Thursday, November 19, 2015

Armageddon, ISIL and the West

I'm not superstitious;  nor am I a Biblical fundamentalist.  Nevertheless, the eschatological parallels between what the Book of Revelation calls 'Armageddon' and the Islamic fundamentalists of ISIS/ISIL and their ilk regard as 'the Last Hour' are striking.

First, ISIS/ISIL openly proclaims that the 'final battle' between the 'Romans' (i.e. the West) and its fighters will take place at the Syrian town of Dabiq, which it currently occupies.  This is in line with some Islamic eschatology.  The defeat of the 'Romans' will usher in the end of the world as we know it.

Second, 'Armageddon' has long been forecast by Jewish and Christian eschatology to be the final battle between good and evil prior to the Second Coming of Christ.  It's long been predicted to take place at or near Tel Megiddo, which isn't all that far from Dabiq.

Third, almost all of the important 'powers' in the world are either already involved in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism, or getting that way.  Consider:
  • Most of the Western powers are now engaged to at least some extent in fighting ISIS/ISIL in Syria and Iraq, including Britain, France and the USA.
  • Russia is also fighting them, although it's focusing more at present on shoring up the faltering regime of Syrian president Assad.  It's also very wary of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in the Middle East spreading to Central Asia, and would prefer to fight it outside its borders rather than within them.
  • China is considering getting more involved after one of its citizens was recently murdered by ISIS/ISIL.  It's also having troubles with a fundamentalist Muslim insurgency in Xinjiang, and would prefer to fight such fanatics further away from home rather than wait until more of them infiltrate its borders to fight alongside their Uyghur brethren.
  • Israel is right in the middle of the region, and is not only seen by Muslims as 'the enemy', but is supporting other Arab states (e.g. Jordan) in their fight against ISIS/ISIL.
  • Many other Arab nations are either supporting ISIS/ISIL, or supporting those fighting against it.  Furthermore, while many Middle Eastern governments see fundamentalism as a threat, many of their people do not - in fact, many of them enthusiastically embrace it.  In other words, the heartland of the Muslim world is divided against itself.

Putting all these factors together, in the light of both Christian and Islamic eschatology, there are abundant reasons to be nervous about the present situation in the Middle East.  I can't offer any advice or predictions, and I simply don't know what may be true or false in terms of historical, theological or eschatological theory and tradition.  I just find the parallels . . . ominous.



Pootie Tang said...

So all five permanent members of the UN security council might be engaged in military action against one common enemy. Interesting times. It makes me wonder how much more likely the surface temperature of Al-Raqqah might increase to 10,000 K.

McChuck said...

To my mind, one of the most interesting differences between Christianity and Islam is their descriptions of Armageddon. They have very similar descriptions - but with the sides reversed. Where the Bible has the Devil given free reign to make a Hell of earth, Islam has the appearance of the 7th Imam, sent to cleanse the world of unbelievers.

Anonymous said...

McChuck, given humankind's penchant for cruelty to each other... which scenario sounds more likely? Both could actually be true per your description... the imam's followers would make it very resemblant of hell on earth for anyone that doesn't think just like them. And I mean JUST like them... (see "shia/sunni muslim conflict"). A strong parallel would be Hitlers regime... I'm not sure whether he ever personally executed or tortured anyone - his followers were more than willing to do it for him.

Aphael said...

Meh. Both religions started up in the middle east, and thus have common history/tradition/mythology to go off of. Islam also cribbed quite a bit of material from Christianity/Judaism. It would be surprising if their eschatologies didn't look similar.

Given that Islam has been at war with everyone they could find on an on-and-off basis for it's entire history, I see this as less 'armageddon' and more back to 'business as usual.'

McChuck said...

OL, I'll be somewhat less subtle. Muslims, particularly Shia, are actively working towards bringing about Armageddon, and (from our perspective) are rooting for Satan.

This is a culture thst is wholly oncompatible with American/western/Christoan values. When they say they want to destroy us, believe them.

Bob said...

Talented writers possessing good logic and perception could easily predict the results of a persistent conflict, regardless of what century they lived in.

They would frame their predictions in such a way as to fit a host of possible results which could be interpreted by all sides as their own fate and to their own benefit.

What they would never do is put a time and/or date on any of their work... too risky.

The Oracle at Delphi, although not a writer, is a good example.

The writers of the bible were obviously very talented in such matters.

IMHO, that's why there are so many religions, all with their own interpretations of these writings, all conflicting with one another, all claiming to be the one true whatever.

One should step cautiously when in this biblical minefield, since - as they all claim - everyone is wrong... but one.

Larry said...

Too true, both Bob and Aphael. And yet there's little doubt that where heading towards a time of turmoil, that in some regions will almost certainly resemble the Thirty Years War with nukes. The rest of us may not fare so well, either. What bothers me is that ISIS and at least some of the Shia leadership in Iran are actively Apocalyptic in the beliefs, that is to say, they feel it's their duty to bring it about. They do seem to be getting closer to their goals.

AuricTech said...

Perhaps, in the context of Islam' view of the end times, the word should be spelled escatology.

Anonymous said...

That's one of the things I find fascinating about ISIS - how they adopted the Shi'a eschatology despite being so anti-Shiite. They may be the only Suni who look toward an end-time instead of turning the world back to the days of the Salafs as their primary goal.


Quartermaster said...

The battle that is often called "Armageddon" starts as a gathering of Armies against those of the beast. Christ then makes his appearance, and is seen throughout the world when he does appear. Those Armies decide to ally themselves to go against Christ. The real battle then begins, with Christ on one side, the armies of man on the other. It is, of course, no contest. When you go up against the one that created everything with merely a command, the end will not be pretty for you. The battle itself is found in Revelation 19:

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:11-21

Anonymous said...

This post caught my attention; my pastor actually taught on this topic just this past Sunday night. He referred to Revelation 9:13-15. I won’t quote the entire passage; the essence is that the sixth angel sounded his trumpet and loosed four angels who had been bound on the Euphrates river. These four angels were prepared to slay the third part of men. My pastor’s point was that this is not Armageddon, but rather a third world war; a war that would destroy one-third of humanity (I believe that would somewhere on the far side of 2 billion casualties).
After this war is ended, the antichrist will rise and form a global government. I guess only time will tell exactly how this will all play out.
While I’m here, allow me to say that I thoroughly enjoy your blog and your books, though I have not read them all your books yet. Keep up the good work, sir!