One thousand years after the Crusades, the Pope is calling for force to be used to protect Christians in the Middle East.
The Catholic website “Crux” is currently leading with the headline: “Vatican backs military force to stop ISIS ‘genocide’.” The news story begins with the following two paragraphs:
“In an unusually blunt endorsement of military action, the Vatican’s top diplomat at the United Nations in Geneva has called for a coordinated international force to stop the “so-called Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq from further assaults on Christians and other minority groups.
“We have to stop this kind of genocide,” said Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva. “Otherwise we’ll be crying out in the future about why we didn’t do something, why we allowed such a terrible tragedy to happen.”
At the same time, the Fox News website’s top story is: “Islamic State intensifies its efforts TO WIPE OUT CHRISTIANITY.”
Meanwhile, there has been another call for a European Army.
Presently, every single country in Europe has its own military. However, many European nations are members of NATO and co-operate greatly on defense. In spite of increasing threats to the peace and stability of Europe, some European countries have been cutting defense expenditure in order to balance their budgets in a time of austerity. This has caused some resentment in the United States. Many feel that Europeans are not pulling their weight. A number of countries are spending less than the required 2% of their budgets on defense.
At the same time, Europeans are concerned that Americans seem intent on raising the stakes in Ukraine by sending more arms to Kiev. This scares some European governments including Germany. Additionally, the US is closing 15 military bases in Europe, as if to emphasize that the country’s priorities are changing.
Europeans see Russia as their greatest threat at this time. So do many members of the US Congress. However, differences remain on how best to handle Russia.
The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, has called for an EU Army to make the Russians realize that Europe is serious about Russia’s threats (“Jean Claude Juncker calls for EU Army,” The Guardian, 8 March).
In the last twelve months, Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, continues to occupy (supposedly through surrogates) eastern Ukraine and has increased intimidating military flights over the Baltic countries and the United Kingdom.
But Russia may not be the biggest military challenge Europeans face. Islamic extremism could be an even bigger problem.
The Europeans have to contend with both ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The latter was behind the attacks in Paris in January. ISIS is now at Europe’s back door with a significant presence in Libya, Italy’s former colony, and not that far away from the Italian peninsula. ISIS also now has an ally in Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State a few weeks ago. Boko Haram is causing a great deal of turmoil in Nigeria and neighboring countries, all of which have commercial and historical ties with European countries and the EU.
The Bible highlights the fact that the Middle East is at the center of Bible prophecy. Many of the prophecies in scripture could not have been fulfilled until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire less than a hundred years ago. The subsequent peace treaty created a number of new countries, many of which remain in varying degrees of conflict and instability. Deeper tensions came with the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. These events have made the final biblical scenario all the more credible.
Daniel 11:40-41 prophecies: “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land (the Holy Land)….”
Earlier in chapter 11 we read a prophecy, written in the sixth century BC, of Alexander the Great. His empire, a fulfilled prophecy, came about two centuries after the prophetic words of Daniel were written. As predicted, his empire was eventually divided between his four generals. Two of these generals founded biblically significant dynasties, one to the north of Jerusalem (the King of the North, or the Seleucid dynasty) and one to the south of Jerusalem (the King of the South, or the Ptolemaic dynasty). These two dynasties were often in conflict. As the Jews were in the middle, they suffered greatly because of them.
After the horrendous climactic events in the middle of the second century BC, the prophecy takes us down to the present time, where, once again, there’s a king of the North and a King of the South. It should be noted that the prophecy has a gap of two thousand years because the Jews did not have a country of their own during that time. Now, once again, they do.
The ancient King of the North was conquered by the Roman Empire in 60 A.D. A new revived Roman Empire is going to emerge as the new King of the North, although it won’t be called by that name. But it will fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 11. It will send troops into the Middle East to deal with the growing threat of Islamic militancy, political turmoil and conflict. A European Army is more likely to be used in this region than against Russia.
But, after intervening in the Middle East, that same army may have to deal with Russia. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him . . .” (v. 44). It should be noted that Russia, Iran, Syria and a number of central Asian, former Soviet republics, co-operate militarily. If Europe was embroiled in the Middle East, Russia would no doubt take advantage and annex other countries that were formerly in its empire.
This brings us back to the pope’s call for force to be used to save Christians in the Middle East.
In the latter part of the eleventh century, Muslim Turks massacred Christians and treated surviving Christians cruelly. This led to Pope Urban II in 1095 calling for a Crusade against the Muslims, to free the Christians in the Holy Land. The Crusades lasted two hundred years.
Today, it’s not the Turks who are persecuting Christians. It’s ISIS and other extremis groups. And, it’s not just Christians who need protecting. Other minorities also need intervention on their behalf. But, as with events a thousand years ago, it could be the pope who calls nations to arms.
Western civilization is once again seriously threatened. Politicians, never able to see beyond the next election, seem blinded to this reality. The papacy is, once again, more in tune with global reality.
The pope’s call, together with the call for an EU Army, show that the prophecies of your Bible are on track, leading ultimately to the second coming of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom.