We live in dangerous times. The rise of ISIS and the behavior of this movement towards Jews and Christians is sobering. Should the emergence of a group that hates and beheads Christians, inspires global antisemitism, and endorses the destruction of Israel surprise us? Probably not! Yet, we are only slowly coming to realize the extent of their vision and determination to achieve their goals of establishing a modern caliphate across Iraq, Syria and neighboring Arab nations. Clearly, we have seen that they will stop at nothing
Jews and Christians Experience a Common Threat
We will explain quite a bit about the history and purposes of ISIS in this article, but it is important to understand that they are just one expression of a common stream of jihadist Islam that also flows through and determines the ideology and activities of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.
I was heartbroken when I viewed the photos of the Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS. It is evident that ISIS holds a particular disdain for Christianity, along with Israel and the Jewish people. But the battle lines have never been clearer, as it is obvious now that a common enemy unites the Jewish people with Christians.
The Future of ISIS According to the Scripture (Zechariah 12:1-10)
No one could have predicted the resurrection of an Islamic empire in the Middle East during these Last Days any more than we could have predicted the re-gathering of the Jewish people to the land promised by God. You must admit, we are living in extraordinary days. Your Mission to the Jewish People holds to the promises in the Old Testament predicting the continuing return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and the eventual full restoration of the Jewish nation. So let me explain, in light of scriptural revelation, why the shocking current events we see and read about should not take us by surprise.
The Bible envisions this end-times scenario and further assures us that all the promises to Israel, the Jewish people and the Church will literally come to pass one day in the future. The only question that I and others have is, “When does this prophetic future begin?” There is no denying that the scene is set and the table is prepared. We seem to be on the precipice of the return of Jesus and all of the events attached to what I call “the very end of the very end.”
Rightly Reading the Signs of the Times
One of the passages of Scripture that makes this clear to me is found in the writings of the great prophet Zechariah—whose very name means “God remembers.” Written in the days when the Jewish people had begun to return to Israel after the Babylonian exile, chapter 12 describes the return of Israel to the Lord and the return of the Lord to Israel.
I would suggest that you read the entire chapter and do not stop at chapter 12, but continue through chapter 14. You will see that the prophet views a final great war between Israel and her enemies, the repentance of the Jewish people and their turning to Jesus, the return of the Messiah, the conquering of the enemies of Israel and God, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God with Jerusalem as its capital.
As we follow along, we see that in the early verses of chapter 12, enemies are surrounding the Jewish people in Israel. After what seems to be a terrible period of trial and tribulation, they are about to be destroyed. However, God cannot let that happen and promises to destroy those trying to destroy the Jewish people.
It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it…In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (Zech. 12:3, 8-9).
The Lord is not simply interested in saving Israel from her enemies, but rather saving Israel from her sins! And instead of a simple military victory, the prophet predicts the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disheveled Jewish remnant perched on the verge of destruction, who then respond to the pouring out of the Spirit of God upon them by turning to the one “who was pierced.”
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn (Zech. 12:10).
A season of national repentance falls upon the Jewish people who then experience what you and I cherish so deeply—the very covering of our sins through the blood of the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity (Zech. 13:1). The Jewish people will be restored physically, spiritually, and nationally, which will then be used by God to bring the blessing of His Kingdom upon the entire world.
I am not making the bold statement that the rise of ISIS is the fulfillment of prophecy. But the rise of the Islamic nation certainly seems to fit in with the unfolding of God’s plan predicted by the prophets, as well as portions of the New Testament, especially Matthew chapter 24 and certain passages in the book of Revelation. Regardless, we need to be vigilant, prayerful and more committed than ever to the Great Commission to reach the Jewish people, Arabs, and all the peoples of the earth who so desperately need to know the soon-coming Savior.
I hope that you will find this article helpful in understanding ISIS. I believe that we, in the West, are just beginning to fully understand their goals, motivation, theological convictions and the role they play in the world today, as well as in the future plan of God. With all my heart, I believe that we should take note of the signs of the times and be prepared to live for the Lord and to make Him known among the nations. But one thing I will stress: whatever may come about in the times to come, our future is secure for one simple reason—Jesus the Messiah is the ultimate victor!