A Cup of Reeling

I continued to make the case that the world may be in the initial throes of the final times based on biblical signs. I could be wrong–but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Yet while we are told to be cognizant and watchful for the signs of the end, to learn the lesson of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32), scripture also seems to tell us, as Christians, that it is “not for [us] to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7)?

We must remember that Jesus was answering a specific question put to Him by the disciples, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6). Clearly it wasn’t for the disciples in that time to know the times or seasons. The disciple’s thoughts were limited by traditional teaching and their own milieu. They thought, and were taught, that when Yeshua came he would throw off the mantle of oppression laid on the Jews by the Romans. So the postmortem is whether or not their question was prescriptive for us today?

I think that in looking at the context and some key words in the original language that this is not prescriptive for us. I think it is true we cannot know exact timing, but based on current world events, surely one can posit that we are in the final season. Jesus was communicating this to His disciples at the onset of the “last days” (Hebrews 1:2) we are two millennia beyond that. We also have more revelation, both scripturally and historically.

It seems some of the “birth pangs” are beginning to hit us over the head. The entire Middle East is in chaos—Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria, and the list seems to keep expanding. Israel, besides having a bulls-eye painted on their back, is center-stage geographically, politically, militarily, historically, Quránically, and Biblically. Then too we see the turmoil caused by natural disasters like the earthquakes and tsunamis in Haiti and Japan to name two.

Recalling biblical eschatology gives us a portrait of the kinds of events that will occur. Of course our lenses are fogged  by the fact that wars and natural disasters have always been with us. Is their frequency and magnitude really building?

But the religion of Islam has an eschatology too. Indeed Iran has produced a documentary explicitly stating that the al-Mahdi, the 12th Imam, the Hidden Imam is about ready to come. This “al-Mahdi” seems to correspond to the Beast or Anti-Christ of the Bible.

Ryan Mauro posted this on FrontpageMag.com:

The Iranian government has produced a bone-chilling documentary that claims that Ayatollah Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad, and Hassan Nasrallah are talked about in Islamic prophecy as leaders who will wage war to bring about the arrival of the Hidden Imam, which the film says is “very close” to happening.

A copy of the complete film was obtained by Reza Kahlili. Kahlili joined the Iranian Revolutionary Guards after the overthrow of the Shah. He thought the mullahs would bring peace and freedom to Iran, but they were more tyrannical than the Shah. But that is the nature of Islam isn’t it? In any case, Kahlili became disenchanted after seeing many friends murdered by the regime and defected.

The film also preaches that the death of Saudi King Abdullah[1] will be a major sign along with the destruction of Israel both antecedents to the imminent arrival of the 12th Imam.

The destruction of Jerusalem is also prophesied in Zechariah:

Thus declares the LORD who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. 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. (12: 1-3; NASB; italics mine).

I like the translation for the end of the third verse in the King James Version, “all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” I think the KJV’s graphic rendering is a more accurate depiction of what God will do.

The similar, yet antithetical teachings between the eschatological account of the Bible and Islamic eschatology are not accidental. The conflict of Judaism and Christianity, on the one hand, and Islam on the other are, I believe, divinely appointed.

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day.
Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right.
You love all words that devour, But God will break you down forever;
He will snatch and tear you from your tent; He will uproot you from the land of the living.

Psalm 52

[1] King Abdullah is now in poor health and 86 years old.

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