Bible Prophecy, War and the Middle East – Program 1
|By: Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Hal Lindsey, Dr. Renald Showers, Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Dave Hunt, and Dr. David Breese; ©2003
|What is going to happen to the nation of Israel? Do current events indicate the return of Christ might be near?
Where is History Heading?
Today, on The John Ankerberg Show: Bible prophecy, war, and the Middle East. In the midst of terrorist threats, divisions in the United Nations and events in Iraq, where does the Bible say history is headed? Today, in addition to events in Iraq, North Korean leaders sent shockwaves across the world threatening that any economic sanctions imposed against their nation would be regarded as a declaration of war and the start World War III. Are we approaching the last great war the Bible calls the Battle of Armageddon? What is the hope of Christians around the world? How close are we to the return of Jesus Christ?
Answering these questions, John’s guests are some of the most respected and knowledgeable professors and teachers of biblical prophecy around the world. They are: international journalist Jimmy DeYoung, who for the last 12 years has lived and reported from Jerusalem, Israel; also, Hal Lindsey, Dr. Renald Showers, Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Dave Hunt, and the late Dr. David Breese. We invite you to join us.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome. As we face threats from North Korea, division in the United Nations and events in Iraq, people want to know, what does the Bible say about events taking place in the Middle East? Where does God say history is heading? You will hear today that the Bible actually says specific things about many nations in the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, the Sudan, and Libya. We will look at that in just a moment. But to begin, anyone who reads their Bible will quickly realize that the nation of Israel is at the center of biblical prophecy. God’s Word said Israel is the nation to watch. Why? There are many reasons, but I’d like you to listen as Hal Lindsey, Dave Hunt and the late Dr. David Breese explain why the major end-time events will eventually all be tied to what’s happening in Israel. Listen:
- Ankerberg: What does the Bible have to say will happen to the nation of Israel? You have said in your books that one of the most important signs that would signal Jesus Christ’s return to earth would be near is the nation of Israel itself. That it would sort of start the prophetic time clock moving, ticking, and when we see that, boy, our antenna better go up. Tell us what you mean.
- Hal Lindsey: Well, the whole centerpiece of the prophetic scenario rests around the nation of Israel. There are three things the Bible predicted would happen to the people of Israel just shortly before the return of Christ. First, there would be the miraculous rebirth of the state of Israel physically; second, they would recapture old Jerusalem and have sovereign control over it; third, they will rebuild the temple.
- You know, it’s extraordinary that in the 1800’s there was a great resurgence of interest in prophecy, and men began to categorize it and take it literally, especially in England and Scotland. There were many in those days who began to say certain things that indicated they believed that prophecy would be fulfilled. For instance, Dr. John Cummings in 1864 said, and I quote, “As a nation they were cut off and dispersed and it is as a nation that Israel shall be gathered and restored again.” Well, in that time no one believed that was possible. In 1866, James Grant said, “The personal coming of Christ to establish his thousand year reign on earth will not take place until the Jews are restored to their land and the enemies of Christ and the Jews have been gathered together and their armies from all parts of the world and besiege Jerusalem and are then destroyed.” In 1669, a Colonial preacher in New England, Increase Mather, said in his book, The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation, that Israel would have to be reborn again in the last days. This was an impossible thing in the light of times then. Israel was scattered throughout the world; persecuted, from Russia all the way around to Morocco.
- Ankerberg: Hal, I’ve got to interrupt you here, because I want people to really zero in on what you’re talking about here. Those guys that you just quoted, Israel was not a nation when they said that.
- Lindsey: Exactly. No hope of it.
- Ankerberg: And they said on the basis only of the Bible verses that we’ve got in front of us, God’s going to somehow, someday gather them from all over the world and they’re going to become a nation. And the skeptics laughed.
- Dave Hunt: John, let me just interject something here. You see, that’s our whole topic—prophecy —and the Bible is absolutely unique. It’s not only just about Israel but about so many other things. You’re not going to find any predictive prophecies like we’re talking about in the Qur’an, in the Hindu Vedas, in the Book of Mormon. I don’t care where it is, no religious writings will you find it. The Bible is absolutely unique. And it happens to be true.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. The reason, Dave, is that God Himself gave us prophecy for that reason. God gave us biblical prophecy according to the Old Testament for this reason, quoting God, “So that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.” God said in Isaiah 46, “To whom will you compare Me? To whom will you liken me? I make known the end from the beginning from ancient times what is still to come. I say, my purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. What I have said, that will I bring about. What I have planned, that will I do.” God challenged anybody else in any other religion to come up with information like that which is found in the Bible.
- Ankerberg: Now, just behind the main news of events of what’s taking place in Iraq and North Korea, tensions and fighting between Israel and many of her Arab neighbors are still at the flashpoint. I’m sure you remember, it was Saddam Hussein who launched SCUD missiles at Israel at the beginning of the first Gulf War, and it was President Bush Sr. who persuaded the Israeli prime minister not to retaliate so that he could keep the worldwide coalition together. Today, Saddam Hussein would still like to shift the focus from himself to an “Arab-Jewish war” and will probably try to do so. Whether or not he is successful, after the world deals with Saddam Hussein, it will still have to come back and try to make peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors. Right at this point, it’s interesting to discover what the Bible says is the reason that almost all the nations of the world have sided with the Arabs against Israel. Why is there so much anti-Semitism springing up in European countries once again? In Zechariah 12:2-3 the Bible says the future of the little nation of Israel will be a cup of trembling unto all the people, even though the Bible insists all the people of the earth will be gathered together against it. What does this mean? I talked about this with Dave Hunt, Hal Lindsey and Dr. David Breese after the first Gulf War. Listen:
- Hunt: Zechariah 12, God said, “In the last days I am going to make Jerusalem a cup of trembling for all nations.” A little later on He says, “A burdensome stone to all the peoples.” That this—what do they have, Hal? One-sixth of one percent of the Arab land?—this is what all this battle is about? And that that little insignificant piece of nothing, it was swampland or desert, that the eyes of the world are focused upon this today. And everybody, I don’t care who you are or what you believe, you know that the last battle is going to break out over Israel.
- Lindsey: Well, you can see how that is happening now. Since the Arabs have most of the oil, since our industrial bases need that oil, we can’t afford to offend the Arabs. And therefore whatever bothers the Arab bothers the world. They see to it. And yet, that which bothers them most is Israel. This latest crisis in the Gulf was really about Israel. Now, most of the nations fighting over there had no sense that they were there fulfilling a purpose of God. Scripture says, in Ezekiel chapters 36-39 it gives the sequence that once the nation of Israel is reborn, it will never be destroyed again. God will allow the people to go through great discipline, but they will never be destroyed again before the Messiah comes and sets them up as the Kingdom of God. Had the U.S. and Allied Forces not gone to fight Saddam Hussein, they could have, and I’m sure would have, destroyed the state of Israel. That could not happen. So we had a Persian Gulf Crisis. I believe that was the main significance of what just happened.
- Ankerberg: Dr. Breese, we’ve talked about the fact that prophecy predicted that the Jews would come back and form a nation. That’s happened. The Bible prophesied that they would take over the capital Jerusalem, their holy place, again, and third, they would build the temple. The drawing plans are there. The utensils are actually being made. Right now George Bush is getting ready to go to the Holy Land and he wants to have the Jews give up land for peace. What is the Israeli strategy? Take us into the mind of a Jewish person. What would they be thinking as they see Bush and the world trying to force them to give up land so there will be peace?
- Dr. Dave Breese: Yes, we can certainly expect immediately the strong pressure for a peace conference. Now the initial agenda will be peace in the Middle East. But agendas change, and soon it will be world peace. But that will focus upon the critical, what shall we say, culprit of the Middle East being the state of Israel. And you can be sure that there will be pressure to give up land for peace. In my opinion, Israel will give up land to the Arabs when shrimps will learn to whistle! And the reason is that if the West Bank were gone, Israel would have a narrow waist about 15 or 16 miles wide that could be overthrown in seconds. It’s ridiculous.
- I’ll never forget a conversation I had in the Knesset once upon a time as I talked with an Israeli in leadership for quite some time. We finished with the military situation, and he said to me, he said, “Dave, remember something. In the battles of the Middle East, the Arabs could lose many times and still come back. We can only lose once and it is all over.” And then he said, “To be or not to be, that is the question!” Well, if the question is to be or not to be, then you cannot afford those diplomatic niceties where you set up a conference and meet with someone three weeks from now and appoint a few committees and have a cocktail party and table the motion. They have got to decide now what to do about any threat. Consequently, it’s possible for the Israeli Chiefs of Staff to meet at midnight and that Air Force flies by 4 o’clock in the morning. They have the most instantly responsive military force in the world, and, of course, the reason is because the question with Israel is not, “What do you do to please the world?” and “How do you get along with so-called diplomats of the world?” but the question is, “How can we survive.” And when you are facing a person for whom the question is survival, all of the other niceties may be nice, but they don’t mean a thing.
- Ankerberg: Now today, Americans are learning the names of nations in the Middle East they never knew existed. We’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’ll look at what nations are mentioned in the Bible and what God says will happen in the future.
- Ankerberg: Now, the Bible predicts that in the last days, critical alliances, coalitions of nations will form across the world. Most interestingly, the Bible identifies five nations that exist in the Middle East now that will form an alliance with Russia and come against Israel. As you’ll hear, all five of the nations mentioned in the Bible are today Islamic nations. I interviewed Dr. Renald Showers who has taught biblical prophecy for more than 30 years at schools such as Moody Bible Institute and Philadelphia School of the Bible. He pinpoints the five nations spoken about by the Prophet Ezekiel. Listen:
- Dr. Renald Showers: It is contained in Ezekiel 38 and 39. And there God foretold the fact that in the end times there would be a whole cluster of nations that would bring their military forces jointly against the tiny state of Israel in the Middle East. One of those nations seems to be singled out as the leader of this massive military attack against Israel in the future, and God gives several identification marks of that leader. I want to point out just two of them here this evening.
- First, the name of the leader. Ezekiel 38:2 God said to the prophet, “Son of man, set your face against Gog in the land of Magog.” According to the best scholarship that’s available to us today, the ancient land of Magog to which God here referred was located up between the Black and the Caspian Seas. In other words, in the southern part of what we have known historically as the Soviet Union or Russia.
- The second identification mark is the geographical location of this leader. Beginning in verse 14 of Ezekiel 38 God said to Ezekiel, “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God, in that day when my people of Israel dwell safely shall you not know it? And you shall come from your place out of the north parts, you and many people with you, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, a mighty army, and you shall come up against my people of Israel as a cloud to cover the land.”
- The Hebrew of verse 15 literally says, “from the remotest or farthest parts of the north.” Ezekiel was a Hebrew prophet, and when he would refer to geographic locations, obviously, he would refer to them from the vantage point of his own land of Israel. This would indicate, then, that the leader of this future attack will come from the farthest parts directly north of the nation of Israel. If you were to lay hold of a good world atlas, place a finger on the state of Israel in the Middle East, move that finger straight north and go as far north as you can and still be in land mass, you would end up in the heartland of what we have known historically as Russia or the Soviet Union.
- Both of these identification marks seem to point in the same direction, namely, that Russia will lead this multi-national attack against Israel.
- Ankerberg: Now, what about Iraq? Because Iraq is so much in the news, people constantly ask, “What does the Bible say will happen to Iraq in the future?” I’d like to take you back to an interview that I conducted in 1996 when I asked this question of international journalist Dr. Jimmy DeYoung and Middle East expert Dr. Randall Price. Listen:
- Question from audience: Is it true that Saddam Hussein is trying to rebuild historical Babylon, and is that significant prophetically?
- Dr. Jimmy DeYoung: Well, I believe he is indeed endeavoring to rebuild historic Babylon. And in fact the truth of the matter is that a good Christian friend of all of us who is at Dallas Seminary, Charlie Dyer, has been into that Babylon twice, wrote a book on the subject, and testifies of the literal aspect. I saw July 25, 1990, Diane Sawyer, Prime Time Live, do an exclusive interview in the palace at Baghdad with Saddam Hussein. During that one-hour interview they did what we call in television parlance a sound bite for about a minute. They switched to Babylon. She was walking down the wall. She said, “This wall, see that brick right there. It has Nebuchadnezzar’s name on it. That’s an original brick.” She walked further and said, “They’re refurbishing the wall. Do you see that one right there? It has Saddam Hussein’s name on it.”
- Indeed, I can tell you that the President of the United States at the time of the Gulf Crisis, George Bush, gave a direct order not to touch the city of Babylon because Babylon is yet to be destroyed. During the time of the Gulf Crisis we would get in a taxi and it seemed like everybody, including the taxi drivers in Israel, were prophecy teachers. They’d say, “Well, does this look like the fulfillment of Jeremiah 50 and 51?” That fulfillment of Jeremiah 50-51 has never happened. Babylon has never been destroyed, devastated, as Sodom and Gomorrah. It will be. The Book of Revelation chapter 18 talks about the destruction of Babylon. The Book of Revelation chapter 16 says Babylon will be destroyed because God will bring vengeance upon Babylon. The reason was, Nebuchadnezzar brought the implements out of the temple back to Babylon and God will bring vengeance.
- And it’s interesting to note, in chapter 50 of the book of Jeremiah, the Medes will rise up in those last days to assist the destruction of Babylon. The Medes are the modern-day Kurds, the Kurdistan people that are in northern Iraq, western Iran and eastern Turkey. Those who want to destroy Saddam Hussein. Had, during the Gulf Crisis, the United States of America not withdrawn their air power, the Kurds would have come down with the Shiite Muslims coming up from the south and they would have destroyed Saddam Hussein.
- Ankerberg: So what do you think is going to happen with Saddam Hussein?
- DeYoung: Well, I don’t see the Bible saying if Saddam Hussein will sustain life or not. He is an unbelievable man. In fact, he is still eager…during the Gulf Crisis we heard of radio reports when he would finish the radio broadcast to his nation about what was going on, he said, “Until we meet together in the city of Jerusalem.” He said, “There’s been only one people in the history of man who ever defeated the Israelis and that was us. We went in. We captured them. We controlled the world.” He’s talking about that he is a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar, of course, which he claims to be; in fact, he claims to be the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar. But Iraq is positioned for that fulfillment.
- Question from audience: Is it true that Saddam Hussein is trying to rebuild historical Babylon and is that significant prophetically?
- Ankerberg: Yes. The old question: Is it a real spot that’s going to be destroyed? Or is it talking about evil influence and power throughout the world? Who wants to take a shot at that? Randy, go ahead.
- Dr. Randall Price: Well, you have in Scripture, I think Babylon is spoken of in different ways. There is certainly a “Mystery Babylon” which is the spiritual entity that Babylon represented which is that system of evil that encompasses all the world—that fallen system which is against God.
- Then you have a commercial Babylon which is spoken of by the prophets, which certainly is something that will exist in the last days, that will exist in a physical place, because there literally was a Babylon and apparently Babylon will be revived.
- There are those who even point to the rebuilding of Babylon by Saddam Hussein today—an operation which has not ceased. It continues to go on and desire to consolidate power there in Iraq and that part of the world.
- So, I would say that, Yes, you have the physical Babylon which will be destroyed because of the literal understanding of that text of how Babylon has fallen; that it is the Mother of Harlots. The spiritual aspects are there as well; and the commercial Babylon because of the wailing and weeping over apparently the power brokerage that it had in its days.
- Ankerberg: We’re going to talk about this more in the weeks to come, but let me say that Scripture seems to indicate that the city of Babylon will still be functioning in future end-time events. But right now I want to end by reminding us all of the importance of the information God has given to us in Scripture about future events. Here’s Hal Lindsey and the late Dr. David Breese:
- Lindsey: This is the first time in history that all of the prophetic scenario the prophets predicted would come together just before the return of Christ is actually in view.
- Breese: Jesus, when He delineated these things said, “And when you see these things BEGIN”–not end but “begin to come to pass, then lift up your heads and look up because your redemption draws nigh.”