If Allah Wills It….

jack.smith.picrevised

A recent news report by AFP is important. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the self-declared Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), made a very bold statement when he recently appeared at the leading Mosque in Mosul and delivered a 30-minute sermon. AFP summarizes below:

Baghdadi, whose Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – “ISIS”) group holds territory in both Iraq and Syria, called for Muslims to “obey” him during the prayer sermon at the Al-Nur mosque in Mosul on Friday, according to the video distributed online the following day.

Experts say the importance of “Caliph Ibrahim’s” (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) appearance is that it reveals the sense of security of the  as well as the very intentional and bold statement being made to the entire Muslim world, and particularly, to al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. When one considers how far ISIS has come in the last year, it is astounding. Last year this time, the group was a branch of al-Qaeda core central in Pakistan loyal to the command of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Read more. Now, ISIS is not only independent of al-Qaeda and its leader, Zawahiri, but Baghdadi has declared himself the “caliph,” and ISIS, his organization, the “.” Here is a report by Aaron Zelin, a Research Fellow at the Washington Institute, that quotes Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami, the spokesman for ISIS, who declared ISIS the Islamic State: Continue reading

Sunni Salafi-jihadists are Sunni “Islamists.” An Islamist emphasizes the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law based on the Qur’an and Haddith) and the replacement of all non-Muslim, particularly Western, political, social, or cultural influences with Sharia law. A Sunni Salafi-jihadist is identified by two additional criteria: First, the group emphasizes the importance of returning to a “pure” Islam, referred to in Islam as “Salaf,” and practiced by the “pious ancestors.” Second, the group believes that violent jihad (as opposed to “civilization jihad” which is a non-violent jihad) is the only way that Sharia law will be successfully implemented in society. See “A Persistent Threat, The Evolution of al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadists” by Seth G. Jones, RAND Corp report.
“Islamic state” is a term that refers to the uniting of all Muslims under the leadership of a “caliph” or “sultan” (literally, a “successor” to Muhammad) who is not only a spiritual leader but also a political and military leader. The Islamic state is also referred to as a “caliphate.” Its governance is based upon the Qur’an and Haddith, Islam’s sacred texts, and the type of governance is referred to as Sharia law. 

Islamic State fulfilling prophecies as it gains ground

Reuters.com reports of the progress of the Islamic State in its jihad across northern Iraq as it gains territory using both a “soft” and a “hard” approach. The hard approach is the use of brutal violence against its opponents followed by a public display of its victims (Read more). (One of the most gruesome examples of its brutality was the crucifixion of nine men in Syria last month.) The brutality is then used as the means to convince local towns people and villagers to submit to the dominion of its leader and join the Calipha. Reuters reports:

The Islamic State, which in June captured a vast stretch of territory in the north including the largest city Mosul, used this strategy when its fighters met armed resistance from the town of al-Alam for 13 days running. They kidnapped 30 local families and rang up the town’s most influential citizens with a simple message about the hostages: “You know their destiny if you don’t let us take over the town.” Within hours, tribesmen and local leaders caved in to save the families. The black flag of the Sunni militants, who are bent on overthrowing the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government, was soon flying over government buildings and police stations in al-Alam. Read more.

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Islamic State releases “Dabiq Magazine – the Return of Khilafah”

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "Caliph Ibrahim"

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
“Caliph Ibrahim”

Mahdiwatch.org (Timothy R. Furnish, PH.D.) reports the release by the Islamic State of its first issue of Dabiq Magazine, The Return of Khalifah, on the first day of Ramadan, this past Monday, July 14, 2014 (Muslim year 1435). According to Furnish, the overriding purpose of this first issue is “to legitimize the new caliphate, motivate the faithful, and reach out to (primarily) Western Muslims.”

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America in the crosshairs of ISIS?

Best.middle.east.map.revised.3Israel National News (Arutz Sheva 7, July 10, 2014) is reporting a statement from a spokesman of ISIS (Islamic State) that “conquering Bayt el-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and destroying the State of Israel is central to the group’s jihad.”  The spokesperson was responding to critics who questioned why its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had not actively supported Hamas in fighting Israel. The spokesman, Nidal, Nuseiri, stated “the time is not right for a confrontation with Israel.” (Read more). Nuseiri stated that several items must take place before ISIS can join HAMAS in its jihad against Israel:

Among them, Nuseiri said that the US – seen as Israel’s greatest ally – needed to be weakened politically and economically via attacks on the American mainland, as well as US interests in Muslim countries. Additionally, the existing “Islamic State” needed to expand its borders to cover all of “Greater Syria” (which would include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jorislamdan and possibly Gaza); such a state, he said, would then be in a position for a direct confrontation with Israel.

Nuseiri’s statement has a long fuse before it can be accomplished; but it strikes awful close to home! Recent news reports seem to support that the fuse is certainly burning:

Is America in end-times prophecy? In order for ISIS to turn its sights towards Jerusalem, it would have to be. I have often searched for America in Bible prophecy. Hard to find us. However, there are a few places that seem relevant to the question. The first is Revelation 13:7-8:

Revelation 13:7-8 (NASB) It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

To me, America is in the phrase “authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” That statement seems pretty inclusive to me, and it begs the question, “Why would America not  be included in the phrase?” It seems that if we exclude America our world-view is rather, “American.”  This seems particularly the case because verse 8 repeats what was said in verse 7. It goes to great lengths to ensure that we know that “all who dwell on the earth,” except the saints, will “worship” him (that is, come under his authority; and Islam literally means “submit”).

There are some noted authorities in Bible prophecy that take exception to that view, including Walid Shoebat in a post on Midnightwatcher’s Blogpost (an exceptional prophecy blog) (Read post here). Brother Shoebat interprets Revelation 13:7-8 to refer only to the Muslim nations and groups of the Middle East; and, he offers several passages in Scripture where the “entire world” does not mean literally the “entire world” but rather has a regional meaning. He states, “In light of the whole counsel of Scripture, the Antichrist’s dominion and political-religious control will be relegated primarily to the whole Muslim world — the nations that today surround Israel — but not the world as a whole.”

I think there is another passage that possibly refers to America. In Daniel 12:6, Daniel asks the Lord, “How long will it be until the end of these wonders?” The reply is quite interesting in the modern-day:

Daniel 12:7 (NASB) I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.

Let us suppose that “the power” of the holy people (literally, the “hand” of the holy people) does not refer to the power of Israel as a nation, but rather, the “Power” that stands alongside Israel, i.e., America. When America is shattered, then the events will be completed. Christ will return as the final victor, the Great Tribulation will pour out the wrath of God, Israel will be saved, and the cleansing of the earth will bear fruit in the birth of the Millennium.

I may be wrong but that sounds very close to what the ISIS spokesman was referring to. America will be in the cross-hairs if the ISIS statement is actually lining up with end-times prophecy. I think the fuse is a slow burn.

Jesus come quickly.

Blessings.

Jack

 

 

 

 

The Land of Unwalled Villages – How can Ezekiel 38 be fulfilled in the near-term?

Climbing the wall to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 26, 2013. Photo by Oren Ziv

Climbing the wall to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 26, 2013. Photo by Oren Ziv

Ezekiel 38 is to Bible prophecy what Christ is to Christianity. Without it’s conditions satisfied, the end cannot be near.  Ezekiel 38 prophesies of a “Gog” (interpreted by yours truly to be Russia) who will lead an alliance of nations/groups (which includes Iran, Ezekiel 38:5-6 NASB) to attack Israel in the end-times. Some interpreters (myself included) see Israel as initially overrun; but in the end, Gog is “turned around” (Ezekiel 38:4) and ultimately defeated, along with his alliance. Gog and his alliance are destroyed by God through a great earthquake (Ezekiel 38:19-20) which leads to Gog and his forces turning their swords against one another. Ezekiel 38:21-22.

For most students of Bible prophecy, the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 in the modern-day seems imminent — even without the recent declaration by Sunni Salafi-jihadist al-Bagdadi of his establishment of the 1 One example of the imminence of the tribulation is recent international pressure placed upon Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians in the formation of a . At times in the peace process, it appeared as if the entire world was aligned against the Israelis, a condition bringing to mind several end-time prophecies about Israel: Zechariah 14:2; Zechariah 13:8-9; Revelation 11:2.

Yet, in spite of the seeming immanence of the tribulation, there is a major impediment to the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 in the modern-day:

Ezekiel 38:10-11 (NASB) ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, 11 and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates,

Since when has Israel been a “land of unwalled villages. … [a people] at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars of gates.”? Either we have misinterpreted the “signs of the times” and the immanence of the tribulation or we have misinterpreted Ezekiel 38 because both cannot be true.

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  1. Not since 1924 has Islam been united under one leader (caliph or sultan) and one Muslim community. In 1924, Kemal Ataturk, president of Turkey and the sultan of the languishing Ottoman Empire renounced the sultanate and disbanded the Islamic empire in favor of a secular state. []
“Islamic state” is a term that refers to the uniting of all Muslims under the leadership of a “caliph” or “sultan” who is not only a spiritual leader but also a political and military leader. The Islamic state is also referred to as a “caliphate.” Its governance is based upon the Qur’an and Haddith, Islam’s sacred texts, and the type of governance is referred to as Sharia law. 
Two-state solution refers to the present conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and the need for a solution between the two whereby each recognizes the other’s right to exist as well as the right to “self-determination.” Hence, “two states for two peoples,” defined as a Palestinian State and an Israeli State, existing side by side and independent of one another. Presently, Israel and Palestine (Palestinian Authority) are subject to an interim peace treaty that was negotiated in 1993, the Oslo Accords, which aimed at a permanent peace treaty between the two. The permanent treaty has yet to be written or agreed upon.

Al-Bagdadi of Isis Declares an Islamic State and himself the caliph

 

Iraq Source: CIA World Factbook

Iraq
Source: CIA World Factbook

Reuters reports (June 29, 2014) that the “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS) has changed the playing field. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, has proclaimed himself the “caliph” of an “Islamic State.” He has changed the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to the “Islamic State.” His declaration is an invitation to all over the world to declare allegiance to the Islamic State. If they declare allegiance, they will join the Islamic State in its jihad not only across Iraq and Syria, but over the world.  in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran will likely be their first targets. Remember, the Soviets are aligned with Iran and Syria, both Shia led.

The Reuters article gives the background for the declaration of the :

After Iraq gains, Qaeda offshoot claims Islamic “caliphate”

Islam has not had a caliph, a leader of an Islamic state since 1924 when the Ottoman caliphate was dissolved by action of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the President of Turkey. It has not a caliph since that time as well. What might we expect in the days to follow?

Decisions will be made by Sunni Muslim groups all over the Middle East and Asia as to whether they will proclaim loyalty to the Islamic State and come under the authority of Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi? A major group in the Asian corridor is ; and its central core leadership is located in Pakistan and led by Al-Zawahiri, considered by most Sunni jihadist groups to be Osama bin Laden #2. ISIS, located in Iraq, had formerly proclaimed allegiance to al-Qaeda core leadership in Pakistan. It had sent one of its lieutenants, Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani, to lead the rebel opposition to President Bashir al-Assad in Syria. The Sunni Salafi-jihadist group he leads is known as “al-Nusrah“;  but as al-Nusrah succeeded in Syria, it chose to report to al-Qaeda in Pakistan rather than ISIS. Al-Qaeda in Pakistan agreed to the realignment of reporting of al-Nusrah. When it did, ISIS revoked its loyalty to al-Qaeda and declared its independence from al-Qaeda. Today’s declaration of the Islamic state is the next step in that independence. ISIS is no more. In its place is the Islamic state. Time will tell whether the Sunnis of the world will seek unification under al-Bagdadi or reject his leadership. If Sunnis do come under al-Bagdadi, we are likely seeing the forming of geopolitical sides in a war that will eventually take us to WW 3, and the Tribulation of the last days.

Jesus come quickly. I am a mid-trib proponent. I pray that you pre-tribbers have it right.

Blessings.

Jack

 

Sunni Muslims are the largest sect of Islam, comprising 80-85% of all Muslims. 
Shia Muslims are the minority sect of Islam, comprising 10-15% all Muslims. Shias comprise approximately 95% of Muslims in Iran, 60% of Muslims in Iraq, and 15% of Muslims in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is Alawite Shia, a branch of Shiism. 
Islamic state is a term that refers to the uniting of all Muslims under the leadership of a “caliph” or “sultan” who is not only a spiritual leader but also a political and military leader. The Islamic state is also referred to as a “caliphate.” Its governance is based upon the Qur’an and Haddith, Islam’s sacred texts, and the type of governance is referred to as Sharia law. 
Al-Qaeda is also a Sunni Salafi-jihadist group. A Salafi-jihadist group considers violence as the only means whereby Sharia law can be imposed over the world.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Daniel 7:24′s fulfillment?

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia rejected on Monday the idea of any

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ISIL's Leader

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
ISIL’s Leader

foreign interference in Iraq and blamed Baghdad’s “sectarian and exclusionary” policies for a lightning offensive by Sunni insurgents. Rebels from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have seized several Iraqi cities, threatening to split the country down sectarian lines, a deeply worrying prospect for the region and beyond. … Saudi Arabia views Shi’ite Iran as a potentially dangerous rival and like most Gulf Arab states is wary of its support for the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government that came to power after Sunni president Saddam Hussein was forced from power by the 2003 U.S. invasion. … The remarks by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are likely to worsen relations with Baghdad, which has long accused both of them of backing the insurgents, something they deny. Read more here.

The Reuters news item quoted above should not surprise us. As the article opines, the conflict in Iraq is posited as “sectarian and exclusionary,” i.e., President Nouri al-Malaki has been exclusive to fellow Shias in his government appointments, etc. However, from this writer’s view, the onslaught of ISIL towards Baghdad is not about Malaki’s political decisions. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL,” alternately translated, “ISIS”) is a Salafi-jihadist branch of Sunni Islam1 and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared his organization’s purpose as the establishment of the Islamic caliphate through violent means.2

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is Alawite Shia, a branch of Shiism that comprises approximately 12% of Muslims in Syria.3  Another Salafi-jihadist branch of Sunni Islam, Jabhat al-Nusrah (“al-Nusrah”) is in conflict with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Al-Nusrah was formed on January 23, 2012 during the Syrian civil war. Read more here. Al-Nusrah is currently a branch of al-Qaeda having rejected an alignment with ISIL.4

Sunnis comprise 90% of Muslims in Saudi Arabia, of which most are Wahhabi Muslims, founded in the Arabian Peninsula by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the eighteenth century, and often described as ‘puritanical’, ‘intolerant’ or ‘ultra-conservative’. The late Osama bin Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, the Sunni militant Islamist organization that claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the United States, along with numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets.5

President Malaki of Iraq has never called for the removal of Assad in Syria and has had close relations with Syria for years. The Iranians are aligned with both Malaki in Iraq and Assad in Syria as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iranians are known to have supplied arms to Assad in Syria through Iraq. To make the alignments more volatile and more of a concern to world leaders, the Russians are aligned with Iran.

Best.middle.east.map.revised.3Let me sum it up: Malaki in Iraq, Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iran are all Shia. ISIS in Iraq and al-Nusra in Syria are both Sunni Salafi-jihadist groups, and although we cannot call them allies, when deciding whether to align with Shias or each other, the choice does not seem very difficult. Of course, an alternative just as easy to imagine — ISIS absorbs al-Nusrah by jihad. The Saudis are in a similar place having to align with ISIS and al-Nusrah. However, the Saudis and Iran are like oil and water — they do not mix. Iran and Iraq have both charged the Saudis as providing both moral and financial support to ISIL. The Russians have long-been aligned with Iran. America is in between the lines.

How might the current alignments and the unpredictable ensuing conflict fit in Bible prophecy? Consider the following passage:

 Daniel 7:23-24 (NASB) “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. 24 ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.

There are two “different” requirements in the end-times prophecy. The first requires that the “fourth kingdom” be different from all the other kingdoms before it (there were three others, Daniel 7:1-8 (generally interpreted to be: Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Rome has been replaced by Islam as the 4th kingdom by those interpreters who follow the “Islamic Paradigm”). The prior kingdoms were all countries. Islam is not a country.  It is a religion with both political (society is governed by Sharia law) and religious dimensions, i.e., Islam is a religion and Allah its supreme deity.

The second “different” requirement relates to the “king” of the ten kingdoms that arises from within the different kingdom. That is, if Islam is the fourth kingdom then the second requirement requires that ten “kings” arise from within Islam in the end-days but one of those kings will be “different” from the others.  I have always interpreted this last king to refer to Muhammad al-Mahdi, Shia Islam’s future “messiah,” and the Biblical Antichrist. However, I cannot help but wonder if this “different” king could refer to the leader of a “different” Islamic kingdom. That is, the king is “different” because the kingdom is different.

The Islamic caliphate ended with the Ottoman Turks in 1924 when then-president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, abolished both the sultanate and the caliphate following the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1924.6 Although some have declared themselves to be the “Mahdi” since 1924, none has successfully established a “revived” Islamic caliphate (think of a “caliphate” as a united, single “community” of Muslims that exists without regard to geographical boundaries; rather, the caliphate is defined by the followers of Islam who come under the authority of a caliph, (or “king”).  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, launched jihad in Iraq not for political reasons or purposes but to establish the Islamic caliphate. Under this line of thinking, al-Bagdadi would be the “different” king.

It is too soon to conclude whether ISIS will extend the caliphate beyond its current advance in Iraq (although it recently succeeded in extending beyond Iraq into Syria). Certainly, it is too soon to determine whether Baghdadi can fulfill this prophecy as well; but the numbers certainly make it interesting. Daniel 9:24 prophesies that three kingdoms will be “subdued” (not destroyed). Do the numbers yourself: What if Shias in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are subdued by Baghdadi?

What about Iran? Iran cannot be one of the three that is subdued because Iran is included in Ezekiel 38:5-6 NASB as one of the countries that joins Russia (the nation from the remote north) in the end-times assault against Jerusalem.

Jesus come quickly.

Blessings.

Jack

  1. A “salafi” Muslim follows a “salaf” interpretation or puritan interpretation of Islam as practiced by the first generation of Muhammad’s followers (including violence as the means to bring world dominion to Islam). Read more here. []
  2. “A Persistent Threat, The Evolution of al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadists” by Seth G. Jones,  RAND Corporation, June 2014. []
  3. Alawite Shias are a branch of Twelver Shias that derive their name, “Alawites,” because they are followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law and closest surviving relative (cousin) to Muhammad at his death in 632AD. []
  4. ibid., Seth G. Jones. []
  5. Bin Laden was a Saudi Arabian, a member of the wealthy bin Laden family, and a Wahhabi Muslim. Osama bin Laden is known to have opposed the al-Saud Royal family of Saudi Arabia, accusing them of betraying Islam by aligning with the United States, the Great Satan, and thereby rendering themselves infidels (unbelievers). Bin Laden is quoted as follows: “Regarding the criticisms of the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian peninsula, the first one is their subordination to the U.S. So, our main problem is the U.S. government, while the Saudi regime is but a branch or an agent of the U.S. By being loyal to the U.S. regime, the Saudi regime has committed an act against Islam. And this, based on the ruling of sharia [law of Islam based on the Qur’an], casts the regime outside the religious community. See Bruce Lawrence, Editor, Messages to the World, The Statements of Osama bin Laden. []
  6. See http://www.meforum.org/article/159 at June 13, 2007. []