Bible prophecy keenly describes impending Middle East turmoil that will provoke an ominous, end time global crisis.
This is the Danube River running through Budapest, Hungary. Along its banks in the year 1526 the armies of the Ottoman Empire advanced in an attack upon central Europe. Their goal was conquest of lands for Islam.
It was not the first, nor the last attempt by a Middle Eastern power to push into these lands. Bible prophecy tells us there will be another in the future. Can we see how this may be developing through the current events in Europe and the Middle East? I think we can.
Join us on Beyond Today in Budapest as we look at “The Coming King of the South.”
I recently traveled to Europe for a combined personal and business purpose. In Lisbon I heard news that the Eiffel Tower had been closed for a bomb threat. Now that gave me a bit of concern, as we were headed for Paris for a few days before traveling home. We were on the last leg of a two-week trip to Europe and looking forward to spending a few days in France's capital city, seeing some of its world famous sights.
A few days earlier, French police responded to a bomb threat by closing the symbol of the city. On the same day, a public transportation hub was closed when an unattended package was sighted.
At the same time the United States government issued a warning for Americans traveling to Europe to be vigilant. Intelligent forces had determined that al Qaeda was planning attacks on European cities similar to those done against Mumbai, India in November 2008. Hotels frequented by Westerners were invaded, and it took three days to repel the attackers.
While this warning contained nothing specific, it nonetheless gave me and my party a bit of concern and raised our level of what you might call situational awareness, a bit higher. While traveling in Paris and the environs the next few days, I did observe security personnel in the tourist locations, and I did keep a sharper eye out for anything suspicious.
Now why am I telling you this? Because terrorism is a worldwide concern and Europe is especially vulnerable. Also, Bible prophecy shows us a coming clash between two powers called the king of the North and the king of the South. Today we would interpret this as a clash between a power from the Middle East and from Europe.
Let me explain this a little bit more.
In Daniel chapter 11, it contains the longest prophecy in the Bible. It covers time from the period of Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire through the Roman period, down to our present day and into the years immediately ahead of us.
The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 are an accurate, detailed account of what would befall the people of Judah caught up in a conflict between the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt to the south, the king of the South, and the Seleucids of Syria to the north called the king of the North. The area that is covered by the king of the South also covers Egypt and related countries in North Africa.
Verse 36 continues the story line. Since verse 40 clearly advances the story to the time of the end, it may be that verses 36 to 39 apply to the whole history of the kingdom of the North from the time of the Maccabees and the beginnings of the New Testament Church, continuing up to the time of the end just as verse 35 appears to extend from ancient times all the way to the time of the end.
And who was the king of the North during this period? In 65 B.C., Seleucid Syria was swallowed up by the Roman Empire. Thus that Empire then became the kingdom of the North. Verses 36 to 38 appear to describe the actions of the Roman emperors and their successors, leading all the way up to the final leader of the end time.
Why the time gap in Daniel's prophecy between the ancient world and the world of today—a period of at least 2,000 years with only sparse details of events in between? Well the answer is simple: For almost 2,000 years there was no Jewish nation in the Middle East. The restoration of the Jewish state in 1948 has made the kings of the North and the South relevant again to impacting the Jewish people in the Holy Land.
We can now understand more clearly why the struggle between the kings of the North and the South resumes again at the time of the end there in Daniel 11:40 Daniel 11:40And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
American King James Version×.
The verse continues to describe how “the king of the South shall attack him”—speaking of the king of the North—“and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships”—all which are symbols of military action—“and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through.”
Clearly, at the time of the end another round of great turmoil will engulf the Middle East, only this time it will be far worse than anything ever seen before.
And again, the fulfillment of this prophecy would not have been possible until after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the division of those Arab territories that were a part of that into the various nations of the Middle East today.
Who might these terms refer to in our time—the time of the end? It's doubtful that they could once again apply only to Syria and to Egypt, as they are now brother Arab and Islamic nations. Also, while relatively strong by regional standards, neither currently has the military might to fulfill this prophecy.
As already noted, Rome swallowed up Syria and became the kingdom of the North thereafter. But did not Rome fall in ancient times? Well it did, but the Roman system has continued through the centuries and is today being revived as part of one final appearance before the return of Jesus Christ.
Part of the key to understanding this passage is to realize that the center of the prophecy is the Holy Land and Jerusalem, the historic land given to the children of Israel. The kings referred to are the powerful leaders who will come from regions to the north and south and vie for control of that area, trampling all over Judah in the process.
A century ago, no one could have understood many of the prophecies relating to this part of the world because the Ottoman Empire ruled over the places now occupied by the chief adversaries in the Mideast conflict. This fact helps us understand God's words to Daniel at the time of his prophetic book, where He said: “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9 Daniel 12:9And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
American King James Version×). It would have been impossible for Daniel, living in the sixth century B.C., to have understood the astounding changes that would lead up to today's complex Middle East situation.
Just as the modern states of Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Syria did not exist a century ago, so at this time the final kings of the North and South have not emerged as yet. But the Bible does help us understand what to expect.
Historically, armies of both the North and the South have pushed back and forth at one another. In 732 A.D., Islamic armies advanced in what is modern France and were stopped by the Christian armies led by Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne. This effectively stopped Arab expansion into northern Europe, but it did not stop there.
In the twelfth century, Christian armies moved out of Europe during the Crusades with the intent of liberating the Holy Land from the Muslim control. This chapter of history is filled with many stories of intrigue and drama. Europe was successful only for a short time before being repulsed by the Muslims.
Once again, in the early sixteenth century, the armies of the Ottoman Empire swept up through Hungary, sacking Budapest and moved on Vienna in Austria. In 1529, the armies of the Holy Roman Empire successfully defended Europe and prevented Muslim domination. Another Ottoman attack in the 17th century was defeated, again at Vienna. Since then no Arab army has made any further attack.
Now, this story of the king of the South and the king of the North fits into a far larger picture. The Middle East is the focal point of so much Bible prophecy. Beginning with Abraham and his family, you can trace the development of families and tribes that make up the modern nations of the Middle East. Understanding the origins of the people and the culture helps one to understand the nature of the conflicts that impact the modern world today.
Our booklet, The Middle East in Bible Prophecy, explains this subject in a carefully laid out presentation. You can call right now toll free at 1-888-886-8632. Or go you can go online to BeyondToday.tv to order this booklet. There's no charge, it's free. We give it to you as a service.
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Now let's fast forward to today. What conditions could create another push or attack from the region of the king of the South? Well let's look at two.
First consider that more than half the world's proven supply of oil comes from the Middle East countries. The flow of oil from these nations is the lifeblood of our global economy. Sever these supply lines and regions like Europe will grind to a halt. Europe imports more than 60 percent of its oil from the Middle East. They need energy to sustain economic development and the high standard of living to which people are accustomed here.
The fear of war in the Middle East or political or religious upheaval is a constant concern that these energy supplies can be disrupted. The countries of the European Union carefully cultivate relations with the Gulf oil states to insure access to oil.
Now let's look at the matter of immigration, another possibility.
Recent events have highlighted a second possible cause for an attack or disruption leading to a reaction by the king of the North.
Muslim immigration to Europe over the past 40 years has resulted in large segments of the population that have not assimilated into Western culture. This has created a backlash that is growing and could lead to larger problems and leads me back to my earlier point about terrorism in Europe and its possible implications.
You see, there are possible threats to France, and Europe and other nations here. Tensions in major European countries like Holland, France and Germany highlight the problem of large Muslim population that does not mix with Western culture.
The French government has recently placed a ban on clothing worn by Muslim females. The ban pertains to the burqa , a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab , a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes. French courts have upheld the law, supported by the French public by a margin of four to one. Women will be fined if they break the law when it goes into effect. Many suspect that this law could provoke unrest, even an attack by Muslims or a terrorist group. France has about 3.5 million Muslims, or about six percent of their population.
Stratfor, an American based intelligence service, recently assessed the threat to Europe and the United States and concluded that further attacks are inevitable with the loss of innocent life. Their report stated, “The United States and Europe are going to be attacked by(the) jihadist terrorists from time to time, and innocent people are going to be killed, perhaps in the thousands again. There is a deeply embedded element within a small segment of the Islamic world that is prepared to conduct terror attacks, and this element will occasionally be successful.”
The report concludes that, “…the United States and the West in general cannot focus all of its power on solving a problem that is beyond its power to solve. The long war against terrorism will not be the only war fought in the coming years. The threat of jihadism must be put in perspective and the effort aligned with what is effective. The world is a dangerous place, as they say, and jihadism is only one of the dangers.” (“Terrorism, Vigilance and the Limits of War on Terror”)
That's the end of the Stratfor quote.
This threat to Europe from radical Islam is not to be ignored. When, not if it happens, it will trigger a reaction from key nations that could set in motion what is sometimes called unintended consequences.
France is not the only nation with large Muslim populations that have not integrated into European culture.
Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech addressing the problem of multiculturalism in Germany. Germany has had decades of immigration from Muslim countries. Contrary to expectations they did not blend into German culture. Some politicians are calling for policies that would force immigrants to assimilate into German culture.
Chancellor Merkel's comments were outspoken and highlighted what many feel. She said, “This is a country that brought guest workers to Germany in the 1960s…and for a while, we kidded ourselves into believing that they wouldn't stay and would leave. Naturally, the notion that we would become ‘multicultural,' that we would live next to one another and be happy about one another, failed.” (Merkel Enters Immigration Fray, Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2010).
Quite a quote. You see the fear in Germany, as with other European countries, is the decline of the native birthrate and the rise of the immigrant birthrate. If the trend continues, in a few years immigrants, primarily Muslim immigrants, will outnumber native populations and dominate culture and politics. With 80 million population, Germany is Europe's largest nation, but it has a very low birth rate. Immigration and the growing Islamization of Germany is a serious issue of discussion.
The prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation tell of another global superpower to arise at the end of this age. We find further details of this end-time power in Revelation 17. Just as Daniel saw various beasts that represented the dominant powers to come, so the apostle John saw a vision of another beast that would dominate the world at the very time of the end.
The 10 horns referred to here, as an angel explained to John, represent 10 rulers who receive power for one hour—symbolic of a short time—with a single ruler who is also called “the beast” (Revelation 17:12-13 Revelation 17:12-13 12 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast.
American King James Version×). Notice the time setting of these events: “These will make war with the Lamb”—who is the returning Jesus Christ—“and the Lamb will overcome them…”(verse 14). This prophecy, then, is for the future, and leads right into the return of Jesus Christ to this earth.
But these are not the only significant end-time players. A religious leader, symbolized as having two horns like a lamb but who speaks like a dragon, (Revelation 13:11 Revelation 13:11And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.
American King James Version×) will also play a very prominent role in this end-time union of nations. Jesus Christ is the true Lamb of God (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
American King James Version×, 36; Revelation 5:8-9 Revelation 5:8-9 8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
American King James Version×; 19:7-9), so this religious leader apparently will claim to be Christian. But he is in reality of Satan, “the dragon who…deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×).
The beast referred to in Revelation 17 is a continuation of the four beasts of Daniel 7, as we saw earlier. Daniel, while in captivity in Babylon, recorded a vision of four great beasts (verse 3), gentile empires that would dominate the Middle East and have a major impact on the people of God. The empires were in chronological order, the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire.
Attempts to revive the Roman Empire are to succeed dramatically at the time of the end. At that time a successor empire is prophesied to restore the European unity that Rome first achieved more than 2,000 years ago. This empire is to lead right into Christ's return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth (verses 9-14).
Since the fourth beast described in Daniel 7 exists at the time of Christ's return, and the same is true of the beast, John saw in Revelation 17, both then, both prophecies, speak of an end-time resurrection of the Roman Empire. This is the other key to understanding the prophecy: The kingdoms of the North and South concern successive powers. Rome took over Syria and Rome did indeed fall. But the Roman Empire has been revived in numerous forms over the centuries. And one final revival remains.
This final resurrection of the Roman Empire, like the original Empire, will be centered in Europe. It appears that it can be seen today in its embryonic form in the European Union. That's not to say that all current EU nations will be part of that final configuration, but those that choose to participate will combine to form a powerful military force that will involve itself in the Middle East.
This end-time king of the North spoken of in Daniel 11, then, appears to be the final ruler of the end-time, European-centered superpower, the same one called the beast in Revelation 17. It will retaliate when attacked by the king of the South and roll into the Middle East and center its attention on the land of Israel.
Notice what it says: “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.”
Mentioned here are prominent nations like Egypt and Libya. Whatever the cause of this attack, the shut off of oil or an attack of terrorism, it will provoke a response that will seek to impose a solution on this troubled world region.
Egypt has been a sleeper nation since it negotiated a peace settlement with the State of Israel years ago. Other nations like Iraq and Iran have occupied center stage. Yet, this prophecy indicates Egypt will play some greater role that draws the attention of the king of the North.
Other regions mentioned in this prophecy correspond to the modern nations of Jordan and the State of Israel. When other prophecies are brought into this unfolding drama, we see the world will be aroused to action on an unprecedented scale. Daniel 12:1 Daniel 12:1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
American King James Version×describes a time of world trouble unlike any previous age.
Armies will mass and move on Jerusalem in a climactic battle long foretold in the book of Revelation. We can read about it in Revelation 16. But before doing that let me pause and ask: What does this all mean to you?
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Now, let's go back to why this is important to you. You may be interested in Bible prophecy, but you still have a life to live with all of its challenges and opportunities. How does all this relate to you personally? What should you take from this for your daily life?
This is the part of Bible prophecy you need to understand. World events are moving to the conclusion of the age. Spiritual deception will cause many to not understand what is happening.
God wants you to understand the times you live in and where we are in His plan of salvation and the purpose.
Let's notice what is said in Revelation 16:
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs 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. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
Spiritual deception is one of the signs of the end of the age. At the highest level, leaders and their nations will be moved to a great conflict in Israel. Diplomats will be unable to prevent the rapidly escalating crisis. No doubt there will be noble goals and motives stated as the reasons for these actions. People will be deceived into thinking they are preserving the global order, not realizing they are pawns in a greater spiritual struggle—one that has gone on for centuries.
The words of Christ in verse 16 are critical. He says to “watch…keep your garments.” In biblical language garments mean righteous character. It means living a godly life in a world that makes that very difficult. We are to maintain a high level of spiritual discernment and righteous living. This will be the key to avoiding the spiritual deception of the age and understanding what is occurring.
To watch means to understand the times. It means to understand how to live in a world cut off from the knowledge of God. Your challenge, like mine, is to listen to what Christ tells us and live with an expectant hope of His salvation.
Bible prophecy describes a world headed towards a time of great tribulation. This verse we just read from Revelation speaks of the biblical battle of the great day of God almighty. Armies mass in the place of Megiddo in Israel and from this reference we take the term, Armageddon—commonly understood to be an age-ending battle.
What is important for you to take from this scripture is Christ's teaching to us to watch and be moved to action in our lives. Avoiding the deception that engulfs the world—a subject for another Beyond Today program—but that is a very critical issue for all of us.
Watching means several things. Christ wants to watch, us to watch, as we learn the lessons from the past. As you study Bible prophecy, you learn from nations and leaders of the past and how they related to God and His people. You see that God has a hand in history. This is often called the unseen hand in history and it opens new dimensions of understanding. Great empires and nations have come and gone through the centuries and many played key roles in God's unfolding plan for humanity. Seeing history through the dimension of prophecy makes the whole subject come alive.
To watch also means to understand current events and why the world is changing as it is. We're seeing shifts among global powers. Europe continues on its path toward greater unification and a larger role in world affairs. China is becoming a major player with great ambition among the nations. Its size and its needs are impacting daily life around the world. The nations of the Middle East are critical to the future stability and the world order. Religious fervor, massive energy supplies and the potential of nuclear armed nations in the region are a potent mix for problems. At the same time we see a shifting of power from the United States to these other regions. This too was prophesied in the Bible.
To watch also means to keep focused on the hope of the coming Kingdom of God. The conflict prophesied in the Bible, ends with the return of Jesus Christ to save all life from destruction. The world will not end in a nuclear winter. There is coming a better world with a better ruler.
This is the only hope this world has. It is the hope that should guide our daily lives and impact every decision we make. Christ said to pray Thy Kingdom come. Today we are to live by the teachings of the coming Kingdom. When we focus on God and His coming rule, we can avoid the global spiritual deception foretold in the Bible.
This is why a correct understanding of these events is so critical to you. It's why on Beyond Today we speak of what Bible prophecy has to say about today's world. Along with other biblical subjects, we provide a mix of what is important for you live a successful Godly life. It's what God wants you to understand.
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The Middle East continues to produce events that impact our world. Energy from the region fuels the global economy. Religious fundamentalism creates tension in the region and in Europe. Bible prophecy shows us the Middle East will be the center of world attention in the years ahead.
While it is the region that has given rise to major world religions, it has also seen its share of conflict through the centuries. Bible prophecy shows one significant incident lies in the future. It will trigger the crisis at the close of the age.
Watch the Middle East. Watch Jerusalem. And watch for the coming of the Kingdom of God to bring a lasting peace to this world. This is your sure hope for the future.
For Beyond Today from Budapest, I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.