Is this the way to Armageddon?

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In an earlier blog I spoke about the unreported side of what’s going on in Egypt – namely the valiant and prophetic stance of its church, which is prepared to suffer abuse if it is the price of a free Egypt.

It now appears that mayhem is rampant again in Pakistan, where in August alone, a series of bombings and shootings happened in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. Over 90 were killed in 11 attacks, including 28 in a suicide bombing at a policeman’s funeral and 9 shot dead in an attack on a mosque; much of this is directed by Sunni Muslims at the Shi’a minority.

But now an estimated 139 Christians have been killed as they attended an Anglican church in the northern city of Peshawar. So the big question remains: What is driving violence in the Muslim world? Is it just Islam; or tribalism; or politics; or something else? It is a mixture of all these and more.

I grew up with the popular strain of Evangelical thinking that said:

In the ‘end-times’, the run-up to the Second Coming of Christ will see Arab Nations, led by an Anti-Christ [who will probably an Arab Muslim] joining with the Soviet Union to rise up against Israel, leading to Armageddon.

How times have changed! The Soviet Union is no more; the Arab Spring is calling for freedom – not a rigid Islam. There is a wider dynamic at work in the world which is bigger than mere political Islam.

Those looking for Armageddon have to factor in an underlying theme in the book of Revelation that, quite apart from a final apocalypse, its seven seals, trumpets and bowls portray social convulsions, which rage on throughout ‘AD history’. They affect politics, the military, economics, the environment and religion. This is the world we are living in today as righteousness is pitted against a “beast system”, which is seducing one hemisphere while brutally repressing the other. Such international turbulence is described as the ‘labour pangs’ which birth ‘new Jerusalem’ and lead to the renewal of all things (Mat.19:28).

muslim manHowever, the picture of the Revelation is of both severe suffering and the triumph of the gospel. This may explain why the following is also happening:

The murderous actions of radical Islamists represent the demonic fist of the same ‘beast system’ that is caressing the liberal democracies of the West, to death.

So rather than triumphing, we may actually be witnessing the ideological demise of “Islamism”. Both reformation and radicalisation have been emerging simultaneously. Will Islam ultimately tear itself apart?

‘Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong; that accounts for its frequent shrillness. Fundamentalist Islam will be dangerous for some time to come. Islam’s melancholic withdrawing roar may well be long and bloody – but withdraw it will. The fanatics and bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed Islam buts its death rattle.’ – Theodore Dalrymple

So is this more truly the way to Armageddon? More next time.

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