Two weeks ago the eyes of the world were focused on momentous civil unrest in Egypt. More recently, the use of chemical weapons in Syria captured our attention and could lead to an imminent US bombing campaign–as early as this week.
Let’s be honest that the so-called “Arab Spring,” which began two years ago and seemed to set the stage for political upheaval, now appears to be devolving into a disastrous “Arab winter.”
What is really going on? Who are the players involved? And what should be the response to this Middle East madness of followers of Christ and the leaders of free nations?
MIddle Eastern politics is a complex topic, but I would like to examine it with some clarity, and a “total” view of the subject that does not minimize spiritual realities. The modern press rarely mentions the spiritual component because of its secular default and the agenda that accompanies it.
But you cannot understand history without the view from the heavenlies and from boots on the ground.
Let’s begin with some qualifications.
First, it’s nearly impossible to discern what is happening in the Middle East by reading news reports. I was reminded recently through The Unknown Mao by Jung Chang that news reporting, especially of wars and political conflicts, are usually perverted by propaganda. Chang gave many instances in her book of what really happened on various Chinese battlefields during the 1930s and 40s, and what Mao and Stalin told the world via their propaganda machines.
Their accounts were completely opposite the truth.
Many lies are propagated during war-time.
The same is happening in the Middle East. Because of the spin, it’s important to get the truth from trustworthy sources on the ground who can set the record straight. I will use one of those in this article.
Second, it’s critically important to understand who the real players are in a complex war zone. When the press talks about the military, who are they? Jihadists? Good guys or bad guys? When they describe the insurgents or rebels, what is their makeup, and what do they really want?
If you can’t define the teams you certainly won’t understand the game.
Third, the secular press gives no credence to the spiritual powers that are behind today’s conflict. Heck, during World War II, Franklin Roosevelt led the whole nation in prayer on the radio–acknowledging the Unseen God as well as and the demonic forces that the Allies were arrayed against.
During the American Revolution, our leaders called the people to numerous days of fasting and prayer because they realized that human wars are incited and carried out by invisible satanic forces–and God’s mercy, power and intervention are needed to bring about victory.
So, to begun with, let’s clear up the picture by naming the major parties involved:
1. God and his angelic hosts.
He brought his chosen people back to the land of Israel in 1948. Though most of them do not currently love and worship Him (most Israelis are secular), He has providential purposes for them which include, “all of Israel being saved” (Romans 11:26). Right now, more Jews are returning to Messiah Yeshua than any time in the last fifteen hundred years.
If you want to understand the Middle East, you must get this point. The whole globe is obsessed with a tiny geographical swath called Palestine because God is directing history to a consummation that will involve world evangelization, the salvation of the Jews, and the return of Jesus Christ.
There is no other rational explanation for Middle East myopia.
2. Satan and his demonic hordes
No one can state definitively where the Prince of Darkness makes his earthly lair, but one good bet is the Middle East. The wars, tensions, spirit of violence, torture, beheading, anger and hysteria all point to a devilish occupation of that part of the world.
Of course, the devil tries to destroy people everywhere and in every culture–but the Middle East seems to be a favorite playground.
We must remember: There is evil in the world, and there is an Evil Being who is inciting people and societies on the planet. In the same way as “where the Spirit of the Lord (Jesus) is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17), where the spirit of violence and murder is, you see the presence of Satan.
3. Military leaders/dictators that may be Muslim in name (primarily Sunni) but are essentially secular.
These include Hosni Mubarak, the current generals in Egypt, and Bashar Al-Assad, the tyrant in Syria who’s been hanging onto power by killing up to 100,000 of his own people. These are strong men who enjoy power, want to maintain overall order, and really have no religious aspirations.
4. Jihadists in many forms.
Mohammed Morsi was toppled in Egypt by the military because a large portion the people demanded it and did not want the sharia law/freedom-denying society that was being foisted on them by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Here is a perspective from a brave Christian leader in Cairo who tells us the truth about what happened a few weeks ago: (I have altered the words to protect his identity)
“I’m writing this letter with a very happy heart after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from their power. Their displacement will open up the way for the defeat of the jihadists, which they planned to implement in our region.”
“There are still some groups in Cairo and other cities, led by a few jihadists, for whom arrest warrants have been written on charges of inciting violence, funding murder, and theft. The problems are greatest in Sinai, where our soldiers are battling Al-Qaeda who are armed by Hamas.”
Still, I trust the freedom movement will advance. There was a new day that ushered a new age for Egypt (two years ago) in which I hope and pray for a godly constitution, economic growth and peace with our neighbors. What happened is really a miracle accomplished by Jesus, who is moving among our people.”
“I never liked Hosni Mubarak’s years, but I certainly believe that they were more benign than the theocratic suppression the Brotherhood desired to implement. I was longing for the Lord to expose the evil schemes of the Brotherhood and their friends but I have to confess that my faith was small. I believe that if Egyptians would have hired the most powerful consultants in the world and spent lots of money to expose Islam, they would have never seen the results that the Brotherhood brought on themselves when they came to power.”
“I know some Westerners are picturing what happened as a military coup. Not true. The army moved to free our nation because of the demands of millions of people who took to the streets in protest. In the Western world you value “democratic elections.” But they are not fool-proof. Let us not forget that Mussolini came to power through a vote of the people”
“Republican governments can come about in countries like Egypt only through great acts and sacrifices from all of us–and this takes time. As was said by the media, Egypt has seen four million young people turn away from Islam recently and now they don’t know what to believe. We must share God’s love with them.”
That’s the truth from people who are trustworthy. Muslim jihadists in Egypt, Syria, Iran and other nations are the main forces for evil in this region. They want a global caliphate and forced Islamic rule in every nation. They are exploiting the longing for freedom by many in the Middle East to bring in even darker forms of tyranny.
5. Masses of people, mainly youth, yearning for freedom from secular and Islamic tyrants.
These folks essentially led the protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo, the demonstrations in Tehran in 2009, and are a part of the coalition fighting for freedom in Syria. A growing percentage are followers of Jesus (like the Copts in Egypt). Others are more secular, yet looking for liberty (as described by the Egyptian leader above).
The freedom lovers were at the heart of the Arab Spring, but their aspirations were hijacked by the jihadists (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, by the insurgents in Libya, and by Islamist factions in Syria.
What we don’t want is a secular tyranny being replaced by a far worse religious one.
6. Followers of Christ in the Middle East and also around the world.
As noted above, God is answering their prayers for freedom–but laying the foundations of liberty take time and great sacrifice. At the same time, hundreds of millions of believers from all over the world are praying for the light of the Good News to penetrate the darkness of the Muslim nations and bring salvation to the Jews.
This internal and external prayer tsunami aimed at the Middle East is no small thing. It’s the greatest “aerial battle” taking place in the world today.
So, now that we understand the players, what should followers of Christ and leaders of free nations do to see God’s purposes fulfilled in the Middle East. Here are some suggestions:
- We need to up the intensity of prayer for our ME brothers and sisters, for the salvation of Israel, and for the triumph of freedom in this cradle of civilization.
- We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and encourage our government leaders to unequivocally support the the only democracy in the region – the Republic of Israel.
- We should send more missionaries to this part of the globe and support those already in the field. The power of the Good News is the key to long-lasting liberty in a nation.
- We need a clear and immediate plan to get off our dependence on Mid-East oil. This neglect is the driver of our economic interest. America can be energy independent–and a blessing to the world–simply by harvesting its own resources. We must vote for leaders who will make the US energy strong once again.
- We should support the non-jihadist freedom fighters in the nations of the Middle East with arms and know-how to defeat the powers coming against them.
- We should support secular dictators over religious tyrants. They are the lesser of two evils.
- The US cannot be the world’s army. We should be a compass, a lighthouse, a good ally and partner in the quest for liberty.
- We should focus our efforts on Iran–the key Islamic nation in the region. As Iran goes, so goes Muslim terrorism around the world and in the Middle East (especially Syria).
- We should not tie our actions to the United Nations. It is a corrupt organization that cannot be a vehicle of peace.
- We must look to God, not men, to bring about his glory in the Middle East. Only the plans of the Lord will stand (Psalm 2).
Let’s be discerning as we watch the evening news. Don’t forget the bigger picture and all the players involved in the drama in the Middle East.
And pray for God to use Middle East madness to reach the world with his love.