A Nuclear Iran: Is It Biblical Prophecy?
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dropped a bomb shell on reporter David Ignatius when he revealed that he believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will attack Iran in April, May or June 2012. The front page news for many days has referred to Iran as getting closer to a functional nuclear bomb, a prospect that the West and especially Israel find reprehensible.
This follows Israeli reports that Iran has the capability to develop nuclear missiles that could reach Israel and the US. Israel maintains that there is a limited time prior to Iran having a bomb before the window of opportunity to prevent it will be closed. Does the Bible say anything about Iran and a nuclear attack on Israel?
It is not unusual to predict the future and especially the end of the world. California radio station personality, Harold Camping caused a major uproar when he predicted the rapture of the Church (Christ’s return for all true Christians) on May 21, 2011 and the destruction of the world (final judgment) on October 21, 2011. The coming end of the age did not happen.
Survivalist, Patrick Geryl quit his job as a laboratory worker for an oil company because he believes the world will end December 21, 2012. Geryle points to the ancient Maya cyclical calendars that supposedly predict a catastrophic end in 2012. He finds support for his claims from the ancient Egyptians who saw 2012 as a year of super disaster. According to this amateurastronomer, the Earth’s magnetic field will completely reverse and that will result in earthquakes and tidal waves that will destroy civilization.
It is estimated that 25 percent of the Bible is predictive in nature. Some prophecies have been fulfilled and some appear to be future to their time and, perhaps, to our time as well. To interpret the prophecies in the Bible one must do so with fear and trembling. We live in completely different times, rapidly changing culture, and in a modern technological civilization. Are biblical prophecies intended to give clues to future events?
Modern Iran is the biblical Persia. It played a fairly significant role in the history recorded in the Bible. Although the Persians are a very ancient people, Cyrus the Great (reigned 550-529BC) established the Persian Empire. Darius (521-486BC) built his royal palace in the capital of Shushan (Susa). Later Xerxes (486-465) also known as Ahasuerus, figured prominently in the biblical story of Esther (Esther 1:1). It was in the city of Shushan that the prophet Daniel had his vision of the ram, the goat, and the small horn (Daniel 8:2-14) and where Nehemiah lived in exile (Nehemiah 1:1).
Persia was one of the greatest empires of the ancient world. The Persians flourished and dominated the geo-political landscape from 539-331BC. The Bible records the fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Persians. This set the stage for the return of the Hebrew people to Jerusalem about 538-445BC following their seventy-year Babylonian captivity (606-536BC).
King Darius in his second year granted permission for the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt following a 14 year delay (Ezra 4:24 and 6:1). He also helped finance the completion of the reconstruction of the Temple.
The biblical “end days” are usually equated with the battle of Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ. Those who believe the accuracy of the Bible differ on interpretation of specific biblical prophecies. Some biblical prophecies were literally fulfilled; some appear to be future to their day.
While there is no evidence from Scripture that Iran will strike a nuclear blow to Israel or the US, Scripture implies that the end times conditions are present in the 21st century. Israel has been brought back into the “promised land” and is a sovereign state. Jerusalem remains the center of prophecy and modern controversy. An Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would set the world on a course closely related to biblical descriptions of the events of the end times.
The Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel describes a dictator called Gog (often associated with Russia) who will form a military coalition with Iran, Sudan, Libya, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian countries in “the last days” (Ezekiel 38:16). Could this be a reference to modern day events in the Middle East? While it is impossible to say for sure, the biblical prophecies refer to wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines. All of which are common news features today.
The passages generally associated with this event are: Zech 14:2-4 2I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the population will be taken into captivity, and the rest will be left among the ruins of the city. 3 Then the LORD will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. (Living Bible Translation)
Rev 16:12-17 12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it dried up so that the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance. 13 And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty. 15 “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” 16 And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon. 17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple, saying, “It is finished!” (LBT)
While the Bible purposely keeps the times and dates close to the chest, most Christians place their faith on the teaching that Jesus is coming again. It will occur in the midst of worldwide catastrophes. At such time he will come as the conqueror, “On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”