“When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Our last ‘hoofbeats’ post ended with Christ’s prophecy of the “wars and revolutions”
that would precede the end of this current age. Today we’ll examine the first three conditions of this prophecy as part of our exhortation to 'watch'
for His coming. With rebellions occurring all over the Middle East, this prophecy is taking on greater urgency with each passing day. CONDITION #1) Wars and Revolutions"When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened."
Since their return to the land in 1948, Israel has seen virtually nothing BUT wars and revolutions, not only in their own land, but in the surrounding Muslim nations as well. So this statement was quite prophetic indeed. Since the conclusion of WWII, it would seem that the Middle East has been the epicenter of the social and political unrest in the world, and this unrest appears to be ratcheting up to an entirely new level in recent weeks.
As this is written, the Tunisian
government has already fallen, and the demonstration in Egypt has become increasingly violent, causing President Hosni Mubarak to issue a promise to step down later this year. Now this unrest has spread to Jordan, and King Hussein has had to make a number of political maneuvers in a bid to maintain power. But it doesn't end there. Consider what has happened in the Middle East and North Africa in just the last two weeks alone;
1) Tunisian government forcibly overthrown
2) Thousands of Somalis fled to Yemen to avoid genocide
3) Rioters are attempting to take down the government of Yemen
4) Iran successfully installed their puppet Prime Minister in Lebanon
5) Iran returned the 'Mahdi Army' radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Iraq
6) Rioters are attempting to take down the government in Egypt
7) Churches are being bombed and Christians killed throughout many Muslim countries
8) Demonstrators are attempting to overthrow the government in Jordan.
9) Demonstrations are now brewing in Algeria and Morocco.
And this is only a partial list. If you read any news service from the Middle East, you'll find an entire series of demonstrations, riots, and general uprisings that may surprise you. It seems that the spirit of revolution is alive and well, and is spreading like a brush fire. While terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbollah are hinting of a ‘summer war’ against Israel in 2011, Israel's remaining neighbors are also growing increasingly anti-semitic. Israel's hostile neighbors today include Syria and Lebanon (Hizbollah) to the north, Gaza (Hamas) to the southwest, and the West Bank (Fatah and Hamas) to the east. To date, only Egypt to the south and Jordan to the east have provided any stability for Israel, but if their current governments fall, Israel will likely be completely surrounded by hostile Islamic governments. Of course, the Bible portrays just such a political scenario in the last days.CONDITION #2) Nation Will Rise Against Nation
The next condition would be that these revolutions would lead to nations rising against each other. While the world has seemingly always been at war and nations have always risen against nations, I believe that this prophecy is specific to the Middle East, and to a particular point in time.
If you study the visions of Daniel as a progressive revelation, it becomes apparent that they describe a renewal of the ancient battles between Syria (the King of the North) and Egypt (the King of the South) in the last days. We have already seen this division in recent decades, as the Shiites in the northern 'horn' of the Fertile Crescent have become allied against the Sunnis in the southern horn. As Iran continues to grow it’s influence with these northern nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, Syria has emerged as it's most useful pawn.
It is through Syria that the antichrist will make his move, according to Daniel chapter 11. This is confirmed by Islamic prophecy, which holds that the 'Mahdi' will return to Damascus when he 'returns' to the earth from a 'well' (read 'Abyss') Some of you may remember that we covered this in class a few years ago. Of course, you may also remember that he will be accompanied by 'Isa''(the false Jesus) when this takes place. However you slice it, he will be a 'King of the North' that will initially use Syria as his capital, and he will be strongly opposed by the Egyptian 'King of the South'. That leads us to the next point.CONDITION #3) Kingdom Against Kingdom
As the world is introduced to "the man of lawlessness" described by the Apostle Paul, many nations will oppose him, at least initially. But as he consolidates his Islamic empire and reconstructs his Caliphate, nation by nation will fall to him like dominos. Still, Daniel 11 makes it clear the Egypt will oppose him more than once, and so the ancient battles of the Seleucids in the North and the Ptolemies in the South will be revived.
I believe these two factions are symbolized by the two legs from Nebuchadnezzar's statue in Daniel 2, with the five 'toes' of the Seleucids probably represented by Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, and the five 'toes' of the Ptolemies represented by Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. This list constitutes the ten modern-day nations that are prophesied for destruction by Isaiah, and since the book of Revelation also prophesies ten nations in the last days (ten ‘horns’), it would seem that Daniel and John were speaking of the same thing. NEXT TIME:
In the next installment we’ll examine the frequency of earthquakes, famines and pestilence that have been increasing at an alarming rate.