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2021 online sermons » Greg Laurie » Greg Laurie — Israel, Iran, and ISIS in Bible Prophecy

Greg Laurie — Israel, Iran, and ISIS in Bible Prophecy

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I heard a story about a guy who was a salesman on the road. After a long day of selling product he was exhausted. He got back to his hotel room really late. He sat on the side of his bed and pulled off his big heavy shoe and let it drop to the ground. Three people just woke up when I did that little effect. Then he thought, "It is really late at night. There is someone below me that I probably just woke up. I am not going to do that with my next shoe". He took it off very quietly and set it down and went to bed. After about a half hour there was a loud knock at his door. He opened it and there is a man with dark circles under his eyes. The guy said, "I am in the room below you and I can't go to sleep until the other shoe drops".

I think the whole world right now in many ways is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I mean it seems like every time we turn around there is a new terrorist attack. There was one in Afghanistan recently where a suicide bomber exploded himself wounding many people and killing others. There has been another beheading of an American citizen. This was the first who was a member of the military. This man Peter Kassig was a former elite army ranger. He was so moved by what he saw over in the Middle East he returned to Syria as an aid worker. He was captured by ISIS. He actually converted to Islam taking the name Abdel Rahman. Despite the pleas of his family he was beheaded and the video was posted online. These beheadings have been done by a member of ISIS who has been dubbed "Jihadi John" the reason for that is because he has a British accent. Some of the people who were exposed to him said that he sounded like he was one of the Beatles. Hence this nickname "Jihadi John".

This is the fifth beheading by ISIS. Three of them Americans and two were British aid workers. ISIS is now gathering young children as young as nine and training them in terrorist activities. They dubbed them "Cubs of the Caliphate". This has gotten so bad that the United Nations say that ISIS is guilty of war crimes. Then there is another terror group out there called Boko Haram. They abducted children in Nigeria recently. They killed 45 and then they snatched 300 schoolgirls. They either put them to work as terrorists or they sell the girls as sex slaves.

Then there was this attack in Jerusalem recently. You remember that two Palestinians came into a synagogue in Jerusalem with meat cleavers, knives, and a handgun and they killed four men altogether. Four worshippers and a policemen. Three of the men that were murdered were rabbis from America. This was greeted with celebration and dancing in the streets over on the West Bank. These attackers all have one thing in common. This is Islamic terrorism. I am not saying that every muslim is a terrorist for clearly they are not. It is to say that all of these terror groups have one thing in common. They are Islamic. They have many names. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram. The list goes on. That is what we are dealing with right now in our world and it is only getting worse.

A new poll reveals that Americans believe that our country has spun off of its axis and that America is out of control. Let me take it a step further. It is not America that is out of control. It is the whole world. I want to tell you why right now. We are living in the last days. That is what it is plain and simple. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3 in the last days things will go from bad to worse. You could sort of take the last days events and compare them to dominoes closely stacked together. I don't know if you know how to play dominoes. I don't. I just know how to knock them over. It is a like a lot of events starting with the emergence of the antichrist. Then there is the tribulation period. Then there is the battle of Armageddon. Then there is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Then there is the millennium.

These events are closely stacked together. Once the first domino goes, the others will fall in rapid succession. We are getting very close to that. A New World Order is going to emerge. People that are powerful today will not be during that time. Strangely, curiously, and for a cause of some concern, we do not find the reigning superpower on the face of the earth in the last days prophetic scenario. Of course I am speaking of the United States. We do see the emergence of antichrist and his confederation of ten nations in this New World Order.

Defense secretary Chuck Hagel recently was quoted as stating that the world is experiencing "Historic defining times that will result in a New World Order. While questioning American's role in the emerging world". Elaborating further Hagel stated, "This is a time of great global transformation. We are seeing a New World Older evolving and being built. I don't think we have seen such a time since right after World War II". I don't know what defense secretary Hagel meant by that. But I do know this. A New World Order is coming. It will led by the antichrist.

Interestingly defense secretary Hagel just resigned. Some say he did so under pressure. Maybe it is because he made statements like that. I don't know. Here we have a shifting and a changing in global powers right now. It is a reminder that Christ is coming. Some would say, "Give me a break Greg. I have heard that for my whole life. My grandmother believed that. In fact my grandmother's grandmother believed that as well". I believe there are things that are happening right now that we have never seen happen before. Let's start with some of those things.

Let me start by talking about the modern state of Israel. Who would have ever though such a nation would exist especially in the aftermath of World War II? The Bible said that the Jews would re-gather together in their land again. Yet after World War II where 6,000,000 Jews were put to death in Nazi death camps with names like Auschwitz and Dachau and Ravensbruck and others. Who would have ever thought that those people would manage to return to their homeland and form a nation again?

The Bible clearly said they would be scattered. That actually happened in 70 ad after the crucifixion of Christ. Our Lord warned that the temple was going to be dismantled and he warned that judgment was coming on the city of Jerusalem. Surely it came. After Titus rolled in to Jerusalem with his forces of Rome in ad 70 the Jews were scattered to the four corners of the world. They never really returned as a nation since that time. After the holocaust the Jews began to return. Only a few years after the end of World War II they formed a nation on may 14, 1948. That is when the prophetic time clock began to tick.

Listen to this. Never has a nation been able to maintain its national unity or identity 300-500 years after being removed from its homeland until Israel. This is unprecedented. This isn't just a sign of the end times. This is what we would call a super sign. Listen to this. Not only did God say Israel would return to their land again, but he said that they would have control of the city of Jerusalem because scripture clearly teaches that Jerusalem is at the epicenter of end times events. Yet when Israel became a homeland they did not have control of the city of Jerusalem. That was actually under the control of Jordan. During the six-day war in 1967 the Israeli forces after being attacked went in and recaptured Jerusalem again and now they had control of that city that was now under the control of the Jewish people for the first time in over 2,000 years.

This is where the rub comes in. Because Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with many Arab leaders worldwide insisting that Jerusalem and the West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and must be ultimately given back as a condition for peace. This is why these peace talks break down. The Palestinian people want the West Bank and they want Jerusalem. Another problem is they will not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. Do you think you could have a meaningful relationship with someone that did not acknowledge your right to exist? You are saying to someone, "Can we be friends? Can we just get along"? They said, "Yeah but the only problem is I don't acknowledge your right to exist on the face of the earth".

Ok. That is a little bit of a problem isn't it? That is what the Jewish people are facing right now. That is why this conflict continues on. This is a politically charged thing. People have differing opinions. I am going to land on what the Bible says. I am going to tell you what the Bible says about this conflict. God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. This is clear. Deuteronomy 1:8 God said, "I am giving all of this land to you. Go in and occupy it. It is the land that I the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all of their descendants". This is the land that God gave to the Jewish people. They have returned to their homeland that God gave to them.

A number of significant things have happened. The Bible says that Israel would be scattered. Has that happened? Yes. The Bible says Israel would be re-gathered. Has that happened? Yes. The Bible says that Israel will regain Jerusalem. Has that happened? Yes. 1967. The Bible says Israel will be in the last days isolated from the other nations of the world. Has that happened? Let's just say that is happening. The Bible says Israel after they have been re-gathered will be attacked by a large force to her north. Has that happened? No it has not. But it could happen at any time.

Let's consider what the Bible says about Jerusalem for a moment. Isn't it amazing that this tiny little city creates such a stir? Not Paris. Not Rome. Not London. Not L.A. Not New York. Jerusalem. Why this hostility? Because God says in Zechariah 12, "I will make Jerusalem and Judah like an intoxicating drink and all the nearby nations and send their armies to besiege Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone. A burden for the world and none of the nations who try will be able to lift it".

Isn't that interesting? God says in the last days Jerusalem will be a burdensome stone. That is exactly what it is today. Dr. John Walford, a respected expert on Bible prophesy, made this statement. "The prophecies about Jerusalem make it clear that the holy city will be in the center of world events in the end time. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs will focus more and more attention on Jerusalem. In all of these situations Jerusalem is the city to watch as the city of prophetic destiny prepares to act out her final role".

Let's find out where this is in the Bible. Turn to Ezekiel 37. I am reading verses 1 to 6. This is where God speaks of the nation Israel being scattered and being brought back to life. "The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the old dry bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground. Then he asked me, 'son of man, can these bones become living people again?' 'O, sovereign Lord' I replied, 'You alone know the answer to that.' Then he said to me, 'Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, 'Dry bones, listen to the Word of the Lord! This is what the sovereign Lord says: look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord'.'"

I have spoken to some dead audiences before but this takes the cake. Effectively God takes Ezekiel to a cemetery and says, "Preach to the people in the graves". What does this mean? Who do these bones represent? The interpretation is in verses 11 to 14 of Ezekiel 37. "Then he said to me, 'son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, 'We have become old, dry bones-all hope is gone'. Now give them this message from the sovereign Lord, "'"O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, o my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord. You will see I have done everything just as I have promised! For I the Lord have spoken"'".

Is that clear enough? Is God not breaking this down in a way we can understand? They are being scattered. They are going to be re-gathered. That is exactly where we are today. Here is a profound thought. If you are taking notes, write this down. After Ezekiel 37 is Ezekiel 38. That is significant actually. Ezekiel 37 speaks of the Jewish people being scattered and brought back to life. Ezekiel 38 speaks of a large nation to the north of the newly established Jewish homeland along with a number of allies invading Israel from every direction. The Bible is very clear in saying that this is a specific event of the latter times or the last days.

Go to Ezekiel 38:2. "'Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, thus says the Lord: I am against you, Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.'" underline verse 5. "'Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet.'" drop down to verse 8. "'A long time from now you will be called into action.'"

So when this statement was given by God, God was saying this is in the future. The distant future. "'In the last days God says you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be lying in peace after recovering from war and after the return of its people from many lands. You and all your allies-a vast and awesome hoard-will roll down on them like a sword and cover the land like a cloud.'" Or rather like a storm. "'This is what the sovereign Lord says: at that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme. You will say, this is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence"!'"

Interesting phrase. These people who live in such confidence. Really an unthinkable phrase to be used of Israel at any time in her history until now. Certainly you couldn't have said that after the holocaust or after they had declared their statehood or after the six day war or the Yom Kippur War. Israel still could have been defeated. The Israel of today is much different than the Israel of yesterday. Today the military of Israel is greatly respected. In fact because of her military prowess and intelligence and possession of nuclear weapons the other nations know that when Israel says they will do something, they will do it. They are living in confidence relatively speaking.

Who is this force known as Magog that Marches against her? Let's trace the word Magog biblically. Magog was the second son of Japheth, who according to Jewish historian Josephus he settled north of the black sea. Tubal and Meshech were the fifth and sixth sons of Japheth. Their descendants settled south of the black sea. These tribes intermarried and became known as Magog. They settled to the north of Israel. Ezekiel 39:2 God says to Gog, "I will turn and drive toward the mountains of Israel, bringing you from the distant north". Get out a map of the world. Find the little sliver of land 9 miles wide known as Israel and look to her north and who do you find? You find Russia. Is Russia Magog? I think you could make a pretty good case for it.

Here is the interesting thing. We find allies that March with Magog. We have Ethiopia which would be the modern day Sudan. Clearly under Islamic control. Who would Libya be? Libya would be Libya. Then there is Persia. Persia, one of the allies of Magog, is modern day Iran. In fact it wasn't until March 21, 1935 that her name was changed. Persia officially became Iran. But up until that point they had been known as Persia. You will meet people from Iran today and they will say, "I am Persian". That is their heritage. That is who they are. Here is what we know. We don't know where the United States of America is in the prophetic scenario. That concerns me. How could a nation of our size not be in the last days events?
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