The Last Crusade?
Preparing for the Final Conflict!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
www.bibleinthenews.com Audio & Print versions
Welcome to the Bible in the News. So what is in the news, and how does it connect with the Bible? During the past week two significant speeches have been in the news. One was given by the pope who has been touring his native Bavaria in Germany. The other speech was given by Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who was visiting Israel and the Middle East.
Both speeches dealt with Islamic extremism and highlighted yet again the growing rift between the Islamic world and Western civilization. And in doing so they will impact upon the divisions that already exist within the Islamic world, and may well exploit that situation. From a Bible-based perspective--and from a point of view formed by Bible prophecy--we can expect to see growing divisions in both the Islamic world and what has been called Western civilization.
The division within the Islamic world was commented upon in our edition of this programme for August 24. Our print version included a map showing the different Shia and Sunni division.
In our August 3rd programme we outlined the broader picture that will develop. Quoting from the Bible Magazine, Vol. 11 issue No. 4 page 16, we said:
"... the Arab world as we know it today will become divided. Some "Arab" nations will come under the influence and guardianship of Ezekiel’s Gog (Ezekiel 38:5), whilst others will be grouped with the trading powers associated with Tarshish (38:13). This is not new insight gained recently--it is a situation that has been expected for well over a century. In the geographical terminology of 1849, John Thomas described the territory to be controlled by Gog as: "Assyria proper, Persia, Asia Minor, Armenia, and Mesopotamia..." etc. (Elpis Israel). To this is added Libya and Ethiopia, or Northern Africa. This picture, taken largely from Ezekiel’s prophecy is supplemented by Daniel 11:40-43." So this situation has been foreseen for a long time.
As we watch events developing we must be conscious of the ‘big picture.’ Current events that happen week by week cannot be correctly assessed unless we keep this broader view in mind. Now the pope--for all his ecumenical talk--sees Roman Catholicism as the only true religion, and he said as much when as Cardinal Ratzinger he stated Rome’s position. Protestant churches were not 'sister' churches he said; Rome was the 'Mother' Church (compare Revelation 17:5). If that is how he views protestant 'Christian' churches, how do we think he REALLY views Islam?
Well in his speech this week which was reported in several papers, the New York Times said "he used language open to interpretations that could inflame Muslims" Quoting a Vatican expert from an Italian paper--"he closes the door to an idea which was very dear to John Paul II--the idea that Christians, Jews and Muslims have the same God and have to pray together to the same God."
Well, that is one interpretation of the pope's speech. Others saw him as inviting dialogue with Muslims. Several news items read a headline to that effect. Others, again, volunteered the opinion that the pope was trying to provoke debate over the sensitive issue of Islam, violence and western secularism. This may be near the mark--Europe of course is under threat from secularism, from an advancing Islamic population, and the pope wants to steer it back to its Catholic roots. So his speech is really a carrot and stick approach. On the one hand he offers dialogue--and on the other he is threatening confrontation.
So this is the struggle that is going on, and as far as Europe is concerned the Bible tells us that the great unfaithful church will be triumphant in the religious sphere.
"How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" (Revelation 18:7).
The question is, how will Rome achieve this triumph? Through dialogue or by other means?
Britain's Tony Blair seems to be using his last days in office to prepare the world for some kind of showdown with Islamic extremism. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz interviewed Blair last Sunday. Here is part of the report:
"Blair to Haaretz: Western leaders see the danger of Islamic extremism, but our public still does not
"Western leaders are increasingly aware of the global nature of the struggle against Islamic extremism led by Iran, but within Western public opinion “there is a big battle to be won.”
“This somber assessment was offered here Sunday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in an interview with Haaretz. The British leader, who just recently announced his intention to step down within a year, acknowledged that his own domestic political difficulties were closely tied with this “ideological battle” for British and Western hearts and minds.”
Asked about Europe, Blair responded:
“Amongst the people in Europe and Western opinion there is a big battle to be won. I mean, I’m being just honest about this. And I think there is a desire not to face the fact that we are fighting a global struggle. There are all sorts of issues to do with America and whether people want to be associated with America. And I think there is sometimes a naivete about organizations like Hezbollah and the activities of Iran. I'm just being frank. I think there is a battle, and it is important that we take our case out and win that battle.”
He was asked:
“Regarding Iran, do you agree with the comparisons to the 1930’s that we often read about?”
“When you have the President of a country as powerful as Iran say those things, it may be very foolish of us to assume he doesn’t mean them. And when he’s also trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, then I think the warning signs are pretty clear...I think for a president of a country to say they want to wipe another country off the face of the earth and at the same time he’s trying to acquire a nuclear weapons capability--if we don’t get worried about that, future historians will raise a few questions about us and about our judgment."
Now when we put these things together--what the Bible says, what the pope has said and what Tony Blair is saying, it is reasonable to conclude that the world is going head long into a massive and ugly crisis.
We can surely believe what the Bible is telling us. Look at Daniel 11:40 onward. Look at Ezekiel 38. Look at Revelation 16:15,16. Look at Isaiah 34. Zechariah 14. Psalm 83:1-4.
Now if the Bible is telling us the Truth about the great final conflict--and surely we must see that it is--what about the Truth concerning salvation?
There are great and precious promises in the Bible. See, for example, 2 Peter 1:4. Why ignore them? This is the GOOD NEWS in the Bible. If we are wise we will learn all that we can about it. Why linger for destruction? Believe and obey, that is the key to salvation. So learn what to believe, and be sure what you obey.
God willing, we shall talk about more Bible in the News next week.
Printed: Thursday, September 14, 2006
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