism and humanism, and because of that they have rejected the Triune God and His Word. They have already rendered proof of their apostasy by omitting the earlier recognition of God’s supremacy from their constitutions, and by also discontinuing Christian education as official state policy. Most of these countries have openly ridiculed Christianity by denying its uniqueness and relegating it to a position of equality with the pagan religions. South Africa is part of this world-wide movement away from the God of the Bible – not only by the government but also in postmodern theological circles where the divine inspiration of the Bible, the divine attributes of Jesus Christ and the literal fulfilment of biblical prophecies are all denied.
Because of obvious divine intervention in the destruction of Israel’s enemies by fire from heaven, the nations will recognise that the God of Israel and the Bible is the true God who should be feared and served (Nebuchadnezzar was also compelled to make the same confession – Dan. 4:37). That will bring about an end to atheism, agnosticism and secularism. However, the nations will know so little about God that they will accept the wrong person, the Antichrist, as the Christ and special messenger from God. The Antichrist will exploit people’s respect for supernatural signs and, together with the false prophet, he will produce a spectacle of signs and wonders:
“And he [the false prophet] exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast” (Rev. 13:12-14). People everywhere will accept these signs in awe.
The deceptive claims by the Antichrist and false prophet will be so convincing that even Israel will be deluded to accept the wrong person as Messiah. The Lord Jesus said to them: “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43). In the same way the whole world will be deceived and follow the beast in amazement, fully accepting and worshipping him as the self-declared world messiah (Rev. 13:3-4).
Through his signs and wonders the Antichrist will claim credit for the sudden ending of the Russo-Arab invasion of Israel. Not only will Israel follow and serve him as the promised Messiah because of his miraculous achievements, but the Gentiles will also conclude a covenant with this “prince of peace” and fully recognise him as their leader (Dan. 9:27). It will be openly stated that he saved humanity from a threatening world war, thereby giving hope to all people who were earlier on a course of self-destruction.
The false christ will also be praised for having saved the world from economic chaos, since a big war in the Middle East will certainly cause the global collapse of stock markets. The supply of crude oil by the Persian Gulf states will at least be temporarily disrupted or even completely stopped. That will inflict immeasurable damage to economies across the globe. The prevention of this war will therefore be praised by everybody.
The world’s sudden swing towards the general recognition of God will therefore end in large-scale deception because of the devil’s trickery. This state of affairs will continue during the seven years of the Antichrist’s reign on earth. In this year-week Israel will derive great economic benefits from the military hardware that will be left behind by Gog and his invading forces. Israel will burn the weapons and recycle them to obtain metal needed for their industries (Ezek. 39:9). These seven years will be the 70th year-week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27), which will be the time of Jacob’s trouble under the leadership of the Antichrist. This period will elapse between the rapture of the true church (Luke 21:36) and Christ’s public appearance on the Mount of Olives when every eye shall see Him (Zech. 14:4-5).
We are now in the run-up to the seven years of tribulation, and must make very sure that we are withholders of the coming “king of the North” and not end up among his deceived collaborators. After the withholders have been taken away by the Lord, the lawless one and man of sin will be revealed (2 Thess. 2:6-12).
The USA has played a very big role in the further radicalisation of countries in the Middle East because they have shown extremely poor insight into the religious, political and economic dynamics of Islam’s worldview and global objectives. They also made the mistake of trying to promote political concepts such as democracy, human rights and religious freedom, which are not highly regarded by Islam and in some cases not even recognised by them. Furthermore, the USA fabricated false intelligence reports to justify military intervention in the region, e.g. the assertion that Saddam Hussein had accumulated an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. By these reports they also persuaded countries such as Britain to unnecessarily commit themselves to a war which predominantly yielded negative results to all parties concerned.
After extensive bloodshed in the Iraqi war, America achieved their purpose of bringing down the government of Saddam Hussein and ensuring that the majority of Shias in that country become the new rulers. But the cost in human lives and the damage to buildings and infrastructure was staggering. Furthermore, they did not take account of the negative sentiment which their war would elicit among the large majority of Sunnis in the Middle East. Militant Sunni groups proliferated, particularly those that have ties with Al-Qaeda. These groups did not only target the new government, but suicide bombers also attacked mosques, markets and other civilian targets in Shia residential areas. Murders and human suffering reached unprecedented levels in Iraq’s history, which prompted the Shias, with Iran’s support, to embark on extensive revenge attacks on Sunni communities in their country.
A further mistake was then made by the USA to only keep Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, responsible for all the acts of terror. Attacks were made in Afghanistan and Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden, as well as his collaborators such as the Taliban. Once again the invaders completely underestimated the revolutionary motivation and wide popular support enjoyed by militant Islam, thereby actually precipitating the existing animosity and causing a reaction in which more Muslims came forward to fight the “big Satan” (America) and his Middle Eastern ally (Israel). New movements such as IS and Khorasan were founded, who are inclined to even worse atrocities than the Al-Qaeda groups. The USA have started attacking these groups in a way which will only further stimulate their breeding-ground.
Because of its inability to make the correct strategic assessment of the situation, the US further undermines its own interests by indirectly collaborating with some of its former enemies who also happen to fight the new enemy that has emerged. Up to now the US was always strongly opposed to Iran because of this country’s nuclear development programme, its military support to Syria’s oppressive regime, and also its arming of terror groups in Lebanon and Israel. But now suddenly the US and Iran both fight IS in Iraq and Syria. Who is now friend and who is foe?
In Syria, the US supported opposition groups in their war against the undemocratic government of Assad. However, an agreement was reached between certain of these opposition groups and IS because of their common struggle, leading to a situation in which the US now operates alongside the Syrian army in attacking the opposition! In the process, infrastructure and oil refineries are bombed and destroyed in a way which will render it very difficult to rebuild this country again and make it liveable – regardless of who wins the war. All these activities contribute to a situation in which America again earns a bad name among Muslims in general for having started with a new war against Islamic communities in an Islamic state.
American involvement in the traditional area of the king of the North has rendered the entire region a much worse cauldron of terrorist activities than it formerly was. America’s intervention in Egypt (the area of the king of the South) was just as counter-productive to the entire country. When the Muslim Brotherhood in this country revolted against their reasonably moderate and stable government, the US asked Hosni Mubarak to step down, and they encouraged the rebels to apply pressure for democratic changes. The revolution succeeded, but after only a brief period in power this group made such a mess of government that the Egyptian military announced a coup, unseated the president, jailed many of the group’s leaders and declared the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation (even Russia also regards them as a terrorist movement, but the US does not). The American government did not acknowledge their strategic mistake and merely proceeded to involve themselves in the affairs of Islam in the region north of Israel.
To intervene in Middle Eastern affairs without a thorough knowledge of Islam’s ideology, power politics and military strategies, and without proper consideration of the consequences which a religiously-motivated war (a jihad) may bring about for your own country because of participating in wars between Muslim factions in a Muslim country (regardless of how necessary it may appear to be) is like entering a fold of fighting bulls with a red cloth around your body. America has already sustained many wounds, and have driven themselves to the brink of bankruptcy through continued warfare, but still they insist that their heavyweight status will ensure a permanent solution to these problems. Haven’t they discovered that they cannot take over and control Muslim countries, and that the new rulers who rise to power through their intervention are often drawn into a more severe struggle and greater loss of lives than was the case during the reign of the toppled dictators of the past? IS is definitely not the end of America’s problems in Syria and Iraq!
Can’t America remember the lessons of Vietnam? A terrorist war is something quite different to a conventional war, and demands an approach in which external intervention should be limited to an absolute minimum. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan should rather be empowered as “moderate” Sunnis to internally handle and solve the problem of Sunni militants in their midst. They do have the human, military and financial resources to undertake such a demanding task. In the past, Saudi Arabia has intervened in Bahrein to suppress an uprising against the Sunni government in that country, which is a much better option than involving non-Muslim countries from outside.
In the final instance, it is the duty of the Arab League to maintain peace among its member countries and to take proper action against insurgents. However, if Islam’s “big Satan” is prepared to do this difficult job on behalf of them, and in the process draw all the lightning on himself, they will gladly sit back and see what happens!
The prophetic signs of the times in the Bible clearly indicate that it is now opportune for the ancient king of the North to make his appearance amid all the chaos and disorder that presently prevail in the Middle East. As a false prince of peace he will show up at a critical moment to implement his policy of globalism without serious opposition. He will institute a world government with strongly centralised powers in the political, economic and religious spheres. Israel and its allies (those who still stand with them) will not play a prominent role in this world government:
“Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.’ For he says: ‘By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent; also I have removed the boundaries of the people, and have robbed their treasuries; so I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people, and as one gathers eggs that are left, I have gathered all the earth; and there was no one who moved his wing, nor opened his mouth with even a peep” (Isa. 10:12-14).
The title “the king of Assyria” can definitely not be applied to any ruler outside the Middle East. The same principle applies to the title “the king of the North” (Dan. 11:31-45), which likewise refers to the area directly north of Israel. This is the place where Satan’s first evil world leader, Nimrod, laid the foundation of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, which were followed by various other world empires. All of them were wicked and therefore antichristian. It is for this reason that the Antichrist is described as a beast with seven heads, which refers to seven world empires with which he is associated. John says:
“I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. … Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:7-14).
The seven heads of the beast are also described as seven mountains upon which the woman sits. They depict seven powerful empires that all existed in association with false religious systems. They did not co-exist at the same time but represent a chronological succession of empires. In the year AD 95 when John received this prophecy, five of these empires had already fallen, i.e. Nimrod’s Babylonian Empire, The Assyrian Empire, the restored Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. The sixth world empire, that of the Romans, was then in power and the final one (the end-time empire of the Antichrist) still future. The Antichrist is also associated with the eighth world empire, which will be his military reign of terror during the second half of the seven-year tribulation period (cf. Rev. 13:5-7).
During the first 42 months of the Antichrist’s reign he will establish false peace and unity on earth, and rule together with ten other kings – probably the heads of ten geopolitical and economic regions in the world. However, at a certain stage they will transfer all their powers to him, which will allow him to form a one-man dictatorship (Rev. 17:13). He will then declare himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:4) and start preparing to fight against Christ when He returns to earth (Rev. 19:19). The Antichrist will spiritually instigate all his subordinate world leaders and mobilise them to fight against Christ and His heavenly army:
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan], out of the mouth of the beast [the Antichrist], and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. … And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Rev. 16:13-16).
The big confrontation will occur on the day of Christ’s second coming, but that will be a disastrous day to the enemies of the King of kings. The Antichrist and the false prophet will be captured and cast alive into the lake of fire, and their armies destroyed when Christ only speaks a word of condemnation which will proceed like a sword from His mouth (Rev. 19:19-21). That will be the end of the short-lived empire of the Antichrist, and it will be replaced by the thousand-year reign of Christ.
The remnant in Israel will only be spiritually reconciled to the Messiah after He has returned and saved them from the false messiah. In the meantime, their national unbelief will continue until the day when the true Messiah appears in power and glory on the Mount of Olives. He will then be fully accepted by all the Jews who survived the great tribulation (Matt. 23:39). The Lord says:
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem … In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and uncleanness. … They will call on My name and I will answer them. I will say, This is My people; and each one will say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 12:10-11; 13:1, 9).
This wonderful day of reconciliation will occur directly after the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation period. At that time, people from all other nations who survived the great tribulation will also mourn over their sin and receive Jesus as their Saviour: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30).
Christ’s reign of peace will therefore begin with a first generation of Christians. Since they will be mortal people their children will all be born with a sinful nature due to the fall of man, and therefore have to be evangelised. As the millennial reign progresses, there will be more and more people who only have a form of godliness. When the devil is released from the pit at the end of the thousand years, he will deceive large numbers of these unsaved people to join him in yet another war against the kingdom of God. However, this vain effort will end in their final and eternal condemnation (Rev. 20:7-15).
It is conspicuous this this last great rebellion at the end of the millennium is also linked to the name “Gog and Magog” (Rev. 20:8). That is the same description as the one given in Ezekiel 38 and 39 to Russia – a hostile country in the far north. The devil will therefore again resort to his historic power-base in countries to the north of Israel to wage a final war against the kingdom of God in Jerusalem. That will be the last chapter in the history of spiritual rebellion instigated from these northern countries, as the Lord’s narrow way and Satan’s broad way will then reach their final destination. In the new Jerusalem and on the new earth there will never enter anything that defiles (Rev. 21:27).