We have commented to some extent upon the incredible changes taking place in Eastern Europe. And now comes the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, precipitating the current Gulf crisis. One more piece of the puzzle falls into place, pushing us along to what Gorbachev, Bush, the Pope and others are now calling "a new world order."
Much attention has been given to the Iron and Bamboo Curtains of communism. Recent events are causing the world to take notice at last of the even worse Islamic Curtain. Behind that wall any religion but Islam is forbidden. Converts to Christianity have been imprisoned and killed in large numbers in Islamic countries, often by their own family members. Freedom of the press and of speech and of assembly, along with freedom of religion and the import of Bibles and Christian literature, have been denied behind the Islamic Curtain even more strictly than behind the Iron Curtain.
Like Marxism, Islam has failed to produce the ideal society it promised. Many Arab countries, in spite of billions in annual revenues from oil, remain among the most primitive nations in the world, outside of their few large modernized cities. Islam has perpetuated an autocratic feudalism and cruelly held back basic human rights in the name of Allah.
While tolerating a great deal of homosexuality, Islam, to its credit, has kept out muchof the Western world's wickedness so rampant in nominally "Christian" countries such as the United States. The immorality in the West, however, is contrary to the teachings of the Bible and is done in defiance of Christ—whereas in Islamic countries much evil is due to the Koran itself and is practiced in the name of Allah and in obedience to his prophet, Muhammad.
No one now calls for a Holy War in the name of Christ, as was once done by the popes, and is still done in the name of Allah. Terrorism and the taking of hostages is not carried out in good conscience in the name of Christ but is done in the name of Allah. Christ taught us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. He seeks to win men's hearts with His love. In contrast, Muhammad taught that Islam should be spread by the sword. That satanic doctrine has been applied everywhere, beginning with Muhammad's own Quraish tribe in Saudi Arabia.
Islam's teaching that those who die fighting in its defense go immediately to Paradise made the Arab armies almost invincible. After Muhammad's death they conquered Persia, Turkey, all of North Africa, crossed the Mediterranean to conquer Spain, and were well on their way to taking all of Europe when they were defeated in A.D. 732 at the Battle of Tours in France. Thus was the "faith" of Islam taken to the world. It was either submit to Allah and to the teachings of his prophet, Muhammad, or die. It is still quite in keeping with their religion for Muslims to consider it their honorable duty to kill Christians and Jews today.
Yes, there were the Crusaders, who struck back against the Arab invaders, but they acted contrary to the Bible. Inspired by Pope Urban II, the members of the First Crusade went to recover "for the Church" the land that rightfully belonged to Israel. Plundering, raping and murdering along the way, they slaughtered all the Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem when they took that "holy city" for the Roman Catholic Church. They were acting in direct violation of the teachings of Jesus whose cross they claimed to be carrying. Not to be outdone by Islam's promise of instant Paradise for those who died in jihad, the Pope offered a "plenary indulgence remitting all punishments due to sin...to those who should fall in the war."
The call by various popes for Holy Wars ranks among the worst violations of true Christianity from the Dark Ages and would never be repeated today. The shrill cry of jihad, however, is still heard and heeded. It is in perfect harmony with Islam and with the deeds of its prophet, Muhammad. It is impossible to understand the current situation in the Middle East, much less anticipate probable future developments there, except in the context of the religion that grips and motivates the Arab world.
Today's fastest growing religion, Islam means "surrender to Allah," the God whose revelations (the Koran) were allegedly dictated to the prophet Muhammad. Here we encounter the first of many contradictions. In its early chapters the Koran endorses the Old Testament and Gospels of the New as inspired by God, appeals to their authority to authenticate Muhammad's revelations and urges obedience to their precepts. Yet the Koran goes on to contradict the Bible by declaring that Jesus did not die upon the cross for our sins or rise from the dead, and that salvation is by one's own good works rather than by grace through what God has done for us, etc.
To "explain" the flagrant contradictions between the Koran and the Bible, which it affirms, Muslims insist that the Bible has been corrupted since the days of Muhammad. That this is a blatantly false charge is proved by the many manuscripts in existence from the time of Muhammad and before, which are identical to the Bible as we have it today. The Bible must be discredited to maintain the claim that the Arabs, as descendants of Ishmael, are the true heirs of God's promises to Abraham. The Koran declares that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, whom Abraham was told to offer to God and to whose descendants the land of Canaan was given.
In 1948, both Jews and Arabs were living in Palestine. Jews had been trying to return to the land of their ancestors for decades, but most were denied entrance by Britain. Horrified by the murder of 6 million Jews in Nazi extermination camps, the UN voted to partition Palestine (18 percent to the Jews) in order to create a small Jewish state as a place for resettlement of the survivors of Hitler's holocaust. The Palestinian Arabs were given 82 percent of Palestine as a state of their own. Insisting that Allah had promised it all to them, and unwilling to allow a Jewish state to exist, six Arab nations attacked, confident of driving the Jews into the Mediterranean.
Thus began the war of 1948. The Jews were forced to fight for survival against a force far superior in numbers and equipment. Having been allotted such a narrow strip of land along the sea that it was indefensible, tiny Israel, as part of her victory, pushed her boundaries outward to a more defensible position.
Jordan subsequently annexed the remainder of Palestine that had been partitioned to the Palestinian Arabs. Since that time the countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria have refused to integrate these Palestinians Arabs into society, confining them to refugee camps. Most remain there today, to keep the "Palestinian problem" alive.
Since 1948 the relentless cry of the Arabs has been to liquidate Israel, which they have attempted to do in several wars. Israelis live under the constant threat of all-out destruction by the surrounding Arab nations, which outnumber them nearly 50 to 1. Had Israel been left in peace she would never have enlarged her borders. The Arabs have reaped the results of their own greed and hatred, which frustrates and angers them all the more. The extension of Israel's boundaries has only taken place as a result of wars she has been forced to fight in order to defend her very existence against an enemy sworn to exterminate her.
The Golan Heights, for example, were long used by the Syrians for sniper and rocket attacks upon the Israeli farm settlements below. In the Yom Kippur war of 1973, while the Egyptians simultaneously attacked across the Sinai, the Syrians poured over the Golan and down into Israel with thousands of tanks. The Israelis, caught by surprise and with only a small fraction of Syria's tanks and men, drove the Syrians (at great cost of life) back over the top of the Golan and the Egyptians back to the Suez Canal. Israel has since relinquished the territory it took from Egypt under a peace treaty with that country. On the other hand, in view of the continued threats of extermination from Syria, which like other Islamic nations refuses even to acknowledge its existence, Israel prudently retains the Golan Heights in order to prevent its use once again as a point of harassment and attack.
When Iraq's forces overwhelmed tiny and defenseless but oil-rich Kuwait it was only the swift action of the United States responding to Saudi Arabia's urgent appeal for help that prevented Saddam Hussein from taking over that country as well. This brought about something that previously had been unthinkable: "infidels" upon the soil of Islam's holiest nation defending Mecca and Medina, Islam's two most sacred shrines, from Muslim enemies! For the first time in its history, the United Nations responded quickly and almost unanimously to oppose with practical and severe steps an aggressor nation, raising hopes of a truly effective "new world order." Equally amazing, the majority of the Arab states sided with the UN against a fellow Islamic country.
One of Hussein's demands, however, appealed to most Arabs: that any withdrawal of his forces from Kuwait should be linked to a similar withdrawal of Israel from "occupied" Palestine. In their joint press conference in Helsinki, Bush and Gorbachev disagreed on this point. Bush correctly "saw no link between the Arab-Israeli dispute and the Gulf crisis." Hussein's takeover of Kuwait was an act of unprovoked aggression, whereas Israel occupies territory which it was forced to take in self-defense.
All Arabs are now faced with some serious questions. Why did mobs of Arabs give credence to the call for Holy War from Saddam Hussein, a Muslim who was ruthlessly trampling other Islamic nations? Why are fanatical Muslims responsible for most of the terrorism and hostage-taking in the world and seem to outdo infidels in the commission of atrocities? And if Allah is all-powerful, why do infidels have to defend Mecca—and against Muslims?
The Emir of Kuwait's appearance at the UN presented an embarrassing spectacle. An Islamic nation was appealing to a world of "infidels" to help rescue it from another Islamic nation, which was at that moment plundering it and raping and torturing its citizens. Moreover, the Emir of Kuwait was a feudal monarch who, prior to Iraq's invasion, had muzzled the press and jailed human rights activists. In exchange for UN liberation of Kuwait, the Emir will have to yield to pressures for democratic rule. Change must come to the Arab world.
The West has suddenly awakened to the fact that six Arab families ruling from feudal thrones control 44 percent of the world's oil reserves. The pressure of world opinion and growing grass-roots movements in those countries will eventually force new freedom and rights for citizens. Democracy must come to the Arab world as it is painfully coming to the communist world. That will weaken Islam's fanatical hold so that Muslims, too, can become part of Antichrist's empire and religion.
As the collapse of communism is providing great opportunity for the gospel to be made known and received by many in Eastern Europe, so the coming upheavals in the Arab world will bring similar opportunities. After centuries of almost no response to the gospel, Muslims are now coming to Christ as a result of facing some of the serious shortcomings and contradictions in Islam. It promises heaven, but offers little assurance of getting there, except by death in Holy War. As in Catholicism, where nothing is ever enough to keep one out of purgatory, so in Islam one never knows whether enough prayers have been said, enough alms given and enough good deeds done to bring one to Paradise.
Confronted at last by some of the embarrassing questions about Islam, the faith of many Muslims is being shaken. Why did Muhammad with his "new revelation" give his God the same name, Allah, as the chief idol in the ka'aba, the ancient pagan temple at Mecca? Why, although he destroyed the idols which it housed, did Muhammad retain the ka'aba itself as a sacred shrine? And why did he keep and continue to revere the Black Stone that had long been worshiped along with the idols in the ancient religious ceremonies of Mecca? And why do Muslims consider the ka'aba holy and kiss its Black Stone as an important part of their pilgrimage to Mecca?
Muslims everywhere can no longer deny that Islam has perpetuated a barbaric medieval mentality. Surely they recognize that the continued taking of hostages, murder and terrorism and the frequent spectacle on television of crazed mobs screaming "Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!"—"Death to Bush!" and "Death to the United States!" does not encourage Western viewers to put much confidence in a "peaceful Arab solution" to problems in the Middle East. And when a Salman Rushdie, because he writes something offensive to Muslims, has a price put on his head by Islam's foremost leader and must go into hiding to save his life from Muslim assassins, are Arabs proud of such barbarism, and do they feel that it commends Islam to the world? And to be able to beat one's four wives and unlimited concubines and to divorce merely by pronouncing it done, and to cut off hands and feet for petty thievery, as the Koran decrees? Surely the time for change has come!
Unfortunately, the pressure for change is also bringing a growing openness to ecumenism that is preparing the Muslim world to embrace the Antichrist. The new attitude was expressed by M.A.Zaki Badawi, principal of the Moslem College of London, while in attendance at the August, 1990, San Francisco Assembly of the World Religions. In response to Sun Myung Moon's announcement that he was the new world Messiah, Badawi made this interesting comment: "We don't accept Rev. Moon as Messiah, but we respect his vision of bringing the world's religions together." The next step is easy.
Satan's messiah will have incredible powers that neither Moon nor any of the other lightweight antichrists can display. We have already noted that Jesus specifically declared that Israel would accept the Antichrist. It is no longer so difficult to imagine that, with a little more preparation, Muslims, too, will be able to embrace and even worship the counterfeit "Christ"—while still professing allegiance to Islam. For Islam's Allah, after all, is not the God of the Bible that Muhammad claimed him to be.
Events are moving rapidly. God in His grace is allowing great opportunities to share the gospel for the last minute gathering in of communists, Muslims and others who have not heard it (Lk 14:21-23). Let us reap this harvest quickly, for the time is short. Christ's coming for His church is very near. May we live and witness for Him to His glory more faithfully and joyfully than ever! TBC