We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching
the Bible and understanding our time in
the light of Bible prophecy
Iran, Israel and the 12th Imam
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
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.