By Terry James
Are the dramatic events we
have witnessed in Iraq since "Iraqi Freedom" and in recent days, the
invasion of the murderous forces of Islam known as ISIS
(Islamist State of Iraq and Syria) the ignition of
Armageddon? With the many signs of the biblically prophesied end of the age
now storming at our generation on history's horizon, we must examine the
things involving the place called the "cradle of civilization" carefully.
"Armageddon" is the biblical term most
everyone thinks of whenever war begins to look imminent in the Middle East.
Even the mainstream news organizations at times bring this troubling name
into their reportorial mix when war seems to loom. Armageddon is prophesied
in Revelation to be an incrementally stepped-up war, rather than a single
battle. It will be a conflict that progressively involves more and more
nations until the military forces of all nations of the world come together
in a triangular valley called Jezreel, near an ancient place called Megiddo.
The worry among many who watch troubles
in the Middle East is always that the next military conflict might ignite
Armageddon, mankind's final war, according to how most view Bible prophecy.
Major wars in that region will, many mistakenly believe, mean the end of the
What about Iraq, the war dubbed "Iraqi
Freedom," the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the insurgent terrorism, the
democratic election that followed, and now the brutal, ISIS force
that is determined to establish regional and world-wide caliphate (total
Islamist rule)? What have the dramatic developments of late in
this long past part of biblical history to do with prophecy yet future?
To begin examining the facts and
possibilities, we must start with the nation of Israel. Modern Israel, as
much as ancient Israel, is a key to understanding Iraq's inevitable part in
the wrap-up to human history.
Obstacle to World Peace
All prophecy yet future must be
considered in light of this one fact: God's chosen nation is back in the
land of promise. Understanding that country's position in the arena of
Middle East and world affairs is critical to understanding all other
geopolitical realities. That is, to know where the dramatic changes in Iraq
are leading, one must carefully study that tiny, though militarily powerful
state called Israel.
Israel is prophesied to become an
intolerable problem that world leaders think must
be eliminated before there can be
peace in the Middle East and in the world. God, himself, will see to it that
Israel will be a major obstacle to sin-flawed, man-made peace. This is
because only God's Son--Jesus, the Prince of Peace--can establish true peace
on planet Earth.
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of
trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege
both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make
Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with
it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered
together against it" (Zech. 12:2-3).
Do we see a volatile situation today
with regard to the modern nation of Israel? Is the world community of
nations, especially the United States, fretting over problems between Israel
and its neighbors? The answer is, of course, a resounding, "Yes!" The
on-going process to force peace upon the Middle East, no matter the
consequences to the safety of Israel, is irrefutable evidence that the world
is extremely nervous about the Jewish state and its enemy neighbors.
The Problem is Supernatural
A reasonable question for those who
truly seek world peace is this: Why is Israel always at the center of the
problem that threatens to involve the whole world in thermonuclear war?
World leaders cannot understand the
answer God's Word--the Bible--gives to this "reasonable" question. This is
because the leaders of the world reason in-line with Satan's thinking, not
in line with God's thinking, which comes from His perfect foreknowledge.
Today's world leaders believe they can find the formula for peace totally
apart from taking into consideration God's explanation of the supernatural
Concerning the obstacles Israel
presents to the Middle East and world peace in our time, God, through
revelation given to the prophet John in symbolic language -- tells about the
ancient hatred that spawned and
perpetuates the problem:
"And there appeared a great wonder in
heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon
her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing
in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in
heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and
seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars
of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the
woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it
was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations
with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of
God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore
days" (Rev. 12:1-6).
Revelation, chapter 12, tells about a
"woman," which refers to Israel, the Jewish people out of whom the
Deliverer, Jesus Christ, will come. The great red dragon with seven heads,
ten horns, and seven crowns, whose tail draws one-third of the stars, refers
to Satan. The stars are the angels who rebelled and followed Lucifer, who
was cast out of Heaven.
Satan hates Israel because Israel is
the nation chosen by God to bring the Savior into the world. The devil, as
he is also called, is prophesied to do all within his considerable power to
destroy that people. Antichrist will be the devil's world dictator who will
try to carry out Israel's destruction, as outlined in Daniel, chapters 7, 8,
9, and 11, and in Revelation chapter 13.
So again we ask the question: Are the
dramatic events we have witnessed in Iraq from the time of the war called
"Iraqi Freedom," to the genocidal rampage of ISIS, the likely
ignition of Armageddon? Saddam Hussein and most all other dictators in the
Middle East have long been blood-vowed to completely destroy Israel. They
have stated they want every Jew drowned in the Mediterranean or to meet an
even more terrible fate.
In that sense, Iraq and the other enemy
nations of God's chosen people bring history tick after tick of the
prophetic clock ever closer to that final battle in the valley God's Word
At the same time, the answer is, "No."
The dynamic drama playing out in Iraq won't be the thing that sets the
Armageddon war campaign in motion. We have God's Word on it. Jesus Christ,
who was and is God the Son, said, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of
wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass,
but the end is not yet" (Matthew 24:4).
The world has been
in this time of "wars and rumors of wars" throughout history. Jesus here,
did, however, strongly imply that there will be a great increase in the
number of wars and rumors of wars as the end of the age draws near. There
will be, Jesus prophesied, wars and rumors of war with greater frequency and
intensity. Certainly, the 20th century was the bloodiest of all centuries,
with millions of people killed in war. Certainly, too, with the fear of
thermonuclear war and the horrific destruction it would bring, "rumors of
wars" were more pronounced than at any other time. "But the end is not yet,"
Christ said. The war with Saddam's genocidal forces was but one more of the
"rumors of war" that became a war in fact.
Is there anything of prophetic
significance we can make of the explosive recent and current events in and
around Iraq? Does the Bible have anything to say about end-time Iraq?
As a matter of fact, yes. Quite a bit.
But Bible prophecy speaks of Iraq as being in an apparently changed form
from the Iraq of today. Prophecy again calls that region Babylon, and it is
in big trouble with God. Jeremiah the prophet foretold Babylon's end-time
"The word that the LORD spake against
Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.
Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish,
and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is
broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make
her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they
shall depart, both man and beast" (Jeremiah 50:1-3).
The prophet said further:
"Therefore, behold, the days come, that
I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land
shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then
the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon:
for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith the
LORD" (Jeremiah 51:47-48).
Babylon's Last-Days Role
It becomes obvious, if one believes
that Bible prophecy should be taken literally, that the area now called
Iraq, is mentioned prominently as having a role to play in history
that is yet to unfold. We can be sure
the prophetic Scriptures haven't yet been fulfilled because the region has
never been rendered completely uninhabitable like foretold by Jeremiah:
"And the land shall tremble and sorrow:
for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make
the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant" (Jeremiah 51: 29).
Does the prophecy above indicate that
nuclear devastation is prophetically scheduled for the area presently
occupied by the nation called Iraq? Radioactivity that contaminates the land
to the point it cannot be inhabited seems to fit such a scenario.
Prophecy Scholars Differ on
When it comes to the subject of Babylon
in prophecy, excellent prophecy scholars hold different views. Some believe
that an actual city will be rebuilt on the very real estate once occupied by
ancient Babylon. This, they believe, will be the great religious and
commercial center that will be destroyed in one hour, as indicated in
"And the kings of the earth, who have
committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and
lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar
off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city
Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come" (Revelation
Other prophecy scholars believe
prophecies about end-time Babylon found in Revelation and Jeremiah refer to
the entire world religious and economic system that will have developed by
the time of the end. These prophecies, they believe, involve ancient Babylon
only in that it was the matrix out of which all of the religious and
commercial evils began to grow and infect mankind's activities throughout
history. These prophecy students believe that the city destroyed in a single
hour might be the greatest center of commerce at that time. For example, in
our day, that city would be New York City, because it has the most influence
over world trade, etc.
Iraq Today - The Bottom
Although Saddam Hussein began
rebuilding a city on the site of ancient Babylon, it appears at this time to
be many, many years away from even having a chance of again becoming a great
world commercial and/or religious center. This is especially true because of
the Islamist violence taking place there at present. It is scarcely more
than a tiny, token symbol of the magnificence that once occupied that area.
The presence chaos and violence taking
place in Iraq has disrupted any rebuilding effort. However, some prophecy
watchers suggest that with Saddam removed and when things settle, the world
community might yet think to come together and make an effort to rebuild
Babylon into a true symbol for world unity and world peace. A major city
with towering skyscrapers could, with today's technologies, be erected in
mere months. This has already been done in another Mid-East nation. Some
believe that even the United Nations might be moved to a rebuilt Babylon as
a gesture of world community and harmony.
Whether the current volatility and
other dynamics will bring about the prophesied end-time Babylon cannot be
known for sure at this point. We can be certain, however, that the war that
kicked the dictator, Saddam Hussein, off his deadly throne did not start
Armageddon, as feared by some. However, if war reignites because of the rage
taking place presently and in the future in the region and becomes severe
enough (with nuclear weaponry introduced, inflicting damage to major
populations), that conflict could be the catalyst that helps bring about the
event that will start the Armageddon campaign of war in motion. Here's how.
The Tribulation Era
Already the world community is
demanding that peace be made between Israel and its Middle Eastern
neighbors. The world's leaders see the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as
holding the greatest potential for igniting all out war. Additionally, the
Jewish/Islamic differences are seen as explosive fuel that might be thrown
on any war that might erupt in the region. Global leaders intend to do all
within their collective power to force peace upon Israel and those who want
to push the Jewish people into the Mediterranean.
Daniel the prophet foretold a peace
that will destroy many people, both Israel's and its enemies" people (Daniel
8:25). The Antichrist will, according to Daniel 9: 26-27, be the leader who
guarantees that seven-year covenant of peace. When this "man of sin," as
Antichrist is also called, brings together Israel and her foes for that
peace treaty, the Tribulation era will begin.
The Tribulation is prophesied by
prophets such as Daniel, Jeremiah, and Jesus to be a time of God's judgment
upon rebellious earth-dwellers. This judgment will last seven years and will
conclude with Christ's return, when the last battle of the Armageddon war is
taking place in the Middle East.
Peace Agreement Brings on
It will be God's agreement with the
Antichrist to sign that peace covenant that will begin the tribulation, or
apocalypse. This also sets in motion a progressive series of conflicts that
grows into the war called Armageddon.
So, war with Iraq--even the terrorist
horde attempting to establish a caliphate, hasn't
started Armageddon. But war, reignited by the nuclear threat posed by Iran
or some other hostility in that volatile region, could, if destructive
enough to major populations, be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's
back. Such conflict could hasten the world community into forcing Israel and
her enemies to finally agree to the so-called peace which has proved so
elusive throughout the great diplomatic efforts since God's rebirth in 1948.
In that sense, the ejection from power of the "Butcher of Baghdad, Saddam
Hussein" and the American-led rearrangement for Iraq might fit significantly
into the prophetic picture.
Reading Zechariah chapter 5 leads the
believer in Bible prophecy to observe that wickedness/evil is scheduled to
return to the place called "Shinar." That's present-day Iraq. With
the ancient biblical prophecies involving the city of Babylon for the
wrap-up of human history, it is incumbent upon every student of Bible
prophecy to examine news coming out of that land where God said the first
human beings were created.
Chronology of a
5000 B.C.: Farming spreads into
southern Mesopotamia, the ancient name for the territory of Iraq. The
world's first great cities develop along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
Two regions become dominant: Akkad in the north and Sumer in the south.
3500-3000: The Sumerians develop the
wheel, writing, counting and calendars.
2334-2279: Sargon the Great establishes
the Akkadian Empire.
1792-1750: Hammurabi establishes
Babylon as the region's power center. Hammurabi is best known for a code of
laws that bears his name.
1400: Assyrian, Babylonian, Hurrian and
Elamite kingdoms flourish and vie for ascendancy.
722-705: Sargon II strengthens Assyrian
rule and builds a palace-temple complex near Nineveh.
612: The Assyrian Empire collapses
suddenly; Chaldeans take control.
597: Nebuchadnezzar II captures
Jerusalem. Under Nebuchadnezzar, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the
seven wonders of the ancient world, are built. Nebuchadnezzar's is the last
home-grown government in Mesopotamia until the 20th century.
539: King Cyrus of Persia captures
331: Alexander the Great seizes
Babylon, declares it his capital and dies there in 323.
226: The Persian Sassanid dynasty is
637: The Arabs defeat the Sassanids in
the battle of Qadisiya and bring Islam to Iraq.
762-63: Mansur founds Baghdad. Probably
the world's first completely planned city, Baghdad becomes the center of
1258: Mongols sack Baghdad.
1534: The Ottoman Turks, under Suleyman
the Magnificent, seize Iraq.
1800s: Britain begins to exert its
influence in the Persian Gulf to protect trade routes with India.
1914-18: The Ottoman Empire sides with
Germany against Britain, France and Russia in World War I.
1919: The League of Nations gives
Britain a mandate over Iraq.
1921: Prince Faisal, who had fought
with T.E. Lawrence against the Ottomans, is brought to Iraq and chosen king
in a referendum.
1932: Britain grants Iraq its
1958: Gen. Abdel Karim Qassem topples
the monarchy in a military coup.
1979: Saddam Hussein becomes president.
1980-88: Iraq-Iran war.
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait.
1991: Persian Gulf War.
1998: UN weapons inspectors leave Iraq.
2002: President Bush calls for a
"regime change" as he seeks to disarm Saddam Hussein.
2003: American-led coalition defeats
Iraq's armies and overthrows Saddam Hussein.
2005: Democratic elections take place
on January 31 in Iraq.
Prime Minister Maliki oversees the formation of
Iraq's first permanent constitutional government since the fall of Saddam
Saddam sentenced to death by
2007: Deadliest year
for U.S. troops in Iraq.
Al Qaeda remains a dangerous force in Iraq despite a general decline in
violence and U.S. troops must continue to confront the militant group.
2009: Iraqi Prime
Maliki announces break
with Iraqi National Alliance.
2011: December 18,
2011. Last convoy of American Troops leaves Iraq.
2012-2013: Wave of
deadly bombings continue.
incidents escalate; US warplanes deployed to aid civilians and reclaim the
Mosul Dam from extremist militants.
Sources: The New York Times, Knight
Ridder Tribune, Associated Press, CIA World Fact book 2001, Iraq:
Enchantment of the World and Iraq: Old Land, New Nation in Conflict, Think