Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 1 – The Big Picture
by Gerald R. Thompson
Psalm 83 (summary) – O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Asshur also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.
Game of Thrones
The common thread throughout all of end times prophecy is the battle between Jesus and Satan, or more properly, between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan. Consider how many times Jesus talked about His kingdom, the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. [Over a hundred times in the Gospels.] Necessarily, the key players in this battle between kingdoms are nations, governments, and the leaders of nations. Go back and look at Mat. 24:4-14 (which is an overview of the end times) and see how often Jesus refers to kingdoms and nations.
The war between good and evil will not be won by whoever gets the most followers. Undoubtedly Satan will have the most followers. Even at the end of the Millennium, after Jesus has ruled visibly for 1,000 years, the number of people rebelling against God will be “like the sand of the sea.” Rev. 20:8. The godly people of the world have always been a minority, a remnant. Just think about how many people were destroyed (millions), versus how many were saved (eight), in Noah’s flood. But who wins the war will be whoever establishes their kingdom and overthrows and destroys the competing kingdom forever. This is not merely a war of individuals, or of religious devotees, but a war of kingdoms.
Psalm 83 is a snapshot of this epic battle of kingdoms, itemized by nation. Not all of the nations are named here who will participate in Armageddon, but you definitely get a sense that there is a longstanding, historical outright hatred of the Jews and the nation of Israel which I have already alluded to. You might be tempted to look at Psalm 83 as something that was in the past, but when you realize all the people groups mentioned there comprise the nations of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Arabia, along with the Gaza strip, you see that nothing has really changed since it was written. If anything, the desire to wipe Israel out as a nation and erase any memory of its name is more intense than ever in these very same nations, plus others.
We like to think that the world has changed and/or progressed, and it has with regards to technology, taming the earth, and developments in medicine, communication, transportation, etc. But we have to realize none of these are the things that are important to God, and these are not the things driving biblical prophecy. What is important to God is religious allegiance, obedience to His laws, the security and prosperity of His people, and a proper regard for the places and people God favors.
The reality is that the opponents of God, the opponents of His people, the manner of disobedience to His laws, and the religious influences which blaspheme God or deny His existence are not things that are new or recent, but things that are of very longstanding and go back to the beginning of history as we saw in Gen. 3. To the extent this opposition has progressed, it has merely changed shape and become better organized – not more morally sound. And there is a very specific pattern in which this opposition has played out, and will play out in the future.
The pattern is this: sinful man starts out unorganized, scattered in his rebellion, and over time finds ways to build upon the rebellion of prior generations to build and organize in opposition to God. God lets this activity come to its full fruition, then takes action to disrupt man’s plans and send him back to the beginning in terms of being unorganized and scattered. Then the pattern repeats. Each time, Satan is the leader of the evil kingdom. Looking at the Bible as a whole, this pattern has, and will, play out in three acts.
Act One: After the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3), opposition to God grows swiftly from the original seed of rebellion, so much so that in the time of Noah, God wanted to blot man out from the earth. Gen. 6:5-7. The result of which was a worldwide flood killing everyone except eight people. But there is no mention of nations or kingdoms prior to the flood, so it would seem that man’s rebellion was commonplace, but largely unorganized.
That changes in the time from the end of the flood until the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11), an interlude which may have been as short as 100 years. That is when God says there is nothing people cannot accomplish once they put their collective mind to it (Gen. 11:6). Here we have the first hint of organized rebellion, which we might think of as the first iteration of the kingdom of Satan. So God confuses human language, rendering people unable to communicate and forcing them to divide into separate nations for the first time. This language barrier is sufficient to thwart their ultimate organization for millennia.
Act Two: What plays out after Babel is the succession of kingdoms as described in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the layered statue (Dan. 2:31-35), a prophetic vision we will discuss in detail in Part 4. The succession of kingdoms is not merely a lesson in world history, it is the manner in which the kingdom of Satan grows, refines, increases in hostility to God, and increases its domination of the earth. We are nearing the end of this long Second Act, when the ultimate (but not the final) iteration of the kingdom of Satan – the kingdom of the beast – will be revealed.
Meanwhile, with recent technological progress, the language barrier has largely been overcome. People can learn multiple languages quite easily and computers enhance the capability to communicate across languages. Satan will use historical enmities to his advantage and organize various nations of the world into a more or less unified whole (more like a fragile alliance), but it will be enough to launch an all out attack on God, His people and His holy city. At Armageddon, Jesus will crush the kingdom of the beast, annihilate most of the opposition, and institute His earthly kingdom.
Act Three: Following Armageddon, similar to the situation after Noah’s flood, the world population will be depleted and societies will have to start over from scratch. Satan and his demons will be taken out of the way at this time, so no evil kingdom will be organized during this time. Nevertheless, during the Millennium discontent will fester and at its end, Satan will return as community organizer-in-chief and whip up all the malcontents in the world into waging one final battle against Christ and His kingdom.
This will not result in the actual creation of another iteration of the kingdom of Satan, but it will be Satan’s final attempt to seize a kingdom for himself, because as long as he is on the earth that is his goal. But this is the final act, so God will not punish and scatter the disobedient as before, nor will He allow them to grow and organize in the future. Rather, He will at that time render a final judgment, cast the disobedient into outer darkness forever, and eliminate the possibility of any future rebellion.
While this is all taking place, the kingdom of God will play out in four acts. Act One: God chose the nation of Israel to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exo. 19:6. Act Two: God chose the Church to be a spiritual kingdom. Rev. 1:5-6. Act Three: Jesus Christ will establish his earthly kingdom for a Millennium. Rev. 11:15. Act Four: God will establish His everlasting kingdom with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Rev. 21. All of which was foretold a long time ago. Isa. 9:6-7. This is discussed in great detail in Part 5.
In the end, the question will not be how many people choose which side. The only question is, whose kingdom will prevail over the other and utterly destroy the opposition?
Clash Of The Titans
I have so far itemized who the historic and future enemies of God are, which nations are the subject of foretold divine judgment, and where those nations are located. I have given a brief historical backdrop of why these various nations hate Israel, the people of God, the Promised Land, and God’s holy city, based on intra-family disputes and past conquests and enslavements. But there is more.
All of the nations singled out by the Bible for judgment (other than Israel, which will also be judged) share a current common religious affiliation, namely Islam. It is hard to ignore.
When considering candidates for the kingdom of the Antichrist, it is not the nations of Greece or Italy (Rome) which have sworn to wipe Israel off the face of the earth from time immemorial. It is not Greece or Rome which have hated Jews and Christians alike as infidels to be enslaved or beheaded from time immemorial. It is not Greece or Rome which have desired to conquer and overrun Jerusalem and the Holy Land from time immemorial.
Neither Greece nor Rome have exactly been saintly empires – both have had their periods of paganism and debauchery (and as we will see, both are among the evil empires in the progression of Satan’s kingdom) – but what religion or nation in the world today can possibly compete with Islam for its intense desire to openly and notoriously wage war with the kingdom of Jehovah God? Is Roman Catholicism to be compared with Islam in this regard? [A word of advice to Protestants and Reformed believers: Stop thinking like someone in the 16th or 17th centuries. The Pope is not and will not be the Antichrist. The Roman Catholic church is not the Beast kingdom.]
Neither are the common religious bonds of the Mideast nations surrounding Israel a recent development. These common religious bonds extend well beyond the 1,400 years since Mohammed into the ancient past.
Prior to Mohammed, the kingdoms of Sumer, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylonia, and Akkadia (modern Iraq, Syria, Jordan and northern Arabia) all worshiped the moon-god. These are the earliest civilizations on earth, so we’re talking ancient roots here. The Sumerian name for the moon-god was Sin, as in the “wilderness of Sin,” and is the root of the word Sinai. The O.T. constantly rebuked the worship of the moon-god (see, Deut. 4:19;17:3; 2 Ki. 21:3,5; 23:5; Jer. 8:2; 19:13; Zeph. 1:5, etc.), variously prohibiting the worship of the sun, moon and stars, or the host of heaven.
When the popularity of the moon-god waned elsewhere, the Arabs continued to worship the moon-god and the host of heaven among others. Though they worshiped over 300 gods at the Kaabah in Mecca, the moon-god was apparently the chief deity. In fact, Mecca was originally built as a shrine for the moon-god at least as far back as the 2nd Century A.D. This is what made it the most sacred site of Arabian paganism. Muslims merely co-opted Mecca as a holy site centuries later.
The star and crescent moon symbol often associated with Islam actually pre-dates Mohammed by many centuries. Its use by the Moabites goes as far back as 1300-1400 B.C. It appears in various forms throughout many other Mideast nations in ancient times. The crescent symbol itself is almost certainly derived from the ancient worship of the moon-god. The origin of the star symbol is less certain, but is widely regarded as connected to the worship of the host of heaven. So it is not surprising that the crescent moon adorned the Kaabah in Mecca long before Mohammed’s time.
My research indicates that many, if not most, scholars agree that the use of the star and crescent moon symbol became popular in Islam during the time of the Ottoman Empire, and that the symbol was borrowed from past uses, rather than invented, by the Turks. For their part, Muslims do not all agree that the star and crescent symbol represent Islam, and many argue that Islam has no symbol. There are, however, eleven Islamic nations which have made the symbol a part of their official flags: Algeria, Azerbajian, Comoros, Malaysia, The Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Am I saying that Islam is really just a repackaged form of the worship of the heavenly host? No, I’m not. Am I saying the star and crescent symbol is a pagan symbol? Not really. Those are interesting arguments, but wholly unnecessary to this discussion and beside the point. I don’t need to assert them or prove them because they are irrelevant to prophetic understanding.
I’m simply saying that the Mideast nations surrounding Israel have a common religious bond that stretches back thousands of years. Starting back in the time of the earliest civilizations on earth, the Mideast nations engaged in widespread worship of the heavenly host. Some worshiped the moon-god, others worshiped the sun or stars. That these practices differed from place to place isn’t as important as the fact that they all involve worship of the heavenly host in some form.
These religious practices obviously morphed over the centuries, and the extent to which they were borrowed by Mohammed or incorporated into Islam I cannot say. It doesn’t matter. These same Mideast nations are all Islamic nations now. So they started out together worshiping the heavenly host centuries ago, and now they all worship Allah. The point is, they have always tracked together religiously at least in parallel, if not in unison.
I believe the net effect of this is that God, who knows the end from the beginning, looks at these nations (and has always looked at them) as more or less a unit. They all have shared animosities towards Israel that run back thousands of years, they have had similar religious heritages and share a present religious commonality. Thus, in the end times God is going to deal with them all in a similar fashion, in many respects identically.
God has pronounced judgments against each Mideast nation individually, but those judgments will all be fulfilled in the same way and the same time at Armageddon. These nations have individual histories and identities, but they have a collective future, if you will.
Should we be surprised that these very same nations today are more and more looking at themselves as a unit, and trying to perfect that concept with an actual international union, an Islamic Caliphate? You may reject the idea of the Mideast nations being a unit based on historical analysis, but the contemporary evidence is harder to shrug off. They clearly want to aggregate under an Islamic confederacy or Islamic republic. More on this when we get to The Coming Caliphate later.
Consider this: All of the nations of the Bible against whom a prophecy of judgment is given (other than Israel itself) are today Muslim. See, for example, Jer. 25:15-29 which lists (in addition to Israel), Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Arabia, Turkey, the “Stans,” Iran and Iraq. All biblical prophecies concern nations in Northern Africa, the Mideast, and the parts of Asia from Turkey to Iran, including the “Stans” south of Russia. There are no biblical prophecies against Rome or Europe. Nor any against Russia or the Western Hemisphere.
Can it be any coincidence that the major distinguishing factor of Islam, compared to all other world religions, is the political component? That is, Islam seeks not only individual converts, but to control nations politically, establish its own version of a theocratic state, form a worldwide confederacy of nations (a caliphate), and impose its own version of law and government via Shariah law.
If any present day religion were to be considered a kingdom religion in the political sense, Islam is it. In fact, I will take it farther – Islam is actually a political machine seeking world domination that uses religion as a way to motivate followers and keep them in line. In Islam, religion is the means, not the ends. We have to stop thinking of Islam as merely a religious entity. Spiritual salvation or enlightenment is not the goal. World conquest is the goal, and religion is the engine that gets it there.[Sorry, postmills – if you’re looking for a kingdom religion on the rise, the present-day Church isn’t even in the running. The coming kingdom of Christ will look nothing like churches do today.]
If you are willing to consider that end times prophecy is essentially about the war between two kingdoms, I’ve got a couple of kingdoms who are good candidates for you to look at. More on both to follow.
So much for the Big Picture. In Part 2, we will see how God is going to bring low the nations of the earth that have set their faces against him and also severely test the people of God, both Jews and Christians. Part 3 will explain how God is going to raise up and use His chosen nation Israel in the remaining time of world history. Part 4 will explore in greater detail who the opposition to God is, and what will become of them. Part 5 will examine God’s plans for the righteous – how He will lift them up, dwell among them and establish them forever.