Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The End of the World as We Know It

Munich, Baton Rouge, Nice, Dallas, San Bernardino, Paris – the list grows as Europe and the United States reel under assault by fanatical terrorists.  The increasing fear and uncertainty that lay behind the Brexit vote threatens to fragment the European Union, and may propel a New York real estate magnate to the presidency of the United States. 

It is not the first time that the West looked on in horror, helpless to avert the looming threat. In the last century Europe faced an enemy that appeared unstoppable and bent on conquest. France with her mighty armies had fallen in mere days to the armored columns of the Wehrmacht. Attempts to appease Hitler had failed, sweeping Churchill— the one leader with the will to resist the Nazis—into power. The pugnacious Prime Minister stood before Parliament and laid down the gauntlet. “The Battle of Britain has begun,” he announced, and “upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.” The rest, as they say, is history.

A monstrous evil that eclipses by a quantum leap that of the Third Reich is waiting in the wings to initiate the Final Battle between the forces of good and evil. Scripture is not silent regarding this end-time conflagration: one depiction found in Ezekiel is known as the battle of Gog and Magog. The mysterious participants in this future war have been misidentified by a generation of prophecy teachers, many of whom interpreted the eschatological texts in the light of outdated Cold War politics. After all, it made perfect sense that the Soviet Union—that champion of atheistic communism—would one day lead an invasion of Israel. Similarly, the penchant for viewing the Antichrist as a Communist dictator led to the bizarre theory that two hundred million Chinese will invade the Holy Land.

The Soviet Union came and went after seventy years: today’s Russian army boasts more than a thousand chaplains, with many thousands of soldiers receiving Holy Communion as President Vladimir Putin oversees a renaissance of traditional Orthodox values. Ties with Israel have never been stronger or more amicable. Meanwhile China, which has never shown a propensity to directly attack the Jewish state, faces an intractable internal threat which may provide a clue as to the true identity of the mysterious Gog and Magog.

The threat lies in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Middle Kingdom’s largest province that encompasses the vast mountainous territories of western China which are intersected by the fabled Silk Road of medieval times. The Uyghur inhabitants of Xinjiang are ethnically related to Turkish peoples throughout Central Asia, and historically the area was known as Chinese Turkestan.

Significantly, about half of Xinjiang is Muslim, compared to only 2 percent of the rest of China. Radical Muslim groups have in recent years fomented violent protests in which hundreds of Uyghurs have died. The Chinese government has voiced concern that foreign jihadists are behind the unrest, and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has publicly called on Chinese Muslims to pledge allegiance to him. An English-language magazine released by al-Qaeda described Xinjiang as an occupied Muslim land to be recovered into the Caliphate (Muslim state).

Indeed, a historical analysis of the identity of Gog and Magog based upon ancient Assyrian and Greek sources reveals that they inhabit the lands of Central Asia stretching from Turkey eastward towards Xinjiang. Moreover, it is these lands of Gog and Magog which have for millennia harbored enmity toward Christendom—historically Europe—as well as towards the land of Israel.

A new thesis challenges the prevailing ahistorical interpretation of these shadowy foes. Instead of appearing on the world stage suddenly and magically, the ghosts of Gog and Magog have haunted history since the time of Ezekiel, emerging periodically from their remote lair in Asia with “great hordes” of armed horsemen, “all of them brandishing their swords” to rain down terror upon distant lands. The footsteps of these invaders of old may be traced: their names are known to us variously as Scythians, Huns, Mongols, and Ottoman Turks. 

Fast forward to the present: the recent coup attempt in Turkey is seen as a last, desperate attempt by mid-level military officers to preserve Mustafa Ataturk’s secularization of the Turkish state.  Observers fear that President Recep Erdogan has now been given a “green light” to advance a radical Islamic agenda. Europe is already reeling under the influx of millions of Muslim refugees, many facilitated by Turkey, a tiny percentage of which—it only takes a few agent provocateurs—are spreading chaos, rocking Europe to its very foundations.

And also in the United States. Indeed, Christendom in the form of Western Europe and the United States is coming under concerted attack by Islamic extremists, who have as a parallel goal the destruction of the Jewish State. A great—perhaps ultimate—clash of civilizations is in the making, and what remains to be seen is whether America will overcome its moral impotency and take a stand against the ferocious assault from the lands of Gog and Magog. We can only hope and pray that with God’s help we will prevail, for in the words of Winston Churchill, “But if we fail, then the whole world . . . including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age.”

Copyright 2016 Timothy J. Dailey. Used by permission.

Best-selling author Timothy J. Dailey has an earned doctorate in Theology and Ethics from Marquette University.  He and his family served as missionaries to the Middle East, living in Bethlehem on the West Bank in Israel, where he observed Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles attacking Israel during the Gulf War.  The article was adapted from his new book, Apocalypse Rising: Chaos in the Middle East, the Fall of the West, and Other Signs of the End Times.

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