Current Middle East Developments and Bible Prophecy
The Middle East is in turmoil.Â Â War has erupted across the border of Israel and Lebanon while the killing in Iraq brings in a daily toll of victims.Â As the region supplies most of the world’s oil, what happens there is of vital importance to the rest of the world. Behind the scenes there is a momentous conflict taking place between Iran and its allies and the United States and its allies.The war between Israel and Hezbollah is really a war between Israel and Iran and ultimately a war about whether Islamic fundamentalism will succeed in imposing itself on the whole Middle East.Â It is ultimately a war which involves us all whether we like it or not. Iran is the supplier of Hezbollah through Syria and is seeking to export the Shiite version of revolutionary Islam through this client army operating as a state within the state of Lebanon. Israel is now accused of destroying Lebanon but it is Hezbollah together with Syria and Iran who must bear the responsibility for what is happening.Â For what purpose does this organisation want 12000 missiles?Â For what purpose has Iran supplied them?
Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has called for the elimination of the State of Israel and threatens all those who support Israel.Â At a rally on August 1st he said, ‘The fire of the wrath of the peoples is about to erupt and overflow and the people will soon rage.Â Today the Iranian people is the owner of nuclear technology.’
Iran’s leader Ahmadinejad believes he is preparing the way for the appearance of the Mahdi, a Saviour figure in Shiite Islamic teaching who will reappear at the end of this age at a time of great distress on the earth and impose Islam on the whole world.Â Â Defeating Israel is seen as a key preparation for this event.Â Posters in Iran show that the Iranian
regime is standing shoulder to shoulder with Hezbollah.Â Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah said the world would soon see the demise of Israel. His aim is not just the destruction of Israel but the elimination of all Jewish people.Â On October 22, 2002, Hassan Nasrullah told Lebanon’s Daily Star, ‘If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world wide.’
The prospect of a nuclear armed Iran does not just frighten Israel.Â Â The rest of the Arab world is alarmed at the rise of Iran as a regional power. The Lebanon conflict has the potential of bringing Syria and Iran into direct conflict with Israel with the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being fired.Â This along with the conflict already taking place
in Iraq has the potential to cause a meltdown in the Middle East with incalculable consequences for the whole world if oil supplies are cut back or shut off from the region.
Looking at the rest of the world we see different positions being taken. America is hostile to Iran and supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself.Â The possibility of a direct assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities from America cannot be ruled out. Russia has supplied Iran with nuclear technology in the first place and also entered a defence pact with Iran and Syria. China is supportive of Iran which supplies it with much of its oil.
In the middle is the EU, which is generally critical of US foreign policy in the Middle East and of Israeli action in Lebanon, but also aware of the dangers of a nuclear armed Iran and wanting to restrain the spread of Islamic jihad in the Middle East and in Europe itself. The search for a peace option to prevent all out war has now centered on Europe with an international conference held in Rome on July 26th.
The present crisis has the potential to push the world rapidly towards Armageddon or to create conditions for a peace settlement backed up an international agreement to be imposed on the region by a military force. The big questions are ‘How to get such and agreement?’ and ‘Where would the military force come from?’
For the first time in its history Israel has agreed in principle to an international force to be stationed on its border with Lebanon to guarantee that Hezbollah does not rearm after the conflict is over.Â A force involving US or British troops would not be possible given the fact that their armies are already overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan.Â Â Nor would it be acceptable to Lebanon and the Arab world.
The one region which could supply such a force is the 10 nation military alliance known as the Western European Union (WEU).Â Â Interestingly the decision to incorporate the WEU into the ‘crisis management’ process of the EU was taken on Recommendation 666 of the organisation.
The key negotiator in all of this is the EU’s foreign and security affairs chief, Javier Solana.Â Solana has said deploying a multi-national force ‘under the umbrella of the UN Security Council’ would be ‘a difficult undertaking but a real possibility.’Â Â French President Chirac has said heÂ is willing to send French forces into Lebanon provided they are part of a WEU deployment. France has historic ties with Lebanon which may make this more of a possibility.Â Another country which could be approached is Turkey which has a strong army, and an interest in keeping the peace in the region which it is part of.
All of this has amazing implications in the light of Bible prophecy.Â Â The book of Revelation chapter 13 speaks of a world leader arising out of a 10 nation alliance and using the 666 number as his mark.Â The book of Daniel implies that this leader will arise out of the region of the Roman Empire and will make a covenant with Israel for 7 years (Daniel 9.26-7).Â This world leader is known in the Bible as the Beast or Antichrist.Â Â He offers peace but causes the time of the Great Tribulation which brings this age to an end.Â At the end of the 7 year tribulation period, Jesus the Messiah returns to the earth and brings peace to the world, ruling from Jerusalem during the Millennium or Messianic Age for 1000 years.
At the same time the fact that Israel’s main foe in all of this is Iran which has links with Russia is also rather amazing.Â In the book of Ezekiel chapters 38-9 we read of an army coming against Israel in the latter days made up of Islamic countries led by a great power to the uttermost north ( Russia) which mentions Persia ( Iran) as a prominent member.Â This army meets its doom ‘on the mountains of Israel’ by direct intervention of God, saving Israel from destruction.
Finally a piece of information from a most unlikely source – an Irish peat bog.Â Â Workers digging in this bog in July around the time the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah started, found a copy of an ancient book written about 800-1000 AD miraculously preserved in the bog.Â Â It was a book of Psalms open at Psalm 83.
So what does Psalm 83 say?
“O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For, behold, thine enemies make an uproar; and those who hate Thee have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Thy people, and conspire together against Thy treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.”Â Â For they have conspired together with one mind; Against Thee do they make a covenant: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah.
Deal with them as with Midian, As with Sisera and Jabin, at the torrent of Kishon, Who were destroyed at Endor, Who became as dung for the ground. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, and all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, Who said, “Let us possess for ourselves the pastures of God.”
O my God, make them like the whirling dust; like chaff before the wind. Like fire that burns the forest, And like a flame that sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Thy tempest, And terrify them with Thy storm. Fill their faces with dishonour, that they may seek Thy name, O LORD. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever; and let them be humiliated and perish, that they may know that Thou alone, whose name is the LORD, art the Most High over all the earth.”
Ron Ross from Bridges for Peace comments on this Psalm:Â Â ’100 missiles landed on northern Israel on Wednesday when we visited Kiryat Shmona. I saw the “fire that burns the forest.” It came as a product of hate and anger. Psalm 83 makes me long for the fire of God which defends His holiness and righteousness, the fire of love. I saw the evil flame that set “mountains on fire.”Â Â Psalm 83 says to all who will listen we have a day of the Lord which will repay evil for good and the Lord will defend His people.’
All of this is a reminder that God is in control and that He will have the last word on the affairs of the Middle East.Â All that is happening is paving the way for the return of the Messiah according to the clear prophecies of the Bible.Â When He comes there will be peace in the Middle East and the world and the real New World Order in which there is righteousness and truth.Â Make sure you are ready for this event by accepting Him as Saviour and Lord now!
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