A recent CNN article (February 16, 2015) by Peter Bergen, CNN Security Analyst was called Why Does ISIS Keep Making Enemies. It is the question that many people are asking. Why far-reaching offenses toward even their closest allies like al Qaeda?
The answer, according to Bergen, is simple. It is an attempt to draw the whole world into their end time apocalypse. He writes,
The mistake some make when viewing ISIS is to see it as a rational actor. Instead, as the magazine [Dabiq] documents, its ideology is that of an apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS' actions are hastening the moment when this will happen.
The name of the Dabiq magazine itself helps us understand ISIS' worldview. The Syrian town of Dabiq is where the Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have predicted that the armies of Islam and "Rome" would meet for the final battle that will precede the end of time and the triumph of true Islam.
Do you see at what lengths people will go to foster their version of an end time drama?
Many Christians are scrambling to fit this into a dispensationalist scheme of a near rapture, followed by the Tribulation and then the coming back of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this philosophy is paralyzing the church instead of invigorating it. Or, it stirs a counter-cultural spiritual movement enlisting saints into the last days battle of Armageddon (check it out). For others, they secretly throw up their hands in being salt and light in government, or business, or media, because Jesus may come at any moment. Still others find themselves supporting any injustice from the nation of Israel as if Jesus approved carte-blanche because they believe they are a part of the end-time drama.
But does God have a spiritually pacifist plan of allowing ISIS to be the actors that end the world?
THE ROLE OF ISRAEL in the END TIMES:
As difficult as it is for many Christians to believe, the modern state of Israel is in no way related to biblical Israel. This doesn't mean they don't have a right to exist as a political entity. But we must take immense care in differentiating because what is at stake is larger than a theological position. It is a slide towards another world war which will, disappointingly for some, not lead to the end of the world.
Let me explain. First of all, Judaism, as it is currently practiced has its roots as a form of religion created while they were in exile and became the tradition of the elders since they did not have access to the sacrifices and the temple. Later, in their return to Jerusalem, it was this form of religion that Jesus particularly rejected. Then after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, they again had to develop a form of practicing a religion where Talmud is of higher status than Scripture since again, no temple, no sacrifices, no priesthood, and not even an official genealogy. There is even debate among their own scientists as to the DNA evidence of their origins.Here is a sample article. So before trying to identify the political state of Israel as biblical Israel do a bit of research.
Again this is difficult for many because Americans bought into a new version of Israel in a schema of eschatology called dispensationalism, which began generally speaking in the early 1800's. BUT I believe that the scripture teaches that all prophecy regarding Israel was finished by AD 70. Before you dismiss this consider these scriptures:
Luke records Jesus' description of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and defines its larger context. Luke 21:20-22
20 “But when YOU see JERUSALEM surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 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. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN MAY BE FULFILLED.
Some will say that Jesus was saying that all things which are written about the destruction of Jerusalem will be fulfilled, not all the whole of the promises to Israel. Still, though I don't believe that is what Jesus meant, that places all the judgment promises of the OT scriptures being fulfilled in AD 70, which leaves no room for a future place of Jerusalem for any biblical context. But notice even what Peter says in Acts 3:22-24
22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 Yes, and ALL THE PROPHETS, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also FORETOLD these days.
Why is this important? Because without understanding this, it clouds our perspective of how to deal with national and international issues. It creates a different story-line than God's unfolding drama has revealed. I know that this is obviously not comprehensive enough to convince you, but a closer study of all the OT passages would reveal that by AD 70 all the promises had been fulfilled. That doesn't mean we ignore modern Israel. It simply means we don't let ourselves get confused.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND ISIS
Probably the most significant truth that needs to be explored desperately by the modern Church is the idea of the advancing optimistic kingdom. The prophet Isaiah said in 9:7
There will be no end to the INCREASE of His government or of PEACE,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and FOREVERMORE.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (NASB)
If you believe that Jesus is sitting on the throne in fulfillment of this promise (see Acts 2:29-34) then you must concede that God promised an ever increasing peace and kingdom. In simple terms that means that ISIS is just another ungodly kingdom that will fall to the zeal of the Lord. His agenda is of increasing peace and an increasing influence of his kingdom. ISIS will fall as certainly as Jerusalem did. It will fall, just as Rome eventually did. It will fall, because no matter what "principalities" are over a region, the PRINCE OF PEACE is seated on his throne forever high above all principality and power and every name that can be named (Eph 1-2). He cannot be dislodged or overthrown!
Yes, but Revelation speaks of a time when the saints were being beheaded right?. Obviously this is the fulfillment right? This is not the first time in the history of the world that beheadings have taken place. Nor is it currently limited to Christians. A good PBS short video clip explaining the history of beheadings can be accessed here. Also see why it has already been fulfilled here. Don't get caught up in the fear of the end of the world. Educate yourself.
So will radical Islam draw us into an end of the world scenario? No.
How does ISIS fit into God's plans? According to Isaiah 9:7, they will fall into disarray or be defeated by the secret workings of the kingdom of God! King Jesus will thwart their vision of the end. Their driving theology will be humiliated.
So instead of a defeatist mentality or an escapist mentality, it is time for the Church to pray for solutions, to (yes)... even love our enemies... and to stand with Jesus as he dismantles darkness. It is time for us to expect victory.
It is reported that Muslims are having encounters with Jesus in their dreams all over that area. In addition, I have a Christian Lawyer friend in Pakistan who wants to translate into Urdu my book, Extraordinary Gospel: Experiencing the Goodness of God. He had never heard the gospel explained as grace. Who knows what God can do in getting the gospel into the hands of people in that region, in their language! The gospel is more powerful than we realize!
Join me in optimism. Face fear with faith. God's plan for ISIS is under his feet. Period!
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Photo from www.independent.co.uk