The Beating Heart of Prophecy

ETERNAL HOTSPOT The Mideast represents the beginning and end, the focal point, of what to watch in the years ahead.
From the January 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

The Middle East is not only the cradle of civilization, the backdrop of the beginning of the age of man. It is also the primary setting and focal point for the unfolding drama of Bible prophecy.

In the Mideast the fuse will be lit; in the Mideast a chain of cataclysms will occur; in the Mideast the climactic battle of history will be waged.

One specific location represents the center of gravity around which every major prophesied event finds its orbit: the eternal city—Jerusalem.

Watch this region with an educated eye, and you will recognize the beginning of the death of a civilization. But more importantly, like the patriarchs of old, you will have the hope of the birth of a new world.

The Middle East is the starting and ending point of what lies ahead in prophecy.

Two Powers

This region is witnessing the clash of two great powers—one rising from obscurity and the other falling from nobility.

The nation in decline is Israel: small, isolated, disliked. This is a tiny, Western-style democracy of less than 6 million—80 percent of whom are Jewish—crowded by hostile, autocratic monarchies and Islamic republics with combined populations approaching 400 million. From the day of its foundation in 1948, Israel’s mere existence has aroused explosive anger within its neighbors. Some of the fiercest hostility comes from the Palestinian portion of its own population, which has fought an off-and-on war for independence from the beginning.

How has Israel survived? Principally, two ways. The first is its historically famed spitfire toughness—its determination to shoot any attacker at the knees; this has brought every war in Israel’s history to a swift and decisive end. The second is the support Israel has enjoyed from the mighty United States, which has often deterred potential Arab aggression.

What we can expect in the years ahead—in fact, what we already see—is both of these protective walls crumbling, bringing a shocking end to the modern nation of Israel!

The second Mideast power—the one that is rising as Israel falls—is Iran, and a future coalition of states surging with Islamic radicalism. Even as a worldwide war on terrorism is being fought, radical Islam is gaining popularity with terrifying fury. It is a growing force that will play a more significant role in events to come than most realize.

However, quite remarkably, the demise of the Jewish state will not happen, as one would assume, at the hands of this Islamic power. Why? The answer to that question draws together virtually every other strand of biblical prophecy that you will read about in this issue of the Trumpet.

Let us seek to understand how these diverse elements will coalesce to bring about the smashing climax of future events in the Middle East.

Israel’s Decline

What is happening in Israel today?

After 15 straight months in this latest round of fighting, little has changed; the battle has become a wearying, soul-sapping dirge of Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military reprisals. And the two sides are further from negotiating a deal than ever.

But the Palestinians have everything to gain, and Israel has everything to lose. So as the warfare continues without resolution, the Palestinians become more hostile, and the Jews, more frustrated.

Pure logic and a basic understanding of human nature prove that deterrence is the only way tiny Israel can survive. Nevertheless, the Israel that clawed its way to independence in 1948 and fought off numerous assaults on its very existence over the next three decades has been replaced by a country that believes in its bones that, ultimately, negotiation is the answer. In other words, the first of its protective walls is already virtually gone. The belligerency of the Palestinians is proof of that fact: They no longer fear Israel.

What about the second protective wall—the U.S.? Already, U.S. pressure on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians has depleted much of the Jewish nation’s will. But as long as the U.S. suffers from delusions of potential peace between Israel and its neighbors, as long as it remains committed to the impossible ideal of bringing the two sides together for a paper solution, it will face determined resistance from huge segments of the Mideast population. And the longer this goes on, the weaker the U.S. appears and the less effective it is as a deterrent to violence.

Now, the U.S. and Israel have officially conceded the idea of the need to establish a Palestinian state, and yet the resistance has continued.

The true nature of this conflict is suddenly clear. It can no longer be seen as a war between those who want a Palestinian state and those who don’t. Rather it is a war between those who want a Jewish state and those who don’t!

The radical terror group Hamas is fast becoming the most powerful political force among Palestinians, surpassing even Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization. The greatest source of its popularity? That its suicide bombers kill Israelis. Arafat has publicly advocated a peaceful two-state solution in Israel, and, for that, his organization is rapidly losing popularity. Hamas has a more militant plan: First drive Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza, then drive them out of the Mideast altogether. They want Israel gone. Many Mideast nations share this goal with a growing number of Palestinians.

The bottom line is, Palestinian resistance will continue to grind Israel down. It will be increasingly bolstered by other Mideast countries that also have the goal of eliminating the State of Israel. Arafat, or at least the idea of striking a peace deal with Israel, will be drowned out in the cacophony. Israel will be pitted directly against extremist groups, with both sides fighting for absolute control over the territory. Violence will continue to escalate.

As the reality of the U.S.’s failure to bring peace becomes more clear, and Israel gets more desperate for a way out, an alternative arbiter of Mideast peace will increasingly present itself: Europe. This trend has already noticeably picked up in this “last hour” of prophecy. Europe is swooping in on the Middle East with startling speed.

The European Union says it wants a two-state solution. But Bible prophecy shows that the ultimate solution it will impose on the region is one state of an entirely different nature than either Jews or Arabs expect. More on this later.

Islam’s Rise

What is happening with Iran today? And with radical Islam?

Most notably, Iran is being courted as an ally in the U.S.’s war on terrorism—despite its being the number-one state sponsor of terrorism in the world. In addition to having deep links with terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, it is bristling with stockpiled weapons and delivery systems, biological and chemical agents—and, most distressingly, developing nuclear weapons and production facilities. Through its terrorist activities, Iran has destroyed the peace process almost single-handedly. It aims to galvanize the Islamic world by conquering Jerusalem and isolating or obliterating little Israel. Ultimately, it seeks to rule the Middle East.

Perhaps the U.S. believes Iran is too big to pick a fight with, yet knows that no war on terrorism can be won without dealing with Iran; thus it is deceiving itself into thinking the Iranians can be wooed rather than conquered. A terribly foolish line of reasoning that guarantees failure in this war on terror.

How Iran ended up looking like a good guy once terrorism became the world’s worst enemy is difficult to rationalize. But the situation has left Iran stronger, and it will only get more so.

Meanwhile, the possibility exists that the U.S.’s next target in its war may be Iraq. Historically, the U.S. has wanted both Iran and Iraq, staunch enemies, to remain strong enough to keep each other in check but weak enough to not pose a threat to anyone else. Upsetting that balance of power would give Iran unquestioned supremacy in the region. Trumpet Editor in Chief Gerald Flurry has forwarded the possibility that Iran will conquer Iraq.

However it may happen, all indications are that Iran will be the kingpin in the Mideast. Watch for Iran to continue to draw the Islamic world into its plans against Israel—even if, at first, only indirectly through terrorist groups. It is referred to in Bible prophecy as the “king of the south” (Dan. 11:40). The Islamic nations have never been able to unify deeply, and nothing in prophecy states they will be terribly cohesive. Nevertheless, fueled by the fervor of radical Islam spreading throughout the region, Israel’s demise is one goal they can agree upon.

The atmosphere in the Middle East is increasingly ripe for this unification. As the U.S. prosecutes its war, it is stirring the hatred of millions of Muslims who consider terrorists like Osama bin Laden heroes.

In addition to the Mideast countries likely to ally with Iran, there are states farther afield that may be drawn into the conflict. 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. The radical element within these states is growing. The Iranian Revolution in 1979 is a model of how quickly a country’s politics can be transformed with a change in leadership riding a popular uprising. Even within the more moderate countries, such as Egypt, an assassination could have a profound and immediate effect. This presents another collection of possibilities we can watch for in the time ahead.

Jerusalem’s Split

So—the stage is almost set for an upheaval in the balance of power in the Middle East, as a wave of religious extremism overwhelms the Jewish state, with Jerusalem being 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” (Zech. 14:1-2).

Today, Israel controls the whole of Jerusalem. At the peak of the conflict with this Islamic power, the city will be split down the middle, and Israel will lose East Jerusalem. Already we see this area, which includes the holy sites on the al-Aqsa plateau, or Temple Mount, being the most hotly contested real estate in the world. It was Ariel Sharon’s visit there last September that triggered the current intifada still raging.

Look again at these verses. Half of Jerusalem being taken is presented in the same context as the Day of the Lord. This, as Mr. Flurry has said, shows that the fall of East Jerusalem will trigger a series of cataclysms that leads directly to the Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus Christ. “In other words, the current dispute over East Jerusalem is a strong sign that the Day of the Lord is almost here!” (Gerald Flurry, Jerusalem in Prophecy, p. 29).

When East Jerusalem is taken, Israel will realize, too late, that it was primarily their commitment to the peace process—at the expense of their deterrent walls of security—that led to this disastrous loss. But their fate will have been sealed; the chain of events will have begun.

What happens next is stated explicitly in another prophecy (which we will quote a little further on). Feeling helpless, Israel will turn to Germany and the European Union for deliverance from the Islamic extremists. Why not the United States? As we indicated, U.S. peace-making efforts are prophesied to fail. The indications are that by this point, the U.S. will be too crippled to be of any help! The article on page 8 details some of the possible reasons. But the fact that, in every prophecy from this point forward, superpower America isn’t once mentioned is extraordinarily significant. It will not even be a factor in what plays out in the Mideast! Quite a turnaround from the recent past.

Follow the logic: While Israel falls and Iran rises, a parallel situation is occurring between the United States and the European Union. The balance of power is being transferred dramatically—even today—from a former superpower on the wane, to a future empire with a lean and hungry look. Watch as it happens before your eyes in the time just ahead!

The Middle East peace process provides plain evidence of the power shift.

These corresponding, synchronous trends are creating two new substantial world powers—one in the Mideast, one in Europe—that are destined to clash in astounding fashion.

Germany’s Invasion

First, back to Israel’s predicament. Drawing on help from a weakened Britain, the Jews will turn to their former archenemy Germany. 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 sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hos. 5:13).

What is Judah’s “wound”? It is the present-day peace process that will lose them East Jerusalem! It is the fatal naivety that compels them to negotiate rather than defend themselves. It is their complete lack of faith in God and compulsive trust in untrustworthy men—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.

This verse clearly suggests that both Israel and Britain approach Germany for help. They are both succumbing to this deadly weakness, even now.

What will happen next? How will Europe respond to Israel’s request?

The fact is, the Jews and Muslims are not the only ones with designs on 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 with the zealous and newly emboldened king of the south will reach fervid temperatures! The king of the south, the Islamic coalition, will sorely provoke Europe. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [Europe] …” (Dan. 11:40). Perhaps it will try to punish Europe for interfering by cutting off their oil supplies.

Whatever means the king of the south uses, it will be enough of a push to arouse blazing indignation in Germany’s Europe—the “king of the north.” The full force of its military might will be turned against the Islamic forces with blitzkrieg decisiveness!

Daniel 11:40-43 describe the assault: “… and 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] (v. 40). The following verses say “many countries shall be overthrown,” including Egypt and other North African nations.

The king of the south, poorly trained, militarily inferior, likely uncoordinated as a fighting unit, will be obliterated.

But is this European incursion into the Holy Land all intended for the benefit of the Jews? Hardly.

Jerusalem’s Desolation

The Israelis will most likely invite Europe in to maintain peace in Jerusalem. 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, accompanied with a fearsome warning: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). 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” (Dan. 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 the terrible double-cross perpetrated by Europe—not only against Israel, but against Britain and America all together (Hos. 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 you do not see a true ally in Germany and Europe—you see the seeds of mistrust, competition, and future betrayal!

This double-cross is the next event in the chain, setting 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” (Matt. 24:21)—an ever-escalating nuclear world war that would, if not stopped, culminate in the extermination of every living person on Earth! (v. 22).

God’s Tool

Realize that God will allow all this suffering as a tool to motivate humankind to repent—to deeply realize and to change from the error of our ways of living (Ezek. 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.

You can know how to correctly interpret and react to these prophetic events as they unfold. Our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy gives more explanation. And, if you truly want to turn your life to God, to respond with heartfelt repentance to the warning you are receiving, contact us with your request for a visit from a Philadelphia Church of God representative.

In the meantime, watch the Middle East! After the violent climax of humanity’s greatest world war, it is to the Mideast that Jesus Christ will return. It is from the Mideast that He will establish His rulership. It is in the Mideast that the peace of the ages will begin! The Middle East will be the cradle of a new civilization—the backdrop of the beginning of the age of God!