The terrorist attacks in New York on September 11th 2001 brought about a changed situation in world affairs. Since then old animosities have been swept aside and new friendships created, then broken again in the fight against terrorism which has become a ‘fact of life’ in many countries around the world.
The growth of the violent ‘Islamic State’, led by people who are fanatical in their beliefs and who are ready and willing to kill others and to die for what they believe is right, has now become the focus of concern for many governments. Most Muslims are also fighting against those who try to impose their extremist religious views in the name of Islam!
But military action by wealthy western nations in Islamic countries is very unsettling to Muslims worldwide, especially since the terrorists did their work in the name of the Islamic faith. World leaders have found it necessary to say that Islam is a ‘religion of love and peace’ and that the ‘true’ faith of Islam is not the version espoused by Osama Bin Laden and those like him.
Who would have thought that the main conflict of the new millennium would be essentially a religious one? For nearly fifty years there was a cold war stand off between secular western powers and atheistic eastern powers. This seems now to have been replaced with a new division, at the popular level at least, between Islamic and non-Islamic peoples.
Where will it all end?
A Biblical perspective
We could at this point shrug our shoulders and say ‘Who can tell?’ But the Bible gives us reason to look at the events unfolding in the world today in a different way.
The Bible describes a ‘new world order’ in the near future that will replace existing governments and rulers with one Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is spoken of in both New and Old Testaments as being founded on the ruin of the kingdoms of this world that will come to its end with a war in the Middle East. Many of the players on the world scene today can be identified in biblical prophecies that seem to describe events that now fill our news!
Bible students have long expected the world to become more unstable at a time the Bible calls “the latter days”.
One prediction – recorded by the prophet Daniel – warned of a time that would come when the relative stability afforded by a succession of world empires would be replaced by a mixture of strong and weak powers, ‘elbowing for position’ in a power struggle centered on the Middle East.
But terrorism is not new and we read about terrorists in the Bible as well!
In the time of Jesus, within the Jewish nation, there was a group called Zealots, who fought fanatical guerrilla warfare against the Roman power that occupied Israel. Among them were extremists who were willing to commit acts of terrorism to achieve their ends. They had a vision of an Israel freed from the oppressor and one of them called Simon the Zealot actually became a disciple of Jesus.
We might wonder why a man of this type could be called by Jesus?
The answer is that Jesus came preaching the ‘Gospel’ or ‘good news’ of the kingdom of God. The basis of his message was the restoration of the ancient kingdom of Israel, and people like Simon the Zealot knew that this was the same message taught in the Old Testament Scriptures.
Which is what everyone wants – a strong, unified world government that brings peace and stability, halting the ‘timeline of terror’ and Islamic extremism that now seems to be unstoppable.
It seems we may not have long to wait.