Something amazing happened in this world recently, and most of us missed it.
We know that violence has spread like a fire in the Middle East, recently. Israel is fighting Hamas in Gaza and Egypt is fighting a smaller parallel war on the southern border of Gaza. Both are fighting Hamas and its allies. Egypt and Israel are co-belligerents, if not allies in a war against Arab Muslims.
On the eastern border of Egypt, Libya is collapsing into a violent civil war and hundreds of thousands are running for their lives. Many of the refugees are Egyptian workers. Countries like Canada have evacuated diplomatic staff. North of Israel, starting from the valley of the Euphrates river, the Islamic movement Isis, or Isil, or the Islamic State has conquered large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Iran, the ancient Persia, has sent fighters to support Syria and Iraq. Thousands have died, many more are refugees, and entire nations are being destroyed.
A world war may be emerging from the Middle East, like an ancient Bible story with guns and bombs. To the Prophets of ancient Israel, and to the early Christians, the Euphrates valley was the dark source of conquering armies, and that is the source of Isis, the most successful emerging power.
There is a common denominator on the side of Isis, Hamas, and some Libyans. The force is something new; extreme Islam.
Hamas is not the old PLO that fought only against Israel. For Hamas, Israel is a speed bump in the parking lot; the goal is you and me. Egypt, with a majority Arab Muslim population is also a hated enemy. Isis in Syria and Iraq is fighting Muslims, with extreme brutality. Death to the enemy and death as a martyr in their god’s war are both good, and thousands have been shot, beheaded, or crucified, or have blown themselves up as suicide bombers. More than three thousand missiles have been fired at civilians in Israel. Even in China, a civil war is emerging between the Chinese and local Muslims, with bombings and killings in the hundreds.
This new force in the world wants to remove Israel as a barrier to its larger goals; which explains the three thousand missiles. Another goal is to subdue and re-convert the Muslim community into an extreme military force, the Islamic Caliphate; which explains why Isis is brutalizing Muslims. The final objective is to force the whole world to submit to extreme Islam, or die. That would be you and me.
I am not exaggerating any of this; one of the most frightened nations is Saudi Arabia. And who would know better than them? The silence of the Arab world, as Israel pounds the Arab Muslims in Gaza, seems puzzling. Hollywood movie stars criticize Israel more than many Arab governments; but then many in the Middle East know what is emerging among them.
This may be the end of the world, or just a rehearsal, but the Bible is clear that in the end, terrible forces will come into the world from the Euphrates valley, as they did in ancient times.
As a Christian, I know our time to do good in this world will end some day. As a Canadian living in a petroleum region, I know that some extremists want to control Middle East oil revenue to support their cause, and they don’t want competition from Canada, or Venezuela, or Australia. The rockets can’t hurt Israel, but we can’t stop them in Edmonton or Houston.
We are coming to a time when the world’s hope is God.
“I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar 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, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand.” Revelation 9:13 to 16.
“The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” Revelation 16:12 to 15.