The Rise of ISIS and it's challenge to Russia and the West
How ISIS could bring Russia into the Middle East
September 5, 2014 - Audio, 12.07 MIN
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This week another shocking video of a beheading by the Terrorist group ISIS was promoted on social media. This weeks Bible in the News looks at this organisation and how it could rapidly bring a militant Russia into the Middle East
Steven Sotloff is the second American journalist the jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS) has publicly killed.
The group claimed his killing was in revenge for continued US air strikes targeting its fighters in Iraq.
Apparently, unbeknown to his captors, he was in fact Jewish. According to interviews with other released captors he managed to fast during Jewish holidays like Yom Kippor. Sotloff’s family were advised to obscure all evidence of his Jewish identity after he was captured in northern Syria in August last year. The general concern of the authorities was that he could be subject to a greater level of torture should his captors discover his religion.
It has since been reported that Sotloff did in fact have dual American and Israeli citizenship and was a published writer for the Jerusalem Post.
But who are the Islamic State and what could they mean for the stability of the Middle East?
What is ISIS?The "Islamic State" or the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham" is a Sunni Muslim group who believe they are a caliphate, a Muslim state, run by a successor to Muhammad and upholding Sharia law.
The organisation has come from the Iraqi insurgency against the Western forces and their Iraqi allies which followed from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Initially the group wanted to establish a Caliphate in Iraq but since the civil war in Syria it's ambitions have widened to include areas of Syria and the wider Middle East.
The Black Flag of the Islamist State. Source: WikipediaThe Black Flag of the Islamist State. Source: WikipediaIts bands of militants have one clear goal - to enforce a pure Islamic state. It wages a holy war (or "jihad") on all who oppose it and when it takes territory it enforces sharia law immediately, beheading and killing all those who do not accept it's authority.
It now dominates territories in Northern Iraq, and parts of Syria and it currently has troops on the boarder with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran.
According to the The Economist apparently "ISIS may have up to 6,000 fighters in Iraq and 3,000–5,000 in Syria, including perhaps 3,000 foreigners; nearly a thousand are reported to hail from Chechnya and perhaps 500 or so more from France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe".
The organisation, aspires to unify the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under it's political control, beginning with Iraq, Syria and other territory in the Levant region, which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and parts of southern Turkey.
According to some reports the Black Isis flag has been seen in Israel on Palestinian rallies (e.g. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/israel-thousands-isis-supporters-rally-temple-mount-jerusalem-1464043). This concept of a militant Islamic State is unifying extremists and will pose a huge threat to the stability of the region.
ISIS & RussiaIn a report by the International Business Times an interesting insight was given this week into the groups view of Russia. The report was entitled: "Isis Tells Vladimir Putin: 'We are Coming to Russia' to 'Free Chechnya'"
Part of the report reads as follows:
"The radical Islamist group Isis (now known as Islamic State) has released a new video threatening Russian President Vladimir Putin that it plans to come to Russia and "free Chechnya".
The video footage, believed to be filmed in the Taqba airbase captured from Syrian government forces in Raqqa, shows an IS fighter in a military jet.
"This message is for you, Vladimir Putin! These are the aircraft you sent to Bashar [Assad], and we're going to send them to you. Remember that!" he said.
"This is Russian technology," said a militant with a Russian voice, according to The Moscow Times.
"We will with the consent of Allah free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus! The Islamic State is here and will stay here, and it will spread with the grace of Allah!" another militant warns.
The militant then addressed Putin, adding: "Your throne has already been shaken, it is under threat and will fall with our arrival [in Russia] ... We're already on our way with the permission of Allah!"
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on Instagram the group's warning was a "childish threat".
In the post that showed Kadyrov with a shirt emblazoned with Putin's face, he said the Islamist militants were "saying only what their masters in the West's security services were telling them to say".
"These jerks have nothing to do with Islam. They are the blatant enemies of Muslims all over the world. Naive people decided to threaten Chechnya and all of Russia with two aircraft. They can sit in 2,000 aircraft and still not make it to Russia," he wrote.
"I declare, with all responsibility, that whoever gets it into their heads to threaten Russia and speak the name of President Vladimir Putin will be destroyed as soon as he says it." He added: "We won't even wait for him to sit at the helm of a plane.""
ISIS do indeed seem to be reflecting the spirit of the ancient militant Muslims led by Mohummed who inflicted God's punishments on the Eastern Roman Empire as prophesied in Revelation chapter 9. With their fearless aggressive stance, use of social media and brutality, ISIS are fast becoming a player to be recognised in Middle East politics.
Russia drawn into the Middle East as prophesied in the Bible
So who will eventually quell the aggression of this new player in the Middle East? Will America with it's weakening influence? It seems that Russia is perfectly placed to get more of a foothold in the region and come to the aid of it's allies. It has already been supplying arms to those fighting ISIS including the Iraqi government and president Assad of Syria. It is also an ally and supporter of Iran. Despite it's current issues with it's involvement in the Ukraine how the West would cheer on Russia in this battle against a common enemy and how prestigious a strong Russian leader would become who manages to tackle this problem!
It is interesting to consider this all in the light of Bible prophecy and the time period of the "latter days" - A time period in the Bible which begins with the restoration of the Jews to Israel (Hosea 3:5) and ends with the great establishment of the Kingdom in Israel (Isaiah 2:2).
In the time between these momentous events the Bible tells of a world leading up to a crisis called "Armageddon" where a number of nations invade Israel before God acts to rescue His people (see Ezekiel 38, Joel 3 and Revelation 16). When tied to the prophecies of Zechariah 12-14 it is clearly seen that this is the time when Jesus Christ will appear on the world stage and establish His throne in Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 38 the invading forces are described by their ancient names and consist of the territories of Europe, Turkey, North Africa and the far East, notably Persia which consists of part of the modern day territory where ISIS is gaining ground. The leader of the force is termed "Gog" and he is a ruler of the modern territories of Russia, called by their ancient names in the prophecy of Rus, Magog, Meshech and Tubal (v2).
In Balaam's prophecies of the "latter days" he, by inspiration, gives a hint that the peoples of Persia will be associated with this invasion by force. Speaking of the crisis of the latter days the prophet tells of an invading force, just as Ezekiel 38 does: "And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever." (Numbers 24:24).
These ships which come down to Chittim, or Cyprus and who afflict Eber, or the Hebrews of Israel also "afflict" Asshur, or Assyria. Who is this latter day Assyria which is mentioned? Could it be a revived Muslim state which is brought under control and tamed by Russia? Russia, who has it's current interests and allies in Syria and Iran? Russia, who has President Putin setting a president for a fearless, militant leader as it is currently showing in the Crisis in the Ukraine? Will ISIS draw Russia into the Middle East ready for the scene to be set for the events outlined in Bible prophecy to come to pass?
The Kingdom is ComingWhether ISIS will be the catalyst for the great crisis of events which will unfold in these latter days we cannot be sure, but we do know that Russia and the nations will eventually be compelled to invade the land of Israel before the great manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ and his immortalised saints who will appear on the world stage.
One thing is for sure, God's Kingdom is coming on this earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will return to sit on "the throne of his father David" (Luke 1:32). Bible believers must therefore keep the vision of this coming age in the forefront of their minds eye as we look forward to the time when this world will almost be un recognisable under the righteous reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. That time when; "many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Micah 4:2).
Until then we watch and wait in faith, "working out our own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12).
This has been Matt Davies for the Bible in the News. Join us again next week God willing at www.bibleinthenews.com
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