One of the most notable international developments of the last two years is, without a doubt, the turmoil in the Middle East. I am not referring to the existence of the Jewish nation as a intolerable thorn in the eyes of her surrounding countries, because that problem already exists for decades. What we are witnessing, since late 2010, is a great wave of revolution spreading over the Arab world. It started with a revolution in Tunisia, then it hit Egypt and Libya, where seemingly unassailable rulers had to leave the scene. Like an oil spill, the protests then spread to almost all Arab countries. Most prominent in the news currently is Syria, where the regime, with an extremely heavy hand, tries to crush the opposition.
While the conflicts in the region of the Middle East increase, we simultaneously see how the radical ideas of Muslim groups are becoming more dominant. The awakening, self-awareness of the Muslims knows no boundaries, literally and figuratively. While the secularization in “the Christian West” has already for many decades steadily progressed and churches have practically lost all their members, we see precisely a reverse development among Muslims. In Europe, Mosques are sprouting up like mushrooms from the ground, and also the second and third generation Muslims, who have settled here are, contrary to all the expectations of experts, more than ever aware of their religious identity. Notice how, in big cities, even young girls deliberately wear head scarves as a proud symbol of their religion. It is this sense of religious superiority that frightens many in the West. They fear that in the foreseeable future, due to the high population growth of immigrant Muslims, a takeover of Islam.
On the background of the above developments, a very important element is ever so actively played out: the end-time expectation within Islam. Nowhere is this so explicitly preached as in Iran. Consequently, the Iranian government has produced a video under the title, “the end is near”, wherein the current unrest in the Middle East is presented as a necessary prelude to the coming of the Mahdi, the figure, who in the teaching of Islam (how diverse it maybe), at the end of time will lead to the victory over all non-Muslims. The most striking event will be the conquest of the Jews and the liberation of Jerusalem.
It should be clear that these developments within Islam, in general, and in the Middle East, in particular, are inextricably linked with “the prophetic word” of the Bible. We would not expect otherwise! The term of the two millennia is nearing its end. In the Middle East, there will, in due course, indeed be a Messiah-figure coming to the fore, to lead a realm that is divided within, but at the same time will be, inwardly, hard as iron. The Mahdi, whom the Muslims expect, fits perfectly into that profile. And certainly, the current Jewish state will be overrun and Jerusalem be trodden down. It is the disputed city, the stone of which Zechariah wrote, that all nations will be burdened with it … while it will badly injure them (Zech.12:3). There is where the throne of David will be restored and “the Son of David” will claim His seat to definitely establish His Kingdom.
Therefore the current developments intensify our expectation, based on Scripture, all the more!
Translation: Peter Feddema