WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING IN THE MIDDLE EAST?
It all began two months ago when a 26-year-old Tunisian set himself on fire. He had reached his breaking point when the local authorities confiscated his vegetable cart, the only source of livelihood for the family. While we were busy with our last-minute Christmas shopping, angry demonstrators were taking to the streets throughout Tunisia. By January 14, President Ben Ali was ousted and his security forces were chased away. Inspired by these events, violent riots erupted in the neighboring countries of Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Jordan and Yemen. In Egypt, Facebook pages were set up calling for 25 of January to be “a day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.” Tens of thousands poured into the streets throughout Egypt. We have all seen the recent images from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. After 18 days of standoff, Mubarak stepped down as the President of Egypt. Since then the domino effect has spread to Bahrain and Iran. What do we make of all this?
First, it is high time we start listening to the young generation. Revolutions are no longer lead by some old disgruntled leader living in exile. It can be sparked by techno savvy youth who are frustrated because of unemployment, corruption and injustice. With Facebook and Twitter as their bullhorn, they have proven that they can shake up any establishment.
Second, the youth need to be aware that a shakeup is like an earthquake. It can loosen things but it cannot decide how the ground will settle. Think back to the Iranian revolution in 1979. Promises were made of a popularly elected government that would represent the people of Iran and with which the clergy would not interfere. Instead of democracy and freedom, Iranians received three decades of brutality and repression. Recent events in the Middle East show that religious extremists are trying to sabotage the movements of the young people for their own evil purpose.
Third, we in America should appreciate and defend our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We need to remember that the freedoms we enjoy are based on biblical values. If we tear down our Christian foundation, it won’t be long before we too return to the dark ages. God’s word to America is, “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12) We are not exempt from the judgment to come. “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” (Longfellow’s translation of an old phrase) We need to pray for a revival in our own nation.
Finally, there is a new world disorder emerging before our eyes. People ask me, “Are the events in the Middle East the signs of the end-times?” My answer: The changing governments resemble the rebellious nations in the end times. It could be that the stage is being set for the last act of the Tribulation, as revealed in Isaiah 19 and Daniel 11. However, here is a caution – The next event in God’s prophetic calendar is not the Tribulation but the Rapture. While there are many signs during the Tribulation, the Rapture is a sign less event. Christ can come for His church at any moment and signal the beginning of the Tribulation.
The end of the world could be moments away or as Joel Rosenberg has said, “God can kick the prophetic can down the road.” The real question is “Are you ready to meet Christ?”