What Is Going On In The Middle East?
A Biblical Examination of Our Current Dilemma (Part 1)
By Andrew Bunce
What is going on in the Middle East? It depends on who you ask. All one has to do these days is turn on the news and they are immediately flooded with images, sound bytes, and footage of war and turmoil in the troubled region. Every news program seems to have some “expert” or another trying to explain what is going on. They all seem to be saying different things. It’s Iran. It’s Al Qaeda. No, it’s the Taliban. It’s “radical” Islam. It’s because of the Israeli “occupation” of the “West Bank”. No, it’s because U.S. Soldiers are in Iraq and Afghanistan. On and on and on it goes, where it stops, no one seems to know.
Looking at this mess from a Western secular mindset provides a fuzzy and somewhat clouded view of what is going on. Looking through an alternate view, however…that of the Bible…the image starts to come into focus and a larger picture starts to form. Again, here is my disclaimer: If you are put-off or easily offended by references to the Bible and the God of the Bible, then you probably want to avoid this article. If you have an open mind though and a desire to make sense out of these things, then please, read on. I’m merely trying to offer an alternative view and get people to think about the big picture.
I’m not going to take a swing at the entire mess in this one article for the sake of space and time. I am however going to focus on one conflict and its prophetic significance in our time, and that is the increasing tensions between Iran and Israel. In Part 1, I will attempt to show Israel’s prophetic role in these times, and in Part 2 I will talk about Iran and its significance in the Christian end time scenario and how they tie together. I have studied this subject now for about three years and will attempt to make it as understandable as possible. Just a word of warning though: don’t just take my word on these things either; do your own research.
In the Hebrew Scriptures called the Tanakh, which makes up the Christian Bible’s Old Testament, there is a book by a prophet named Ezekiel. His name literally means “God will strengthen” and that turns out to be the general tone of his very large book . Ezekiel was a Jewish priest who was sent into exile when the Babylonian Empire conquered Jerusalem around 593 B.C. Thousands of Jewish people from the Land of Israel were exiled and taken captive by the Kingdom of Babylon, located in what is now modern-day Iraq, approximately 600 years before Christ. Ezekiel was one of these. This prophet made very profound and specific predictions of things that would happen in “the latter days” , such as the Jews being exiled from their land for an extended period of time and then being regathered into that same land:
16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Although I have cast them (the Jews) far off among the Gentiles (Non-Jews), and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” ‘17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” ‘(Ezekiel 11:16-17)
24 For I (God) will take you (Israel) from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. (Ezekiel 36:24)
21 Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;…(Ezekiel 37:21)
Get the point? And this isn’t the only place in the Hebrew Bible that says that the Jewish people would be restored to the land of Israel. It is literally throughout the Old Testament.
Now, some scholars try and say that these passages were fulfilled 70 years later when the Jews returned to the land of Israel as decreed by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. However, very specific language is used in these chapters referring to “the latter days” and that Israel would never be uprooted again forever…which they were, in 70 A.D. Wars are mentioned with very specific players involved that have never been at war with Israel before this time and the constant use of the plural word nations instead of the singular nation, meaning Babylon. Looking at the passages in context, it doesn’t hold water.
Here’s a little history lesson to make these pieces come together if you’ve never heard this stuff before. The Roman military headed under Titus Vespasian, destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. after an ill-fated uprising. This was about 37 years after Jesus predicted it in detail in His famous Olivet Discourse (the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24). The entire city was destroyed along with the Jewish Holy Temple. The Temple was looted and completely torn down to the very pavement. Jesus said that “not one stone would be left on top of another”. Later, in 130 A.D., the Jews rebelled against the Roman occupation of Israel again, this time led by a false messiah named Simon Bar Kochba. He and his army succeeded in destroying several Roman legions of troops. By 135 A.D., the Roman government got their act together and Emperor Hadrian had the city of Jerusalem utterly destroyed along with more than a half a million Jews slaughtered and countless others expelled to “the nations” (called the Diaspora). Hadrian, eagerly wanting to insult the Jewish people, renamed the land Syria Provincia Palestina (after the Jew’s ancient enemies, the Philistines and which is where the erroneous name ‘Palestine’ comes from) and rebuilt the city dedicated to the Roman god Jupiter. For two thousand years, the land would get conquered and occupied by various invaders…but there has always been a strong Jewish presence in the land.
Fast forward now to May 14, 1948. Israel declares independence after the U.N. mandate Resolution 181 of 1947 to create a Jewish homeland. Mere hours later, six Arab armies (Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) attacked the fledgling Jewish state with the intent of utter annihilation. By January of 1949, the war was over with the State of Israel gaining another 2,500 square miles of strategic land. Massive numbers of Jewish holocaust survivors and Jews from all over the world started to emigrate to Israel, even during five bloody Arab-led wars, three of which Israel was hopelessly outnumbered and caught off-guard , yet the tiny nation proved overwhelmingly victorious in defending itself every single time… proving the words of the 5th century B.C., Old Testament prophet Zechariah:
2“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. 3 And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”(Zechariah 12:2-3)
6 In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a fire pan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place–Jerusalem.(Zechariah 12:6)
Worldwide anti-Semitism is also at an all-time high since the Holocaust. The numbers for Europe are actually quite startling . Much of this has to do with the drastic increases in Muslim populations and propaganda relating to Israeli defense policy . Much of it also comes from the fact that Germany and others in the E.U. still tend to gloss over what actually happened in Nazi-occupied territory .
This also was foretold in the Bible. Jesus said to His Jewish disciples:
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)
This statement is primarily about Jewish followers of Jesus, but I would also submit that it is also about the Jewish people as a whole denotatively. One of the leading slanders made by anti-Semites to Jewish people is the accusation of being “Christ Killers”, as the above verse clearly indicates. Jesus also said:
1I am telling you this to keep you from being afraid. 2You will be chased out of the Jewish meeting places. And the time will come when people will kill you and think they are doing God a favor. 3They will do these things because they don’t know either the Father or Me. (John 16:1-3)
“Christ killer!” was a popular phrase when the Roman Catholic Crusaders murdered Jews all across Europe on their way to the Holy Land. When these so-called “Christian” warriors reached Jerusalem, they herded thousands of Jews into the large synagogue there and burned them alive. Nazi tormentors said many of the same taunts to their victims as they were being marched to the gas chambers…so did the Russians during the infamous pogroms .
The sad fact is that people who make statements like these are ignorant of the Bible and what the crucifixion was actually all about. He had to die in order to pay the price for our sins . Jesus’ death was a triumph, not a tragedy! Right before He was betrayed, Jesus said this to His disciples:
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. (John 12:27)
In conclusion, I sought out to establish in Part 1, Israel’s prophetic role in these days. I showed evidence from 2500 year old passages that tiny Israel will be a major player and controversial issue in “the latter days”. That it’s regathering in the land would happen and would be met with great resistance. I also showed that rampant anti-Semitism would be a problem and was predicted by the prophet Ezekiel and Jesus Himself, being a major driving force in world animosity towards this tiny nation and people.
In Part 2, I will briefly go over the next two chapters in Ezekiel that foretell a very well-described attack on Israel “in the latter days” by Iran and a Russian/Turkish/Libyan alliance that will result in a catastrophic blow to the Middle Eastern world. At the end, I will show you what the ultimate goal and outcome of this will be and what it means for us as individuals. This, hopefully, will start to tie things together for you and make things become clearer. Until then, thank you for reading!
 Ezekiel 38:8, 16
 John 3:16