GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

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GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:32 am









GOD’S PLANS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, Part I
Biblical insights to some future events in the wider Middle East.


The Holy Bible shows us God’s concerns for the Peoples of the Middle East.
Being in this central part of the world and being part of the diverse, yet gifted
Peoples, (stemming from very ancient roots), means that we can look on them, and their future with great hope and expectation of great blessings!

INTRODUCTION.
The nations that are mentioned in the Bible from very early times have been an integral part of God’s plans for mankind. God hoped from the very first pages of Genesis that mankind would spread out and develop and enjoy the wider blessings of the Earth. Therefore we read of His concern for nations, (as well as individuals) -and His plans for them as a whole. We read of His patience with them, His help for them in times of trouble and often His displeasure, and even judgments but also His great longing to bless every one.

Before the Flood. God waited a long time for the skills and privileges He had given to the first descendants of Adam and Eve to be used for good. But though those ancient people used their great God-given skills very well, (as archaeology has shown with great cities and even ‘indoor plumbing’ and good facilities, as well as art and music), it was all for selfish and godless aims. Sadly as it says, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the Earth, and His heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6.) The resulting story of God’s choice of Noah, to arrange a way of saving innocent animals and birds and any people who would accept the offer during Noah’s patient 120-year building and preaching programme, is well known. (Genesis 6 –9.) In fact, in God’s dealing with nations, especially the word or concept of God’s patience comes through, time and time again!

After the attempt to build a Tower in Babel. We would think that in the years of living memory the lesson of the punishment of the Flood would have lasted! Yet it was Noah’s own great-grandson, Nimrod, (through Cush, son of Ham) who was a leader of this next revolt against God’s plans for mankind to spread throughout the Earth to enjoy and administer it well. So it was the beginning of the great divergence of tribes, languages and ethnic groups which developed, and the groups came to be both possessive of their own areas and aggressive to others, creating many ensuing years of racial and ‘land’ wars and strife. (Genesis 11.) This has persisted to the present times, and will into the future…

God’s next plan was to choose one man, then one family and from them one Nation to honour His Name and His loving way of life. So we have the Biblical narrative of God’s special dealing with the Nation of Israel, being the descendants, ethnically of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in a very deliberate set of events, such as miraculous births to mothers unable, without God’s help to have sons. [God also promised some blessings for his other descendants through Ishmael, the natural born son of Abraham.] However God confirmed His choice by wonderful Covenants and promises, which can be traced through all the Tanakh/ O.T. for Israel, descendants of Isaac. It is very, very important to remember that God never chose anyone simply for his or her own benefit. It was always so that they would teach and show the true relationship anyone could have with their holy, powerful and loving God! God’s way was “to bless you and make you a blessing.” Therefore, because even Israel often sinned against their special God, ADONAI Elohim, they were punished in love, but always with a view to blessing them. This is still God’s way! God loves all peoples. God loves you! Here is a poem by Roy Lessin:

Psalm 138:8 says: “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me. Your love, O LORD endures forever.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HOWEVER, THE BIBLE ACCOUNTS OF ALL THE OTHER NATIONS ARE IN RELATION TO ISRAEL -AND HER GOD. Sometimes other nations were used by God to be a blessing, as Egypt was, for a period of at least 14 years, (using the Hebrew son, Joseph, especially to help them.) Sometimes God used other nations to punish Israel. The prophet Habakkuk had to understand that this was sometimes God’s way.

Sometimes God waited hundreds of years for a nation to turn to Him. We can remember the almost 400 years of God’s patience with the Amorite people and their neighbours, as God explained in the special vision He gave to Abraham. (Genesis 15: 12 –19.) “In the fourth generation,” (after Abraham),“your descendants will come back here,” (to the ‘Promised Land’) “for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” It is wise to notice that God did not give the Land, “from the River of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” – without due notice of the peoples Israel would replace. Even among them, when there was one man who respected God as Melchizedek did, God noted and recorded it in His Word. But God was patient!

Later, God, through Obadiah foretold the destruction of Edom, (descendants of Esau), as did other prophets, but it did not finally happen until hundreds of years later. In fact it was a descendant of Edom, Herod, no less, (also called an Idumean), who adopted a form of Judaism and paid Rome to be allowed to administer the Land of Israel as ‘the king of the Jews’ around the time of Jesus. Yeshua/ Isa was the true ‘King of the Jews’ and died for that claim, because Satan was behind the tragic events of His death, but allowed by God for our salvation! See Isaiah chapter 53.

Sometimes God sent prophets to warn Nations to repent, as Jonah and later Nahum did for Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Obadiah warned Edom, and God used even Jewish Captives like Daniel and Mordecai and Esther to make God and His ways known to the Nations of the Babylonians and later the Medes and Persians. Ezekiel, also a captive in Babylon, gave serious warning to many of Israel’s neighbours. You can read about them in Ezekiel 25 to 32, serious, and sad, and meaningful!

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO USE A GOOD COMMENTARY WHEN YOU READ THESE PROPHECIES, BECAUSE MANY OF THEM HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED. This is true of all the Prophetic books, because often the warnings of judgment did actually take place B.C, or shortly after the New Testament times, to 100 A.D. Some prophecies could be only partly fulfilled -with part of the message still in the future. Therefore it is very important to ask, “has this ever actually happened?” If all the information indicates that it has not happened in the past, then, of course, because it is the Word of God it will happen sometime in the future. THE DUAL INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY HAVE TO BE MADE WHEN THE O.T. SCRIPTURES DESCRIBE THE WAR OR AN EVENT THAT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING DURING THE TIME OF WRITING. WHILE ON THE OTHER HAND, THE VERSES ALSO SAW FUTURE EVENTS IN THE VISIONS OF THE PROPHETS THAT CONSIDER THE MODERN TIMES IN THE LIGHT OF THE ANCIENT WORLD MENTIONED LIKE FOR EXAMPLE PROPHECIES ABOUT PERSIA, MAGOG AND EGYPT. WARS SEEN ARE EXACTLY DIFFERENT BUT THE COUNTRIES INVOLVED ARE THE SAME AS WHAT THE PROPHETS MENTIONED IN THE PROPHECIES! See later notes on the words that were used often by the Prophets: - “In that Day’ or ‘on that Day,’ about 75 times in the Old Testament!

So what nations are we referring to in this study of ‘God’s Plans for the Middle East’?
THE NATIONS THIS ESPECIALLY APPLIES TO are all the Peoples of the Area– NOW CALLED ‘THE MIDDLE EAST’ – including the non-Arabs by origin, such as: BEDOUIN, DRUZE, EGYPTIANS, HASHEMITES, KURDS, LYBIANS, PERSIANS, (in Iran, THIS IS TRUE CUZ IRANIANS ARE NOT ARABS), SYRIANS & TURKS. True ARABS by origin, (now spread in various other Nations, such as Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf States) are PALESTINIANS, YEMENIS, and SAUDI ARABIANS. There are many tribal groupings among them all. (Non-Jews are also called ‘Gentiles’.) They number in the hundreds of millions, now, and cover a huge geographical area of land, from Syria across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the ‘Gulf States’, & Yemen.


GOD’S PURPOSES FOR ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE MIDDLE EAST.
“GOD IS NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH”.
It took 10 years for Peter, the close friend and disciple of THE MESSIAH JESUS CHRIST to really understand that God wanted even ‘Gentiles’ to come to Him. “God, Who knows the heart, showed that He accepted [the non-Jews] by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them -for He purified their hearts by faith… We believe that it is through the grace of our Lord Isa Maseeh that we are saved, just as they are!” (See Acts 15: 6 –11.) So, just as God made it very clear to Ezekiel in chapter 18 of His book, and Isa Maseeh, Himself emphasised this in John’s report of His special teaching on chapter 3, “that whoever, [individually] believes in Him shall not perish but have Eternal Life,” so every single person can know God! If you would like to understand more about this we recommend www.spreadingnet.com/2bsaved



It does not matter what nation or ethnic group you are in, God is greatly longing for you to know Him, accept that you are a sinner and because of this accept Jesus into your heart as personal Lord and Savior and be sure of going to Heaven at the end of your life. For some readers, this is hard to understand or believe, because it is different from other religions. It does not depend on how ‘good’ you are in this life, because not even one of us will ever be good enough for a Holy God! But God went to so much trouble to take the punishment of our sins on Himself. This means that just coming to Him humbly in prayer, trusting completely what His Word says, repenting of our sins and asking sincerely for His forgiveness, makes it possible for God to do a miracle in our hearts! He adopts us as His own royal children. This is the kind of miracle we all need! Then after we accept His forgiveness we show our gratitude by living a good life because we love Him.


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THE FOUR PROPHETIC CONFEDERACIES - THE KINGS OF THE EAST, SOUTH, NORTH AND WEST (REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE)

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:04 pm



Daniel 11 also mentions some of the Mideast peoples who will be involved in that struggle among the nations at the close of this age. The belligerents will include the “King of the North,” the leader of the European Union (or its final outgrowth, called the “Beast”). The “King of the South” (an Islamic leader—apparently from Egypt {or} some other Muslim state) is also referred to. The following lands/peoples are specifically mentioned: Egypt, the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine), the Ethiopians (modern Cushites, south of Egypt), Libya, Edom, Moab and Ammon. Many descendants of the ancient peoples known as Edomites or Idumeans now live in the West Bank, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Arabia, Yemen, the Persian Gulf states, etc. (McNair R. Solving the Arab-Israeli Impasse! Copyright Raymond F. McNair 2005, Church of God—21st Century).[/size]


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THE KING OF THE NORTH - RUSSIA FEDERATION OF COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES (C.I.S.)

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:06 pm

DANIEL 2
2:24Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation. 2:25Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation. 2:26The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? 2:27Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 2:28But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; 2:29As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. 2:30But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.

2:31Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 2:32This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 2:33His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 2:34Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 2:35Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

2:36This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 2:37Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 2:38And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. 2:39And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 2:40And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 2:41And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 2:42And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 2:43And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 2:45Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.



EZEKIEL 38 & 39:

38:1And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 38:2Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 38:3And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: 38:4And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: 38:5Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: 38:6Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. 38:7Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.

38:8After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. 38:9Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. 38:10Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: 38:11And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, 38:12To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. 38:13Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?

38:14Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? 38:15And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: 38:16And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. 38:17Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them? 38:18And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. 38:19For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 38:20So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. 38:21And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother. 38:22And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 38:23Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.

39:1Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: 39:2And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: 39:3And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. 39:4Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 39:5Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. 39:6And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. 39:7So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

39:8Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. 39:9And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: 39:10So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.

39:11And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog. 39:12And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. 39:13Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. 39:14And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. 39:15And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. 39:16And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.

39:17And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. 39:18Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. 39:19And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. 39:20Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD. 39:21And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. 39:22So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.

39:23And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. 39:24According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. 39:25Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; 39:26After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. 39:27When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; 39:28Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. 39:29Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.


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THE KING OF THE NORTH - RUSSIA FEDERATION OF COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES (C.I.S.)

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:07 pm








KING OF THE NORTH

IDENTIFICATION OF NAMES IN EZEKIEL 38:
Ezekiel 38:2 “son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief priest of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him”
Four proper names are given by the prophet Ezekiel, helping us identify this North Country – Magog, Gog, Meshech, and Tubal.
Magog was the grandson of Noah who, according to Jesophus the historian, settled north of the black sea, above the Caucasus Mountain, they would be the inhabitans of Ukraine and Belorussia.
Gog is an abbreviated form of “Magog” and would signify the same principle people that made up modern Russia.
Tubal, the fifth son of Japhet, was the founder of the Tibereni, a people dwelling on the Black Sea, west of the Moschi. The name developed into Tobolsk, an ancient Siberian center.
The two names, Meshech and Tubal, are almost always spoken of together in the Bible. The former was Russia’s European capital, the latter its Asiatic capital. (Interestingly, the U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers and shot down was spying over the vicinity of Tobolsk.)
Rosh are a people called “Ros” or “Rus,” living in the country of Taurus and mingling with the Scythians. Gesenius identified them at the north of the Taurus Mountains, near the Volga. And the name evolved into Russ or Russia.
Thus Russia today may be quite clearly seen as the King of the North.[/color]

THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
OR COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES.

Surprising Prophecy
Interestingly, the prophet Ezekiel described Gog as of the land of Magog and that he would be the chief ruler of (apparently) both Moscow and Tobolsk (38:2)
It was 2,500 years later that Russia actually overruns Siberia in the 19th century, and the USSR was not formed until 1922, followed by the Commonwealth of Independent State today.

Russia’s Strategic Allies
In Ezekiel 38: 5-7, we see five countries which will ally with Russia during the last day- Persia, Gomer, Ethiopia, Libya, and Togarmah. In this regard, Bible prophecy has become very real because of the modern-day identification of these countries.

The Northern Connection
Ezekiel 38:5-6 identify Gog as the Rosh (Russian) prince of Meshech (allegedly Moscow), describing it as a “guard”, or protector of the Mideast nations.
Among the northern king’s allies mentioned by Ezekiel are “Ethiopia and Libya” (38:5). The original Hebrew scripture calls these two peoples “Cush and Put,” which were the first and third sons respectively of Ham. They include many of the black African nations.
The African nations would join the Arabs in Hatred of Israel. And Moslem countries in Africa are doing just that in the name of Islamic unity.
“Ethiopia”- the strategic horn of Africa represents high stakes! It oversees the shipping routes through the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean. Ethiopia, which had been a Christian nation, joined the Arab cause when Israeli troops crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt on October 23, 1973 (Yom Kippur War). It broke relations with Israel for the first time in over 2,500 years.
“Libya”large oil- producing country. It is also an intensely Moslem state, with a virulently anti- Israeli ruler. Today, Libya his intimate political ties with Russia, which has sold it advanced arms since 1975
.


THE KING OF THE NORTH
1. A North Power Will Arise
(Not “Communistic Power”)
2. Composed of Ancient Peoples
(a) Magog
(b) Gog
(c) Mecheck
(d) Tubal
3. With Strategic Allies
(a) Persia or Iran - Iran going over to Russia (Ezek. 38:5). Persia (Iran) is to be on the side of the northern power which will invade Palestine in the last days. For years we wondered how this would take place. Now we have seen it begin, and so naturally! Iran wanted a steel mill. The U.S. would not give her one. But Russia did! So Iran's sympathies are turning to Russia. God foresaw all this. This is another link in the chain of signs showing Christ's coming is drawing near, for the context of all these prophecies we are mentioning deals with end-of-the-world events.
(b) Gomer or East Europe
(c) Togarmah
(d) King of the South
4. Will Attack Israel
(a) Secret Attack
(b) With Strategic Allies










The Iranian Air Force defense specialists have optimized and successfully test-fired the S-200 surface-to-air missile system. The optimized missile system was successfully test-fired on Sunday morning in the presence of senior army personnel and government officials. Elaborating on the significant capabilities and advanced features of the S-200 missile, the commander of the Iranian Air Force Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani described the project's main objectives as examining the efficiency level of passive defense systems against probable threats as well as improving the level of skill and knowledge of the staff. Touching on the air force specialists' efforts to domesticate the world's advanced sciences in line with the imperative to gain the ability to effectively defend the country's air space, General Miqani said that Iran's military capability serves the cause of peace for Iran and the entire region. The praiseworthy history of the Islamic Revolution testifies to the vital importance of reliance on domestic capabilities.



IRAN DISPLAYS ITS EMPIRE LOOKING EVOLUTION OF WHAT WE SEE TODAY IN ITS PHYSICAL BEAUTY, THE PERSIA OF YESTERDAY IS NOW AN EMPIRE!


RUSSIAN MILITARY DISPLAY
Best of the Russian Military. Don't miss this out. Only new Material! Russian Army New Powerful Military Russian Tanks Jets



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NEWS BREAKS & UPDATES ON ISRAEL AND NEIGHBORING MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:08 pm

Revisiting 'the burden of Damascus (Biblical Israel)'
By Hal Lindsey

For most of this past election year, Israeli military planners have been wrestling with the twin problems of Iran and a change of administrations in Washington. The Israeli military was more comfortable with the idea of continued diplomacy with Iran under a McCain administration than it is an Obama administration. McCain was a known quantity. Obama is not.

And what is known about Obama and members of his new administration is not comforting; Obama is reportedly considering Daniel Kurtzner as his special Middle East envoy. Kurtzer earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University. In his dissertation, he blamed the Israeli response to terror attacks for "the radicalization of those Palestinians to violence" whom Kurtzner term "guerrillas" – not terrorists. Kurtzner isn't exactly known in Israeli military circles as a hawk.

According to a report in this week's Jerusalem Post, Israeli Defense Forces are working out attack plans for Iran's nuclear sites that do not involve coordination with the U.S. The Post said that the IDF began working out alternatives after Ehud Olmert asked for, and was expressly denied, a green light to attack Iran.

Iran is already believed to have enough enriched uranium to construct at least one nuclear bomb and, with more than 5,000 centrifuges in operation in Natanz and plans to enlarge enrichment to ultimately involve 54,000 centrifuges, Israel's window of opportunity to put an end to the threat before it is too late is rapidly closing.
Granted, Barack Obama the president may see things differently than Barack Obama the candidate. But Ahmadinejad is a known threat, Obama a largely unknown quantity.


There is an old saying to the effect that it is "better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission," but Israel only has until Jan. 20 to exercise that option.

Israel finds itself at the point of a spear consisting of Iran to the east and Syria to the north. In between are Hezbollah and Hamas.

Syria's chemical and biological arsenals are extensive. Syria's missile delivery systems were proved by Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War.

But according to Bible prophecy, Iran survives the Israeli strike and plays a major role in the coming Russian-led Gog-Magog Alliance foretold by the Prophet Ezekiel. Israel also survives, since the Gog-Magog Alliance eventually marches against it.

But according to Bible prophecy, Damascus, the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, has a much less certain future.

"The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." (Isaiah 17:1)

Should Syria use chemical weapons against Israel, there is little doubt Israel will respond with tactical nukes. That is precisely the way Isaiah describes it.

"The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not." (Isaiah 17:13-14)


Crossing the Rubicon
Ancient Rome had in place a law similar to America's posse comitatus law that prohibits U.S. military forces from being used inside U.S. borders. To prevent the Roman republic from the threat posed by its own military, Roman legions were prohibited from crossing into Roman territory past the boundary line marked by the Rubicon River.

In 49 B.C., when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon on his way to Rome, his action made armed conflict inevitable. Crossing the Rubicon became a idiom for passing a point of no return. Once one has crossed the Rubicon, there is no turning back.


According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has now amassed 630 kg of low-enriched uranium, enough, says the New York Times, to produce a single atom bomb. The debate in the media began almost immediately: "Oh yeah? How much is enough?" or "That's not enough for a big bomb," or the inevitable "They're still one (two, five, you choose) years away," etc. Lost in the media din is the fact all the headlines contain estimates of how far Iran is away from having an atomic bomb.

They are not about how far Iran is from having cheap, abundant nuclear power for all Iran's citizens.

The dance is all around the subject, but stopping the music for a second, the subject is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in possession of sufficient nuclear material for a nuclear weapon. Iran has crossed the Rubicon with Israel.

The head of the IDF's air force was quoted in the German magazine Der Speigel saying that whether or not to strike Iran's nuclear sites is a political question

, rather than one of military capabilities.

In Israel, opinion polls that had Olmert's Kadima Party in a dead heat with Benjamin Netanyahu's hawkish Likud now show Likud ahead by six seats and gaining strength. But there is reason to fear that February may be too late.


There is broad speculation Israel will strike at Iran sometime prior to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 to avoid having to defy a U.S. order to stand down.

John Bolton, former American ambassador to the United Nations, predicted in June that Israel will attack before Inauguration Day if Obama won. "An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken to foreign policy," according to Bolton.

I've been preaching and teaching and warning that the events prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophets for the last days began to see fulfillment with the restoration of Israel to her ancient homeland after two millennia in exile. Over the decades, I've been analyzing current events in light of Bible prophecy in an effort to keep abreast of where this world is on God's timeline for the last days before the onset of the Great Tribulation.

The Bible prophesied a world balanced on the precipice of destruction over the issue of Israel and the question of who owns Jerusalem. When I was born, there was no such place as Israel. Today, all roads to world peace lead directly through Jerusalem. Until there is peace in Jerusalem, world peace is impossible.


For decades, I've preached of the coming alliance between Russia and Persia, together with an alliance of Muslim states, dedicated to Israel's destruction.

Today, we're discussing whether or not Russia has supplied Iran with sufficient nuclear material to destroy Israel as casually as if we were discussing an international trade agreement.

I've expected, as the Lord said in Luke 21:28, to see these things begin to come to pass. I've written them and preached them and warned of them.

Still, it is an awesome thing indeed to be an eyewitness to their fulfillment. The Lord is coming. The signs say He is coming soon. We may well have already crossed the Rubicon. If you haven't made peace with Him, now is the acceptable day of salvation.


Tomorrow may be too late.


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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:09 pm

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VIDEO ON GOD'S PLAN IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:10 pm

http://tomorrowsworld.org/index.shtml
When we read the Bible, we see a major theme: "Watch the Middle East!" That war-torn area of the world has experienced more than its share of strife and suffering. Scripture tells us that the Middle East will provide the stage for the climactic events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ! Do today's newspaper reports and news magazines back up Bible prophecy? The answer may surprise you! A presentation of the truth by Wallace G. Smith and the Living Church of God. As seen throughout the entire world on Tomorrow's World Program.


REMEMBER THAT THE MIDDLE EAST IS DIVIDED INTO TWO TRADITIONS, THE SHIITES (IRAN & OTHER ALLIED COUNTRIES) AND THE SUNNI TRADITION (SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, QATAR, UAE, & JORDAN - THE SUNNI TRADITION), WATCH THIS:











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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:34 pm




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RUSSIAN INVASION WITH ITS ALLIES

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:48 pm

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NORTHERN KING (RUSSIA) WITH THE SHIITE ALLY, IRAN (PERSIA OF BIBLICAL TIMES)

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:14 pm

LIBYAN MILITARY AIR FORCES
Most planes do not fly and is currently working on the renovation of large transactions with France and Russia are Seven ground attack fighter swarms:
Number of 40 aircraft, the type of MiG-23BN.
Number of 15 aircraft, the type of MiG-23U. Number of 30 aircraft, two types of Mirage 5D, and Mirage DE number 14 aircraft, F-Mirage 5DD. Number of 14 aircraft, the type of Mirage F-1AD.
Number six planes, F-Su-24. Number of 53 aircraft, two types of Su-20, and Su22. Fighters: Nine swarms, which include: Number of 25 aircraft, the type of MiG-21. Number of 75 aircraft, the type of MiG-23. Number of 70 aircraft, the type of MiG-25. Number 3 aircraft, the type of MiG-25U.
Number 7 aircraft, the type of Mirage F-1ED. Number 3 planes, F-Mirage-BD Workforce, including:
Number of 12 French Mirage aircraft (Mirage F-1BD/ED Number 25 MIG aircraft MiG-21 Number 125 aircraft MIG 23 MiG-23BN/MS/ML/UM Flogger Number 40 aircraft Sukhoi 22 Su-22M3/UM-3K Fitter
Number 12 aircraft Sukhoi 24 Su-24MK Fencer Grenade launchers squadron, the six planes, F-Tu-22. Training aircraft Number 110 aircraft Alpetros (Aero L-39ZO Albatross) Number 20 aircraft SF-260WL will maintain 12 aircraft in Italy Number 80 aircraft between Ghalib 2 (G-2 Galeb) and Jasterv (21J Jastreb) are out of 102 Number of 6 aircraft Weyak 130 (Yak-130) Helicopters: 50 aircraft, type Mi-2. One plane, F-Tu-22. Number 115 aircraft, F-L-39ZO. Number of 20 aircraft, F-SF-260WL
Serban reconnaissance planes, containing: Number 4 aircraft, F-Mirage 4DR. Number 7 aircraft, the type of MiG-25R. Seven transport aircraft swarms: Number of 23 aircraft, F-An-26. Number 12 aircraft produced by Lookheed, including 7 aircraft, type C-130H, and two, F-L-100-20, and 3 planes, F-L-100-30. Number 6 planes, F-G-222. Number of 25 aircraft, type II-76. Number of 15 aircraft, F-L-410. Number 10 aircraft An-26 Curl Number 3 universe Falcon 20 aircraft Number 1 Falcon Falcon 50 aircraft Number 3 aircraft Gulf Srem 2 Gulfstream II Number 15 aircraft Candido Il-76 Candid Number 15 aircraft L-410 Number two Jtistar JetStar Number 10 aircraft AC 130 C-130H
Supply Number 4 Il-78 MidasE Helicopters Attack Number 4 aircraft (Bell 206) Bell 206 Number 12 type helicopter Haze 12 (Mi-14 Haze 12) Number 43 type helicopter low (Mi-24 Hind) has been updated 13 of them in South Africa 29 aircraft, type Mi-25. Number of 12 aircraft, type Mi-35.
Transport helicopters Heavy transport: 12 aircraft, F-CH-47C. Transfer average: 34 aircraft, two types of Mi-8, and Mi-17. 11 light transport aircraft, F-SA-316. Number 5 aircraft, type AB-206.
Number two type bell 212 (Bell) Number 8 type helicopter Vishnu 47 (CH-47 Chinook) UAE bought 12 the number of helicopters of this type Number? The type of helicopter (Mi-17) Air Defence
Number 90 battery Sam 2 (SA-2) Number 10 Sam 3 (SA-3) Number 48 Sam 6 (SA-6) Studying Libya buy missiles Raper (Rapier) and Jrnas system (Jernas) missiles Air / ground: F-AT-2 Swatter
Missiles targeted anti-tank helicopters to portable, of AS-7, and AS-9, and AS-11.







ETHIOPIAN ARMY AND AIRFORCE


SYRIAN MILITARY WEAPONS FROM RUSSIA


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Why does the Middle East dominate the headlines so often?

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:50 pm

THE GERMAN MILITARY FORCES
The Bundeswehr is divided into the military part (armed forces /Streitkräfte) and the civil part with the armed forces administration (Wehrverwaltung), the federal bureau of procurement (Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung) and the federal bureau for information management and information technology of the Bundeswehr (Bundesamt für Informationsmanagement und Informationstechnik der Bundeswehr - short: IT-AmtBw). The military part the federal defense force consists of Army (Heer), Navy (Marine), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Joint Support Service (Streitkräftebasis), and Central Medical Services (Zentraler Sanitätsdienst) branches.


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THE KING OF THE SOUTH - EGYPT PLUS SUNNI MUSLIM ARAB COUNTRIES

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:02 pm



The Egyptian treasury is now mortgaged to Russia for many years to come, as God said would happen in the last days (Dan. 11:43). "He [the king of the north] shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt." Egypt is in debt to Russia for war materials for use against Israel. How naturally these prophecies are falling into place, all of them signs of the soon coming of the New Day.



EGYPT'S MILITARY




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The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:06 pm



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The Four Empires of Daniel's Prophecies

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:39 pm

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The Four Empires of Daniel's Prophecies

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:40 pm

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The Coming of Islam

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:11 am

The descendants of Ishmael lived in relative obscurity throughout the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. They mostly kept to themselves in the Arabian Peninsula where desert life was hard, frequently fighting among themselves. But this changed early in the seventh century, less than 600 years after the time of Jesus Christ, when the most famous of Ishmael's descendants came on the scene.

Until the early 600s the Arabs were idol worshippers. The great temple in Mecca had 365 idols (one for each day of the year) and was a source of considerable revenue for local merchants who relied on pilgrims visiting the site for their income.

This religious landscape was to change dramatically with the prophet Muhammad and the religion he founded, Islam.

Muhammad (sometimes spelled Mohammed or Mahomet) was of the Hashemite family (in Arabic, Beni Hashim) of the powerful Koreish (or Quraish) tribe, which controlled the pagan temple in Mecca. According to Islamic belief, it was near Mecca, at Mt. Hira, that the archangel Gabriel first appeared to Muhammad in A.D. 610, revealing wisdom from God. This and subsequent revelations form the Koran (or Quran), the holy scriptures of Islam, a book roughly the length of the New Testament.

Muhammad, whose name means "highly praised," became a courageous and determined preacher of monotheism, the belief in one God, a belief that threatened the commercial prosperity of other members of his tribe. Their attempts to have him killed failed, and in a short time Muhammad brought an end to the polytheistic idolatry of the area, replacing it with Islam (literally meaning "surrender" or "submission" to the one true God, Allah).

Muhammad's preaching achieved something that had eluded Ishmael's descendants from the beginning—unity, thereby enabling them to become a great nation that could spread out and influence other nations.

From these lowly beginnings in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula, Islam has spread throughout the world. Today 57 countries are in the Islamic Conference, comprising more than a quarter of all the nations on earth.

Although 22 of them are Arab nations, many of which are populated with descendants of Ishmael, another 35 nations also are either exclusively or significantly Islamic. These range geographically from West Africa across the center of the world to Indonesia, a wide belt of nations that identify with each other as followers of Islam.

In addition, millions more Muslims, followers of Islam, live in North America and Western Europe. The religion continues to expand rapidly due to a high birthrate and aggressive proselytizing.

Today Islam (pronounced Is-LAM, with the emphasis on the second syllable) has around 1.3 billion followers. They all worship Allah (similar emphasis on the second syllable), whom they consider to be the one true God. They worship in mosques, with Friday as their chosen day of worship, though it is also permissible for adherents to work on that day.

Their one-sentence creed, called the shahadah ("testimony") is only eight words in Arabic—La illaha ila Allah, wa Muhammadun rasul Allah—meaning "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet." A solemn and sincere recitation of these words is the sole requirement for being a Muslim. The word Muslim (or Moslem) means "one who submits (to Allah)."

Muslims date their years from the hijrah (sometimes spelled hejira or hegira), Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina in A.D. 622. As the Muslim year is set according to the lunar calendar, there are 354 or 355 days in each year, which means that their year is about 11 days shorter than a year in the Western world, which is based on the Gregorian solar calendar. This means that Islamic festivals fall on different days each year according to the Gregorian calendar and gradually work their way back through the Gregorian year.

Muhammad died on June 8, A.D. 632, leaving no male heir and no designated successor. The result was chaos and confusion throughout the Islamic Empire, which after only a decade had already grown to one third the size of the present 48 continental United States.

Only one child by his beloved first wife Khadija had survived him, the beautiful Fatima. She grew to adulthood, married and bore children who also survived. It is through Fatima that all Muhammad's present descendants, called sharifs and sayyids, trace their ancestry. Fatima's husband, Ali ibn Abi Talib, first cousin and adopted son to Muhammad, was also his first convert after Khadija. Ali and Fatima had two young sons at the time of Muhammad's death.

As the nearest blood relative, many thought that Ali should be Muhammad's successor as their leader. After a great deal of argument, he was rejected in favor of a wealthy Meccan cloth merchant who had been an early convert and Muhammad's companion on his famous camel-back flight 10 years earlier. His name was Abu Bakr. He was also the father of Muhammad's favorite wife, Ayesha, and had been appointed to take the place of the prophet leading public prayers at the time of Muhammad's last illness.

The revelations had been to Muhammad, so Abu Bakr was not fully succeeding Muhammad. However, he was given authority over the secular political and administrative functions of the empire, with the title "Khalifah rasul Allah" meaning "Successor to the Messenger of God." In English the title is usually shortened to "caliph" and is given to the head of state in Muslim-governed countries. The office of Islamic Caliphate remained an Islamic institution right down to the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1924, when it was abolished by the secular government of Kemal Ataturk.

Although the transition following the death of Muhammad was sudden and unexpected and caused some bad feeling among the followers of Ali, Fatima's husband, the tribes remained united under Abu Bakr.

Rapid expansion of the Islamic Empire
Before he died Abu Bakr appointed Omar ibn al-Khattab as his successor. Caliph Omar (or Umar) was the first caliph to assume the illustrious title Amir al-Muminin, meaning "Commander of the Faithful." It was during his 10-year reign that the first great wave of Islamic territorial expansion occurred as the children of Ishmael pushed outward in all directions from their ancient desert homeland.

Caliph Omar was an able commander of his troops and proved a formidable foe to the two great superpowers of his day, the Byzantine and Persian Empires. The former was the Eastern Roman Empire, which had developed out of the older Roman Empire after Constantine, in the fourth century, established a new capital in Byzantium (renaming it Constantinople, after himself)—now Istanbul, Turkey. It controlled Asia Minor, the Aegean Peninsula, much of North Africa and the Near East.

To the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula lay the Persian, or Sassanid, Empire. The Persian and Byzantine Empires were constantly fighting each other, weakening them and making them vulnerable to the new, vigorous, zealous and youthful Islamic Empire coming out of Arabia. The Sassanid Empire fell, but the Byzantine remained as a continually threatened and shrinking empire, finally falling to Muslim Turks in 1453.

To cries of Allahu Akbar ("God is Great!"), the Islamic call to arms, the camel- and horse-mounted Arab warriors were formidable opponents, defeating all the forces that were sent against them. Not since the days of Alexander the Great had there been such a force, conquering all before it so quickly. A century of conquest lay before them. Syria and the Holy Land were taken in 635-6; the area of Iraq, the following year; Egypt and Persia, four years later.

Jerusalem was their greatest prize, captured in 638. Called Al-Kuds in Arabic, meaning "the Holy," Jerusalem remains the third-holiest city of Islam, after Mecca and Medina. Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven on his winged steed Burak from the rock that is visible inside the Dome of the Rock, built in the late seventh century and one of the most architecturally magnificent buildings on earth.

Muslims also believe this is where Abraham came to sacrifice his son—the son, however, being Ishmael rather than Isaac as the Bible attests (Genesis 22:1-14). Built on the great platform of the Temple Mount constructed centuries earlier by Herod the Great, the Dome of the Rock and the surrounding area is today the most bitterly contested piece of real estate on earth.

Within a century after the death of Muhammad, the Arab Empire stretched from the Middle East across North Africa to Spain in the west and eastward across Central Asia to India. One of their advances even reached the gates of Paris before being halted by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours near Poitiers in 732, exactly 100 years after Muhammad's death.

Rapid Muslim expansion now halted until the 12th century, when another great expansion of Islam took place under the Sufis (Muslim mystics) who spread Islam throughout India, Central Asia, Turkey and sub-Saharan Africa. Muslim traders helped spread the religion even further, to Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula and China.

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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:11 am

"Islam's essential egalitarianism within the community of the faithful and its official discrimination against the followers of other religions won rapid converts," notes the Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th Edition, Vol. 9, p. 912, "Islam"). Although Jews and Christians, as "people of the Book" were tolerated, they had to pay a special tax called jizyah. However, "pagans ... were required to either accept Islam or die" (ibid.).

Following the assassination of the Caliph Omar in November 644 while leading prayers in the mosque of Medina, a body of electors once again bypassed Ali when choosing a successor. The caliphate was bestowed on Othman ibn Affan, who had been an early convert to Islam and a close companion of the prophet.

During his period of rule the Koran was completed in its present form. Previously, most of its contents had simply been memorized in the heads of Muhammad's followers (Muhammad, himself illiterate, had never written them down). These were now collected by a team of men authorized to put the sacred writings together, under the leadership of the Islamic scholar Zayd ibn Thabit.

Muslims believe the Koran is the literal word of God (Kalimat Allah), not the words of Muhammad. The first words of the Koran are Bism'illah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, meaning "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate."

Islam splits over succession
Othman ruled 12 years (644-656) before being assassinated in Medina. His assassination heralded open religious and political conflicts within the Islamic community that continue to this day.

After Othman's death, leadership of the community finally fell to Ali, Fatima's aging husband, who had been living in retirement as a scholar. To his followers, Ali was the first and only lawful caliph. Most Muslims accepted him as the fourth caliph, but many were bitterly opposed to his rule.

The empire was to suffer continual political and religious strife, uprisings and rebellions. Five years later Ali, too, was assassinated. Before any of his sons could be appointed as successor, Othman's nephew, head of the Umayyad (or Omayyad) branch of the Koreish tribe, assumed control, bringing the dispute between the factions to a head.

Ali's followers believed that all caliphs must be descended from Ali as Muhammad's closest blood relative. This group was called the "party of Ali" (in Arabic, the Shiat Ali, or Shiites). The majority believed that anybody could be appointed caliph, regardless of lineage. This group was called the Sunni Muslims, sunna being the "path" or the "way" of the Prophet. In contrast to the Shiites, the Sunnis have generally accepted the rule of the caliphs.

Violence followed in 680 when Ali's son Hussein, a grandson of Muhammad, was killed along with 72 of his relatives and companions at Karbala in what is now Iraq. The Shiites now had a martyr. They grew in numbers and resolve and were increasingly embittered at the dominance of the Sunni Muslims. This animosity continues to the present day.

The majority Sunnis make up about 85 percent of all Muslims, and the Shiites (or Shia) constitute the remainder. Although they agree on the fundamentals of Islam, political, theological and philosophical differences have further widened the gap between the two. Complicating things even further has been the tendency among the Shiite Muslims to break up into various sects.

Today, the Shiites are the dominant force in Iran and the biggest single religious community in Lebanon and Iraq. Remembering the fanaticism of the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the shah in 1979, many people think Shiites are inclined toward terrorism. However, most anti-Western terrorists come from the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, which originated in Saudi Arabia in the 18th century.

One of the appeals of Islam is the emphasis on Ummah or community. "Though there have been many Islamic sects and movements, all followers are bound by a common faith and a sense of belonging to a single community" (ibid., p. 912). This sense of community has only been strengthened in the last 200 years during the period of Western supremacy. Achieving Arab and Islamic unity is very much a desire of Muslims in today's world.

Ishmael becomes the prophesied "great nation"
After Ali's death the Umayyads turned the caliphate into a hereditary office, ruling from Damascus for almost a century until 750. During this time most of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) was conquered along with what was left of North Africa. To the east, Islamic armies swept over Central Asia toward India and China. Before the end of their period of rule, the Muslims built an empire that was larger than Rome's, converting millions to Islam.

The Umayyads were replaced by the Abbasid dynasty, whose 37 caliphs ruled from Baghdad for five centuries (750-1258). At this time, while much of Europe was still in the Dark Ages (isolated in no small part by hostile Muslims along its borders), the Islamic world was a great civilization, preserving the literature and learning of the ancient world, leading the world in knowledge and understanding of mathematics, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geography and medicine.

As had been divinely promised to Abraham and Hagar concerning their son so many centuries earlier, Ishmael truly did become a "great nation" (Genesis 17:20; 21:18)—one of the greatest empires the world has ever known.

Like all civilizations, however, the Abbasid dynasty came to an end after falling into a slow decay and decline. During this period, as central authority waned, the unity of Islam was shattered, a problem that impedes Muslims to this day. The deathblow for the empire came when the Mongol hordes descended on Baghdad in 1258, killing the last caliph, slaughtering the city's inhabitants and ending the empire.

The Crusades: Battle for the Holy Land
During the reigns of the Abbasid caliphs, a major clash occurred between Islam and Catholic Europe. With the expansion of Islam into the Iberian Peninsula and the attempt to conquer France, there had already been conflict between the two, but the wresting of Jerusalem from the forces of Islam on July 15, 1099, was the beginning of a long and protracted period of rivalry between the two religious forces.

The European Crusaders pillaged, raped, murdered and enslaved the peoples of Jerusalem in a frenzy of carnage that both Jews and Muslims remember to this day. The sacred Dome of the Rock was taken over and turned into a church, with the Christian cross replacing the Islamic crescent. Muslims were incensed and vowed to retake the city from the infidels (meaning "unbelievers," originally a Latin word used by Catholics to label Muslims).

Not until Oct. 2, 1187, were Islamic forces able to take back control of Jerusalem, under the leadership of Saladin (Salah ad-Din, meaning "Righteousness of the Faith"), the sultan of Egypt and Syria. Saladin proclaimed jihad (holy war) to retake Palestine from the enemies of Islam.

The golden cross at the top of the Dome of the Rock was replaced by the Muslim crescent, but Saladin did not seek revenge on his opponents. Instead, he treated both enemy soldiers and the civilian population with mercy and kindness—a stark contrast to the Europeans who had slaughtered tens of thousands when they took the city.

There were to be more Crusades for another century, briefly retaking Jerusalem from 1229 to 1239 and 1243 to 1244, but the forces of the cross eventually had to leave the Holy Land to Muslims. Not until 1917, during World War I, were Western Christians again able to retake Jerusalem, and then they kept control of the city for only three decades.

The rise of the Ottoman Empire
The next great power in the region was that of the Ottoman Turks, who seized control of Constantinople in 1453, finally destroying the collapsing Byzantine Empire founded by Rome more than a millennium earlier. The Turks, an Islamic but non-Arab people, took control of Jerusalem in 1517 and were to dominate the Middle East for the following four centuries.

The Ottomans expanded rapidly into southeastern Europe and on to the gates of Vienna before being pushed back toward the end of the 17th century. A period of decline followed in the 19th century with nations throughout the Balkans and North Africa breaking away from Ottoman rule.

The Arabs resented Turkish control and waited patiently for an opportunity to regain their independence and the former days of glory.

Ishmael's sons would be heard from again.

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The Creation of the Modern Middle East

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:15 am

For hundreds of years the Arabs did not have a government of their own. From the conquest of the Arab lands by the Ottoman Turks in the early 16th century, they were not an independent people. Until World War I most of the Arab world lay within the Ottoman Empire. Other parts had become colonial territories of the European powers during the 19th century as the Ottoman Empire began to shrink.

The Arabs yearned for a free and independent Arabic-speaking nation. In the 20th century they were to become independent—yet not one nation but more than 20. One great frustration for the Arab world today is that there are 22 Arab countries and little immediate prospect of Arab unity.

While subjects of the Ottoman sultan as the 20th century dawned, the Arab world was at peace. Few would have guessed then how fundamentally this region was to change in the next few decades. In the year 1900 the Middle East was indeed, as described in the introduction, a "political backwater."

The catalyst that rearranged the regional map was World War I. The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, was the event that triggered the war. Within weeks all the major powers of Europe were involved. Problems in the Balkans had been building up as the Ottoman Empire declined and retreated from its territories there. Nationalist sentiment among the various ethnic groups was stirring up feelings against foreign imperial rule, directed against the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as the Turks.

At the onset of war, it was not clear which side the Ottomans would be on. Finally they opted to support Germany and Austria against the alliance of Britain, France and Russia. This proved to be a fatal error in judgment. Within a few years it led to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the end of Turkish domination of the Arab world after centuries of rule.

A century later it is still difficult to comprehend how the assassination of a fairly obscure European archduke could lead to such tumultuous change and to a century of seemingly never-ending violence, but that shot heard 'round the world is still reverberating.

Nationalist and ethnic aspirations lead to change
Before the assassination, ethnic aspirations were surfacing throughout Europe and the Middle East. In the Victorian era imperialism had been the vogue. The idea that one nation, usually considered superior, could rule over others less able, was perfectly acceptable in a Europe dominated by multiethnic empires.

Many of these empires were quite benign, allowing different ethnic groups within their borders a great deal of freedom, including the freedom to carry out business and to prosper. But the desire for national homelands was building up partly as a result of increased educational opportunities that encouraged the reading of national literature, thereby fostering a sense of national identity.

This rise in ethnic consciousness was not limited to Europe. The Middle East was another area where people wanted to fulfill their national aspirations.

The trend for each ethnic group to seek independence was one that would play a large role in the 20th century, fulfilling the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24. When asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, one of the problems He foretold was an increase in ethnic tension. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," He prophesied (verse 7). The Greek word translated "nation" is ethnos—from which the English word ethnic is derived.

With the development of democratic institutions in a number of countries, ethnic groups had representation in capitals and were able to press their case for more autonomy. Many, though, wanted total independence. This tension was a leading cause of World War I and a major consideration at the peace conference in Paris that followed.

The Paris conference led to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which led to the creation of new countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. The old empires were gone—new, smaller nations replaced them, further complicating international relations. The "war to end war" had been replaced by the "Peace to end Peace," as British officer Archibald Wavell put it.

Brewing Arab revolt
On the eve of World War I the British already constituted a major power in the Middle East. Originally they had become involved to protect their lifeline to India, the most prized possession of the British Empire. Benjamin Disraeli, a British prime minister of Jewish descent, had arranged the financing of the Suez Canal, considered a vital artery of the empire.

The British controlled Egypt, the location of the canal, but did not annex it as a colony. They also ruled Aden, at the southern tip of Arabia, and held other strategic territories around the Persian Gulf.

Thus when World War I broke out, the British were in a perfect position to sponsor an Arab revolt against the Turks, allies of their enemy Germany. This Arab revolt began in the Hejaz, the coastal region of Arabia along the Red Sea where Mecca and Medina sit, on June 10, 1916, two years into the First World War. The revolt was led by the grand sharif of Mecca and leader of the Hashemite clan, Hussein ibn Ali (1852-1931), a descendant of Muhammad through the prophet's grandson Hasan. Hussein was an ancestor of the present Jordanian monarch, also a Hashemite.

Ironically, in this revolt the Arabs sided with Christian British forces against the Muslim Turks, but the desire for an independent Arab nation was paramount. Two of the sharif's sons led the Arab forces, financed by the British and assisted in the field by the famous British soldier T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). The Arabs understood that victory would mean an Arab nation.

This understanding came about as a result of correspondence between the British high commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, and Sharif Hussein between July 14, 1915, and March 30, 1916. In a series of 10 confidential letters between the two, Sharif Hussein offered to help the British by revolting against the Turks, in exchange for a promise of independence for the Arabs after victory. The British agreed to this, with the exclusion of some areas, including those under British control.

The uprising was successful. In October 1917 Allied forces under British Gen. Allenby invaded Palestine, capturing Jerusalem on Dec. 9. For the first time since the Crusaders were defeated in 1244 the city was once again in Christian hands. Now, after 400 years of peace under the Ottomans, began a century of conflict centering on the City of Peace.

Earlier the same year the British had taken Baghdad. The following year Damascus fell. Three days after falling to the forces of the Arab revolt, Gen. Allenby and Prince Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein, entered the city. Faisal, leading 1,000 horsemen, was lauded by the populace, relieved at the end of Ottoman rule and elated at the prospect of an independent Arab kingdom.

Following the defeat of the Axis powers, the empires of Germany, Austria and the Ottomans all collapsed. The Russian Empire—allied to Britain, France and, later, the United States—had already fallen to communism.

The world was never to be the same again. World War I marked the end of the old order.

Contradictory promises set the stage for conflict
Anxious to win the war, the British had given contradictory promises to the Arabs and Jews and also to their allies, the French and Russians.

In November 1917, with the fall of Russia to the Bolsheviks, the revolutionaries suddenly found themselves in possession of secret papers from the former czarist regime and the interim government. They made public a secret agreement made in May 1916 called the Sykes-Picot agreement, named for Sir Mark Sykes and Georges Picot, the chief British and French negotiators. This agreement showed that the British and French had plans to carve up the Ottoman Empire, dividing the spoils among themselves, without giving any territory to the Arabs.

In the same month, just five days before the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, the British had issued the famous Balfour Declaration, named after their foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour. This declaration pledged British support for a national Jewish homeland in Palestine. These conflicting promises were to cause endless problems for the British in the years to come—and even greater problems for the Arabs and Jews.

Arabs had fought with the British against the Turks, contributing to the Allied victory over the Central European powers. In return, they expected full control of all Arab lands, other than those already under European colonial rule such as Egypt, Aden and Algeria. They certainly expected Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Palestine to be directly and exclusively controlled by Arabs.

Palestine, the modern name for the ancient biblical territories of Israel and Judah, often referred to as the Holy Land, had been under Islamic control since the seventh century, except for a brief period during the Crusades in the 11th century. Jews could live in Palestine, but any attempt to create a Jewish homeland would be resisted.

At the peace conference in Paris that led to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Arab delegates (and T.E. Lawrence) were betrayed as the victorious allies divided the Ottoman Empire between British and French spheres of influence. The newly formed League of Nations formally gave Britain a mandate to rule over Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq. The French received a similar mandate to rule over Syria and Lebanon. Neither the Jews nor the Arabs received what they had been promised—not then, at least.

Britain inherits a dilemma
Palestine was the biggest problem. For a while the British allowed unrestricted Jewish immigration, but this led to Arab outcries. Fearful of a Jewish takeover, the Arabs demanded that the British end Jewish immigration. This they did—but on the eve of World War II, in which 6 million Jews would be put to death in the Nazi Holocaust. The escape route to Palestine had been cut off just when it was needed most.

In the three decades that the British controlled Palestine, the political map of the region continued to change. The Egyptians regained their sovereignty in 1922 and Iraq in 1932, though Britain continued to have considerable influence in both. Lebanon received independence from France in 1941. Syria followed five years later in 1946, the same year in which the British created an independent Palestinian- Arab state when it gave independence to Transjordan (shortened to Jordan).

Following the end of World War II in 1945, an exhausted Britain began her withdrawal from empire. Pakistan and India were given independence in 1947. A withdrawal from Palestine was to follow less than a year later.

The British could no longer keep peace between the Arabs and Jews. Jewish terrorists had blown up the King David Hotel, British military headquarters in Jerusalem, with the loss of almost 100 British soldiers. As with India, there was no longer any support at home for Britain to risk the lives of its men to preserve peace between hostile forces. The British notified the recently formed United Nations, successor to the pre-war League of Nations, that they would leave Palestine, giving the UN six months' notice.

The birth of Israel
The United Nations voted to divide Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews, with Jerusalem to become an international city. The Israelis accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it. As the British left, Jewish leaders proclaimed the birth of the independent Jewish nation of Israel the evening of May 14-15, 1948. Within hours, armies from five surrounding Arab nations attacked Israel, determined to destroy the fledgling state with its population of a mere half-million.

The war lasted until early the following year, with Israel gaining territory in addition to the land granted by the UN resolution. Most of the Arabs in those areas left their lands and have been refugees ever since, consigned to makeshift settlements in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Those Arabs who stayed in Israel were granted citizenship in the new country—and, ironically, today enjoy considerably more personal freedoms than their fellow Arabs in Arab-ruled countries.

More wars followed. In 1956, Israel sided with the British and French against Egypt in an attempt to take back the Suez Canal, seized by Egypt's revolutionary government. American intervention forced the three nations out, a big boost to Arab nationalism. Within a few years the French lost Algeria and became irrelevant in the region. The British lost almost all their empire within a decade of the Suez Canal crisis and withdrew completely from the region by 1971.

Replacing them were the Americans and the Soviets, the two Cold War antagonists using proxy states in the Middle East to thwart the other's interests and ambitions.

Old empires swept away
But Arab nationalism was unstoppable. The desire for Arab unity was still on the minds of people throughout the Middle East.

And the Arabs were not alone in breaking away from European colonial rule. New nations around the world were being born with the collapse of the European empires after World War II. World War I had seen the collapse of those European empires that ruled over large parts of Europe. Now those empires that had colonies around the world were following suit. Never before had the map of the world changed so dramatically.

To illustrate just how fundamental a change took place, realize that immediately after the 1919 Treaty of Versailles there were no independent Arab nations. Apart from Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan, both non-Arab countries, there were no independent Islamic nations anywhere on earth.

The overthrow of the Ottoman sultan had led to the establishment of the secular Turkish Republic—that is, while its people remained mostly Islamic, the government officially became secular and moved in a Western direction. Although Egypt was independent from 1922, its king was not an Arab and the British still dominated the country behind the scenes. All other Islamic regions of the world were under European control. Oddly enough, the biggest Islamic power at this time was Great Britain by virtue of its ruling the Indian sub-continent, including what are now Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Today there are 57 Islamic nations, most of them ruled by Muslims. This includes 22 Arab countries, which hold the majority of the world's known reserves of oil—the lifeblood of the world's economy. Is there any wonder that the Middle East and Islam have suddenly come to the forefront of world affairs?

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Fundamentalist Islam Resurges

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:19 am

Arabs call the Crusades al-Salibiyyah. The term is highly emotional to them, reminding them of European atrocities committed during the 200-year-long campaign to bring the Holy Land under Catholic control.

To the peoples of the Arab world, those weren't the only crusades. In their minds, two more crusades have followed.

The next crusade was the colonial period when the Arab world came under the control of the British, French and other European powers. This frustrated Arab dreams of unity and brought a sense of inferiority as they were incapable of overthrowing the Europeans for such a long time.

The current crusade is the one that, in the eyes of fundamentalists, most threatens their way of life. It is what is often called American imperialism. Unlike the British and French, Americans have made no attempt to annex an Arab territory as a colony of the United States. Americans themselves were originally under colonial rule and fought a revolutionary war to be rid of it and replace it with the modern American republic, so Americans are not inclined to colonize as did the Europeans of the 19th century.

However, inadvertently, American culture threatens the traditional way of life of all the Islamic peoples. This is a major cause of resentment if not outright hatred toward the United States.

Partly this is the result of technological advancement. Radio and television have brought Western culture into peoples' homes all over the world. American movies are universal; wherever you go in the world they seem to be available. The message they send is not a good one. They depict an immoral and very violent country, far from the reality of many American families—but foreign audiences don't know that. They also depict liberated and scantily clad women and know-it-all children who show contempt for their parents—both highly offensive to Islamic values.

The pervasiveness of Western culture has only worsened in recent years with the introduction of satellite television. Now more people can watch Western movies and television shows, resulting in increased anti-Western feeling.

Additionally, people throughout the Arab world can now see nightly news footage of Palestinian suffering, for which they blame the United States. The logic is simple—Israel kills Palestinians, America supports Israel, therefore blame America.

Because America is already perceived as a violent country, it is considered responsible for the violence. Exacerbating feelings further has been American military action against Muslims, seen as an anti-Islamic stance on the part of the United States.

The fact that the United States and its allies supported Muslims against the Serbs and Croats in the Balkan wars of the 1990s is overlooked. From the perspective of many in the Muslim world, the American liberation of Afghans from the oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 and the Iraq war to remove Saddam Hussein from power in 2003 were simply attacks on fellow Muslims. It should be remembered that many countries do not allow freedom of the press or the airwaves, and news there is usually controlled and heavily slanted. This is true throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Roots of Islamic extremism

Such factors have contributed to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. It's not a new phenomenon. As with other religions, fundamentalists come and go. This has been the case with Islam as it has been with nominal Christianity.

In the 18th century, Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-1792) was born in what is now Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. His followers, who form a Sunni sect, are known as Wahhabis. They are the most extreme of all the branches of Islam—violent, intolerant and fanatical. Their rise to prominence in Arabia was not the result of the European Crusades, but rather the decadence of the Ottoman Sultans. Ibn Abdul Wahhab established a state in the Arabian Peninsula that was modeled after the Ummah of the seventh century, an Islamic community that would live by the sharia, Islamic law.

Wahhabism is still the dominant religion of Saudi Arabia, and it has many followers in the Persian Gulf states. It is from this area that the terrorists came who staged the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. It has been said that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Wahhabis. Although this is an overstatement, it is true that most of the mosques in Western countries are financed by the Saudis, with the imams teaching their adherents the Wahhabi interpretation of the Koran. As early as 1801, the followers of Wahhab were killing all who opposed them—they fell upon the Shiite city of Karbala that year and killed 2,000 innocent civilians.

Fundamentalism, however, was not confined to Arabia. Later in the same century the British fought a man claiming to be the Mahdi in Sudan, another fundamentalist who wanted to unite all Arabs in a holy war against the infidels invading from the West. The British defeated him and continued to dominate the area until after World War II.

Fundamentalists strike back
Islamic fundamentalism was to affect the West again in 1979. This time the United States was the target as America's most powerful ally in the region was overthrown by fundamentalist masses. The shah of Iran had been pro-Western and, with the help of the United States, had built up his forces to become the strongest military power in the Persian Gulf, the oil-rich area of vital economic and strategic interest to all the Western world.

The shah was overthrown by followers of the extremist Shiite Ayatollah Khomeini. Militant students took over the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of American embassy employees hostage for 444 days. The West feared that Islamic extremism would spread to other countries in the region.

That was also the year in which the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Forces there had overthrown their king in 1973 and eventually a procommunist government took control. When this, too, was overthrown, Moscow intervened. Their intervention and a costly, protracted, demoralizing war led directly to the collapse of the Soviet Union a little over a decade later.

The United States, concerned about Soviet advances around the world, helped the Afghans rebel against Soviet domination. They began supplying arms through Muslim Pakistan to the Afghan mujahadin, the guerrilla forces who were led by Osama bin Laden. Eventually the Soviets were defeated, their country collapsed and Afghanistan came under the control of Sunni fundamentalists called the Taliban ("students," referring to those who were taught in Islamic seminaries, or madrasas). With the collapse of the Soviet Union, vast lands in Central Asia broke away from Russia and became independent Islamic republics, thereby further increasing the number of Islamic nations around the world.

Islamic fundamentalists were quickly becoming a major force throughout the Islamic world. They especially appealed to poor people frustrated and angered by leaders who often lived a lavish lifestyle while their people suffered in poverty and oppression. Similarly, in Western nations, Islamic fundamentalists proselytize among the poor and in prisons where they have gained many recruits. Throughout the Arab world people grew tired of their dictatorial regimes that had replaced the corrupt kings. The new presidents had turned out to be no different.

Fundamentalists soon learned that power cannot always be achieved through the democratic process. In Algeria they won the election in 1992, replacing the Arab nationalist government that had led Algeria to independence from France 30 years earlier—following an eight-year rebellion. After 30 years, the economic conditions of the people had only worsened with many, ironically, having to leave for France just to survive.

The fundamentalists seemed better organized and were certainly more honest. But the military stepped in to stop fundamentalist rule. Since then, Algeria has been plagued by frequent terrorist attacks by the forces of fundamentalism, and more than 100,000 Algerians have been killed. French support for the military action only increased resentment and distrust of the West—all the Western talk of democracy seemed to count for little when it mattered.

Shifting tide against the United States
The 1990s saw rising bitterness directed at the United States, now the dominant Western force and the world's only remaining superpower.

The U.S.-led Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1991 received a great deal of support from other Arab nations. Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, had sent his forces into neighboring Kuwait, annexing the small oil-producing nation. His justification for this invasion went back to the days of the Ottoman Empire when what is now Kuwait was part of an administrative zone of the empire that included a large part of Iraq.

The United States and its allies defeated Iraq, but fears of Saddam Hussein remained because Iraq was known to possess weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons, and was aggressively pursuing development of nuclear weapons. By the time this fear came to a head with the 2003 Iraq War, the United States found that many allies of the first Gulf War were no longer supportive. In the interim, the world had changed.

The great turning point was Sept. 11, 2001. As with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the previous century, this was to change everything. The world has not been the same since.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., when terrorists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the world was generally sympathetic toward America. But within a year after the United States responded with its war on terror, demonstrating its awesome military power in Afghanistan and looking ahead to possible conflicts with what President Bush called the "Axis of Evil," in the eyes of many America's role had changed from victim to villain.

Suppressed resentment against the world's dominant superpower and fear of isolation and possible terrorism over being too closely allied to the United States contributed to international rejection of America's role as the world's policeman. Increasingly others, even including some Americans, began blaming the United States for Sept. 11, claiming it was a justified response to American foreign policy.

In 2003, in the eyes of many Muslims and their leaders, America was setting a precedent by invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. If one president could be removed, all the other leaders in the region felt they likewise could be removed by U.S. military force. Additionally, public anger at the suffering of the Palestinians had risen with access to satellite television—and especially al-Jazeera, the first Arabic-language satellite station broadcasting from Qatar in the Persian Gulf.

Islamic fundamentalism gains ground
Well before Sept. 11 the threat to the United States from Islamic terrorism was becoming apparent. An article in the November-December 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs quotes from a declaration against the West issued by Osama bin Laden and other militants (see "Anger Mounts Following Gulf War").

Their demands were for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia—the land of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities of Islam. They also called for an end to the bombing of Iraq and the UN sanctions imposed against that country following the Gulf War. And, thirdly, they condemned American support for Israel against the Palestinians. (After victory in the Iraq War, the United States addressed all three grievances, announcing it would withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia, lifting sanctions against Iraq and pursuing a new peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.)

Following Sept. 11 America suffered further setbacks as Islamic fundamentalists made additional gains in a number of countries. Pakistan's leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a supporter of Washington's war on terror, saw his country elect an Islamic government, although the general retained overall control of the country.

Surprisingly, almost 80 years after the overthrow of the sultan and the declaration of an Islamic republic, Turkey also elected an Islamic party majority in the November 2002 election. Other countries throughout the region likewise have experienced gains by fundamentalists.

Egypt's President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1982 by Islamic fundamentalists, who 15 years later massacred foreign tourists visiting some of Egypt's ancient monuments in an effort to undermine the national economy by destroying the tourism industry.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic country, fundamentalists have been killing Christians, and in late 2002 a bombing on the Hindu island of Bali killed almost 200 Western tourists, half of them Australians. In India and the Indian-administered section of Kashmir, Muslim fundamentalists have attacked Hindus and Christians, deliberately trying to provoke conflict between Pakistan and India, two of the world's recent nuclear powers.

In Africa, also, Islamic fundamentalism has left its mark. In Sudan, the Muslims of the north actively persecute the Christians of the south, even taking thousands of them into slavery. In Nigeria's northern Muslim states, sharia law has been introduced, and the most popular name given to newborn boys since Sept. 11, 2001, has been Osama in honor of Osama bin Laden.

One factor in this growth of Islamic fundamentalism is the high birthrate in Islamic countries. In most economically backward countries half the people are young people, as couples tend to have six to eight children. As economic policies in these nations often restrict business activity rather than encourage it, many young people cannot find jobs.

Without a means to support a family, the young men cannot marry. The promise of instantly available young virgins upon death as a martyr in a jihad, or holy war, is tempting, so they believe they have nothing to lose in sacrificing themselves to advance Islamic aims. As an additional incentive, some Islamic governments have given thousands of dollars to the surviving family, a princely sum in the slums of refugee camps.

Dilemma for the West
However, poverty is not the main cause of the problem. Almost all the Sept. 11 suicide bombers came from affluent backgrounds, and Osama bin Laden came from one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia. Many other factors have contributed to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and subsequent terrorism, including the Israeli-Palestinian problem and the domination of American culture.

Further American intervention in the region is likely to only feed the flames of fundamentalism further in the long run. Not one country in the Arab world can be said to be politically stable. All are at risk from fundamentalists. America really is caught in a no-win situation. The U.S. military may win the wars, but America is unlikely to effectively win the peace.

A further complication for the United States and other countries, particularly those of Western Europe, is the presence of Islamic fundamentalists within their own borders, largely the result of changes to immigration laws since World War II. Interestingly, while most Western nations allow immigration from Muslim countries and allow Muslims to become citizens, no Islamic nation allows people from Christian countries to permanently enter and become citizens unless they convert to Islam. The followers of Islam are aware that their religion and Western secular liberalism are incompatible.

Further conflict between the Islamic world and the West is inevitable—and foretold in Bible prophecy, as we'll see in the next chapter.

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War and Peace in the Middle East

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:24 am

Jerusalem remains the most contested city on earth, having fallen to invading forces more than 20 times throughout its recorded history. The land to which God sent Abraham some 4,000 years ago lies at the very crossroads of three continents. It is also holy to three religions.

More than 2,500 years ago God revealed to the prophet Daniel that the land of His people would be fought over throughout the centuries (as described in chapter 3 of this booklet). Interestingly, we see a long time gap in Daniel's prophecy that accurately foretold what would happen in the centuries ahead. To understand this, we need to turn again to Daniel 11.

As earlier explained, the first 35 verses of Daniel 11 are an accurate, detailed account of what would befall the people of Judah caught up in a conflict between the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt to the south and the Seleucids of Syria to the north. The rulers of these kingdoms were descended from generals of Alexander the Great, who also was foretold in the book of Daniel.

(In an interesting historical footnote, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus recounts a meeting between Alexander and the Jewish high priest in Jerusalem, who pointed out that Alexander's coming had been prophesied by Daniel more than two centuries before he emerged on the scene! See Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, chap. 8, sec. 5.)

The four verses that follow in Daniel, verses 36-39, appear to jump forward in time. As explained earlier, verses 32-35 appear to concern the faithful Maccabees, who would not abandon God's laws for pagan Greek ways. Yet these same verses appear to be dual, as the group referred to in verse 35 continues to the "time of the end"—meaning that God's faithful people in New Testament times, His Church, are included.

Verse 36 continues the story line— but at what point? Since verse 40 clearly advances the story to the "time of the end," it may be that verses 36-39 apply to the whole history of the kingdom of the North from the time of the Maccabees and the beginnings of the New Testament Church continuing up to the time of the end (just as verse 35 appears to extend from ancient times all the way to the end time).

And who was the king of the North during this period? In 65 B.C., Seleucid Syria was swallowed up by the Roman Empire. Thus that empire then became the kingdom of the North. Verses 36-38 appear to describe the actions of the Roman emperors and their successors, leading all the way up to the final leader of the end time, as we will see. While the duality of the prophecy serves to advance the time frame, Antiochus Epiphanes himself being a type of this end-time ruler, we might wonder why there are such major jumps to the future.

State of Israel had to be established to fulfill prophecy
Why the time gap in Daniel's prophecy between the ancient world and the world of today—a period of at least 2,000 years —with only sparse and cursory details of events in between? The answer is simple: For almost 2,000 years there was no Jewish nation in the Middle East. The restoration of the Jewish state in 1948 has made the kings of the North and South relevant again to impacting the Jewish people in the Holy Land.

End-time prophecy could not be fulfilled without the restoration of the Jews to their homeland. Although their nation is called Israel, remember that the 10 tribes of the ancient northern kingdom known as Israel were taken into captivity by Assyria more than a century before the kingdom of Judah (comprising the Israelite tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with a considerable portion of Levi) was invaded and its people taken to Babylon.

Many of the Jews returned from their captivity, but the 10 tribes seemingly disappeared. The Bible shows that in time all the tribes of Israel will return to the Promised Land, but at this point only the tribe of Judah—or at least a portion of it—has been restored to its historic home.

In the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah we read that Jerusalem and Judah (Jews constituting the modern state of Israel) are at the center of world conflict immediately before Christ's return. But this prophesied event could not have taken place without the physical restoration of Judah (now named Israel) to some extent in the Holy Land before the end of the age.

In Zechariah 14:3-5 we see this prophecy about Christ's second coming: "Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley ..." Clearly, this prophecy is still for the future.

The preceding verses show that the reason the people need to flee is because Jerusalem will once again be a scene of great turmoil: "For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city" (verse 2).

Previously Zechariah had recorded these words from God: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it" (Zechariah 12:2-3).

Judah (the Israelis, most of whom are Jews) and Jerusalem are destined to be at the very center of end-time events. The nations that come against her will be so ideologically and emotionally driven they will not be able to think straight (the "drunkenness" Zechariah refers to). Already, some nations and peoples are obsessed with destroying the Jewish homeland of Israel. Another prophet tells of the fall of end-time Israel (descendants of the northern lost 10 tribes) and Judah (the Jews) together, apparently in the same month, an event that never happened in ancient history. We read of this in Hosea 5.

Condemning Israel and Judah for their repeated idolatry, God says: "The pride of Israel testifies to his face; therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity [sin]; Judah also stumbles with them ... They have dealt treacherously with the LORD ... Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage" (verses 5, 7). A New Moon "devouring" them would seem to mean that they both will fall within a month, a 30-day period. (To understand where the other 10 tribes of Israel are today, request or download our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.)

The struggle continues
We can now understand more clearly why the struggle between the kings of the North and South resumes again "at the time of the end" (Daniel 11:40).

The verse continues to describe how "the king of the South shall attack him [the king of the North]; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships [all symbols of military action]; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through."

Clearly, at the time of the end another round of great turmoil will engulf the Middle East, only this time it will be far worse than anything ever seen before.

And again, the fulfillment of this prophecy would not have been possible until after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the division of those Arab territories that were a part of it into the various nations of the Middle East today.

From chapter 3 of this booklet we saw that the expression "king of the North" applied anciently to the Seleucid dynasty of Syria, while the "king of the South" referred to the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. But who might these terms refer to in our time or the time of the end? It's doubtful that they could once again apply to Syria and Egypt, as they are now brother Arab and Islamic nations. Also, while relatively strong by regional standards, neither currently has the military might to fulfill this prophecy.

As already noted, Rome swallowed up Syria and became the kingdom of the North thereafter. But did not Rome fall in ancient times?

Part of the key to understanding this passage is to realize that the center of the prophecy is the Holy Land and Jerusalem, the historic land given to the children of Israel. The "kings" referred to are powerful leaders who will come from regions to the north and south and vie for control of the area, trampling all over Judah in the process.

A century ago no one could have understood many of the prophecies relating to this part of the world because the Ottoman Empire ruled over the places now occupied by the chief adversaries in the Mideast conflict. This fact helps us understand God's words to Daniel at the end of his prophetic book: "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Daniel 12:9). It would have been impossible for Daniel, living in the sixth century B.C., to have understood the astounding changes that would lead up to today's complex Middle East situation.

Just as the modern states of Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Syria did not exist a century ago, so at this time the final kings of the North and South have not emerged—yet. But the Bible does help us understand what to expect.

We read in the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation that another global superpower will arise at the end of this age. We find further details of this end-time power in Revelation 17. Just as Daniel saw various beasts that represented the dominant powers to come, so the apostle John saw a vision of another beast that would dominate the world at the very time of the end (verse 3).

The 10 horns referred to here, as an angel explained to John, represent 10 rulers who receive power "for one hour" —symbolic of a short time—with a single ruler who is also called "the beast" (Revelation 17:12-13). Notice the time setting of these events: "These will make war with the Lamb [the returning Jesus Christ], and the Lamb will overcome them ..." (verse 14). This prophecy, then, is for the future, and leads right into the return of Jesus Christ to earth.

But these are not the only significant end-time players. A religious leader symbolized as having "two horns like a lamb" but who speaks "like a dragon" (Revelation 13:11) will play a prominent role in this end-time union of nations. Jesus Christ is the true Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:8-9; 19:7-9), so this religious leader apparently will claim to be Christian. But he is really of Satan, "the dragon who ... deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).

The "beast" referred to in Revelation 17 is a continuation of the four beasts of Daniel 7. As we saw earlier, Daniel, while in captivity in Babylon, recorded a vision of "four great beasts" (verse 3), gentile empires that would dominate the Middle East and have a major impact on the people of God. The empires were, in chronological order, the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire.

Attempts to revive the Roman Empire are to succeed dramatically at the time of the end. At that time a successor empire is prophesied to restore the European unity that Rome first achieved more than 2,000 years ago. This empire is to lead right into Christ's return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth (verses 9-14).

Since the fourth beast described in Daniel 7 exists at the time of Jesus Christ's return, and the same is true of the beast John saw in Revelation 17, both prophecies speak of an end-time resurrection of the Roman Empire. This is the other key to understanding the prophecy. The kingdoms of North and South concern successive powers. Rome took over Syria. And Rome did indeed fall. But the Roman Empire has been revived in numerous forms over the centuries. And one final revival remains.

This final resurrection of the Roman Empire, like the original empire, will be centered in Europe. It appears that it can be seen today in its embryonic form in the European Union. That is not to say that all current EU nations will be part of the final configuration, but those that choose to participate will combine to form a powerful military force that will involve itself in the Middle East.

This end-time king of the North spoken of in Daniel 11, then, appears to be the final ruler of this end-time, European- centered superpower, the same one called "the beast" in Revelation 17.

The final king of the South
What about the king of the South? To understand who that might be, we must first have some understanding of the history and thinking of the people in this region.

In Islamic thinking, the world is divided into two spheres, dar al-Islam, meaning "the land of Islam," and dar al-harb, meaning "the land of the unbeliever" or "the land of struggle." The Koran teaches that Allah "sent for His apostle [Muhammad] with guidance and the true faith, so that he may exalt it above all religions, much as the idolators may dislike it" (Surah 61:9, Dawood translation). A fundamental aspect of Islamic teaching is that Islam must eventually become the dominant religion of the entire world.

Remember also that the dream of the Arab peoples is for Arab unity. The warring tribes of Arabia were first united by Muhammad through a new religion, Islam. The Ummah, the community of Islam, has been a constant dream through the centuries. For 750 years now the sons of Ishmael have not been united. Only in the last 50 years have they even been independent of foreign control. The dream is still there, unfulfilled.

For a time, after the 1952 revolution in Egypt, President Nasser was the inspiration for Arab unity, and many thought he would bring it about. More recently Iraq's Saddam Hussein thought the same way, desiring to unite the Arab world against the United States and Israel.

Going back further in time, Sudan's Muhammad Ahmed Ibn el Sayed (1844-1885) proclaimed himself the Islamic messiah, the Mahdi ("divinely guided one") who would unite Muslims and defeat the infidels. He failed in his mission, but he had greater success at uniting Arabs than the secular leaders have had. We should also note that many Muslims believe that another Mahdi is prophesied to appear in a tumultuous time to restore the Islamic faith and ensure its final victory over all other religions.

In more recent times Osama bin Laden became the spiritual successor of the Sudanese Mahdi and found considerable success in uniting Muslims against the West. Wherever you go in the Islamic world, Bin Laden is the peoples' hero, giving them hope of a final triumph.

As Muhammad's followers brought about the defeat of the two great superpowers of his day, Byzantium and Persia, so Osama bin Laden and his followers have desired to bring down the two superpowers of our era. One, the Soviet Union, dissolved in 1991—its collapse due in large part to the Afghan rebels, led by Bin Laden, who defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Sept. 11 showed how vulnerable the second superpower, the United States, is to terrorism. Repeated warnings from Washington have made it clear that the country remains susceptible to terrorist attacks potentially even more devastating than the first.

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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:24 am

This end-time king of the South will rise up to defy the West, striking out against the king of the North. Whoever the end-time king of the South might be—whether a popular figure similar to Osama bin Laden, a political leader as were Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein, or a religious figure such as the Ayatollah Khomeini or the prophesied Mahdi to come—someone will engage in this final conflict against the West—possibly in yet another attempt to bring about long-sought Arab and Islamic unity. He will unwittingly set in motion a cascade of events that will lead to unimaginable carnage before Jesus Christ intervenes to put a stop to it.

The climactic Mideast war unfolds
Returning to Daniel 11:40, we see that the forces of these two end-time leaders, the kings of the North and South, will clash: "At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over" (King James Version).

The word "push" is translated from the Hebrew word nagach, which can mean either "to push" or "to attack." It is used of a bull or ram attacking with its horns. Figuratively, this means "to war against." The form this "push" or "attack" may take isn't spelled out.

What is evident, however, is that this end-time leader from the south will attack the north in such a way as to warrant a major military invasion of the Middle East. Considering the ways Islamic extremists have attacked the Western powers in recent years, something like a series of major terror attacks against European targets could be the "push" referred to here. From this point on the king of the South is no longer specifically mentioned in Scripture. What happens to him isn't spelled out.

The same chapter shows that the king of the North, the European-centered Beast power, will be the victor, as he invades the Holy Land and overthrows "many countries" (verse 41). Among them are Egypt and the Libyans and Ethiopians (understand that these biblical names for peoples and places may not be precisely identical with today's national borders, although the regions are certainly the same.)

First and second woes
However, "news from the east and the north shall trouble him," and "he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many" (verse 44). These actions by the end-time king of the North appear to be connected with the fifth trumpet or "first woe" of Revelation 9:1-11, as both the forces bringing the first woe and the end-time Beast power are described as ascending out of the bottomless pit (verses 1-2; Revelation 11:7; 17:Cool. For more details, request or download our free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled.

At the time the book of Revelation was written, the eastern border of the Roman Empire was the Euphrates River, which begins in Turkey and bisects Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf. The countries referred to in the last few verses of Daniel 11 are all far to the west of this river. Yet in the end-time events prophesied in the book of Revelation this river is a significant geographic marker.

Notice Revelation 9:13-16: "Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.' So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them."

Here we have the sixth trumpet (and second woe) identified as a massive 200-million-man army "released to kill a third of mankind." Clearly we are talking about major clashes between the Western world (in the form of the forces of the king of the North) and a massive army from regions along or beyond the Euphrates River.

Threatened by a major foreign military presence that has invaded North Africa and modern-day Israel, this military force combines to fight against it.

What nations come together to form these vast armies? Two possibilities seem likely in today's geopolitical climate—or a combination of the two.

The presence of non-Islamic forces (infidels) on Islamic ground has been a source of contention in the region since the time of the Crusades almost 1,000 years ago. The presence in the Middle East of forces of the revived Roman Empire—the prophesied Beast power, a spiritual successor to the Crusaders—will no doubt inflame Islamic feelings once again.

It is possible, therefore, that this massive army is a multinational Islamic force formed from some or all of the Islamic countries along or to the north and east of the Euphrates. This would include nations like Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even participants from India (with the second-largest Muslim population in the world, after Indonesia, though most of its citizens are Hindus).

Further to the north and east of the Holy Land are the relatively new Islamic nations that came into existence after the fall of the Soviet Union—Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The world's Muslim population totals some 1.3 billion, most of whom are in this general geographic area.

Another possibility for these forces includes Russia and China, two major world powers that often share common interests, along with their allies and other nations from the Far East. A threat to the Persian Gulf oil supplies, real or imagined, could provoke action by these nations. China, with its population of 1.3 billion, could certainly field a massive military force, and Russia's weapons technology still makes it a formidable military power.

Additionally, it is possible that all these forces will come together briefly, fearful of the increased military might and presence of the king of the North. Indeed, important defense and economic ties already exist between Russia and China and some Muslim nations of Central Asia and the Middle East.

Setting the stage for Armageddon
Later, as part of the chain of events that follow the sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15, we find the Euphrates River mentioned again: "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared" (Revelation 16:12).

Who these leaders and forces are isn't explicitly spelled out either; we know only that they come from east of the Euphrates. Like the earlier 200-million-man army, it appears this force is primarily from either the Muslim world or from China and/or Russia and their allies. Or again, it could be a combination of some or all these nations. In fact, it could well be the same general power bloc as that in Revelation 9, though, this being a different episode, it doesn't have to be.

Contributing to this conflict, "demons, performing signs,... go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty ... And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon" (verses 14-16).

In the end it doesn't seem to matter specifically which countries are involved in this growing world war at which point in time, for ultimately Revelation 16:14 tells us that the kings "of the whole world" will be gathered to the Middle East for a final battle. So it seems likely that all of the aforementioned Eastern powers will be engaged at some point.

Indeed, however it plays out, virtually all remaining military forces apparently will be drawn into this final maelstrom of destruction to some degree, just as happened in the two great world wars of the 20th century. Yet ironically, this is all part of God's plan and absolutely necessary for peace to finally be established in this war-torn region.

Christ's intervention to save mankind
All this maneuvering, destruction and devastation—which takes the lives of at least a third of the human race (Revelation 9:15, 18)—is the prelude to Jesus Christ's second coming. He has to return to save mankind from this final cataclysmic conflict that otherwise would leave no human survivors. As He said of the time immediately preceding His return to earth, "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved ..." (Matthew 24:22).

But at His return, the peoples of the world will not automatically accept Him. As we saw earlier, the 10 kings allied with the Beast will fight against Him (Revelation 17:14).

Revelation 16:16 tells us that armies will be gathered "to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon." Armageddon is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Har Megiddon, meaning hill or mountain of Megiddo, an ancient town about 55 miles north of Jerusalem and 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It overlooks the Valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon, a large open plain.

Yet the final battle will not be here. Instead it appears that this will be the final staging area for the armies that will fight against Jesus Christ. The battle itself will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat near Jerusalem, as prophesied in Joel 3: "For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat ... Assemble and come, all you nations ... For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations" (Joel 3:1-2, 11-12). Jehoshaphat even means "Judgment of the Eternal."

Revelation 19:11-16 describes what happens next: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns ..." This is a description of the returning Jesus Christ, who will now execute God's judgment on a rebellious, sin-filled world and on those who resist Him by force.

"He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses ... Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations ... And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

Several verses describe what will happen to the assembled forces that fight Jesus at His return (verses 17-18, 21; Zechariah 14:12). But like all human resistance to God's plan and purpose, it will prove futile.

Peace at last
After so much death and destruction, and centuries of war and unrest in the Middle East, imagine what a difference the second coming of Jesus Christ will make.

Jews, Christians and Muslims not only have a common spiritual ancestor in Abraham; adherents of all three religions expect, in different ways, a Messiah.

Only after the true Messiah comes can all three begin to live in true harmony. Devoid of religious differences and finally understanding and appreciating the blood ties between them, they will be able to work together under the returned Jesus Christ to resolve their differences.

Haggai 2:6-7 prophesies of this time: "Once more ... I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations ..." The "Desire of All Nations" is the promised Messiah, the hope of all three faiths.

Described as "the Prince of Peace" in Isaiah 9:6, Jesus Christ will establish His government on earth with Jerusalem as its capital. "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain [prophetic symbol of a government] of the LORD'S house shall be established on the top of the mountains [over all other governments of the world] ... and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:1-2).

All the children of Abraham—Arab, Jew and Israelite alike—along with all the inhabitants of the entire earth, will then have the opportunity to learn God's truth and receive His gift of salvation. No longer will they be at war, but they will be allies, cooperating together in a spirit of peace and brotherhood, all acknowledging the true God and living according to His ways, all receiving His blessings (Isaiah 19:20-25). To better understand this time and how it will finally come about, request or download our free booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom.

Satan the devil, the instigator of so much war and suffering and the unseen influence behind the scenes, will be locked away so he can no longer deceive and oppress the nations (Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3). To discover more about this evil being and his influence, request or download our free booklet Is There Really a Devil?

Under Christ's righteous rule, peace, not war, will break out in this long- troubled land. "He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken" (Micah 4:3-4).

Terror-ravaged Jerusalem will be fearful no longer. God decrees: "I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the LORD of Hosts, the Holy Mountain ... Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing" (Zechariah 8:3-5).

Zechariah 14:8-9 adds to the beautiful picture of the wonderful, glorious future ahead: "And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem ... And the LORD shall be King over all the earth."

Finally, beyond the darkness and gloom, after thousands of years of war and travail, at long last mankind will see peace in Jerusalem and throughout the land that God gave to Abraham 4,000 years ago—a peace that will extend across the entire Middle East and ultimately fill the whole world.

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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

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Re: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

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