Bible Prophecy, War and the Middle East – Program 3
|By: Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Hal Lindsey, Dr. Renald Showers, Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Dave Hunt, and Dr. David Breese; ©2003|
|Many nations in the Middle East have been mentioned in Bible prophecy. What does the Bible say about these nations, their relationship with Israel, and their destiny?|
What Has the Bible Said about the Nations in the Middle East?
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.
- Ankerberg: Welcome. As events continue to escalate in Iraq, as North Korea continues to threaten the world with nuclear war, and as we watch what is happening in the United Nations, people want to know, where does God say history is heading? What does the Bible say about events taking place in the Middle East? Today, we’re going to see that the Bible says specific things about the future of many nations in the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, the Sudan and Libya. But surprisingly, the Bible places the tiny nation of Israel at the center of end-time events. I find it interesting that, in the midst of all the news about what is happening in Iraq, many world leaders still believe that events in Israel will be the ones that ignite the next major world conflict. Even President Bush said he believed America’s success in the war with Iraq will set in motion events that will eventually lead to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. Unfortunately, the Arab world’s response to the president’s remarks were deeply skeptical. They simply don’t believe that America’s attempts to impose democracy by force in Iraq will be successful in bringing peace to the Middle East.
- Now, what’s important for us to notice is that, even as we speak, world events are being linked to the future of Israel. I’d like you to listen as International Journalist Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, who has lived and reported from Jerusalem, Israel for the last 12 years, and biblical scholar Dr. Renald Showers, explain why the Bible teaches world events are tied to what will eventually take place in Israel. Listen:
- Ankerberg: Now, for a lot of our people in the audience, Jimmy, they’re wondering why, when we talk about biblical prophecy and world events, we would even focus on the land of Israel. You are right there in Jerusalem. What is the connection between biblical prophecy, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and why are we starting with the nation of Israel?
- DeYoung: Well, Israel is God’s timepiece, and we can understand exactly where God is in His prophetic scenario that is laid out for us in the Word of God by simply looking at Israel. The key to understanding all of prophecy is found in Daniel 9:24, where He said, “I have a special plan for a special people in a special place.” Those special people were Jewish people; that special place is the city of Jerusalem. As you focus on those two entities, the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people, you will understand what God is doing and uniquely in this time in which we’re living, God, who said He had a plan for Israel, is starting to bring that into fulfillment.
- Ankerberg: Rennie, where does God make some of these predictions about Israel? Maybe let’s start with the huge amount of people that are coming from all over the world back into Israel. Where does God say that in Scripture?
- Showers: Well, the Lord foretold that in a number of the prophets, John, in the Old Testament. I was just teaching the book of Micah this morning and in the book of Micah God foretold that before the millennium one of the things that would have to happen is that Jews would be re-gathered from all over the world back to their homeland. And the prophet Zechariah indicates that they will be there in the end times. Joel indicates they will be there in the end times, Joel 2 and 3. Ezekiel 38 makes it very clear that Israel will be back in their homeland in the latter days. So, many of the Old Testament prophets by revelation of God made that very, very clear.
- Ankerberg: God says in Zechariah 12, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.” What is this “cup of trembling” all about?
- DeYoung: I believe it’s talking about that Jerusalem is going to be intoxicating. When you saw the cup and it was trembling, Proverbs, remember, it says, “Don’t go near that cup when the ingredients in the cup are moving.” I think what it’s talking about in the end times there are going to be enemies of Israel, those who want to take over and take charge of Jerusalem which God has given to the Jewish people for His special purpose, and they are going to be intoxicated with power.
- For example, 1994, Bill Clinton came for his first visit to Israel. He came and in the Arabah they signed the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. But then he came into Jerusalem. As a journalist I was covering this situation and Bill Clinton said he wanted to go into the old city and up onto the Temple Mount. He had never been there, wanted to do some sightseeing. The mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, said, “I’ll be happy to take you up there.” When he said that, Yasser Arafat said, “You will not take him up there! Nobody will take him up there!” They locked every single gate to the Temple Mount. They put armed Palestinian guards behind them. And Yasser Arafat made the statement, “Nobody goes on the Temple Mount unless I take them up there and do the tour with them.”
- Well, this man has become intoxicated with power, controlling what is the most important spot on the face of the earth for the Jewish people. And, you know, for over 1,305 years, from 691 when that Dome of the Rock was put on the spot where the temples stood in the past, they have controlled the Temple Mount area. That’s longer than both the first and the second temple stood up there. I think the “cup of trembling” is talking about those who will be intoxicated with power as it relates to the city of Jerusalem.
- Ankerberg: Now, what else does the Bible say about future events which take place in Israel and why they will be so important to the world? I asked this question of bestselling authors Hal Lindsey and Dave Hunt. Listen to their answers:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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? 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.
- Ankerberg: Now, if the Bible teaches that history is headed towards events that eventually will be connected to Israel, do we see that connection happening today? The answer is, “Yes.” Why? The reason is that the Bible predicts that in the last days, critical alliances and coalitions of nations will form across the world. Most troublingly, the Bible says some of these alliances will be formed on the basis of a mutual hatred for Israel. Right here, I’d like you to see where the Bible identifies five nations that it says will eventually form an alliance with none other than Russia, and they will come against Israel in the future. Each of the five nations in the Middle East mentioned are today Islamic nations. I’d like you to listen to an interview that I conducted with Dr. Renald Showers, professor of biblical prophecy, as he identifies the five nations spoken about by the prophet Ezekiel. Listen:
- Showers: In Ezekiel 38:5-6, God revealed five nations as they were known in Ezekiel’s day who would be allied with Russia in bringing in their armed forces against Israel at this time in the future. The first nation named in verse 5 is Persia. That’s what that nation was known as in Ezekiel’s day. The modern-day Persia is the nation of Iran. God was saying Iran is going to bring military power against Israel in the future.
- The second nation named in verse 5 is Ethiopia; some translations say Cush. I point out that the Ethiopia in Ezekiel’s day is not the same nation as Ethiopia today. The modern account of ancient Ethiopia today is the nation of Sudan, directly south of the nation of Egypt there in North Africa. And God was indicating that Sudan is going to send military force against Israel in the future.
- The third nation named in verse 5 is Libya; some translations say Put. But it is the same nation that is known as Libya today, due west of Egypt in North Africa.
- And then the fourth nation named is Gomer and all his bands, verse 6. Again, according to the best scholarship we have available today, Gomer in Ezekiel’s day was a tribal group of people who lived in the central part of the nation we know today as Turkey.
- And then the [fifth] nation named in verse 6 is the house of Togarmah of the north quarters and all his band. Again, according to the best scholarship we have available today, Togarmah was another tribal group of people who lived in Ezekiel’s day in the eastern part of what we know today as the nation of Turkey. So both Gomer and Togarmah seem to be implied that Turkey will be sending military force against Israel in the future as well.
- I would point out to you that all of these nations named in verses 5 and 6: Iran, Sudan, Libya, and Turkey today are Islamic nations and all of those right now, except Turkey at the present time, are ruled over by radical militant Muslims who want to see Israel totally annihilated. Turkey right now officially has a totally secular government, but secular news services and intelligence services indicate that government is in increasing trouble with the population of Turkey and there is a radical militant Muslim political party that is gaining favor and getting into positions of government. And even secular sources say they are wondering if Turkey in the near future will not become another Iran. And if that’s the case, then it will be ruled over by militant Muslim forces as well, which will want to see Israel totally annihilated from the face of the earth.
- Ankerberg: Now, as you know, just a few days ago Turkey shocked the United States by deciding not to permit 62,000 U.S. troops to launch a northern attack from its soil. What happened? Turkish politicians faced an anti-war sentiment in this predominantly Muslim nation. Possibly a compromise or other concessions will still be worked out. So is the coalition of nations in Ezekiel 38 coming about as the Bible predicted it would? It would seem so.
- Well then, what does the Bible say about the nation of Iraq and the city of Babylon? Keep in mind that our military commanders at the Pentagon have said that in the first day of the war, our aircraft will fly over 1,200 missions and drop more bombs in 24 hours than we dropped during the entire Gulf War. Yet, the Bible teaches that the city of Babylon will still be standing and functioning into future end-time events. It is only during the tribulation time period mentioned In Revelation 18 that the Bible says Babylon will be completely destroyed—but not until then. Notice what the Bible says: “When the kings of the earth who shared her luxuries… see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry, ‘Woe, woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come…. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’”
- Now possibly, this verse may indicate that we are growing closer to the events mentioned during the tribulation time period than we thought. Why? Because it says here that when Babylon is destroyed, it will only take one hour to do so. If today, we can drop more bombs in one day than were dropped in the entire Gulf War, and do so in such a way as to spare the infrastructure of Babylon and the nation of Iraq, how long would it take if the intention were to completely destroy only the city of Babylon? I’d like you to listen as international journalist Dr. Jimmy DeYoung talks about the prophecies in Jeremiah 50 and 51 and those still coming in the book of Revelation. This was his answer when I asked him about Saddam Hussein and the biblical significance of the city of Babylon:
- DeYoung: 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 and 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. Revelation 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.
- Ankerberg: In light of events taking place in the Middle East, where does the Bible say history is headed? In an important speech, President Bush recently announced sweeping goals that not only included a change of regime in Iraq but also peace in the Middle East. In fact, the president said that the war with Iraq should not be viewed just as a disarming of Saddam Hussein, but also it should be viewed as a battle for the future of the Muslim world. He hopes that by deposing Saddam Hussein’s regime, this will bring about sweeping benefits to the entire Middle East, which would include a peaceful settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
- Our president has set wonderful goals, but a lot of questions remain. How will the war unfold? Will U.S. troops be met with a warm welcome or with violent hostility? It has already been decided that when post-war operations take place, it will take place underneath the defense department which has given overall authority to invasion commander Tommy Franks. Assisting him will be Jay Garner, a retired Army lieutenant general who has been appointed as “peace boss.” Here are some of the challenges they will face: First, how long will it take for the U.S. to establish a democracy in Iraq? President Bush mentioned our involvement may be similar to our involvement with post-war Japan. But that took seven years. In another speech President Bush said the U.S. will remain in Iraq as long as it is necessary and not a day more.
- The second question is, How many soldiers will it take to govern Iraq peacefully? No one knows the answer to that question, but whatever the time it takes, and no matter how many soldiers are required, America’s job in Iraq will be enormous. Why? Sixty percent of the Iraqi people depend on the government for their food.
- This means that, third, our commanders will have to immediately provide Iraq’s 25 million citizens with food, water, shelter and medical care.
- Fourth, our troops will have to keep the Iraqis from settling scores among themselves, keeping the country’s three main communities, the Kurds, Sunnis and the Shiites, from fighting each other.
- Fifth, U.S. troops will have to find the weapons of mass destruction that remain in Iraq and show them to the world. Think about the dynamics of that search.
- Sixth, our military has said we are going to drop more bombs the first 24 hours than we did in the entire Gulf War, yet at the same time, we hope we won’t have to spend a lot of the American taxpayers’ money to reconstruct the roads, buildings and utilities once the war is over.
- Seventh, ironically, our forces must first destroy or capture Saddam Hussein’s military, and then they must immediately turn around and start training a new Iraqi military in order to establish Iraq’s borders and preserve the peace when the United States pulls out.
- Eighth, American troops will have to root out Saddam Hussein’s party officials, local operatives and those still loyal to the old regime.
- Ninth, we will have to manage Iraq’s oil supplies in such a way that the world will accept the fact that the United States has not invaded Iraq to rob it of its oil.
- In light of all of these challenges, how soon will the U.S. be able to leave Iraq? No one knows. How long will it take to establish a true democratic political structure? No one knows. Further, what if the majority of the Iraqi people are sympathetic to fundamentalist Muslim thinking? What kind of government will result in future elections, and will that government be friendly to America? Will the new Iraq be in favor of our plans for Israel and the Palestinians? Will a wave of democracy break out in other Arab nations as a result of what we do in Iraq?
- Finally, when America does turn to deal with the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, what will we face there, and where does the Bible say all of these events are headed? In Zechariah 12:2, God states: “In that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Here God says that in the last days all the nations of the earth will be against Israel. Is that starting to happen now? Think of the Islamic nations in the Middle East. What are they currently saying about what they would like to see happen to Israel? What is the attitude of nations in Europe? Isn’t it true that only the United States remains Israel’s friend and could that change in the days ahead? Possibly. Remember, Ariel Sharon’s newly elected government has taken some strong stands that are directly opposite of those President Bush announced he’d like to see.
- We’re going to talk about that more next week. But right now, would you like to hear a word of hope from the Bible in the midst of all of these cataclysmic events that we’re facing? Christ says He is coming back for those that belong to Him, Listen as Jimmy DeYoung explains:
- DeYoung: Twenty-five hundred years ago, God breathed into some ancient Jewish prophets information that is like reading the front page of the newspaper today. It said there will be a coalition of nations, and we’ve been talking about some of them: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Egypt, whatever—these other nations that will come against Israel in the last days. It also says that they will be talking about “peace, peace, peace.” And the Saudi peace plan, this is all evidence that we’re quickly moving into the prophetic scenario laid out in God’s Word. I’d have to say the stage is set. All the actors are moving into place. And what is so exciting about that is that Jesus Christ said He would come at that time. He would come. The only way this thing is going to be settled is for the return of Christ to take place—Christ coming back and then settling everything in the Middle East. Bashar Al-Assad said what’s wrong in the Middle East is, the Jews believe the Bible. They believe God has given them all this land which includes half of Egypt, all of Israel, all of Lebanon, all of Syria, half of Iraq, three-quarters of Saudi Arabia, all of Jordan.
- Well, that’s true. But that only happens when Jesus comes back, and the evidence is that Christ could come basically at any day. According to the prophetic Word of God, there is not one thing that has to happen as it relates to these nations coming against Israel, and the desire for peace to be in place. Not one other thing has to happen before Jesus Christ can come back. That’s what is so exciting. That’s the hope that we as Christians have in the Word of God.