Crisis in the Middle East/Program 1
|By: Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Dr. Renald Showers; ©2006|
|Hamas and Hezbollah continue to launch attacks against Israel. Who is behind them? What is their ultimate goal?|
My guests today are journalist Dr. Jimmy D. Young, who has lived in Jerusalem since 1991 and has personally interviewed many of the international leaders in the Middle East including every Prime Minister of Israel since 1991, as well as the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the late King Hussein of Jordan, his son King Abdullah II, and many others. And second, author and professor of biblical prophecy, Dr. Renald Showers.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program we’re talking about the crisis in the Middle East. And I have news correspondent Dr. Jimmy DeYoung here, and Professor Dr. Renald Showers with us as well. And, Jimmy, you have lived in Jerusalem since 1991. You’ve watched all these crises come and go, you’ve seen the different wars, you’ve attended the peace signings, the conferences that they have had. You’ve covered all of this. What strikes you about this crisis in the Middle East?
- Dr. Jimmy DeYoung: The fact that from the south Hamas is attacking the Jewish state. From the north Hezbollah is attacking, both having connections to Damascus and Syria; the leader of Hamas headquartered for the last 22 years in Damascus. And, of course, facilitated by Damascus and Syria, Hezbollah has been able to, for the last six years in reality, continue to lobe these katyusha rockets over into northern Israel.
- Ankerberg: A lot of the experts are talking about the fact that it is a sure fact that the strings are being pulled from Syria, secondarily, and Iran, primarily. Is that true?
- DeYoung: Well, it seems to be the case, because on the Saturday before the Wednesday attack at the northern border by Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran met with all the leaders of the Islamic Arab states in Tehran. And at that point in time he made the statement, “We must remove Israel from the map.” And he clarified what he said earlier when he said, “We are going to wipe Israel off the map.” That word in Arabic is not as strong as “remove them from the map.” He said, “We will have to do this and it will have to be done immediately.” And within three days Hezbollah, the surrogate terrorist organization for Iran and Syria, attacked Israel’s northern border.
- Ankerberg: How strong is Hezbollah?
- DeYoung: Hezbollah, they believe, is about at its highest strength for the Iranian revolutionary guard that came in in 1982 out of Iran, about 5,000. They have a number of others who are very sympathetic to Hezbollah, but this initial core of Hezbollah, they are not Palestinian, they are not Lebanese, they are Iranian. And the Ayatollah Khomeini sent them in in 1982 for the exact purpose that we have been seeing in the last couple of weeks.
- Ankerberg: Why has UN Resolution 1559 never been implemented? Never been enforced?
- DeYoung: Because, as some of the Middle Eastern leaders are saying, the United Nations is impotent. They have not done what they needed to do. They made certain that Israel withdrew in May of 2000, but then that resolution called for them to disarm Hezbollah and for the Lebanese army to move down and to have control of that southern area of Lebanon. The United Nations did not follow through, thus the result.
- Ankerberg: You know, Iran has 69 million people. Syria has 19 million people. Israel only has about 6.2 million people. In an all out war, how in the world can Israel survive?
- DeYoung: I started to smile as you gave those numbers out. That’s been the case for 4,000 years. And as we look back in history, in particular biblical history, it gives us evidence that over these 4,000 years, God has miraculously taken care of His people. The Six Day War in 1967. How can you be attacked on three fronts and be protected and be the victor in that particular battle? Again, God is going to intercede. God is going to take care of them, these people, His chosen people. And that is what He has done in the past, seeming that is what He is going to do in the future.
- Ankerberg: Alright, tell us what the goal is of Hezbollah?
- DeYoung: They would like to remove, as I said earlier, the same statement that Ahmadinejad said to them, and as their leader they must follow his command. Sheik Nasrallah is just simply a man under orders from Iran. And he is continually voicing the statement, “We have to remove Israel from the map. And that is our goal, that is our stated goal.” That is his whole purpose, as is the case with Hamas. And though Hamas is of the Sunni Muslim sect, and the Hezbollah group from the Shiite Muslim sect, they both have those coordinators from Iran that are assisting them, giving them direction in helping build a philosophy upon which they are doing these things.
- Ankerberg: People want to know what is motivating these folks to do what they are doing. I mean, they are hiding behind innocent civilians, they are launching rockets from inside the houses from where people live, they are committed to eradicating, like you say, Israel. What’s the motivation that’s in back of all this?
- DeYoung: It has to be their religion. A religion that basically says, “We have an eschatology, we are going to rule the world.” Ahmadinejad is somewhat of a messianic. I am not talking about believing that Jesus Christ is going to come back and set up his kingdom. But he believes in a Muslim messiah, and he believes he is the forerunner of that. He is inciting the Arab Islamic street. And now we see that being played out by Hezbollah and Hamas. And all facilitated by Syria, which is all part of the game plan that the Bible seems to indicate will be the case in the last days.
- Ankerberg: What strikes you about Syria’s involvement from a biblical perspective, professor?
- Dr. Renald Showers: Well, John the prophetic Scriptures indicate that Israel is going to have serious problems with Syria. One nation together with some others in the future tribulation period, the last seven years before Christ returns to rule the world on behalf of God. Daniel 11, interestingly, in verses 36-39, we have the future Antichrist described. Then when we come to verse 40 of Daniel 11, we are told that the king of the south and the king of the north will push at him militarily.
- Now the question is, who is the “him” against whom the king of the south and the king of the north push? Just right before verse 40, the Antichrist is described as a great world ruler, so obviously he is the “him”. Well then who are the king of the south and the king of the north in Daniel 11:40? Thankfully verses 1-35 of Daniel 11 have already been fulfilled historically. In fact, they were fulfilled even before the first coming of the Lord Jesus to the world. And when you read those first 35 verses, you find the king of the south and the king of the north referred to several times. And so since those verses have been fulfilled, we know that the king of the south there was always the nation of Egypt, directly south of Israel. And the king of the north in verses 1-35 was always the nation of Syria, directly north of Israel.
- Now that’s past history. Verse 40 has not yet been fulfilled. But here we have the king of the south and the king of the north referred to again. And in light of the fact that Daniel is not told they are different from the king of the south and the king of north of verses 1-35, we are safely concluding they are still the same two nations. So, therefore, Daniel is being told that in the end-times, the last seven years before Christ comes to rule the world, Syria from the north and Egypt from the south are going to jointly attack the nation of Israel there in the Middle East.
- And you know it’s been interesting, those two powers were involved in attacking Israel in 1948; they were involved again in the Six Day War in 1967; they were among the nations again coming against Israel in the Yum Kippur War of 1973. And so it’s consistent, and the Word of God is saying they are going to come again in the future.
- But now how will attacking Antichrist be an attack against Israel? According to Daniel 9:27, at the very beginning of this future seven year period to which we have been referring, Antichrist who will be the head ruler of a revived form of the Roman empire in the future, is going to enter into a binding seven year covenant with the nation of Israel in the Middle East. Hebrew scholars point out the Hebrew language of Daniel 9:27 is very strong. They say that it implies that he will so strongly bind Israel in the Middle East with the revived Roman empire, that he will actually regard Israel as an extension of himself and his empire in the Middle East; therefore any attack against Israel will be an attack against him.
- And so it’s my understanding that when Syria and Egypt come against Israel, Antichrist will regard that as an attack against him. And as a result we are told that in verses 40ff., that he will, keeping his covenant commitment to Israel, rush his revived Roman armies to the Middle East and begin overflowing the countries there. And when you read the following verses, it is obvious he attacks first north of Israel and apparently taking care of Syria, maybe Lebanon as well. Then it says he’ll “march south to the glorious land,” which is the nation of Israel. He won’t take time to cross the Jordan river to deal with Edom, Moab and Ammon as they were back in Daniel’s day — today that’s where Jordan is located — so when he starts going south to Israel he won’t take the time to go into Jordan, he wants to get down to Egypt. And verses 41ff., indicate that he does get down to Egypt, he conquerors Egypt and then he begins taking the spoil of the resources and the wealth in that particular nation.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are just getting started on that, and we are going to take a break, and when we come back we are going talk about this thing, will, according to the Bible, Syria be the first major nation that makes a move against Israel? And why? And how close are we to that with what we are seeing right now? So stick with us. We will be right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright we’re back, and we are talking with news correspondent Dr. Jimmy DeYoung who has lived in Israel since 1991, has covered all the major events, interviewed the major personalities in the Middle East; and Professor Dr. Renald Showers. And, Jimmy, let’s pick this up. We are talking about Syria, Lebanon, Israel, where things are going in the future. And we have been talking about Syria’s involvement in the current crisis and what the Bible is talking about is going to happen in the future. And Dr. Showers was just explaining to us that Syria in the North is going to make a move, and you are saying that he is going to make a major move, he will be the first nation to make a major move on Israel.
- DeYoung: I agree with that. I believe that Daniel, 2500 years ago, pre-wrote history. We see that history just about to come to pass. The truth is, Syria is armed and ready. And, in fact, during the last couple of weeks Bashar Assad, who is the president of Syria — not much of a military man, but when he replaced his father, the late Hafez al-Assad as the dictator of Syria, he had to take charge of the military — and most recently he has told the military to be ready because it looked like they may come in conflict with the people of Israel, the Israeli defense force.
- Quite interestingly, when this was all beginning to come about, the Israeli defense force sent two of their F-16’s and they buzzed his summer palace to just give him a warning. But in the last couple of days we have also seen that Israeli defense force soldiers are going close to the border. The fact is that they have taken out some convoys bringing some of the munitions into Hezbollah from Damascus, Syria. The fact is that Russia has refurbished every single one of their weapons. They have now advanced Scud missiles with launchers just at the northern border with Israel in Syria, of course. But they can reach any location in all of the state of Israel. They have a stated purpose that they would like to destroy the state of Israel as well. They have helped facilitate that with Hamas, with all, basically, of the Palestinian terrorist organizations, eleven of them headquartered right there in Damascus. And so I believe the stage is set for them to make the first move, and as the Bible says, that is going to be the case.
- Ankerberg: Two other things I need from you, Jimmy. And that is the fact that, since you’ve lived there, describe the small parameters of Israel’s geography. And then, secondarily, describe what is happening in the political structure of Lebanon. I want the folks to realize how narrow the borders are. I mean you’ve got a tough time almost hitting Israel with one of those Katyusha rockets because there is not that much land to hit in the first place. But the fact is that they are close enough to lob them into any place in Israel. And Israel has got a tough time here because everybody is on their borders.
- DeYoung: Well, at the northern border you’ve got Lebanon. At the northeastern border you have Syria. For example, I think a perfect geographical example of what the case is, is Mount Vermont. 9000 feet high but it is controlled by four different states: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel. One mountain range, its not a big mountain range, but the four different states are controlling it.
- And Syria, having just recently pulled out of Lebanon, as far as the political structure of Syria is concerned, they were known (Lebanon was I’m talking about) as Greater Syria until the United Nations forced, under world pressure, forced Syria to pull out. But they have about 5,000 agents still inside the country and are pulling the strings politically in the state of Lebanon, which of course is enhancing what Hezbollah wants to do.
- The geographical location in the north of Israel is very, very, very tight. And you say those Katyusha rockets can hit almost any place, that is correct. You are talking about, the Sea of Galilee, for example, you are talking about maybe 30 miles away from the northern border of Israel. When you are talking about Haifa, their major port city, third largest city in the State of Israel, you are talking about 25 miles. Those Katyusha rockets have that much of a range. And then not only does Hezbollah have those Katyusha rockets, about 12,000 of them, they have many other long-range missiles as well; supplied by Iran, facilitated, giving those weapons in across the Bekaa valley into Hezbollah.
- So, they are all there and I believe that Syria is ready to make the move. Bashar Assad believes it, he is getting his forces ready, it could happen at any time.
- Ankerberg: Bring us up to the date on what is the president, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, thinking? What is he dealing with?
- DeYoung: Well, you know really he has a very unstable government. It’s a shell of a government. He is afraid to deal with Hezbollah; he knows exactly what is going to happen. He has to, I believe, publicly state that they are going to back Hezbollah. Several of the Hezbollah party itself are cabinet members in his government. He is not removing them from power. He is making a statement. And then you have to deal with the situation that the Israeli defense force, the Air Force in particular, is taking out the infrastructure of Lebanon. So he has to respond to that in some way, shape or form. His country is being torn apart. They are reverting back to the times of the civil war they had just several years ago.
- Ankerberg: But I find it interesting that officially, the government of Lebanon, and the Prime Minister specifically has said, “You cannot call Hezbollah a terrorist group; you can’t even call them a militia. They are a resistance group, basically part of the government.” So the fact is, if the government itself is saying that officially they are part of our government, okay? You have a clash between Lebanon and Israel. Israel and the rest of the world looks at them as a terrorist group who is lobbing rockets, we’ve got to stop this some how. We’ve got an impasse going here. In fact you know, as one of the news commentators says, “The world’s a mess and nobody’s got an answer to this one,” okay? What do you think about this peace force, this militia, or these combat soldiers that are going to be put in from the different nations, nobody knows whose they are yet but that fact is, they are talking about it. But what in the world are they facing when they go in there?
- DeYoung: Well, they cannot be like they have been since 1979. because they have been completely a nebulous entity up there. They have just simply been record keepers, and watching the movements and reporting that sometimes. But they have not been a peace keeping force.
- I think one of the very interesting moves we saw by the Israeli defense force was to push all of southern Lebanon, north of the Latani River, so they can have that buffer zone, which they had, by the way, until May of 2000 when they were forced by the United Nations to remove it. But if they can push all the way to the Latani River, have that open space, have all the terrorists removed.
- And we have got to define the word terrorist. A resistance or a freedom fighting organization fights military to military, face to face. A terrorist organization goes into a hospital and fires its weapons at the military that is coming at them. Goes into a four story building full of children and fires its weapons; kills innocent children and elderly and women. They are not fighting a military battle. They are fighting, kill the innocent people, and make fear be that which causes them to withdraw, or do what needs to be done. But that peace keeping force, if its going to come in a be effective, it must come in with some power and some philosophy that they are going to shut down Hezbollah and stop them from firing rockets into Israel. They are trying to destroy the State of Israel.
- Ankerberg: Dr. Showers, with all this going on and the world not having an answer to this crisis, alright? And it’s just continuing while we are doing this program. The fact is, biblically put this in perspective. What are the things that strike you about this crisis and where history is headed?
- Showers: Well, John, the point is, people talk about peace. Again there cannot be any peace in that part of the world until those who hate Israel are willing to accept Israel’s presence there permanently and live in peace with Israel. And again, as Jimmy indicated earlier, their religion won’t let that take place. Because according to their religion, where their religion has ruled a certain area of the world, if later on their religion loses control of that area of the world, that is a dishonor to their God. And so for the honor of their God they must reclaim again that area and submit it again to their religion again.
- And you know, where Israel is today, during the Middle Ages, and even up to the end of World War I, their religion dominated from time to time that area, ruled over it. And then they lost control of it when Great Britain ended the Turkish Ottoman Empire rule over the land of Israel after it had been there about 400 years. And since that time it has been a government that isn’t of their religion. And so they believe for the sake and honor of their God they must get rid of this government that is not of their religion. And if they are really committed to their religion, they are driven to that, and at any cost. Even if it means losing our lives we must eliminate this entity that does not believe in our God and our religion. That’s what drives them.
- Ankerberg: We are going to talk next week about the nations specifically that the Bible talks about are going to come into a coalition and come against Israel. We’ve already started with Syria, okay, that’s one of them. Egypt we’ve said is another; we are going to talk more about Egypt. But there are five others that are going to come in. And we are going to tie that to current events. But, Jimmy, there’s a lot of people in the Middle East, around the world outside the United States, that are watching this program, and they don’t have security. We are going to talk about terrorism, how it’s expanding worldwide. Even in our own country people are afraid. And the fact is, we don’t want to leave them with this idea that you just need to be afraid of the future. Jesus Christ has done things for us. Tell them how they can have security and peace in their mind while this stuff is raging around them.
- DeYoung: Well, the fact is that because of all that is happening and how that it correlates with Bible prophecy, it gives an urgency of the moment that we must be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ. Preparation comes, it’s as simple as ABC: Admit you are a sinner, not to John, or Jimmy, or Rennie, but to a pure, perfect Holy God; you Believe that Jesus Christ came, lived, died, was buried, resurrected and went back to heaven and is coming again; and you Call upon Him to come into your heart and your life and save you. That is what needs to be done in preparation for what is happening, unfolding before our very eyes.
- Ankerberg: Next week we are going to continue, we have talked about Syria, but people say in back of Syria — Syria is really the secondary figure — in back of Syria is Iran, and Iran is developing nuclear capabilities, giving a problem to the UN. And the fact is that they are also pulling the strings through Syria into Hezbollah as well as Hamas. We are going to talk about them in terms of biblical prophecy next week. I hope that you will join us.