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The Challenge of Militant Islam
The developing clash with Israel and the West.
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March 27, 2009 - Audio, 10.25 MIN
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The Western powers are struggling in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Israel is struggling with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians. Yet the prophet Ezekiel predicts a time of peace in the Middle East before Armageddon. Welcome to the Bible in the News this is David Billington.
The current problems with Iran and militant Islam, affecting the West and Israel go back to the rise of Islam from the deserts of Arabia and the later great invasions of the Seljuk Turks, Mongols and the Ottoman Turks upon the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Europe. These invasions can be divided into four waves of terror. These great hordes from the east were known for their vast armies mounted on horseback, the great Mongolian leader Ghingis Khan is said to have created the finest cavalry army the world has ever seen. This is exactly how they are depicted in the ninth chapter of Revelation verses 13 to 21. In Revelation these hordes of cavalry are depicted by four angels bound by the river Euphrates which are subsequently released.

These four waves of terror from lands east of the Euphrates brought judgment on the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire and devastation on Hungary and Poland. They led to the fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453 and the end of the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Empire advanced deep into Europe and the Eastern Roman Empire shifted it's base to Moscow, which has been called the third Rome for this reason.

In the prophecy of Isaiah the armies of the king of Assyria are depicted as the Euphrates overflowing. "Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks" (Isaiah 8:7)

The prophecy of Revelation uses the same figure to describe the powers of the Euphrates that would arise later in history: "Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates." They overflowed and brought terror on the Roman Beast and created a thorn in his side for many centuries - the Ottoman Empire. This empire was not to continue forever, it had to be removed from the Middle East in order that the basis for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel and the throne of David could be set upon the scene - the national home for the Jewish people.

Foreseeing this, Robert Roberts in a "Second letter to the elect of God in a time of trouble", spelling out "The benefits of trouble", writes on February 10th, 1885: "A new turning point has, in fact, been reached, at which there is scarcely anything we may not shortly see in the way of the completion of the political programme on which our eyes have been fixed with earnest solicitude for over thirty years past. If the Turkish empire disappear, which is now almost the daily expectation of politicians, the Holy Land will be liberated from the only obstacle that restrains the full development of impending Jewish restoration under English protection." About 32 1/2 years later during World War I, the British would move up from Egypt and make their way to Jerusalem, removing the Turk from the Holy Land. Shortly after the British would issue the Balfour Declaration, which would become the mandate for the Jewish State.

Martin Gilbert in his book, "Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century", quotes from the official British history which describes the Turks leaving the city of Jerusalem: "Armed stragglers were still trickling along the road just outside the north wall, requisitioning food and water at the point of the bayonet. This is no grievous crime on the part of defeated troops, uncertain of their next meal, but is recorded as the last kick of the dying Ottoman authority in a city where it had been supreme for four centuries." Then, "as the Turkish flood finally ebbed away into the shadowy depths of the Valley of Jehoshaphat the townsfolk roused themselves from the lethargy into which hunger and the Turkish police had plunged them..." "The Turkish flood finally ebbed away." This was the drying up of the Euphratean power as it is described in Revelation 16:12: "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up..."

A drying up process is a process of time and this is exactly how things have happened. Even today there is a threat from the remnants of these powers. In fact, it seems as if the west is on a collision cause with militant Islam - which we could call the puddles of the Euphratean powers. This was highlighted this week by the cover of Maclean's News Magazine in Canada which says: "Inside a Powder Keg. How the Taliban is winning in Pakistan and why that's disastrous for the west." Also today it was reported that in January the Israel Air Force hit a convoy of weapons in Sudan destined for Gaza from Iran. Israel and the west are in a jam with Iran and militant Islam. Israel cannot afford to let Iran go nuclear - yet it will be very difficult to stop them. There is a clash coming. How does this fit in with Bible prophecy?

It is clear that the return of Jesus Christ is well before the invasion of Ezekiel 38. There is much work to be done in judging the responsible dead, preparing the saints and with Israel before their king will come to them as their deliverer. This will no doubt be a work of years. Revelation 16:15-16 clearly shows that the nations gathering to Armageddon is after the thief-like return of Jesus Christ. This will of course be nothing like the rapture theories of popular Christian groups. These are hardly thief-like!

In the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 it is very clear that there is a time of peace, confidence and prosperity coming to Israel before the advent of Jesus Christ. A time when they are at rest, dwelling safely, without bars and gates, they "will dwell safely all of them". This time of peace is also referred to in chapter 39:25-26: "Therefore 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; After 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." There is a focus on the bearing shame and trespasses against God while they dwelt safely in their land. This would not include now, when they are not dwelling safely. There is a hint here in Ezekiel 39 that during the time of peace there is a higher responsibility to God then there is now. Could Ezekiel be referring to those that reject the teaching of the teachers, such as Elijah, that God will send to those in the land before the great and dreadful day of the Lord? (Malachi 4).

This preliminary work of Elijah and others is confirmed by the words of Christ when he says in Matthew 17:11: "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." These all things to be restored, are the things of the kingdom, including all 12 tribes. These are the same "all things" as referred to in Acts 3:21 - the times of restitution of all things. Elijah demonstrated this when he rebuilt the altar that was broken down on Mount Carmel, with twelve stones. This preliminary instruction to those in the land will most likely take place in a time of peace, similar to that in Revelation when the servants of God are sealed in the foreheads, or have God's word implanted into their minds, as a result of understanding the gospel and absorbing God's word through study. The angel says in Revelation 7:3: "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." There is a time of peace in order for the work of Biblical instruction to take place.

If the teachers are to go to Israel in a time of peace and safety, as these passages indicate, it means that either Christ will return before the peace and safety arises or very shortly afterwards. In order for this peace and safety to arise, the powers east of the Euphrates must be dried up. Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinains must be dealt with. When they are, if Christ has not returned we can be certain he will be on the very doorstep, in order to raise from the dead those great teachers that will go to Israel to commence restoring the heart of the fathers; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in their children.

Come back next week God Willing to, as we examine the scriptures and eagerly look for signs of the re-establishment of the kingdom of God.

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