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The Middle East In God's Word

by Dr. Paul Lee Tan (1/10/00)

 

"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Rev. 1:3).

     One-fourth of the Bible is prophecy.  And Bible prophecy contains many actual names, future events, and chronologies which are surprisingly detailed.  In Matthew 24:15, Jesus mentioned Daniel's prophecy and added these words: "whoso readeth, let him understand."

     It is apparent that Bible prophecy is given, not only for general comfort and encouragement on life's situations, but also to enable us to watch future events developing and unfolding according to God's plans.  We may not be able to tell the exact timing of future events, but we may know the "times and seasons" of future events.

     The crises in the Middle East today has made many people return to God's Word.  They want to know if the Middle East is in the Bible, and what does the Bible say about the rapid military and political changes in that region today.

     A major prophecy in Scripture relates to the BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON.  Revelation 16:16 gives us the name "Armageddon" or "Mountain of Megiddo" in Israel.  This is the last world war.  Every secular newsmen know about it.  The war will start and end in the Middle East.

I. IRAQ and EUPHRATES

     Armageddon started when the River Euphrates is dried up (Rev. 16:12).  Looking at a modern map, we find Euphrates right on top of IRAQ.  It flows throughout Iraq's entire length into the Persian Gulf.  When Euphrates dries up, the result is a land-locked land, without much access to the sea.  And that resultant state of affairs would start Armageddon.

     This "locking" strategy is exactly what the U.S. and its allies had used and are using now to blockade Iraq.  By denying it access into the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean, as well as overland routes through surrounding nations, the allies are applying the same principles of end-time war as predicted by Scripture some 2,000 years ago.

     Incidentally, two nations have control over the sources of the River Euphrates: Turkey and Syria.  Both nations are not in good terms with Iraq, with occasional news about possible diversion of the Euphrates' waters for irrigation and other purposes by these two nations.  These would cause further hardship on Iraq, which is downstream.

II. SAUDI ARABIA
   AND SCRIPTURE

     Another major event in Bible prophecy is the Russian invasion of the Middle East (Ezekiel 38, 39).  The prophet Ezekiel predicted that during that invasion, "Dedan" (Ezk. 38:13) will opposed to the King of the North. 

     The Dedanites descended from Noah and migrated southward, colonizing a major portion of the Arabian peninsula.  These would be Saudi Arabia and other minor states on that peninsula.  2,000 years ago, the Bible had predicted a pro-West alliance on that region.  Today, we see the U.S. and allies gigantic buildup on that peninsula.  Actually, Saudi Arabia, watcher of the Moslem's holy sites of Mecca and Medina, had always been friendly to the West.

III. ISRAEL, GOD'S
    PEOPLE

     Against all odds, Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948.  That was 42 years ago.  It still survives.  In fact, Israel is considered the strongest contender among Middle East's armies.  In its constant desire for survival, it strives to maintain a military superiority over its Arab neighbors.  And yet it calls itself the only democracy in the Middle East.

     Bible prophecy predicted major roles for Israel, as the world goes towards the Great Tribulation.  Finally, threatened by Arab missiles from all directions, becoming a "burden" to the world because of the volatile Israeli-Arab conflicts, and knowing that it cannot depend on America for its ultimate defense, Israel signs a treaty of protection with the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27).

     This marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation, as well as the launching of the antichrist into world politics.  That will result in the antichrist's becoming King of the World (Rev. 13) during the last half of the tribulation.

     Therefore, continue to watch Israel.  It is a state surrounded with amazing miracles and fantastic Bible prophecies. 

 

IV. AMERICA IN THE
     END TIMES

     Strangely enough, America is not in Bible prophecy.  This is more amazing in view of the fact that Russia was given major treatment by the prophets.  Why is today's superpower America not in prophecy?

     There are several possibilities. 

     First, America could have been included under the Revived Roman Empire, which is Europe today.  As we know, the American continent was colonized by Europeans and its peoples and system of government are mostly from Europe.  Therefore, prophecy might have included America under the Western Confederacy as foretold by Daniel 2 and 7.

     Second, America might have been so weakened and corrupted by its moral decadence, economic troubles, and social unrest that it would ceased to exert a major influence in end-time world affairs.  It would revert to an isolationist policy that world allow the world to go by.

     Third (and the strongest possibility), the RAPTURE of the church would collapse this great nation, and cause it--momentarily--to be without effective leadership in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial departments.  This is the most Christianized nation in the world today, and the Rapture would spell the end of its major influence in end-time wars. 

     However, America would be revived and remobilized at the end of the Great Tribulation, when the forces "of the whole world" (Rev. 16:14) gather in northern Israel to fight Armageddon.

V. CONCLUSION

     We have dealt with just a few major players of the end times, especially relating to recent Middle East events.  The Bible prophets gave comprehensive treatments on forces from the North, East, South, and West which will converge on the Middle East during end times.

     As Christians, we need not fear events as they unfold, for two reasons:

     (1) All is in God's plans, and He holds the future.  Matthew 24:6 says: "See that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass."

     (2) The Rapture of the Church, I believe, will occur before the Great Tribulation.  Revelation 3:10 says that God will "keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world."  We do not need to go through the unprecedented time of the Tribulation.

     Meanwhile, what must we do?

     (1) Watch for signs of His return.  Matthew 24:33 says "When ye see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."  Be a watchman, warning yourself and others.  Be a Noah before the flood comes.

     (2) Do everything "for Christ."  Colossians 3:23 says that "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men."  Continue to study, work, live daily lives--but do it for Christ.  The Bible promises rewards for faithful, not idle, servants.

     (3) Resist Satan, the Enemy of Souls.  As we approach the end times, Satan will be even more active and alive.  Do not fear him.  He is a defeated enemy.  Know his wiles and resist him in the blood and power of Christ (Rev. 12:11).

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

 

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