Conquering the Holy Land

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Conquering the Holy Land

The cradle of civilization, the stage of the Crusades, the most contested territory on Earth—now that America is leaving, who will gain control?
From the January 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

To imagine the Middle East devoid of American influence is no stretch because in many ways, it is already happening.

For some years now, threats of large-scale warfare in the world’s powder keg have been contained in no small part by the prospect of intervention from Washington. Amid a crowd of hostile, autocratic monarchies and Muslim states with over 60 times the population, small, isolated Israel has benefitted immeasurably from America guaranteeing its security. Alliances with major Arab nations and the presence of U.S. forces have helped preserve a Middle Eastern balance of power.

But as the stars and stripes fade, they are being replaced by the banners of radical Islam. And bloodshed is increasing from the mountains of Afghanistan to the coasts of North Africa.

Many specifics about what will occur amid the tumult of a U.S.-free Middle East are uncertain, but we can know such a scenario is about to play out. Not only do current events indicate it, but also several key biblically prophesied, end-time events all happen in a Middle East devoid of American influence.

The King of the South

World Politics Review wrote this about the Middle East: “While the region has a number of nations with significant military capability, it does not have a functioning method for preserving order without outside involvement” (Oct. 22, 2013; emphasis added throughout).

With the U.S. ending its provision of the greatest part of that “outside involvement,” the order is breaking down. In Iraq, in Libya and Egypt in particular, ill-advised and poorly executed American intervention upended the old order; now the U.S. is pulling out and leaving a mess behind.

The region is ripe for conquest by other opportunistic powers. Within the neighborhood, the one best positioned to take advantage is Iran.

Iran has long lived uneasily in the Middle East, a Shiite Persian state in a Sunni Arab community. Historically, Iranians have felt superior and entitled to dominate surrounding peoples. At the same time, having suffered multiple invasions that shrunk its borders over the centuries, Iran also mistrusts them. These competing motivations have forged modern Persia’s national character.

In 1979, into this cocktail of nationalism and resentment, Ruhollah Khomeini added a potent ingredient: religious zealotry. He addressed several problems—Western meddling in Iranian politics; immorality among youth; national disunity; Iran’s ill-defined and anemic place in the world—by offering a single solution: Islam.

Khomeini proclaimed a vision of a “revolution without borders.” The movement necessarily began within Iran, but Allah’s purpose on Earth could not be confined to a single country; thus Khomeini sought to transcend the Shiite-Sunni and Persian-Arab divides. “We don’t recognize Iran as ours, as all Muslim countries are a part of us,” he declared. He viewed pan-Islamism as a tool for breaking the West’s power.

The ayatollah never saw his dream of exporting the revolution fulfilled: Neighboring Arabs rejected his model of theocracy, and the world at large mostly treated Iran as a pariah.

Today, however, we are witnessing the ascendancy of the Iranian Revolution’s second generation. And absent the U.S., Iran is the strongest conventional power in the Persian Gulf. America’s withdrawal opens the door for the radicals to take the revolution to its next phase.

As Middle Eastern order has crumbled, Iran has gained a lot of practice at injecting its influence into the disarray. When the Islamic Republic sees unrest build, governments fall and disorder follow, it sees opportunity. It dispatches its agents and resources into the chaos to advance its interests. Through sponsoring terrorists, supplying arms, providing training, sending advanced troops and manipulating politics, it has stirred a lot of the turmoil in Afghanistan and Iraq; it is aggressively active within Libya and Egypt; it is deeply involved within warring Syria.

Iran’s terrorist proxies are entrenched throughout the region and beyond. Its sights are set squarely on the Jewish state, especially Jerusalem. It maintains close ties with Hamas in Gaza, right on Israel’s doorstep. It has a controlling influence over the Lebanese government via Hezbollah. Its rockets and missiles are perched on Israel’s northern border by the dozens of thousands, with Hezbollah ready to launch them when the moment is right.

And the Islamic Republic has still more weapons in its arsenal. It could effectively shut down Persian Gulf shipping lanes, spiking oil prices around the globe. It is nurturing an insurgency in Yemen to extend Shiite influence there and nettle archenemy Saudi Arabia. In the spirit of Khomeini, it is forging links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, transcending sectarian differences for the sake of the greater Islamist cause.

And then there is its relentless march toward building nuclear weapons.

Since the inception of this magazine over two decades ago, the Trumpet’s editor in chief has pointed to Iran and its strategic aim to seize leadership of the radical Islamic camp and dominate the Middle East. He has repeatedly spoken of its apocalyptic messianic ambitions. He explicitly forecast how Iraq—formerly Iran’s number one enemy—would fall into its orbit of influence. He foretold how Egypt would be politically transformed, eventually also to align with Tehran. He specifically described how unrest in Libya fits with Iran’s larger military strategy.

All of his statements have been based on observing the scene in accordance with biblical prophecy, and they have been powerfully vindicated by events in recent years.

It all revolves around the prophecy of a “king of the south,” mentioned in Daniel 11:40.

“All indications point to Iran as the nation that produces the king of the south,” Gerald Flurry wrote in his booklet The King of the South. “Since the early 1990s, we have believed and taught that Iran would lead the radical Islamist world and be the king of the south. Today Iran is ‘king’ in the Middle East.”

In a Middle East without America, that statement is undeniable. And for two nations in particular, it is terrifying.

A Mysterious Alliance

The first of these nations is Saudi Arabia. One of its greatest fears is a strong Iran. The Saudis have been deeply troubled by the series of moves America has taken—beginning with the Iraq War in 2003 that eliminated Iran’s chief adversary, Saddam Hussein—that have actually served to strengthen its primary regional rival. Now, the Obama administration’s foreign policy has all but gift-wrapped the Mideast for Iran (“Why is Saudi Arabia getting so bold?” page 28).

In Saudi Arabia’s view, in order to protect its interests, it is already operating in a post-American Middle East. It is looking for alternatives, exploring options, strengthening its stature, reaching out to new allies—doing all it can to maintain its counterweight to Iran.

This is a perfect setup for the fulfillment of a prophecy the Trumpet has repeatedly highlighted. As Mr. Flurry wrote in his article “A Mysterious Prophecy,” “Germany is building an alliance now with the moderate Arabs that is paving the way for the Psalm 83 prophecy to be fulfilled. Saudi Arabia is also drawing closer to Germany to enhance its own security against Iran as America gets weaker and continues to withdraw from the Middle East” (May-June 2011). The groundwork for this Arab-Germanic coalition is being laid with growing openness.

Study the details of this prophecy and you realize that this alliance does not include Persia—nor Iraq, Egypt or other nations in the Iranian-led axis. You also see that though it will most certainly have a strong anti-Iranian bent, its primary purpose is more troublesome and sinister: It is to unite against Israel.

While Saudi Arabia may hate Israel today, it is not openly aggressive against it. But Psalm 83 says that is soon to change!

Jerusalem’s Split

The other nation acutely concerned about America’s disappearance and Iran’s rise is Israel. This sliver of a country, encompassed by enemies and pressed up against the Mediterranean Sea, has relied heavily on its alliance with America. Now its literal survival is in jeopardy.

The Islamic nations have never been able to solidly unite, and prophecy doesn’t specify that they will. But as Iranian-sponsored radicalism engulfs the region, these nations will rally around the one goal they all agree on: destroying the Jews.

States farther afield may be drawn into Iran’s orbit. The vast majority in the populations of northern Africa, for example, are Muslim: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Niger, Libya, Sudan, Egypt; some are almost 100 percent so. And the radicalism here is growing.

The current balance of power in the Middle East is about to convulse. A wave of religious extremism is about to overwhelm the Jewish state, with Jerusalem at the center of the conflagration.

Notice the prophecy: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh … and the city [Jerusalem] shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:1-2).

Today, Israel controls all of Jerusalem. At the peak of the conflict with this Islamic power, the city will be split down the middle. Israel will lose East Jerusalem. This area, which includes the al-Aqsa plateau, or Temple Mount, is already the most hotly contested real estate in the world.

What happens next is stated explicitly in another prophecy.

Where Will Israel Look for Help?

Israel faces an imminent nuclear threat from Iran, whose leaders have openly and repeatedly stated their aim to wipe Israel off the map. Several Muslim states throughout the region are openly hostile toward Israel, and are backed by powerful sponsors elsewhere in the world. Anti-Israelism is rife within the United Nations and international community. The Jews are desperate for another potent ally to take America’s place.

Where will Israel turn? Russia, which supports Iran? China, which actively works against America and its allies, such as Israel? Britain? Canada? Who else has the political, economic and military strength Israel needs?

As Israel grows more anxious, a new arbiter of Mideast peace is emerging, even today: Germany.

Prophecy shows that, very soon, the Jews, facing annihilation and feeling helpless, will turn to their former archenemy Germany and to a European union for deliverance. This is another indication that by this point in events, the U.S. will be too crippled to be of any help. In every prophecy from this point forward, America isn’t once mentioned. It will not even be a factor in what plays out.

Here is Hosea’s prophecy: “When Ephraim [Britain] saw his sickness, and Judah [Israel] saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian [Germany], and [Judah] sent to [Assyrian] king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13).

What is Judah’s “wound”? As Mr. Flurry proves in Jerusalem in Prophecy, it is the peace process that has shrunk the Jews’ territory and emboldened their enemies. It is their complete lack of faith in God and compulsive trust in untrustworthy men. It is a wound so deep it drives them into the arms of the very nation that perpetrated the grisly Holocaust! It is a wound that only God could heal.

And how will Europe then respond to Israel’s plea?

The fact is, Jews and Muslims are not the only ones who want Jerusalem. It is also the holiest site in Christianity. By this time the German-led European Union, strongly influenced by the Vatican, will be a mighty military machine. It will begin exerting much greater pressure to bring “peace” to the region.

But tensions between Catholic Europe and the zealous and newly emboldened king of the south will finally snap. The Islamic coalition will sorely provoke Europe. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [Europe] …” (Daniel 11:40). The word push means to strike, to push with the horn, or to wage war. It is a violent word! It describes a forceful, provocative push unlike any we have yet seen from an already pushy Iran. And it will occur at the “time of the end”—the time we live in today.

As Gerald Flurry wrote in 2011, “The king of the south is going to push at the king of the north, probably from its trade route power. That push will be a dramatic act of war! The Holy Roman Empire will respond with an all-out whirlwind attack—and Iran and radical Islam will fall immediately” (Trumpet, April 2011).

Daniel 11:40-43 describe the assault: “[A]nd the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships [probably launched from a European outpost in Cyprus]; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over [conquer and overwhelm] (verse 40). The following verses say “many countries shall be overthrown,” including Egypt and other North African nations. The Islamic bloc, militarily inferior to Catholic Europe, will be obliterated.

But will this European incursion into the Holy Land finally secure peace for the Jews?

Jerusalem’s Fate

Daniel 11:41 describes the next move of this “king of the north”: “He shall enter also into the glorious land”—the area around Jerusalem. In that specific statement, there is no indication of force. The Israelis will most likely invite Europe in to maintain peace in the Holy City. The European armies will march in and surround the area, perhaps in an apparent move to turn Jerusalem into an international city. The long-sought-for peace in the region will seem imminent.

Jesus Christ described this scene in Luke 21:20: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” In Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts of this conversation, these European armies are called “the abomination of desolation”—or, as Daniel put it, “the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31; 12:11). Mark says it will be “standing where it ought not” (Mark 13:14)—the Holy City, Jerusalem.

Those armies will be directed by a powerful church lusting to possess the holiest of cities. Thus, what will appear to be Jerusalem’s ultimate salvation will shortly become Israel’s deadliest holocaust!

Ezekiel 23 describes Europe’s terrible double cross—not only against Israel, but against Britain and America at the same time (Hosea 5:5). Understanding this prophecy will change your perspective on everything Europe does in its dealings with Israel, Britain and America today! Watch carefully, and see that Germany and Europe are not the trustworthy allies Israel, Britain and America believe they are.

This double cross sets off what Matthew describes as “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). It will be an ever escalating nuclear world war that would, if not stopped, culminate in the extermination of every person on Earth (verse 22).

Realize that God will allow all this suffering! Why? As a tool to motivate humankind to finally repent—to deeply realize and to change from the error of our ways of living (Ezekiel 33:11). Realize too that, in His mercy, throughout this terrifying period, God will protect those who have already turned to Him in repentance. He never administers punishment without cause.

Again: Note the conspicuous absence in these prophecies. Hosea 5:13 doesn’t mention America; Daniel 11:41 doesn’t mention it; Christ doesn’t mention it in Luke 21. There is no America in end-time Middle Eastern biblical prophecy!

What Comes Next for the Middle East?

The immediate future of a Middle East without America will be tragic. The growing disorder is proving this already, but it is destined to grow many times worse.

Is there any hope ahead for the Middle East? The answer is a spectacular and awe-inspiring yes! There is a phenomenal future just ahead for the Jews, Persians, Arabs, and all mankind! After the violent climax of humanity’s worst world war, it is to the Mideast that Jesus Christ will return. The Mideast is where He will establish His rulership. The Mideast is where the peace of the ages will begin! Christ will establish His kingdom in Jerusalem. From there, healing, peace and beauty will spread throughout the world. The Middle East will be the foothills of world headquarters. And every year Arabs, Persians, Israelites and people of all nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship God in a Middle East filled with His glory!