Saber rattling in the Middle East


Most Americans probably have not thought much about Iran lately. Then Monday morning came, and we woke up to headlines like the New York Times, “Citing Iranian Threat, U.S. Sends Carrier Group and Bombers to Persian Gulf.”

John Bolton, America’s National Security Adviser, was quoted by FOX News as saying, “Any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”

Iran has acted behind the scenes for several decades, funding and training terrorist groups in the Middle East and around the world. If the United Stars is going to release unrelenting force the next time someone with Iran’s backing does something dastardly, well, we will see that unrelenting force rather soon.

With over 600 rockets crashing into Israel from Gaza May 4-5, coming from the Palestinians and the Iranian backed Hezbollah what Mr. Boland said about, “Any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force” is ringing loud and clear.

Whenever there is saber rattling in the Middle East, I always receive questions wondering if Armageddon is about to begin. As far as Armageddon goes, as of the time of this writing, we are at least seven years away from Armageddon.

So what does the Bible say about what we are reading in our headlines this morning? Nothing specific, but in general, Christ tells us of “wars and rumors of wars” before His return (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9). Whether the events of the weekend are rumors or will break out into war, only time will tell; but Armageddon they are not.

So what does the Bible say about future events and in particular Iran?

Until the mid-twentieth century, Iran was called Persia by the rest of the world. “Iran” is the name of the country in the Persian language. The Bible uses the name “Persia” whenever talking about Iran.

The next event on the Biblical calendar is the rapture – when all true Christians will vanish as Jesus takes them to heaven to begin eternity (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

A few weeks, maybe a few months, after the rapture the Antichrist will sign a seven-year covenant with Israel – the signing of this treaty is the official beginning of the Tribulation Period.

These events lead me to the topic at hand – Iran. There are disputes about the timing of the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 among Bible scholars; some will put the events of those two chapters between the rapture and the signing of the treaty, others, like myself, set the event during the Tribulation. Regardless of the timing, the truth is that the Bible describes the demise of Persia in those two chapters.

Ezekiel 38-39 describe a coalition of nations that invade Israel. Those nations are (current names of these nations are in the parentheses) – Gog (Russia), Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer (Ukraine), Togarmah (Turkey), and Meshech and Tubal (land that covers parts of the former Soviet States).

It appears that the western nations attempt to stop the attack by diplomacy, but that attempt falls on deaf ears (Ezekiel 38:13).

The invading hoard is so massive the Bible describes it “as a cloud to cover the land” (Ezekiel 38:16).

With the Israeli army vastly outnumbered, God will intervene. God sends a massive earthquake, the invading forces in confusion will turn upon themselves, then God will send “an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:19-22). Side note – the description of God’s intervention in the battle is why I believe this battle to be the sixth seal of the Tribulation Period – see Revelation 6:12-17.

Only one-sixth of the enemy forces survive the battle (Ezekiel 39:2).

The cleanup from just the destroyed military equipment left by the mass of soldiers that flood over the Israel border will take seven years to burn away (Ezekiel 39:9). This time frame means that these weapons will still be smoldering after the Tribulation Period is over and Jesus Christ is sitting on the throne in Jerusalem.

What will happen over the next few days or weeks in the Persian Gulf? Only God knows. Jesus does tell us how Christians should respond when the sabers rattle – Mark 13:7, “And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.”


By Timothy Johnson

Preacher’s Point

Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: [email protected]. Website: E-book: If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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