The Daily Express (29/10/05) carried the headline ‘Maniac plots World War 3’ in its report on the threat of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to ‘wipe Israel off the map.’ A bit of hype to sell the newspaper or a real possibility?
Ahmadinejad’s victory in the recent Iranian election was organised by Ayatollah Yazdi, the most radical hardliner of the Islamic republic. Yazdi has praised Ahmadinejad’s administration as the ‘first Islamic administration in the history of the Islamic Republic.’ He controls Ansar Hizbullah, a militant organisation which is threatening the global deployment of suicide commandos and 50,000 fighters who have already been recruited. Leading these fighters, Mohammadresa Jafari has said, ‘The enemy is afraid that the culture of martyrdom will become a world culture of all who love freedom.’
Even those who supported the original Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini are now in despair at the direction Ahmadinejad is taking the country. Mohamed Abtahi was one time Vice President of Iran but has now resigned from office, warning that radical Islamist hardliners have recaptured all the control centres of power in Iran. ‘What lies ahead for us and for you is the long night of darkness,’ he warns. ‘These people will play the nuclear card just the same as the card of global terror.’
As Iran threatens to resume all activities relating to the enrichment of uranium, essential for building a nuclear bomb, this becomes a threat not just to Israel but to the whole world. Despite the fact that the Iranian regime follows Shiite Islam and al Qaeda is backed by Sunni Muslims, it is known that leading members of al Qaeda have found refuge in Iran which has been providing support, military training and equipment to the terrorists for years. The fact that Sunni jihadis and Shiites hate one another is no reason not to cooperate. They have a common enemy. The nightmare scenario is that Iran delivers to al Qaeda what the terrorists most desire – chemical and biological weapons for their holy war against the west.
Ahmadinejad made clear his global intentions just after his triumphant election victory. ‘We did not carry out the Islamist revolution in order to introduce democracy. Our revolution seeks to achieve worldwide power. The new Islamic revolution will cut out the roots of injustice throughout the world. The era of the godless regime, tyranny and injustice has come to an end. The wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world.’ Ahmadinejad believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilisations in which Islam is the only credible alternative to Western domination. And he is convinced that Islam can and will win.
There is nothing more dangerous in the world than a religious fanatic who seeks to impose his idea of justice by force. Part of Ahmadinejad’s conviction comes from his belief in the second coming of the 12th Imam. According to the Shiite version of Islam the 12th descendant of Mohammed, known as the 12th Imam or the Mahdi, went into hiding in 941, some 1300 years ago. Shiites believe he will reappear when the world has become full of oppression and tyranny. They believe that he is hidden in the Jamkaran well in Iran, which is a place of pilgrimage for believers who drop their requests for help into the well in the hope that the Imam will read them and come to their aid.
Ahmadinejad has said ‘Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi. We should define our economic, cultural and political policies on the policy of the Imam Mahdi’s return.’ His government held a formal cabinet meeting in which it was agreed to sign an agreement with the 12th Imam, the same way they signed a pact with the new president. The ministers then questioned how the hidden Imam would sign the agreement! The answer was to drop the agreement into the well at Jamkaran!
A large number of Ahmadinejad’s close allies are talking about preparing the ground for the hidden Imam’s imminent manifestation and seriously and explicitly relate it to Iran’s nuclear programme. They believe that resisting the international pressures and insisting on Iran’s right to have nuclear capabilities will help the manifestation of the Imam. Since they believe that the Imam will appear in a world that is full of oppression and tyranny they argue that they ought to help spread evil, tyranny and oppression in order to facilitate the coming of the 12th Imam. How do you deal with a government like that?
Both George Bush and Tony Blair have made statements indicating that they have not ruled out using force against Iran. Israel has never stood by when an enemy rises up threatening them with destruction. In 1981 the Israeli air force destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, putting an end to Iraq’s nuclear programme. The Iranians have stated that they will ‘open the gates of hell’ if they are attacked from outside. They could unleash terror attacks around the world, attack tankers in the Gulf and in the worst case close down the Straits of Hormuz through which 40% of the world’s oil flows out of the Persian Gulf. In this case such action would start a global recession which could make what happened after the Yom Kippur War in 1973 look like a picnic. In fact it could lead to World War 3.
The Iranian situation is beginning to look like a cocktail of all the elements of end time prophecy coming together. A belief in the reappearance of a false prophet is kindling the fire of a violent hatred of the west and of Israel. All this is happening in a country which is gaining nuclear power through help from Russia and is in possession of huge deposits of oil giving it great potential wealth.
The Bible indicates that the end time scenario will involve the nations of the world being drawn into the Middle East. In Isaiah 13 there is a prophecy about Babylon (Iraq / Persian Gulf area) which has an end time application with reference to the ‘Day of the Lord’ when the stars, sun and moon will not give their light and the Lord will punish the world for its evil (verses 10-11). In this prophecy it speaks of an army being gathered for battle ‘from a far country’. In the book of Jeremiah we also read that ‘a great nation and many kings shall be raised up from the ends of the earth’ to do battle against Babylon (Jeremiah 50.41-2).
Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of the War of Gog and Magog as a great nation to the uttermost north of Israel (Russia) is joined by allies including Persia (Iran) in an invasion of the land of Israel which results in the Lord intervening directly to save Israel and bring judgement on those nations which come against Israel in the last days. It is interesting that Russia is responsible for supplying Iran with the nuclear technology which is the main reason for Iran becoming such a threat to the whole world.
Jeremiah 25.32 speaks of a time when ‘Disaster shall go forth from nation to nation and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the ends of the earth.’ In the attempt to stave off disaster the nations are looking for some way of regulating the world economy and preventing war. As the threats to the security of nations are all international in their nature, there is certainly a human logic to the idea of creating a global structure to deal with these threats. A number of end time prophecies indicate a coming together of the nations in some kind of world government.
The best hope of delaying the end time catastrophe is the overthrow of the regime of Ahmadinejad, not through intervention from the West or Israel but from within. In fact this is not impossible as even the mullahs who support the concept of the Islamic regime are becoming alarmed by his extremism. There are also a huge number of Iranian people who want to see an end to the mullahs’ regime altogether and a more open liberal government in power. Disillusion with Islam is creating openness to Christianity. Amongst Iranians in exile from the regime there is a growing movement to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. We should pray for Iran, remembering that in the Bible Persian kings were not all hostile to God’s purposes. Cyrus, ancient Persia’s greatest King, is called ‘His anointed’ by the Lord in Isaiah 45.1 and gave the edict for Israel to return from captivity and rebuild the Temple in Ezra 1.