As most people in the world now and since September 11, 2001 know one central and growing feature of world events is strife, conflicts and threat of an even wider or deeper conflict between Islam on one hand and the West and the rest of the world on the other. I do not limit this phenomena to only a conflict between Islam and the West because other parts of the world have substantial numbers of both Muslims and non-Muslims. In these places there are some problems with strife or violent incidents especially by militant or fundamentalist Muslims and but sometimes with provoking by non-Muslims. Some notable areas of conflict with Muslims outside the West are in mainly Xinjiang region of northwest China, the mostly Muslim province of Kashmir in northern India and in some African countries like Nigeria and Sudan that have significant populations of Muslims and non-Muslims. Having said that it seems especially true since and partly as a result of United States' "War on Terrorism" that started and was provoked by the Al Qaeda terrorist group's use of fueled hijacked airplanes that were crashed into and unfortunately very successfully destroyed the two World Trade Centre towers in New York City. This attack also killed many people in New York City. On September 11, 2001 militant Muslims with Al Qaeda also crashed another hijacked plane into the U.S. Pentagon in Washington D.C. There are also rumours with some substantiation that a 4th hijacked plane was targeted for the U.S. Capital building or White House in Washington D.C. Fortunately the plane targeted for the Capital building or the White House was brought down over a field in Pennsylvania with little or no damage on the ground. This was due to the courageous actions of some of the crew or passengers overpowering the hijackers while the plane was in the air.
What is quite clear and what was likely the reason for the Al Qaeda terrorist group choosing these three targets was to cause damage, destruction and/or loss of life at the buildings that are key sites of United States' (America's) economy, military and government. This was also intended to give a general sense of vulnerability, terror, fear and depression to the West but especially the United States. While there is more widespread resentment in the Muslim world against Israel and the Jews having their own nation in the Holy Land and the United States led War on Terrorism that is mostly against militant Muslims or militant Muslim countries or organizations such as Al Qaeda, most moderate Muslims do not agree with the tactics of Al Qaeda or similiar militant Muslim organizations. Instead most moderate Muslims want to try to live more at peace with the West and the rest of the world although they would still hold to Islam as the superior religion, society and world view or system. In the Great Tribulation some especially moderate Muslims will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and receive God's eternal life and forgiveness of all their sins through His blood shed on the cross. Some other moderate Muslims will join the one-world interfaith movement or religion of the last days described as mystery Babylon led by the Roman Catholic Church in the Great Tribulation. Many moderate Muslims will probably continue to be moderate Muslims also in the Great Tribulation.
This of course was followed by U.S. President George W. Bush declaring and ordering steps be taken for both offence and defence and national security against "terrorists" especially associated with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden who made no secret of his directing of his directing and organizing the September 11, 2001 attacks against United States but instead gloated over these actions as was plainly shared on some videos with Osama bin Laden first aired on the Arabic television network Al Jazeera.
From my own research and from the index of an excellent book "Inside Al Qaeda - Global Network of Terror" by Rohan Gunaratna I have found that Al Qaeda means literally "the (military) base (or barracks)" and is a very telling indication of the mindset and intentions of Al Qaeda. It probably originally referred to their bases in Afghanistan where they had their base, headquarters or stronghold when Afghanistan was ruled by the likeminded Islamic Taliban government. This Taliban government has since been overthrown and replaced by a pro-western government led by Hamed Karzai. However there is a continuing struggle with Afghan and western forces to prevent the Taliban or a similiar force from gaining power, influence and territory in Afghanistan. Although the U.S. and the U.S. sympathizing anti-Taliban Afghan warlords and militias gained control over most of Afghanistan, not many Taliban political or military leaders were caught to face justice or perhaps reformed but instead fled to live among the people or across the border in Pakistan or in other Muslim countries where they could live safely and for some of them plan future attacks or operations against the West or non-Muslim non-Western countries that co-operate with the West. There were also many Muslim fighters in Afghanistan from Arabic or other Muslim countries like Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and others.
Since September 11, 2001 the U.S. led war against and overthrowing the Taliban regime has led to intense and expensive nation wide security measures. These measures are continuing to develop in the United States and to some extent other Western or non-Islamic countries. There has also been much general anti-Muslim or anti-Arab backlash in the West especially in the United States. This has made things very difficult for Muslims or even other Middle Eastern people who wish to take a more moderate stand and differentiate themselves from more radical Muslims. This phenomena is so prevalent and viewed as unjust stereotyping it has gained the unenviable name of "racial profiling". Although expensive, the anti-terrorism security measures taken by the U.S. and other countries have likely and in some cases certainly foiled specifically planned and well advanced terrorist attacks.
There also continues to be occasional new video tapes from Al Qaeda with Osama bin Laden or other high- ranking members or spokesmen of their organization. It is worth noting that although Saudi Arabia is officially an ally of the United States and the West most, I think 15, of the 19 terrorists who hijacked and crashed or tried to crash the planes into key American targets were from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has a hardline or fundamentalist version of Islam despite its alliance with the West including providing space for a Western mility base in Saudi Arabian territory. The "War on Terrorism" was also used as part of the excuse for George W. Bush's launching his war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This was a much more controversial decision than the war against Afghanistan, has less international support, divided the United Nations and has now led to a difficult process of setting up an alternate government in Iraq and rebuilding the country and opening it to the rest of the world.
There are various reasons for significant support or willingness for some from Muslim countries to join Al Qaeda or similiar and sometimes co-operating hardline Muslim terrorist organizations. One reason is that some of the more fundamentalist or militant Muslims regard the culture of the 7th century in Arabia, that their prophet Mohammed lived in, to be the ideal society for all Muslims to establish in their countries in all centuries until it is established in all the world. This would also force the use of Sharia law that is based only on the Muslim scriptures, the Quran and I think their commentary the Hadith, to govern all aspects of religion, politics and society. This of course is in direct conflict or cross purposes with many other worldviews both secular and religious in the world. These other worldviews include secular humanism and most versions of Christianity that are common in the West that encourage scientific, technological or cultural progress and embracing new things.
Personally I believe and I also think the Bible would say especially from Genesis 1:28 where God gave Adam the first man and by extension Eve and the whole human race the authority "to replenish (fill) the Earth and subdue it" and to have dominion (rule) over creation. This would among other things condone the modern scientific method and progress. The affluence and peace of the West due to such factors as Judaeo-Christian God acknowledging values, compassion ministries to the sick, poor, old or otherwise less well off such as hospitals, food banks, subsidized housing, nursing homes, social security, life and heart transforming gospel preaching and bible teaching, Judaeo-Christian and old Roman legal systems, widespread education, democracy with orderly replacement and accountability of government and their spending and actions and, scientific and technological progress and innovations are both envied and resented in the Islamic world. However these aspects of the West are mostly resented by militant or fundamentalist Muslims. They especially resent what they see as an excessive share of world power and influence even in relation to or in the lands of Islamic nations or people. These militant or fundamentalist Muslims see the modern society of the West as corrupt, ungodly and/or worldly departures from what they see as the simple and strict original Islam of the 7th century under Mohammed. Muslims particularly fundamentalist Muslims, see Islam in the 7th century under Mohammed as Allah's (their idea of God's) pure form of government, religion and society. Especially the militant and fundamentalist Muslims like those associated with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda also greatly resent the re-establishment of Israel as a Jewish nation in the holy land since 1948 and Israel's capturing and continuing to have some sovereignty over the old city in east Jerusalem since 1967. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda also resent western political (including in the United Nations), military and other support of Israel by the West especially the United States.
However Bible believing or evangelical Christians including myself see the reestablishment and continued existence and western or Christian support of Israel as a Jewish nation a Christian duty and priviledge. Christians also are encouraged to support Israel as we see the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 as fulfillment of asign according to God's Word - the Holy Bible of the beginning of the last days before the Lord Jesus Christ returns and the assurance that most other prophecies about Israel, the nations and the Church concerning the last days will soon be fulfilled. Israel and the Jewish people, the Lord Jesus Christ and Christians all one way or another trace our background and allegiance back to Abraham and for the Jewish people also Isaac and Jacob (Israel). Muslims claim their links to Abraham through Mohammed who was a descendant of Abraham through Ishmail. Muslims also trace their background through Mohammed to Ishmail and Abraham through following the Quran that was written by Mohammed. Arabs are also directly each descendants or Abraham through Ishmail. There has been strife and a conflict down through the centuries between Ishmail and Isaac and between Esau who gave birth to the Edomites or Idumeansand Jacob who was renamed Israel. Long ago the Edomites were assmilated with the Arabs. Although I personally feel it is not something desirable or to be proud of, there seems to be a continuing development of strife and conflict between the Judaeo-Christian world and the Islamic world. I fear, not for myself but for those that are left behind after the rapture, that this stife and conflict will continue to worsen and get out of control turning into a full-blown war at the beginning of the 7 year 70th week of Daniel or the Great Tribulation. It should be noted that not all westerners are Christians and also that not all Arabs or other Middle Eastern or other people in predominantly Muslim lands are Muslims, some are Christians even true or born again Christians with a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
One thing about Christianity should be kept in mind in what has been written previously in this paper or any analysis of world events especially with regard to the relation of the West and the Middle East. This is that there are basically two types of theology in professing Christianity. They are Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology. Although there are a number of differences and some different versions of each of these theologies, there are common characteristics of each. Dispensational Theology comes especially from a literal interpretation of God's Word - the Holy Bible and is held by myself and most evangelical Christians and some Pentecostal Christians. It says that the Church and Israel are both God's special people but that the Church can be thought of as God's chosen heavenly people and Israel as God's chosen earthly people. Covenant Theology teaches there is just one chosen people of God to whom the covenants apply and that this includes both the Church and Israel.
Dispensational Theology teaches that God dealt with the world through Israel from Abraham until Pentecost and will again in the Great Tribulation and the Millenial or Messianic Kingdom when Jesus Christ sets up God's Kingdom over all the Earth ruling from Jerusalem and Israel. Although Jesus Christ and His disciples started the Church, Dispensational Theology teaches that they were under the time of the Law of Moses and God's dealing with the world through Israel until the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the beginning of the Church Age(Dispensation) or Age(Dispensation) of Grace or Age(Dispensation) of the Holy Spirit. A dispensation can be defined from its word in the Greek original language of the New Testament which is "economio" from where we get our word economy. A dispensation is a specific way or economy or administration God uses with humanity or a subset of humanity in a certain age. This present Church age will last just a bit longer until the rapture when all true Christians who have personally received Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh who died for our sins and rose from the dead as our Lord and Saviour will be raised from the dead(for those true Christians who have already died). They will then be given new eternal heavenly and spiritual bodies. Those Christians still physically alive on Earth when the Lord Jesus Christ comes at the rapture for His Church will instantly have their bodies transformed from our current earthly and natural bodies into heavenly and spiritual bodies. This will all take place when Jesus Christ ends this Church Age by taking His Church of true Christians along the Holy Spirit to Heaven and His restraining work of evil and violence directly and through the Church.
Dispensational Christians feel obliged to support the Jewish nation of Israel and the Jewish people because we feel indebted to them for their giving us our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (the Messiah) (through the Jewish virgin Mary) and most of the scriptures including most of the New Testament We also feel supportive of them because we believe God still has some covenants with Israel that area not with the Church and because God has preserved the Jewish people and has now also reestablished the nation of Israel. As Dispensational Christians that take a literal interpretation of all of God's Word, unless the literal interpretation doesn't make sense, we believe God has a purpose to use them as His witnesses to the world in the imminent 70th week of Daniel or Great Tribulation starting right after the rapture. We also believe God has preserved the Jewish people and reestablished the nation of Israel so God after the Great Tribulation can set up His 1000 year or Millenial Kingdom in the glorious return of His Son and Annointed One or Messiah (Christ) Jesus of Nazareth. Dispensational Theology Christians don't think God has forsaken the Jewish people because they or their leaders mostly rejected their Messiah Jesus Christ the 1st time two thousand years ago but that God's covenants with the Jewish pepole were mostly at God's initiative and are unconditional and are based on God wanting to preserve His good name not on Israel's faithfulness or lack of it. However these covenants with Israel were established initially because of the faithfulness of some notable people of Israel such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob(Israel), Moses and King David. Finally as Dispensational Christians we place a high value on the literal interpretation and accuracy (infallibility) of all of God's Word - the Holy Bible. This also leads us to believe that God will honour all the covenants with Israel even though it has been over 2000 years since most of them were made and have yet to be completely fulfilled. We see the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 and the preservation of Israel including through the Nazi Holocaust of World War 2 as an indication God will fulfill the remaining parts of the Old Testament Covenants with Israel literally very shortly.
Although there several major and other minor references to the Rapture in the New Testament scriptures, the main passage is in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It is not referred to in the Old Testament at all. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The main passage about the Holy Spirit being the restrainer of evil and violence at this time and throughout this age since Pentecost and to the Rapture when He or His restraint will be removed is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7: And now you know what withholdeth (restrains) that he (the Anti-Christ or the man of sin or beast out of the sea) might be revealed in his time. For the mystery(something revealed in the New Testament but not in the Old Testament) of iniquity(lawlessness) does already work: only he who letteth(restrains) will let(restrain), until he (the Holy Spirit) be taken out of the way(probably with believers to Heaven). 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7
If the Holy Spirit does have a work on Earth during the tribulation or 70th week(of 7 years) of Daniel it won't be like His current work of convicting all people saved or unsaved of sin and indwelling all believers on Earth. Instead His work in the Great Tribulation will probably be like His work in the Old Testament days and the other 69 weeks of Daniel where He just came upon selected believers for special work in God's service.
On the other hand Covenant Theology Christians which include most Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and older Protestant denominations, southern Baptists including President George W. Bush and some of his close advisors or cabinet and some Pentecostal Christians believe that Jews or Israel and Christians or the Church are just different parts of God's chosen people. They don't believe there are different ages or dispensations but that Christians for example can fully apply many of the Old Testament scripures to Israel now. They generally also don't believe in the rapture or in a Millenial Kingdom with Israel as the head nation on Earth as prophesied in much of the Old Testament but think that God permanently abandonned the Jewish people when they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Covenant Theology Christians also think that since Christians and Israel are both God's people that God has given Earthly or worldly power to Christians or culturally or traditionally Christian nations like some western nations to establish God's Kingdom by force. This would include military, economic, political or other means. This is the thinking behind George W. Bush and many of his leading advisors and administration and his father who was also president of the United States. George W. Bush and many of his advisors are Southern Baptists and feel God has given them a mandate to help establish God's Kingdom on Earth through political, social, economic, diplomatic and military means with respect to countries they see as non-Christian such as Islamic countries. Southern Baptists and some Pentecostals think God hasn't forsaken Israel but that they are the same as Christians and should be supported as part of God's people.Conclusion of this Article The Looming Conflict
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