The Gulf War is on everyone's mind and in many prayers. Its ultimate outcome has never been in doubt. Prolongation of the destruction and bloodshed is due solely to the gigantic ego and evil of Saddam Hussein, the Arab Hitler, who is needlessly destroying both his army and country just as der Fuehrer did. Let us pray that the war may be over soon—hopefully before you receive this.
The next step will be to establish an unprecedented Middle East peace under a new world order. One of the benefits may well be a weakening, if not crumbling, of the Islamic Curtain, which, like the shattering of the Iron Curtain, should bring a disillusionment with Islam and a new openness to Christianity in Islamic lands. The restoration of the Kuwaiti government should see major steps in the direction of democracy and the freedoms conducive to human rights and the proclamation of the gospel—changes that hopefully will spill over into Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries. Fanaticism, however, will also reign.
Many are asking where, if at all, this conflict fits into Bible prophecy and what role it will play in preparing the world for the Antichrist. Some Christian leaders are suggesting that because Saddam has been rebuilding ancient Babylon, Iraq is therefore the Babylon of the last days mentioned in Revelation 17 and 18and that the destruction now underway fulfills last-days prophecies. On the contrary, neither Iraq nor ancient Babylon (which has been in ruins for 2,200 years) nor Saddam's rebuilt Babylon (if he succeeds, which is doubtful) fits the detailed description of MYSTERY, BABYLON in Revelation.
Babylon is a major topic in the Bible. The word occurs 286 times in 252 verses. Nearly always the reference is to historical Babylon. Yet some prophecies of Babylon's destruction, such as Isaiah 13, clearly include last-days events: "the day of the Lord...destruction from the Almighty...the sun shall be darkened...I will punish the world for their evil...I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place...." Here we have MYSTERY, BABYLON, which has its origins in Babel and, like that ancient tower, represents the world's united false religious and political systems now being hailed as a new world order. Clearly, the Vatican ("the city on seven hills that rules over the kings of the earth" - Rev:17:9,18) will head the last-days false church in alliance with Antichrist and his world kingdom. We deal with this in Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist.
Saddam Hussein has portrayed himself as the new Nebuchadnezzar who would, like Nebuchadnezzar of old, destroy Israel. In taking such a role he sealed his doom ("I will...curse him that curseth thee" - Gen:12:3). If Saddam survives the war he should be tried and condemned as a war criminal. His crimes are many and horrendous, having brought death to more than 1 million people and the torture, rape and plunder to countless more. It is being said that even in defeat he will emerge as the great hero of the Arab world. That may be so in the eyes of some fanatical Muslims, but thinking Arabs will see him as the embodiment of evil. It seems likely that his project to rebuild Babylon—a luxury unaffordable to a devastated Iraq—will be abandoned.
There have been predictions that Israel would be drawn into the Gulf War (as Saddam has attempted to do), thus shattering the coalition and causing Arab nations to unite on the side of Iraq. The result would allegedly be the destruction of the United States both militarily and economically. On the contrary, Iraq's ability to bully her neighbors will be destroyed and a new climate for peace created in the region. As for the monetary cost to the U.S., for the first time in history other nations are paying most of the bill.
There is wide concern that the Gulf War could lead to Armageddon. Not so. It will far more likely lead to world peace. At Armageddon all of the world's armies converge upon Israel to destroy her. In this conflict, however, the world's armies are converging upon Iraq in order to bring stability and peace to the region—and to protect Israel. Iraq had the most powerful Middle Eastern military establishment and as a result posed a constant threat to its neighbors. Only by the destruction of that war machine and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power could peace come to the region. It would be a mistake for the coalition forces to stop short of that goal under Arab pressure, a pressure which may grow.
Where does the Gulf War fit into prophecy? It is not specifically mentioned. However, as we have said in the past, if we are very near to the Rapture, as it seems we are, then the outcome will be to set the stage for peace, not for further war. The real significance of this war in the scheme of biblical prophecy is found in the repeated statements by President Bush, Soviet and other world leaders that Saddam Hussein's takeover of Kuwait was a threat to the new world order. The Gulf War is not being fought primarily to lower the price of gas nor even to liberate Kuwait, but to define, establish and preserve a new world order that will, unwittingly, set the stage for Antichrist.
That Utopian term is being taken seriously for the first time in history both by the world leaders invoking it and by the media and general public. Moreover, credence is given to the concept of a new world order by the fact that the United Nations, for the first time in its existence, is fulfilling its purpose by acting swiftly and decisively against a belligerent nation. What happens to Saddam will be a lesson to any other would-be aggressors in the area or elsewhere. No longer will the world community tolerate the rape of a defenseless nation by its neighbor. Thus, a new era of global peace will have dawned—the new world order now being touted.
Gorbachev was the first world leader in modern times to invoke the image of a new world order. In his historic address to the UN on December 7, 1988, he declared, "Further global progress is now possible only through a quest for universal consensus in the movement towards a new world order." The Pope has taken up the refrain and so have other world leaders in many countries. Indeed, the world now seems almost unanimous in its acceptance of such a goal. Sadly, such high hopes are a delusion!
George Bush claims to be a born-again Christian. As President, he is working diligently to establish world peace. Is that not a worthy goal? And are not all Christians to pray for peace? In a speech January 16, 1991, Billy Graham declared, "There come times when we have to fight for peace." He went on to say that out of the present war in the Gulf may "come a new peace and, as suggested by the President, a new world order." What should the Christian's attitude be toward the hoped-for new world order?
The Bible foretells the establishment of two new world orders in the last days: the first to be ruled by Antichrist and the second by Christ himself. We seem to be very close to that first event, and thus to the Rapture which must precede it. Considering the surprising transition by which Eastern Bloc countries are becoming part of a United States of Europe (depending upon what happens to Gorbachev and the Soviet Union), it seems likely that the resolution of the Gulf War will be another giant step toward global peace and the revival of the Roman Empire over which Antichrist will reign.
One thing is clear: the new order on the agenda of both secular and religious leaders at the present time cannot possibly be the millennial kingdom over which Christ will reign, but its counterfeit which will be ruled by Antichrist. We are commanded to pray for those in authority "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim:2:2). A "peaceable life," however, is not the same as global peace under a new world order established by mankind in disobedience to God. Scripture warns that "the way of peace have they not known" (Rom:3:17).
The Bible presents the only basis for world peace. It must be in concert with righteousness: "righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps:85:10); "the kingdom of God is...righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom:14:17); "there is no peace...unto the wicked" (Isa:48:22; 57:21). True worldwide peace can only be established by "the God of peace" (Rom:15:33;16:20; 1 Thes:5:23; Heb:13:20, etc.) through the "gospel of peace" (Rom:10:15). In no other way can sinful mankind be reconciled to God—and without that reconciliation there can be no genuine peace.
Yes, a forgotten purpose of the gospel is to bring worldwide peace. The early disciples "preach[ed] peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all)." (Acts:10:36). The angels announced that good news at the birth of Christ: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Lk 2:14). Peace on earth comes only through God being glorified and obeyed and His Christ reigning supreme. Thus, a major purpose of Christ's death for our sins was to make "peace through the blood of his cross" (Col:1:20). In preaching the gospel, the early Christians declared the good news of "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom:5:1).
Christ must reign within as Lord and Savior for individuals to be at "peace with God." He must also reign over the world, or there can be no real global peace. He will reign as Israel's promised Messiah from the throne of His father David in Jerusalem during the Millennium. That is stated unequivocally in the Bible. His reign on earth will begin not at the Rapture, when He comes for His saints, but seven years later at His second coming with His saints (Jude 14; Rev:19:14) to rescue Israel at Armageddon and to destroy His enemies. At that time the surviving Jews who had not yet gone back to their land will be taken there by angels (Mat:24:27-31).
The new world order being touted by world leaders today is a counterfeit of God's kingdom—an attempt to establish worldwide peace without submission to the Prince of Peace. But surely it isn't practical for a Christian president, such as Bush, or a Christian secretary of state, such as James Baker, to declare to the world that peace can only come when the Prince of Peace reigns! So goes the argument. Non-Christians such as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists, et al. would be offended, and secular governments would not accept "peace through Jesus Christ." That may be so, but it is no reason for not speaking the truth in love.
If, for fear of offending unbelievers, Christians shrink from declaring to the world that there is no peace apart from Christ, are they not compromising the gospel and allowing God's truth to be held hostage to fear? Is it not hypocrisy to announce in Christian churches, through the media or in gospel crusades, that Christ is the only hope, while failing to declare this fact in the very seats of power that need most desperately to hear the declaration of "peace through Jesus Christ"? Though sincere, those engineering the new world order's pseudo-peace are setting the stage for the Antichrist of whom we read, "by peace shall [he] destroy many" (Dan:8:25).
Let us not forget that the call for a new world order was first sounded by Satan through his rebellion against God in Isaiah 14. Adam's and Eve's disobedience in the Garden was also essentially an attempt to establish a new world order. So was the building of the Tower of Babel, where the connection between such rebellion and a religion of works was clearly revealed. God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. Thus, any attempt to establish a rule on earth apart from submission to His will is rebellion against Him.
The battle of the ages between God and Satan, reflected in today's rampant evil, rages in every human heart. It is a battle between two opposing worlds: the world as God intended it to be and the world as man playing god wants to make it. Adam bartered the world God had made for another world which man, as the new presiding God, would create and govern on his own. We must renounce that world if we are to be part of God's new creation.
The real test is whether we truly long to make that exchange now when life is vibrant, exciting and full of health and promise—or only when we face death and are forced by illness or old age to leave this evil world. Of course, everyone wants to exchange sickness, death and hell for heaven—but do we want to make that exchange now? Do we long for His coming to take us to His Father's house, or do we have other plans and ambitions that mean more to us than being with Him? That is the challenge of the imminent Rapture. May our hearts be true to Him, and may our love for Him and for the lost motivate us to witness boldly for our Lord! TBC