Events in Egypt and throughout the Mideast have dominated the news headlines. The popular revolt in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak is especially important, since his regime is the only one in the Mideast that has a peace agreement with the Israeli state. The calls for “democracy” and free elections sound innocent, even moral, yet the leading Egyptian faction is the Muslim Brotherhood, with ties to the Palestinian radical movement. This faction has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. As I write, Mubarak has already announced that he will not run for re-election in September, and over a million protestors in the streets are demanding his immediate abdication. The United States has provided one and a half billion dollars in annual aid to Egypt to help strengthen the regime there and ensure its peaceful intentions toward their neighbor, the Jewish state. It is now clear, however, that no amount of money will keep Mubarak in power. Christian observers are rightly wondering where this will all lead to?
This popular revolt came about suddenly, catching seasoned political observers completely by surprise. Mubarak’s rule seemed so strong and so stable for so long that he earned the nickname, “the last Pharaoh.” Yet the discontent has now spread well beyond Egypt to other Mideast nations, including Yemen, Jordan, and Tunisia. Free elections in any of these countries will very likely result in strident Muslim-led governments.
Jordan is the only other Mideast nation in relative peace with the Israelis. Although the Muslim world is much divided into antagonistic factions, they are very united in at least one obsession: their hatred and fury toward Jews and the Israeli state. This hatred is not inconsequential, since Egypt provides almost a quarter of the electricity used in the Israeli nation. An antagonistic Muslim government in Egypt could cripple Israeli industry. As one Jewish analyst remarked, “sometimes, even democracies can lead to very negative results.”
Will democracy bring radical Islamists to control in Egypt? An Israeli official commented, “It’s a lose-lose scenario. Most of the population is uneducated and deeply religious, not militantly so, but they will vote for religious parties.” The largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has in the past called for restrictions on women and Christians, which could herald an era of persecution ahead. Indeed, Israeli finance minister, Yuval Steinitz warned, “Don’t be misled. The Muslim Brotherhood is fanatic, not less than the mullahs of Iran.”
The Israeli state is in a real and growing quandary. The population total of that small nation is only about seven and a half million, of which over five million are Jews. Yet the Jewish population is shrinking, while the Muslim population inside and outside of the Israeli nation is growing tremendously. In Egypt alone, the population has doubled since Mubarak took power in 1981, from forty to eighty million. The same trend is found throughout the Mideast. Additionally, a news analysis estimated that the Muslim population within the Israeli state might exceed the Jewish population in about the year 2018. If so, the Muslim population would attempt to outlaw Judaism in the Israeli state. What is Biblically significant about that date?
Bible prophecy speaks of seventy-year time cycles in the life of nations, especially nations that are inimical to God’s people or Jesus Christ. It was surely no accident that the former Soviet Union fell in 1990 without the firing of a shot. That year marked a seventy-year period since the defeat of the anti-Communist Russian White Army and consolidation of power by Lenin. Bible prophecy speaks of seventy years in conjunction with the fall of ancient Babylon, which also fell without the firing of a shot. In Jeremiah 25:12, the prophet records, “And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.”
Again in Jeremiah 29:10, we read: “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” The prophet Daniel, while in exile in Babylon, referred to Jeremiah’s words: “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” (Dan. 9:2)
History records that Babylon did indeed fall in 537 B.C., seventy years after the first exile of Jerusalem’s citizens at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. It is believed that both Ezekiel and Daniel were taken captive to Babylon in that first exile.
Some modern liberal theologians have claimed that Jeremiah’s seventy-year prophecy failed, in attempting to date it from the final destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Instead, the Bible records at least three Babylonian invasions and exiles of Judah, and it makes sense that the prophecy would cover the entire period of exile.From our standpoint in 2011, an Israeli national collapse, unthinkable as it may seem to many, would portend an even more dangerous world through the strengthening of radical Islam. It is difficult to envision a peaceful world in the years ahead, and events may in fact be leading up to prophecies associated with the end of this age.
We read of political turmoil not only in the Mideast, but in China as well. Do these rumblings portend future momentous events in the history of nations? The Israeli state was founded in May 14, 1948. China’s capture by the Communists under Mao occurred on October 1, 1949. If seventy-year cycles hold true, will we see revolution, regime change, or national collapse in those areas of the world in 2018 or 2019? Of course, no one is privy to the plans of God, and it is not my intention to make predictions, but only to watch world events carefully with an eye to past known Biblical time-cycles. As Professor Thomas Davis of Oxford University commented, “God has made Himself known, not primarily in ideas, but in events.” We must watch and be aware of the hand of God moving in these momentous times!
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