From the bestselling authors of The Rise of Babylon and The ISIS Crisis, the essential guide for Christians about what Bible prophecy foretells concerning current events in the Middle East—especially the rise of ISIS and the resurgence of Russia—while providing a way to find peace and hope in the face of end times concerns.
ISIS, Russia, and Iran are daily atop headlines and are among chief sources of intensifying unease among Americans about how current world conflicts will unfold. Using the Old Testament texts of prophets Ezekiel and Daniel as foundational passages, Bible experts Charles Dyer and Mark Tobey explain the connection between Bible prophecy and real-time events such as the growing alliance between Russia and Iran; the unsettling of the region as ISIS ravages countries and redraws boundaries; and the pull of Turkey and Saudi Arabia into the fray by Russian encroachment, Iranian meddling, and the United States’ inability to create and lead a coalition. Simultaneously, Dyer and Tobey provide practical encouragement and spiritual principles for finding comfort, strength, and perspective in an unsettling time while laying out a strategy for responding out of faith rather than fear in the face of end times concerns.
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About the Author
Charles Dyer, PhD, was provost and dean of education at Moody Bible Institute before becoming Professor-at-Large of Bible at Moody and host of The Land and the Book radio program. He serves as associate pastor of Grace Bible Church in Sun City, Arizona, where he lives with his wife, Kathy.
Mark Tobey is a pastor, writer, and freelance editor and is the coauthor with Charles Dyer of Strike the Dragon and The Isis Crisis. He currently serves on staff at Insight for Living Ministries and lives with his wife, Tracy, and four children in the Dallas area.
Read an Excerpt
Clash of Kingdoms
What the Bible Says About Russia, Isis, Iran, and the End Times
By Charles Dyer, Mark Tobey
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2017 Charles H. Dyer and Marl Tobey
All rights reserved.
THE PROBLEM OF NATIONS
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
— Matthew 24:7
In the preface to his book A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, tells a compelling story that highlights Israel's enigmatic significance:
During the Gulf War, Israel sustained thirty-nine Scud missile attacks that rained down on its cities. Deafening sirens warned Israelis to don their gas masks in the tense minutes as the missiles headed for their targets. In the course of one such alert I was being interviewed, with a gas mask on, at the CNN television headquarters in Jerusalem. After the alert subsided, the CNN bureau chief, evidently moved by the experience, asked me to show the network's viewers Israel's position on the map of the Middle East.
"Show them what you showed me in your office the other day," he said, producing a map of the Middle East in front of the camera.
"Here's the Arab world," I said, "walking" across the map with my hands open wide. It took me a number of handbreadths to span the twenty-one Arab countries.
"And here is Israel," I added, easily covering it with my thumb.
Israel might indeed be small geographically. But never confuse size with significance. This small nation has played a very large role in human history. And, as Jesus shared with His disciples, that starring role will continue into the future.
ALL ABOUT ISRAEL
The sun sank begrudgingly behind the western horizon as Jesus, accompanied by His ministry-weary disciples, exited the temple court. Trudging through the Kidron Valley, now draped in shadows, Jesus and His followers began the steep walk up the Mount of Olives. Midway up the slope they once again felt the afternoon sun on their backs. Turning around, they paused a moment to allow their eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness.
As the sun reflected off the limestone and marble buildings, the disciples marveled at the splendor of Herod's temple. Imagine their shock at Jesus' blunt announcement of its impending destruction:
"Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." (Matt. 24:2)
Jesus' words left the Twelve stunned and confused. Each in his own way labored to line up the events and struggles of living in first-century Judea, always in fear of Rome's iron-clad hold over their homeland and way of life, with a limited knowledge of the prophets' oracles and the already-ancient promise to Abraham to establish Israel as a nation forever.
Would God be faithful to Israel as He had promised to Abraham centuries before? What about Rome and the other Gentile nations bordering the land of promise? How would those people fit into God's program and plan? As Rome intensified its persecution and intolerance of all who dared to disobey, would following Jesus bring little more than death to all who aligned themselves with Him?
Jesus sat down comfortably under the branches of one of the many olive trees nestled peacefully on this mountain just to the east of Jerusalem and answered:
"Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains." (Matt. 24:4–8)
The words Jesus spoke to His disciples could also be addressed to His followers today. Only moments into any television news broadcast or Internet news stream, we are confronted with reports of another frightening terrorist attack, or a bold and bizarre military move by Russia, or a ballistic test missile from Iran. The news spills into our family rooms and penetrates our collective conscience.
Local and national news is just as unsettling. Reports on the rapid shift in long-held beliefs — from personal morality to marriage and family values — blast from the television or computer at an ever-alarming rate. And these are followed by reports of a crumbling health-care system; spiraling costs; previously unknown dangers, such as the Zika virus; and any number of other strange and frightening health-care risks lurking in the shadows.
All these news stories bring a chilling unease to anyone even remotely aware of how quickly and completely the world seems to have closed in around us. North Korea, once safely on the other side of the world, now threatens to annihilate millions of Americans on the West Coast. As Greece's economy teetered on the brink of total collapse, everyone wondered just how vulnerable other nations might be. Could the collapse of one country bring economic disaster to others? And then the eyes of the world turned to Europe as the Brexit crisis dramatically altered the political, economic, and social landscape of an entire continent.
As the world becomes smaller and even more interconnected, our questions echo the queries of the followers of Jesus on that hillside overlooking the temple:
"When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming?" (Matt. 24:3)
AN ALIGNMENT OF NATIONS
Before God selected Abraham as an intermediary, He had been revealing Himself directly to all humanity. But the rebellion at Babel and the scattering of the nations required a new approach. God needed someone through whom He could reach out and bless the scattered nations. The one He chose was Abraham, originally called Abram. When God called Abraham, He said:
"I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Gen. 12:3)
Beginning with Abraham God revealed a plan, purpose, and destiny for his descendants and for the Gentiles. The two intersected in a land later called Israel.
With few natural resources and marginal rainfall, some might wonder why this tiny landmass, linking three continents, has occupied such a central place in world history. Why does Israel always seem to be at the center of the world's attention — and the object of such conflicting passions?
Somewhere among the Bible's ancient prophecies and the complex geopolitical and global intricacies of our modern world is the secret to how everything will unfold. To be sure, Israel will be at the center, and all the other nations of the world will either "bless" her — and in turn be blessed — or "curse" her and conspire to bring about her destruction, to their own peril.
To understand current events in light of the Bible, we must first embrace a singular and overarching principle of interpretation: the principle of God and kingdoms. From the opening refrain of Genesis to the glorious benediction of John's Revelation, the biblical story begins and ends with the clash of kingdoms — the epic struggle of righteous and unrighteous kingdoms, those who serve and honor the God of the Bible and those who refuse to bow the knee to His name.
The Bible portrays all world events — past, present, and future — within the context of kingdoms and nations. From the very beginning God has ordained the unfolding of time through human agents — rulers, overseers, and kings.
Take, for instance, how the entire story of humanity begins. Once God created the heavens and the earth, fanned out the universe, and set in place all things, He then created the first man and woman, as told to us in Genesis 1:26:
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
God later issued a strong and exhilarating command to Adam, the first human:
"Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (v. 28)
Inherent in God's design and purpose for humanity was His desire that we rule the world around us — governing and superintending all God had created. God did not intend for us to rule in a selfish, it's-all-mine-and-I-can-do-what-I-want way. Rather, He intended for humanity to nurture, tend, supervise, and develop His creation. Our God-given role was to cultivate and take care of His creation (Gen. 2:15).
Something went horribly wrong, however, highlighting yet another kingdom reality — the kingdom of darkness, ruled by God's enemy, the Devil. God set His creation in order, and Satan immediately began his devastating venture to undermine God's righteous rule in the earth by deceiving God's highest creation — humanity.
The entry of sin's dark shadow on the human experience set in motion both a cosmic and an earthly battle of kingdoms. On the one side are God and those who by faith have aligned themselves with Him, while on the other side are those who, through ignorance or outright defiance, "stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers" (Ps. 1:1 nlt).
David, Israel's shepherd-king, wrote about this conflict of kingdoms:
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed. (Ps. 2:1–2)
The nations of the earth not only rage against each other: they rage against the righteous rule of God.
Virtually every news cycle reports yet another skirmish between warring factions somewhere in the world. Presidents versus prime ministers, dictators versus democracies, or ruling elite versus populous insurgencies — all share in common the complicated global, socioeconomic, and geopolitical minefield that has come to define our fractured and fragile global culture.
THE CONNECTED WORLD
When Jesus spoke of nations rising against nations in Matthew 24, He had a very specific period of time in mind — that period of time just before His return to earth. The events of that time reach their climax in verse 30 when "all the peoples of the earth" see the "Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." But in another sense His words also can apply to a day like ours, when a global economy, aided by satellite and Internet technology and the dissemination of real-time information at lightning speed, can contribute to global conflict. We live in a shrinking world where the threat of an economic collapse in Greece or a vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union can send a financial tsunami across the entire global marketplace.
But the world's interconnectedness extends beyond the financial markets.
A viral outbreak in a remote village in Asia, Africa, or South America can now set the entire world on edge — scrambling to develop vaccines and other protective measures — because air travel and porous international borders have accelerated the speed at which such viruses can spread. Being part of a connected world has generated unintended consequences.
When immense numbers of Muslim refugees from Syria flooded into Greece and then into the rest of Europe, nations already facing economic and social pressures began to buckle under the strain, generating a voter backlash that has threatened to topple governments. "Brexit is just the 'tip of the iceberg' of popular resentment against the EU that could destroy the entire bloc, economists have warned."
Nations are connected to nations — and Jesus said they will rise against each other in the end times.
Economies are connected. Cultures and systems intersect, collide, and absorb each impact as the world responds to ever-increasing social, economic, political, and ideological upheaval.
The words of Jesus sound eerily relevant when He declared to His bewildered disciples, "This is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come" (Matt. 24:8 NLT). As we sense the tension in the nations around the world, we wonder if the birth pains have started.
It all has to do with "the nations."
GOD'S TWOFOLD DIVISION OF NATIONS
Most of the Old Testament centers around God revealing Himself to Israel. Yet there is also much that is revealed about the significance of the other nations of the world — the Gentiles. Understanding the relationships among the various nations mentioned in the Scriptures is key to making sense of world events today, especially as those events point toward a predetermined end-time conflict. And the central focus of this final conflict will be the land God promised to the nation Israel.
"Nations in the Word of God are divided on the basis of their relationship to the nation of Israel," wrote the late Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, biblical scholar and expert on end-times prophecy. Pentecost and others like him believe the ultimate world conflict between nations will happen when world powers align against the nation of Israel in a cataclysmic world event, as predicted in the Bible. But why so much to-do about Israel, such a seemingly geographically insignificant piece of real estate?
A message repeated throughout the Hebrew Scriptures is that God will bless any nation that supports and defends Israel, while any nation seeking to harm or destroy Israel will pay a heavy price.
But what events could lead nations to take such drastic measures? Why, among all the nations of the world, does Israel draw such consistently unfriendly fire? How can we, as followers of God and students of His Word, view and understand current events in such a way as to not panic and recoil but rather be compelling in our testimonies of faith — and unwavering in our support for Israel?
These questions deserve to be answered as we wind through the convoluted maze of media reports and real-time descriptions of warring nations, economic uncertainties, and Bible prophecies.
Is there a power in the world today that will begin to bring the enemies of Israel together? Will such forces and fractures, now intensifying, erupt unexpectedly? Or will they gradually build over decades? Is there one single nation that will ultimately rise up and ignite the flame of conflict?
As the world focuses its attention and resources on the insidious and violent metastasizing of ISIS, perhaps a more sinister threat silently lurks just out of sight, preparing the weapons it intends to unleash upon a polarized and distracted world.CHAPTER 2
THE BEAR IS BACK
What About Russia?
You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army.
— Ezekiel 38:15
In 1986, author Tom Clancy wrote a frighteningly realistic novel titled Red Storm Rising, a fictional tale built on a provocative premise. Facing economic collapse, the Soviet Union embarks on a bold move to seize the oil fields of the Middle East in order to survive economically.
More than thirty years later, could life be imitating art?
Red Storm Rising depicts the Soviet Union's attempt to overcome NATO by launching a series of conventional attacks coupled with orchestrated acts of deception. The story begins in 1980 at a very productive, but old, Soviet oil refinery in Nizhnevartovsk. The refinery is blown up by Islamic terrorists, and the devastation takes the Soviet Union to the brink of economic collapse through a sudden drop in its supply of refined petroleum. Though the novel focuses on the unfolding events in Europe and the North Atlantic, the Soviet Union's ultimate objective in the novel is to intimidate the West into inaction so their forces can push south against the Arab states and gain control over their oil fields and refineries.
Clancy's fictional tale links national rivalries, geography, oil, and religion in ways that are eerily similar to current events. It's not a terrorist attack on a strategic oil refinery that threatens the economic viability of Russia today, but rather an oil glut that has resulted in a dramatic slide in the price of oil.
The economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, Europe, and Japan for its aggressive actions against Ukraine have taken an enormously heavy toll on Russia's economy. These sanctions have also offended the collective soul of the Russian people, and Vladimir Putin has used this perceived threat to rally Russians behind his aggressive plans to restore his country's greatness.
Eager to win back world prominence and driven perhaps by his own more insidious motives, the Russian leader has shown no hesitation in continuing his threats against Eastern Europe and in extending Russia's influence across the Middle East.
Not since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s and early 1980s have the Russians shown such penetrating interest and military involvement in the Middle East.
Excerpted from Clash of Kingdoms by Charles Dyer, Mark Tobey. Copyright © 2017 Charles H. Dyer and Marl Tobey. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Look Around and Be Wise, xv,
Chapter 1 The Problem of Nations, 1,
Chapter 2 The bear Is Back What About Russia?, 13,
Chapter 3 After ISIS The Next Bend Along the Road to Armageddon, 23,
Chapter 4 Duplicitous Iran The Rebuilding of a Persian Power, 37,
Chapter 5 Picking Up the Pieces The Destabilization of Europe, 47,
Chapter 6 Israel The Eye of the Hurricane, 61,
Chapter 7 A Woman in a Basket The Rise of Babylon, 81,
Chapter 8 Faith, Not Fear, 97,
About the Authors, 117,