The Middle East in Prophecy News Article

Richard F. Ames

Jerusalem is the most important city in the world. Scripture shows that the region  surrounding it—the Middle East—will eventually explode into world war. Do you know what the Bible teaches about the end-time climax of world events in that region? You may be surprised!

The  Middle East has been in turmoil for decades. Many who are following world news  wonder what will happen next, and what the final outcome will be. Yet very few  realize that Bible prophecy explains in  advance the earthshaking events that will lead to greater disasters in the  region—and ultimately to World War III!The Bible outlines end-time events leading up to Jesus  Christ’s return. What happens in the Middle East, as His return draws near,  will affect your life and the lives of everyone on earth. Understanding those  events will help you to take action for your family’s welfare. You can escape the prophesied disasters and  judgments (Luke 21:36) upon a warring and God-defying world.
The Middle East seems to bring the world a constant  stream of bad news. Bible prophecy shows that this bad news will continue until  Jesus Christ’s return. But once the world survives “Armageddon” in the Middle  East, a time of good news will  follow. Jerusalem will then live up to its name: “City of Peace.” A Millennium  of peace and prosperity is coming, under the rulership of the Messiah. As King  of kings, Jesus Christ will rule the earth from Jerusalem with justice and  righteousness, and all nations on earth will learn a new way of life—the way to  peace.But first, the Middle East must pass through difficult  times ahead.Throughout history, human nature has looked to war as  the final arbiter of disputes. The Apostle Paul made a profound statement: “The  way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes”  (Romans 3:17–18). More than a million were killed in the Iran-Iraq War from  1980 to 1988. Thousands upon thousands more died in the Persian Gulf War and  Operation Desert Storm in 1990–91. Scarcely more than a decade later, the United States entangled itself financially and militarily in another Iraq  conflict, leading to questions about military and political motivations for  U.S. action, and bringing about thousands more deaths and a grave loss of  international prestige for the U.S.Will there be more wars in the Middle East?
Sadly, the  answer is “yes.” Your Bible reveals that there will be even more regional wars  there, leading to what is commonly called “Armageddon.” Jerusalem will be a  focal point of conflict.Arabs and Israelis have been at war since the modern  state of Israel was established. Peace has often been proclaimed in the region,  but has never been realized. More than 25 years after Egyptian President Anwar  Sadat gave hope to the world, flying to Israel to offer a dramatic overture of  peace, the process he hoped to encourage has stalled, if not stopped. At  present, there is little human prospect for lasting peace among Middle East  nations.

The Bible reveals that this millennia-old conflict will come to a peaceful resolution in  the not-too-distant future. But before this resolution is reached, much blood  will be shed, and mankind will go through a time of war and suffering on a  scale previously unknown in human history.

Understanding Bible prophecy about the Middle East can  bring us hope and comfort even as the current crisis escalates. The Bible is  full of information that can help us see the current Middle East conflict in  the light of God’s plan for end-time world events. It explains many details  unknown to the world’s politicians and policymakers. As we will see, it reveals  what the ancient rivalry between Abraham’s grandsons Jacob and Esau means for  the Middle East conflict today. Scripture also debunks many popular but false  teachings regarding Russia’s role in end-time prophecy. It gives an overview of  the “key players” in end-time prophecy—including the “beast,” the false prophet  and the King of the North—and the final phase of World War III, as we will see  later in this booklet.

Bible prophecy has revealed in advance many key facts  and details that can help us prepare for the dangerous and challenging times  ahead, as we strive to obey Jesus Christ’s command that we “watch and pray” as  end-time events grow closer (Mark 13:33). And it reveals the vital role of  Jerusalem—a city with a remarkable past and an even more remarkable future—at  the center of many end-time events and prophecies.

Jerusalem—Holy  City for Three Religions

Jerusalem (in Arabic called al-Quds, “the holy”) is sacred to the three major monotheistic  religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. As a result, it has been a focus of  conflict for centuries.

Conquered by the Romans before Christ’s birth, it was  in the hands of Byzantine rulers when it fell to a Muslim army led by Caliph  Umar in 638. In 1071, the Seljuk Turks took control of Jerusalem, and by  cutting pilgrim routes from the West gave impetus to the First Crusade. This  crusade brought Jerusalem under Western control in the “Latin Kingdom of  Jerusalem,” which held the city from 1099 to 1187, when Saladin reconquered  Jerusalem for Islam. Later crusades brought Jerusalem briefly under Western  control from 1229 to 1239, and from 1243 to 1244, when it was sacked by the  Tatars. In 1247, the city fell to the Egyptian Mamluks, under whose control it  remained until 1517, when Ottoman sultan Selim I conquered the city.

Jerusalem remained under Ottoman control for almost  exactly four centuries. In 1917, during World War I, General Allenby and the  British army defeated the Ottoman Turks and entered the city. In November of  that year, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which  declared Britain’s intent to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, with the  understanding that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and  religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

In 1947, the United Nations partitioned Jerusalem and  the city was divided between Arab and Jewish control. In May 1948, Prime  Minister David Ben-Gurion declared Israel an independent state. Israel  successfully defended itself against the attack of the Arab League. During the  Six-Day War of 1967, Israel captured all of Jerusalem, putting it fully under Jewish rule for the first time since the  Roman destruction in 70ad.

The future of the world greatly depends on the future  of this city. To Jews, Jerusalem was the city of the great prophets and the  capital of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah under King David and his son King  Solomon. The first and second temples were the center of worship until the  destruction of the city by the Romans in 70ad.  Jerusalem is also the third most holy city of Islam, after the cities of Mecca  and Medina. Completed in 691ad,  the Mosque of Omar—also called the “Dome of the Rock”—today dominates the  Temple Mount. The Arabic term for the holy place is “al-Haram as-Sharif” which  means “The Noble Sanctuary.” Muslims believe that it marks the location where  Abraham offered his son Ishmael (not Isaac, as the Bible reports) in sacrifice,  and where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Christians revere the city as the place  where their Savior taught in the temple—and was later crucified. Christians  believe that Jesus will return to establish His Kingdom with Jerusalem as world  capital.

The Temple Mount is a focus for Muslims and Jews, who  have been at odds in the Middle East for more than 1,300 years, ever since an  Arabian trader named Muhammad, 800 miles southeast of Jerusalem, established  the religion of Islam. Islam’s Dome of the Rock now stands where tradition  indicates Solomon’s temple once stood. Jews are not allowed to pray on the  Mount itself, so they come to the Western Wall—or “Wailing Wall”—at the base of  the Mount to pray. Many Jews yearn to have a religious presence on the Temple  Mount itself.

Hopes for peace were high on September 13, 1993, when  Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed a “Declaration of  Principles” in Washington, D.C. Observers were so encouraged by this  development that the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Palestinian  leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Foreign  Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In May 1994, Israel and the Palestinians signed an  interim agreement leading to increased Palestinian self-government in the West  Bank and Gaza Strip. The peace process was shattered, though, in November 1995,  when an Israeli extremist assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Just a week before his death, Rabin had told journalists that he intended to go  forward with negotiations with Syria.

Rabin’s death cast a pall over the peace process.  Still, Israelis and Palestinians hoped to negotiate peace. The Wye River  Memorandum, signed in October 1998, sought to implement the 1995 interim  agreement, looking to a May 1999 target date for a final resolution of the  Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But no resolution could be found. The July 2000  Camp David summit, called by U.S. President Bill Clinton, failed to formulate a  final peace agreement—underscoring the bitter truth that both Israel and the Palestinians consider Jerusalem their exclusive  capital, and do not want the other to have unfettered control of this historic  city.

In September 2000, when he was still opposition  leader, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, inciting  Palestinian protests. As violence escalated, hundreds of Palestinians and  dozens of Israelis were killed or wounded. It was the worst violence the region  had seen in four years. U.S. efforts to reconcile Israel and the Palestinians  proved unsuccessful. When Sharon, a key figure in many of Israel’s military  operations over the years, became Prime Minister, many Arabs vowed to intensify  their opposition to the state of Israel. The religious conflict that was  sparked in Jerusalem reignited the intifada (Arabic for “uprising”), broadening the violence throughout the region.

More than 200,000 Israelis live in about 150  settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Also scattered throughout the  region are Palestinian communities in Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Bethlehem.  Conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians are ongoing; Agence–France Press reported that as of November 2005, when a truce  was implemented, the intifada had  claimed the lives of more than 5,300 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis since  September 2000. Since 2001, suicide bombers have often attacked Israelis, who  have responded in turn with military force in the West Bank.

The West’s perception of Middle East violence, and its  relationship to world terrorism, was changed forever on September 11, 2001,  when terrorists hijacked four planes which they used as missiles, destroying  the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and damaging the  Pentagon in Washington, DC. On September 20, 2001, U.S. President George W.  Bush, before a joint session of Congress, declared war on international  terrorism. A U.S.-led coalition joined with Afghan militias in destroying and  expelling al-Qaeda forces. Afghanistan’s Taliban government was overthrown, and  the world’s attention quickly shifted to Iraq. Saddam Hussein, who had for  years been accused of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, was defeated  in a war that surprised many with its speed—but “winning the peace” has proved  to be a far greater challenge, as the U.S. remains mired in a conflict that  Defense Department analysts say could last for many years. Through it all,  regional terrorism continues, and U.S. agencies are preparing for future  attacks by al-Qaeda and other terror cells.

Most Muslims do not consider themselves terrorists,  nor do they support the terror carried out by al-Qaeda. There are more than 1.3  billion Muslims around the world, between one-quarter and one-third of whom  live in the Middle East. Yet while the vast majority of Muslims consider  themselves peace-loving people, their religion has been used as a rallying  point by a small number of extremists who wish to destabilize nations in order  to achieve their goals.

Instability appears to be a fact of life in the 21st  century. Even as it faces reduced international credibility in light of its  Iraq involvement, the U.S. now seeks to lead an alliance to counter potential  terror threats sponsored by what President George W. Bush has called an “axis  of evil” that includes two Middle East nations—Iran and Iraq. Pakistan and  India, like Israel, are known to have nuclear weapons. Other countries, such as  North Korea, are widely suspected of nuclear capability. In today’s unstable  environment, many of the world’s experts consider nuclear war a distinct  possibility—even a probability. If total war breaks out in the Middle East,  might future missiles deliver nuclear, biological and chemical destruction to  Israel and surrounding nations? Will the Holy Land become the focal point for  another world war?

What Lies Ahead?

Many observers think that it is foolish, or even  impossible, to predict the future. In the Bible, however, God, has given us  prophecies that can help us understand what will happen in and around Jerusalem  in the end-times. What does the Bible say will eventually happen? “Behold, the  day of the Lord is coming, and  your spoil will be divided in your midst. 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”  (Zechariah 14:1–2).

“All the nations” will fight in this conflict, during  that period of time known as the Day of the Lord—the year just before Jesus  Christ’s prophesied return. But what major prophetic events will lead up to  this battle in Jerusalem? “For then there will be great tribulation, such as  has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever  shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but  for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21–22).

The book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse, reveals the  dramatic end-time events leading up to the glorious return of Jesus Christ.  Revelation 6 describes the events leading up to the Day of the Lord. All of  humanity will see dramatic and frightening activity in the heavens. Revelation  6:12–14 describes these “heavenly signs” as the “sixth seal.” Jesus said:  “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and  the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the  powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). These heavenly signs  precede the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:30–31), the year of God’s judgment on the  nations. Then, after these events, the Messiah—Jesus Christ—will rule all  nations on earth (Revelation 11:15).

What role will Jerusalem play in that coming kingdom?  Will it be the future capital of the world? Perhaps in your lifetime? Scripture  gives us a wonderful and encouraging forecast: “The word that Isaiah the son of  Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass in the  latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s  house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted  above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it” (Isaiah 2:1–2).

Mountains are a biblical symbol for a kingdom or  government (see Jeremiah 51:24–25). Isaiah stated plainly that the Lord’s  Kingdom would be established in Jerusalem and that “all nations shall flow to  it.” This will not be government in the hands of selfish human beings. Humanity  does not know the way to lasting peace, because it has rejected the rulership  and the sovereignty of God over the affairs of man.

God’s government on earth will be administered from  Jerusalem, the future capital of the world, as Zechariah confirms with a  beautiful description of life there in the future. Notice in the book of  Zechariah. “Thus says the Lord: ‘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.’ Thus says the Lord  of hosts: ‘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 in its streets'” (Zechariah  8:3–5).

Today, however, the streets of Jerusalem are filled  with bitter enemies, who share a rich heritage and history—but also share a  history of conflict.

Bitter  Family Rivalry

To understand the present Middle East conflict, we  need to understand the history of those in conflict—the Jews and the Arabs.  Historians often note the “family” relationship between these two peoples; some  call them “cousins” because both trace their roots to the great patriarch  Abraham.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all honor Abraham as a  patriarch. Calling him “Religion’s Superstar,” Time magazine asked: “Abraham changed history by espousing just one  God, and is sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians. Can this crossover biblical  hero help heal the world?” (Sept. 30, 2002, p. 5).

The answer is: not in this age! But in tomorrow’s  world, as “heir of the world” (Romans 4:13) under Jesus Christ, and as one of  the saints in God’s kingdom, Abraham will help teach the way to peace  when all nations come to Jerusalem (see Isaiah 2:2–4).

In the 19th century bc,  the Creator God began to work with Abraham (then called “Abram”). God tested  his faith many times, even promising him a son in his old age—a promise that  seemed to be delayed. Abram’s wife Sarai, unable to bear children, encouraged  Abram to have a child through her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar. Eighty-six years old  when the child was born, Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son whom Hagar bore  (Genesis 16:15–16). To this day, Muslims acknowledge Ishmael as the ancestor of  the Arabs, as described in their scripture, the Quran.

When Abram was 99 years old, God made a covenant with  Abram that he would be “a father of many nations.” God then changed Abram’s  name to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” God promised that Abraham and  Sarai, whose name was changed to Sarah, would have a son named Isaac. God said  to Abraham: “I will establish my covenant with him [Isaac] for an everlasting  covenant, and with his descendants after him” (Genesis 17:19). One of Isaac’s  grandsons, Judah, would be the progenitor of the Jews, who now occupy the  modern land called Israel.

After Isaac was born, Sarah insisted that Abraham send  Hagar and Ishmael away. Sarah said to Abraham: “Cast out this bondwoman and her  son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with  Isaac” (Genesis 21:10). Abraham was very upset at this request, but God told  Abraham: “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or  because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice;  for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the  son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed” (Genesis 21:12–13).

The envy and rivalry between these two peoples  continues to this day. Another dimension that helps explain today’s ongoing  conflict is the rivalry between Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac. Esau  was the firstborn, and the heir of the family birthright. But in time of  hunger, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup. Later, Jacob  disguised himself as Esau and deceived his aging father Isaac into giving him  the birthright blessing (see Genesis 25; 27). What was Esau’s reaction? “So  Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and  Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I  will kill my brother Jacob'” (Genesis 27:41).

This bitter rivalry would continue throughout history.  Esau is also called Edom (see Genesis 36). The Edomites intermarried with the  Ishmaelites, beginning with Esau himself (see Genesis 28:9). The descendents of  these peoples continued to be in conflict with Israel. The leading tribe of  Edom, the Amalekites, continually harassed Israel (see Exodus 17). God said  that He would have “war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus  17:16).

One of the Psalms also confirms both historically and  prophetically that Edom, Ishmael and Amalek are joined in a confederacy against  Israel. “They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,  that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted  together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You: the tents of  Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;  Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they  have helped the children of Lot. Selah” (Psalm 83:4–8).

What nations have continuously committed themselves to  destroy the name of Israel?

In July of 1968, Palestinian leaders signed the  “Palestinian National Charter,” which called for the destruction of the State  of Israel. In 1993, shortly before signing the “Declaration of Principles” with  Israel, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat signed an agreement renouncing this demand  and agreeing to change the charter, but it remains an item of hot dispute to  this day. As Psalm 83 indicates, Assyria (identified as modern-day Germany)  will be joined by an end-time “confederacy” of Arab nations. Look on your Bible  map for the ancient location of Moab, Ammon and Edom, mentioned in Psalm  83—nations that are also prominently mentioned in Daniel’s end-time prophecy.  These are the Muslim peoples of the Middle East!

Understanding this bitter family rivalry, beginning  with Jacob and Esau, gives us a better understanding of their descendants’  present-day wars and conflicts, particularly in the Middle East.

Daniel’s  Famous Prophecy

Historically, the Roman Empire in Jesus’ day enforced  a Pax Romana—”Roman Peace”—in the  Holy Land. The prophet Daniel reveals that there will also be an end-time Roman  Empire, which will play a crucial role in end-time conflicts in the Middle  East. Daniel 2 records that King Nebuchadnezzar was going to execute all the  wise men of Babylon if they did not tell him his dream, as well as its  interpretation. The Creator God used the prophet Daniel to reveal the rise and  fall of great empires, even down to our modern times. Here is what Daniel told  the king: “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made  known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28).  Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that God had made him a king of kings, and described  the image envisioned by the king. A great statue had a head of gold. Daniel  told King Nebuchadnezzar: “You are this head of gold” (v. 38). The remaining  elements of the great image symbolized the great empires to follow after the  Babylonian empire.

Who were these  empires? All reputable Bible scholars agree on their identity and their  prophetic fulfillment. Daniel continued to describe what would eventually  happen to this great image. The head of gold represented the Babylonian Empire  from 625 to 539bc. Next came the  Medo-Persian Empire, from 558 to 330bc,  represented by the chest and arms of silver. The belly and thighs of bronze  represented the Greco-Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great from 333 to 31bc. The two legs of iron represent the  Roman Empire from 31bc to 476ad. Finally, the ten toes on two feet of  iron mixed with ceramic clay represent a future revival of the Roman Empire.

How do we know that the feet of the image will  continue into our modern times? Daniel describes a great stone that smashes the  image on its feet. He also describes the stone’s meaning: “And in the days of  these kings [symbolized by the ten toes] the God of heaven will set up a  kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to  other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it  shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). The Kingdom of God that will “consume all  these kingdoms” is yet future!

The end-time power that will eventually dominate the  Middle East, will be a revived Roman Empire, also symbolized in the prophecies  of Revelation and Daniel as a beast (cf. Daniel 7:17–18;  Revelation 17:9–14; 13:1–18). This great power will be political, military, and  economic. The current European Union is headed toward completing all three  dimensions of that power. It could have the potential of being a force for  good. But history teaches us that great empires and political alliances can  also revert to dictatorial power for the purpose of global expansion and  domination without regard for the welfare of conquered nation-states. The  Creator God will use such an empire in the future, just as He has in the past.  God used Assyria to punish the rebellious kingdom of Israel. In the opening  verses of Isaiah 10, God indicts Israel for all her sins, then states: “Woe to  Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I  will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I  will give him charge, to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them  down like the mire of the streets. Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart  think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off not a few nations”  (Isaiah 10:5–7).

God will once again use the descendants of Assyria to  punish the descendants of the ancient House of Israel. God will use modern-day  Germany to conquer the American and British-descended peoples. Germany is  presently the leading nation of the European Union, and will play a central  role in end-time prophecy. To learn more, please write for our free reprint  article, “A Fourth Reich?”Be sure to  watch developments in Europe.

In Daniel 11, we find two antagonists: the king of the  North and the king of the South. In ancient times, Syria was considered to be  the king of the North. But the Roman Empire conquered Syria, which became a  province of Rome in 64bc. Bible  prophecy shows that by the time of the end, the king of the North will be  identified with the revived Roman Empire. Then: “At the time of the end the king  of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him  like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall  enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the  Glorious Land, [or the Holy Land] and many countries shall be overthrown; but  these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of  Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of  Egypt shall not escape” (Daniel 11:40–42).

Notice that the king of the North enters into the  “Glorious Land”—the location of the modern state of Israel. The fact that Ammon  (which Bible scholars identify as modern-day Jordan) escapes out of his hand,  along with Edom and Moab, leads many to believe that Jordan will be allied with  the European power. Psalm 83 identifies those peoples who will be confederate  with Assyria against Israel. That alliance includes Moab, Ammon and Edom.

Daniel 11:43 gives us an indication of those nations  allied with the king of the South. These are the peoples of north Africa. Verse  40 states that the king of the South attacks the king of the North. What will  provoke this attack? Will it be the passion of Islamic fundamentalists? Will it  be a sudden interruption of oil flow to Europe? You need to watch world events  in Europe and the Middle East.

Who will invade the Middle East? Look for a revived  Roman Empire—a political entity now in its formative stages with the European  Union as its nucleus. There will be a forced peace upon modern Israel in the  Middle East. But, as we will see later, the “Beast power” that occupies the  Middle East will be overthrown by the returning Commander of Heaven’s armies,  Jesus Christ. The King of kings and Lord of lords, revealed in Revelation 19,  will see that the beast and the false prophet are cast into a lake of fire.  Jerusalem will be occupied by Earth’s new King, Jesus Christ. The name of the  city will even be called “The Lord is There” (Ezekiel 48:35). Peace will finally come to the Middle East and  to the City of Peace, Jerusalem.

Will Russia Control the Middle East?

Some teachers of biblical prophecy wrongly believe  that Russia will take over the Middle East before Christ’s second coming. Where  does that mistaken idea come from? It comes mainly from a misunderstanding of  Ezekiel 38, which begins: “Now the word of the Lord  came to me, saying, Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of  Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him” (vv.  1–2). Most biblical scholars identify these peoples as those from northern  Russia. Wilhelm Gesenius, a 19th century Hebrew scholar, noted that the city of  Moscow is derived from the Hebrew name Meshech. Ezekiel continues: “Thus says  the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am  against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you  around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses,  and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and  shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with  them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house  of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops; many  people are with you'” (vv. 3–6).

Notice that the house of Togarmah is from the far north,  that is, north of the Holy Land. When you look at a map, Russia is in the far  north. Who will join Russia? Persia is mentioned. Most scholars agree that  Persia is modern-day Iran. The Hebrew word for Ethiopia is Cush, the eastern branch of which has sometimes been identified  with India. The Hebrew word for Libya is Put (Put was the third son of Ham, according to Genesis 10:6), whose eastern branch, like Cush, is  also identified with India. Magog is identified with the Mongols and Gomer with  Indochina. Togarmah is most likely identified with Siberia.

We can generally agree on the identity of these  peoples mentioned in Ezekiel 38. And Bible prophecy shows that these armies  certainly will eventually enter the  Middle East. But the question is: When?  After Jesus’ second coming, He will work to bring world peace and reeducate the  nations (cf. Isaiah 2; Micah 4). But that will take time. All nations will not automatically accept the rule of  Jesus Christ when He returns. Even Egypt will apparently refuse the Lord’s  command to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem (cf. Zechariah 14:18–19).  The Russo-Chinese alliance, mentioned in Ezekiel 38, will attack after the Millennium begins—after the second coming of Christ, and  after peace is established in the Holy Land. Notice what God says of the  invading armies: “You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling  without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’; to take plunder and to take  booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again  inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired  livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:11–12).

Does Israel today “dwell safely” in unwalled villages,  that is, without military protection? Of course not! Ezekiel is speaking of a  time yet future, when Christ establishes peace in the Holy Land. Notice:  “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?”‘”  (v. 14).

God will destroy this eastern alliance and its armies  when they attack restored Israel (cf. Ezekiel 39). There will be so many dead  bodies that it will take months to bury them. “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to  cleanse the land” (Ezekiel 39:12). Almighty God has all the power in the  universe to fulfill His will. It is folly for nations to fight against Him and  His purpose. But the nations will learn who is in charge. As God states: “Thus  I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of  many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).

Who Will  Control Jerusalem?

Since 1967, Israel has fought wars and negotiated  peace treaties with several Arab states. But Israel has never been able to  negotiate a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians. In July 2000,  Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak did what no Israeli negotiator had done  before—he proposed that Israel would grant administrative self-governance to  Palestinians in East Jerusalem. But Barak wanted Israel to retain security  control over East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians rejected his proposal.  Negotiations broke down, leading to ongoing conflict. What caused the impasse  in negotiations? The one issue that appears unsolvable: “Who will control  Jerusalem?”

In 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem as its “united and  eternal capital.” The Palestinians also desire Jerusalem as their capital.  Before his death in 2002, Faisal Husseini, a representative of the Palestinian  Authority in Jerusalem, stated the Palestinian position that Israel “must  withdraw from all of east Jerusalem to the pre-’67 borders… all settlements and  Israeli neighborhoods in east Jerusalem must be dismantled… Israel must  compensate the Palestinians for the damages it has inflicted including the  changes in the character of the city and the lives of its citizens” (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 1999).

Israel has maintained that Jerusalem must remain its  undivided capital. As Israeli spokesman Gadi Baltiansky stated in 1999: “There  will be no negotiations over Jerusalem, and if the Palestinians think  otherwise—too bad. This is a red line that Prime Minister Barak will never  cross” (ibid.). Even Barak’s proposal  for “sharing sovereignty” did not concede that Jerusalem was not a united city  under the control of Israeli security. In the years since, facing the intifada,Barak’s successors have expressed no eagerness to revisit his  proposal, which Israelis considered generous but which Palestinians considered  unacceptable.

The U.S. has backed Israel in this dispute, and has  thus found itself the target of international anger. On September 30, 2002,  President Bush signed congressional legislation that required his  administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. What was the  reaction? Cairo’s leading newspaper reported: “The new US legislation requiring  all official American documents to identify the occupied city of Jerusalem as  the capital of Israel has triggered angry reactions throughout the Islamic  world. Thousands of demonstrators marched through Gaza, threatening to  intensify suicide bombings inside Israel, while popular and religious leaders  called on Arab and Islamic parliaments to adopt a strong stance against this  latest outrage, calling, among other things, for a boycott of American goods” (Al-Ahram, Oct. 16, 2002).

The gap between the two sides’ views is wide and deep!  What solutions has the international community proposed? In 1980, when Israel  called Jerusalem its “united and eternal capital,” the Vatican strongly  objected. In 1984, Pope John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter, Redemptoris Anno, calling for Jerusalem  to have a “special internationally guaranteed status.” In 1975, U.S. Secretary  of State Henry Kissinger had made a similar proposal, that Jerusalem become an  international city with the control of holy places and the religious  administration being given to the pope.

Pope John Paul II spoke to the new Jordanian  ambassador to the Vatican on May 28, 1998. Reuters reported his comments: “The long history of the city of Jerusalem, filled with  tribulations, will reach a new threshold in the year 2000, with the dawn of the  third millennium of Christianity.… It is my fervent hope that this may lead to  a formal recognition, with international guarantees, of the unique and sacred  identity of the Holy City.”

Will non-Israelis control Jerusalem? The Apostle John  said that they will! “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the  angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those  who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do  not measure it, for it has been given to the  Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two  months'” (Revelation 11:1–2).

Gentiles will control the “holy city”—Jerusalem—for 42  months. The book of Revelation describes a 42-month period leading up to the  return of Christ. Two prophets of God will witness with great power during  these three and one-half years, or 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3–15). These two  witnesses will contend with the forces of a revived Roman Empire, which will  dominate the Middle East at that time.

Temple  Sacrifices Restored?

Many religious teachers understand part of Bible prophecy. They expect that  the Jewish orthodox authority in Israel will once again establish temple  sacrifices. Groups such as the Third Temple Institute in Jerusalem are making  preparations today to train priests and assemble the items required for the  reestablishment of sacrifices. Will the Jewish priesthood once again offer  animal sacrifices? Some Jewish groups are going to great lengths trying to make  this happen.

A few religious groups and individuals have gone  overboard in their desire to see prophecy fulfilled. The Israeli authorities  placed their security on special alert during the months of December 1999 and  January 2000 because several religious groups, referred to as “apocalyptic,”  allegedly plotted to “help prophecy along” by their own efforts, and threatened  to blow up the Dome of the Rock in order to make possible the construction of a  third temple.

But true Christians recognize that God is in charge. He does not need our  help to bring these prophecies to pass! Besides, true Christians do not go  around causing violence and blowing up buildings. Even some Jewish extremists  have threatened violence around the Temple Mount to get their way. Any such  violence on the Temple Mount could cause an Arab uprising, or even a jihad (holy war) that would have  international repercussions.

The Dome of the Rock, a mosque holy to Muslims, stands  on the Temple Mount, where there is no Jewish temple. Yet many Jews, and some  Christians, are expecting some kind of divine intervention that would make  possible the building of a third temple on the Temple Mount.

What will happen? Prophecy indicates that the  sacrifices will be reinstituted. The Jews have not offered temple sacrifices  since Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the second temple in 70ad. This leads to another important  question: is a temple necessary for the revival of sacrifices?

The Babylonian Empire of the sixth century bc conquered the kingdom of Judah. The  Babylonians transported thousands of captive Jews to Babylon. The armies of  King Nebuchadnezzar also destroyed the first temple at Jerusalem in 586bc. Eventually, under the Persian  Empire, King Cyrus sponsored a group of exiles to return to Jerusalem. When the  returning Jews eventually laid the foundation of the second temple, there was  both rejoicing and sadness. Joy because they now had a center of worship, and  sadness because this second temple was very simple by comparison to the former  glorious temple built by King Solomon. But notice the attitude of the Jews.  They actually began sacrificing before the foundation of the temple was laid.  “From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to  the Lord, although the foundation  of the temple of the Lord had  not been laid” (Ezra 3:6). The Jews had observed the Feast of  Tabernacles in their unfinished temple, with daily sacrifices.

Notice another important point. Where do the exiles  return? Ezra refers to the location of the holy place as the house of God, when  the temple had not yet been built: “Now in the second month of the second year  of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem” (v. 8). This took place around 536bc. But there was no building as yet.  The third chapter of Ezra goes on to describe the laying of the foundation of  the temple. Sacrifices must be presented in a holy place. But in this case, the  sacrifices were made daily without a physical building called a temple.

The holiest place under the control of the Jewish  religious authorities today, is the “Wailing Wall”—the western retaining wall  of the Temple Mount. Jews are not currently allowed to publicly worship on the  Temple Mount; only Muslims now have that privilege. So, it remains to be seen  where the Jews will begin sacrificing. It will probably take a national crisis  to precipitate that event.

Jesus spoke of a time when enemy armies would invade  the Holy Land and surround Jerusalem. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by  armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). Remember this is in  the context of Jesus’ Olivet Prophecy, also described in Matthew 24 and Mark  13. A powerful alliance of nations will invade the Middle East and dominate the  region, as foretold by the prophet Daniel (cf. Daniel 11:41).

There will be international guarantees, protecting  Jerusalem, enforced by a superpower. But these guarantees will also enforce the  pseudo-Christianity of a revived Roman Empire. There will be a revived Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”), imposed by  what the Bible calls the end-time “beast” (see Revelation 13).

When the “beast” superpower occupies Jerusalem, this  will signal the time of the great “tribulation” and “the days of vengeance,  that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22).

Although the word “Jerusalem” means “city of peace,”  Jerusalem has experienced bloody fighting and wars over the millennia. But  soon, this great city will truly be the city of peace for all peoples. That is  good news you can look forward to!

It is important to note that the prophesied “great  tribulation” is primarily a time of trouble for the U.S. and British-descended  peoples, who are descended from the ancient patriarch Joseph. When he was near  death, Jacob blessed two of his grandsons—Joseph’s sons Ephraim and  Manasseh—and said: “The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the  lads; let my name [Jacob, i.e. Israel] be named upon them, and the name of my  fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of  the earth” (Genesis 48:16).

The end-time prophecies relating to Jacob, or Israel,  generally refer to the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh who were given  Jacob’s name. Scripture gives an end-time warning about a great “tribulation.”  Upon whom does this tribulation fall? “Alas! For that day is great, so that  none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved  out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7). To learn more about the “time of Jacob’s trouble”  and what it means for the American and other British-descended nations, please  write for your free copy of our booklet The  United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.

Watch for  the Abomination of Desolation

The prophesied “great tribulation” will be a time  unique in all of history—a time such “that none is like it.” What does the  Bible tell us to do? Jesus tells us: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you  may be counted worthy to escape all these  things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke  21:36).

What should you watch for in the Middle East? When  Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, He gave an outline of end-time prophecy, with  parallel accounts recorded in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13. Jesus’ disciples  had asked him about the sign of His coming and the end of the world, or the end  of the age. He spoke about religious deception, wars, famines, pestilences and  earthquakes. These trends reveal, in sequence, the meaning of the four horsemen  of Revelation 6, who, toward the end of this age, intensify their dangerous  ride. Jesus declares: “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

Religious persecution and martyrdom will follow. “Then  they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by  all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one  another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and  deceive many” (Matthew 24:9–11).

But the Truth will still be preached! “And this gospel  of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the  nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). As Jesus Christ opens  doors for the gospel to expand in coverage and power, you will know that the  end is drawing near. Do not be asleep to world conditions and the prophetic  trends intensifying before your very eyes!

Jesus gave us a key sign to watch for, which will  signify the beginning of the great tribulation and trouble in the Holy Land. He  warned: “‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by  Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him  understand) ‘then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains'” (Matthew  24:15–16).

What is this abomination of desolation?

Centuries before Christ, an angel gave the prophet  Daniel a vision concerning end-time events. When Daniel asked the meaning of  the message, the angel told him: “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed  up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). More than 2,500 years  later, we can now understand these prophecies. Notice another important detail.  “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination  of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety  days” (Daniel 12:11). At the time of the end, shortly before the return of  Christ, God reveals that the daily sacrifice will be stopped or “taken away.”  This obviously implies that the sacrifices must be started, before they can be  stopped! But what exactly is this “abomination of desolation”?

Historically, the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes  issued a decree in 167bc that  prohibited further Jewish sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem. “And forces  shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then  they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of  desolation” (Daniel 11:31).

In addition to stopping the daily sacrifices in the  temple, Antiochus erected a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the Holy of Holies,  and sacrificed a pig upon the altar, desecrating it with the pig’s blood. This  abomination, also described in Daniel 8, was also the prophetic forerunner (or  “ante-type”) of an end-time event—the end-time sacrifices being cut off 1,290  days before Christ’s return. Jesus warns us to be alert to an end-time abomination of desolation. Just  as Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the temple in 167bc and prohibited the sacrifices, so in the future another  profane authority will prohibit sacrifices. In fact, the Apostle Paul warns of  a great false prophet that will stand in the holy place: “Let no one deceive  you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes  first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and  exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he  sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2  Thessalonians 2:3–4).

A great false prophet will work amazing miracles and  deceive millions of people. He will cultivate worship toward himself, and claim  that he is divine. Scripture describes a symbolic creature that appears like a  lamb (the symbol for Christ) but speaks as a dragon (the symbol of Satan the  Devil). This is the great religious power that will guide an end-time revival  of the Roman Empire. “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and  he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the  authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those  who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He  performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the  earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by  those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those  who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the  sword and lived” (Revelation 13:11–14).

This Antichrist will even call down fire from heaven!  These deceiving miracles will excite millions—but will also lead many away from  the true Jesus Christ of the Bible. You must not let yourself become deceived.  The prophet Isaiah explained a test by which we can recognize God’s true  servants: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to  this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). In other  words, true servants of Christ will speak according to the word of God, the  Bible! You need to know your Bible, and study your Bible. Prove and test all  things, as it tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:21!

The end-time religio-political power dominating  Jerusalem will cause the sacrifices to cease. Remember that the Jews have not  offered animal sacrifices since 70ad,  when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. In order for the end-time  sacrifices to be stopped eventually, they need to begin! When animal sacrifices  begin once again in Jerusalem, you will know that the prophecies Jesus spoke  about are heading for a climax!

Three  Prophetic Milestones

When the abomination of desolation prophesied by Jesus  is set up, three prophetic milestones will follow over a period of three and  one-half years: the Great Tribulation, the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the  Lord. This prophetic framework helps us understand end-time developments in the  Middle East, and how they affect the world.

Notice that Jesus Himself gives the sequence of  events. He warns us about the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15, then  explains the first prophetic milestone in verses 21 and 22: “For then there  will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the  world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were  shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be  shortened.” This is a time unique in all history. It is the time of Jacob’s  trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), the time of God’s punishment on the Western nations—including  the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (For more  information about this informative topic, please write for our free booklet The United States and Great Britain in  Prophecy. The Great Tribulation is the time Daniel announces: “And there  shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to  that time” (Daniel 12:1).

This is a time of war, persecution, and martyrdom. It  is the time when the four horsemen of Revelation 6 intensify their ride. They are  given power over “a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with  death, and by the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). The fifth seal of  Revelation describes the martyrdom of Christians (Revelation 6:9–11).

We then see a second prophetic milestone. The  sixth seal reveals frightening, dramatic activity in the sky, or what Scripture  calls “the heavenly signs.” The Apostle John wrote: “I looked when He opened  the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black  as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven  fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a  mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every  mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Revelation 6:12–14).

Jesus also confirms this sequence of tribulation  followed by great signs in the heavens: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and  the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the  powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

How will human beings react to these heavenly signs?  “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the  mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in  the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us  and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of  the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'”  (Revelation 6:15–17).

The heavenly signs announce the time of God’s judgment  on the nations, “the great day of His wrath.” This is the seventh seal, the  period of time also called the Day of the Lord—a thirdprophetic  milestone. In vision, the Apostle John refers to it in Revelation 1:10 as “the  Lord’s Day.” John is referring not to a day of the week, but to the  time period leading up to the return of Christ—as mentioned in more than 30  prophecies! The prophet Isaiah describes it this way, “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8).

The prophet Joel also confirms that the heavenly signs precede the Day of the Lord. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:  blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and  the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and  awesome day of the Lord” (Joel  2:30–31).

The seventh seal, or the Day of the Lord, consists of  seven trumpet plagues: “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in  heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God,  and to them were given seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:1–2). The first six  trumpets sound during the year preceding Christ’s second coming. The seventh  trumpet announces the good news of Christ’s return to rule all nations on  planet earth: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in  heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign  forever and ever!'” (Revelation 11:15). While this is good news to genuine  Christians, the nations will be angry (verse 18) and will actually gather their  military force to fight against the returning King (Revelation 19:19). As we  will see, that final battle will be fought in the Middle East, near Jerusalem.

The good news is that the returning Jesus Christ will  conquer all the rebellious armies and nations of planet Earth. The returning  King of kings will set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem, conquer His enemies and  enforce lasting world peace (cf. Zechariah 14:1–3). Jesus Christ will come back  to Jerusalem. He will rule over all the kingdoms, nations, and governments of  this earth. “And the Lord shall be  King over all the earth. In that day it shall be; ‘The Lord is one,’ and His name one” (v. 9). The Messiah will be King over all the earth, and  will govern from Jerusalem. He will establish true religion over all  the earth, replacing the false religion that dominated the  revived Roman Empire.

Who Rides the Beast?

We have seen that the Middle East will be the location  of a modern-day fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy concerning the “abomination of  desolation.” When that end-time abomination comes, what religious system will  dominate it? The book of Revelation refers to the great false end-time religion  as Mystery Babylon. In Revelation 17, the Apostle John sees in vision the  judgment of a great harlot, which symbolizes a great false church or religious  system. “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on  many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the  inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication”  (Revelation 17:1–2). This woman rides a “beast” that has seven heads and ten  horns (v. 3). That “beast,” as we have seen earlier, is the political and  military power that will invade the Middle East.

John continues, describing this great harlot: “And on  her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF  HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5). That system  will dominate the great tribulation period. The leader of that system, the  false prophet, will even call down fire from heaven as we read in Revelation  13:13. Do not let yourself be deceived by such “miraculous” displays.  Revelation 13:11 tells us that this religious figure symbolically looks like a  lamb (the symbol of Christ) but speaks as a dragon! He will stand in  Jerusalem’s holy place and even claim that he is God!

In Revelation 17, we saw that the harlot rides the  “beast.” But who is this “beast”? The answer will tell us who will invade the  Middle East. “The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and  is of the seven, and is going to perdition. The ten horns which you saw are ten  kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one  hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their  power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the  Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those  who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:11–14).

The Church of God has for years pointed out that the  end-time “Beast power” of Revelation will be a final revival of the ancient  Roman Empire. That empire continued from about 31bc to 476ad.  There were six revivals, including the Imperial Restoration under Justinian in  544ad and another revival led by  Charlemagne in 800ad. (For more  information about this prophesied “Beast power,” please write for our free  booklet The Beast of Revelation: Myth,  Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?)

Other commentators have also identified the beast of  Revelation as the Roman Empire. We just read in Revelation 17:11 of the final  end-time revival of “the beast that was, and is not”—the final beast that goes  into “perdition” or destruction. The New  Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible makes this comment concerning the beast  of verse 11: “The beast spoken of here seems to be the Roman Empire, as in  chapter 13.”

The book of Revelation, Jesus’ Olivet prophecy and the  book of Daniel, together reveal a coming revival of the Roman Empire influenced  and ridden by a woman. The woman is symbolic of a church. The “beast power”  eventually turns on the woman: “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast,  these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn  her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to  be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God  are fulfilled. And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over  the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:16–18). Again, the Douay-Rheims translation comments on the ultimate destruction of  the woman by the beast: “ten other kingdoms are allies of the beast and battle  against the Church. But their dominion is short, typified as an hour.” While  the Douay-Rheims identifies the beast  with the Roman Empire and the woman with the Church, it does not admit that the  great city mentioned in verse 18 is Rome itself. However, many Bible  commentaries plainly agree that the great city of Revelation 17:18 is, in fact,  Rome!

The King of  the North Invades the Middle East

The armies of Benito Mussolini—a 20th century “king of  the North”—invaded North Africa during World War II. In contrast, the end-time  king of the North will be provoked by  the king of the South. We have already seen war in the Middle East over the  issue of oil. Will there be another Arab oil embargo like that of 1974?

When fuel costs began to rise in the summer and fall  of 2000, European protests of skyrocketing petroleum prices and shortages were  even more vigorous than in the U.S. In 2000, imports accounted for 53 percent  of U.S. oil consumed. Roughly 24 percent—almost half of all oil imported—came  from the Middle East. Europe is even more dependent on Middle East oil,  importing approximately 90 percent of its oil—well over half from the Middle  East.

When gasoline prices spiked in mid-2008, millions were  reminded again of their dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Will Europe let  Middle Eastern oil suppliers hold their economies hostage? Whatever the  provocation, the king of the North will invade the Middle East.

Luke’s account of the Olivet prophecy follows the same  general sequence as the account in Matthew that we reviewed earlier. But he  adds one important detail, Jesus’ warning sign concerning the end-time fate of  Jerusalem: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its  desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). Whose armies are these? Who will eventually  invade the Middle East and control Jerusalem—its most significant city?

As we saw earlier, the king of the North—the “beast  power” or revived end-time Roman Empire—will enter the Glorious Land (Daniel  11:41). Jesus said that when you see armies encompassing or surrounding  Jerusalem, you will know that the city is about to be captured. In 70ad, Titus and the Roman armies destroyed  the city and the temple. The Roman siege of the city caused famine and disease  within it. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “no fewer than six hundred  thousand were thrown out at the gates, though still the number of the rest  could not be discovered” (Wars of the  Jews, Bk. 5, chap. 13, sec. 7). Which army brought disaster upon Jerusalem?  The army of Rome did. Will another Roman army repeat history in the 21st  century? Bible prophecy says “yes”!

The book of Luke also emphasizes that Jerusalem will  be controlled by another superpower. Notice Jesus’ powerful statement: “Then  let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the  midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For  these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be  fulfilled” (Luke 21:21–22).

This clearly is the end-time fulfillment of this  prophecy. It continues: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are  nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and  wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led  away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until  the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (vv. 23–24). Revelation 11 shows that  Christ will intervene 42 months after Jerusalem is captured.

Some Bible commentators mistakenly believe that Luke’s  prophecy applies only to the first  century ad, when the Roman  commander Titus besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jesus’ warning in  Luke 21 certainly did apply to this  first century desolation. But as Bible students recognize, prophecy is often  dual. There is type and ante-type. There is a former fulfillment and a later  fulfillment of the prophecy. Jesus told His disciples that, following the  desolation of Jerusalem, many would see His  return to earth. “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in  the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and  the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of  those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will  be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and  great glory” (Luke 21:25–27).

This prophecy was not fulfilled in 70ad by Titus’ destruction of the temple.  Jesus was clearly outlining the events preceding His second coming. The context  of Jerusalem’s final desolation, as presented here, is the end-time.

The Final  Phases of World War III

The king of the North’s armies will occupy northern  Africa and the holy land. But developments in the northeast so disturb this  king that he takes military action. Daniel 11:44, “But news from the east and  the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to  destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between  the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no  one will help him.”

This action appears to be described in Revelation 9 as  the first woe or the fifth trumpet plague (cf. Revelation 8:13; 9:1). The  Apostle John describes 21st century warfare in first century imagery: “The  shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were  crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They  had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they  had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was  like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails  like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt  men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless  pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon”  (Revelation 9:7–11).

Notice that this action takes up five months during  the year-long Day of the Lord. What follows next? A massive 200 million-man  army from the east crosses the Euphrates River. The Euphrates River runs from  Turkey through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf. Whether or not Iraq even  continues to exist as a nation in its present form, the geographical area of  Iraq will play a major geographical  role in the final war to come: World War III! The second woe, or the sixth  trumpet now sounds. “One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming  after these things. 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. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them  had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads  of the horses were like the heads of  lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three  plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the  brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and  in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm” (Revelation 9:12–19).

This phase of World War III will kill one-third of all  humanity, over two billion human beings! The “fire, smoke, and brimstone”  evokes images of nuclear devastation. Unless Jesus Christ intervenes, “no flesh  would be saved,” as He said in Matthew 24:22!

The final and seventh trumpet announces the return of  Jesus Christ to rule the earth (Revelation 11:15). The nations are angry, as we  saw earlier (Revelation 11:18), and will combine their armies to fight a common  foe, the Commander of Heaven’s armies (see Revelation 19:19)! The seventh  trumpet or the third woe consists of “the seven last plagues” that complete  “the wrath of God” on rebellious nations (see Revelation 15:1, 8; 16:1).

At this point, eastern armies will move westward over  the Euphrates River on their way to Megiddo—Armageddon. “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). Satan and his demons influence warring nations to gather their forces  against the invader from outer space, the King of kings, Jesus Christ. The  Apostle John writes: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of  the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of  the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which 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” (Revelation  16:13–14).

As the final phase of World War III begins, Satan will  have influenced the kings and armies “of the whole world” to prepare for the  great battle against Christ. Warring, rebellious nations will fight against the  Savior of the world! Where will they gather? “And they gathered them together  to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16). The name  Armageddon comes from the Hebrew har  Magedon, which means “the hill of Megiddo.” Megiddo is located in modern  Israel about 55 miles north of Jerusalem. The hill or mount of Megiddo overlooks  the largest valley in Israel, the Plain of Esdraelon, or the Valley of Jezreel.

The developing European religio-political power will  eventually exert controlling influence over the Holy Land. As we have seen, the  leader of that union, the “king of the North,” will ultimately dominate  Jerusalem and the Middle East. The book of Revelation also predicts a conflict  between Asian forces and the European “Beast power,” the king of the North  (Daniel 11:44). Shockingly, just before Christ’s return, these armies will  combine as they are “gathered together to make war against Him” (Revelation  19:19). God Almighty says: “For I will gather all the nations to battle against  Jerusalem” (Zechariah 14:2). 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” (Zechariah 14:3–4). Jesus Christ will intervene! He will  stop World War III and will ultimately bring lasting peace to the world!

Notice that the climactic end-time battle that is  popularly referred to as Armageddon is actually called “the battle of that  great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). But where will that battle be fought? The prophet Joel tells us that  this climactic battle will take place near Jerusalem: “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;  and I will enter into judgment with them there” (Joel 3:1–2).

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is also called the Kidron  Valley (between the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount). Here, God will judge  the nations. The valley widens to the south, and through it the world’s armies  will move southward from Megiddo to fight Jesus Christ at Jerusalem. At this  great climactic battle of all ages, the Creator God will prevail, defeating  puny humans in their attempt to conquer God.

Foolish military leaders will quickly learn how  powerless they are against the omnipotent, divine power of God! Notice the  horrible punishment wrought on those rebellious, evil armies: “And this shall  be the plague with which the Lord  will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall  dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their  sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths” (Zechariah 14:12).

Jesus will totally conquer the greatest military  combine ever assembled. He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords to  bring this war-torn planet a thousand years of peace. “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth”  (v. 9).

Christ will conquer all the armies opposing Him! He  will usher in the Millennium of peace on earth, and teach all nations the way to  peace. Then the Arabs and Israelis will be reconciled. “In that day there will  be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and  the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In  that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria; a blessing in the  midst of the land, whom the Lord  of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work  of My hands, and Israel My inheritance'” (Isaiah 19:23–25).

After the world’s armies have been defeated, the  Creator God will establish Jerusalem as the capital of the world. All nations  will submit to the Kingdom of God on earth and finally learn the way to peace.  “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the  top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; 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).

The King of kings, assisted by the saints, will  reeducate the nations to live the way of love, peace and prosperity (see Daniel  7:18, 27). Under the rulership of Jesus Christ—the Messiah—the way of sin,  suffering and war will pass away. “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” (Micah 4:3).

Watch the Middle  East

Jesus Christ warns us to be spiritually alert and  watchful (Luke 21:36). But for what  should we be watching in the turmoil and conflict of the Middle East?

Watch for increasing demand for international intervention and  control, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but in Jerusalem itself.  Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has supported calls for a United  Nations peacekeeping force in Gaza and the West Bank—a proposal the rival Hamas  has heretofore rejected. As violence escalates in the region around Jerusalem,  watch for more world leaders to join in demanding international control of this  ancient city held dear by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

Watch for continuing conflicts between Israelis and  Palestinians. The Palestinians may be divided in their allegiance between the  more militant Islamic Hamas organization and the more secular Fatah group, but  they are united in their opposition to Israel’s exertion of power in a region  they consider their own.

Watch for increasing unity among Arab nations in their stand  against Israel. Psalm 83, which we read earlier, lists those peoples who comprise  Arabic and Muslim nations in the Middle East. They are supported by European  groups in their strong opposition to Israel. “They have said, ‘Come, and let us  cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no  more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a  confederacy against You” (Psalm 83:4–5). Watch for an end-time Arab/Muslim  union or confederacy forming against Israel.

Watch for the European Union’s growing economic, political and  military unification. As we saw in Daniel’s prophecy, the king of the North  will eventually occupy the Holy Land. Europe is moving to coordinate and unify  its various military and security forces, seeking an alternative to its  long-standing dependence on its NATO alliance which includes the U.S. as a  dominant partner. In July 2005, EU foreign ministers agreed to establish a  “European Security and Defense College” to organize and conduct multinational  training that would bring Europeans from different countries under one  consistent policy and procedure framework. In November 2004, after five years  of planning, the EU officially established a Rapid Reaction Force that would  allow the multinational entity to carry out military objectives. A small  deployment has already occurred in Bosnia. Current plans allow for a maximum  deployment of 60,000–80,000 EURRF troops. Will these forces eventually play a  significant part in the Middle East conflict? Watch the development of Europe’s  own military forces.

Watch for the preparation and eventual implementation of animal  sacrifices by the Jews in Jerusalem. Many believe a physical temple will also  be built, but history and the book of Ezra confirm that sacrifices can be  conducted with just an altar at the holy place.

Watch for the increasing consolidation of religious power in  Europe. Visiting Austria in 1983, Pope John Paul II appealed for European  unity, stating: “Europeans should overcome the menacing international  confrontations of states and alliances, and create a new united Europe from the  Atlantic to the Urals” (The Principality  and Power of Europe, Adrian Hilton, p. 36). Pope Benedict XVI has called  for religious unity in Europe, and has reached out to the Eastern Orthodox  churches to a degree that has surprised many observers.

Ultimate Peace

Jerusalem has a glorious prophesied future ahead! It  will be the capital of planet earth under the rulership of the Prince of Peace  and King of kings, Jesus Christ. That is good news for all the nations—for you,  your children and your grandchildren. But we need to remember that true peace  can only come about in the lives of men and women when their human nature gives  way to God’s Spirit. In the Millennium and beyond, the vast majority of people  will accept God’s gift of His Spirit. Then they shall learn how to find the way  to peace.

The whole world will learn God’s ways. “Many people  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  shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord  from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people;  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” (Isaiah 2:3–4).

Jerusalem will not only be the governmental capital of  the world; it will also be the educational capital of the world. The great  Educator and Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, will teach true knowledge based on  the Word of God. All nations will learn the eternal principles, laws and values  that guarantee peace and prosperity to all.

This is the good news of your future, and the future  of the world. At the heart of the Middle East—and of the entire world—Jerusalem  will be the center of world government, education, and religion. The Creator God  will guarantee future world peace (Micah 4:1–3), “for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken” (v. 4). We all  look forward to the peace and reconciliation that only the Messiah, Jesus  Christ, can bring to the Middle East—and to the whole world. In the meantime,  Jesus tells us to watch and pray (Mark 13:33). He exhorts us in verse 37: “And  what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

Categories: Bible Prophecy, Breaking News

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"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 God's call to the world! Are you ready?

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