ISIS and the End Times
One of the most shocking aspects of the rise of ISIS, particularly with regard to the horrifying murders it has committed, is the pure, unadulterated hatred that has accompanied these gruesome acts. Where does it come from? The secular media hasn’t a clue. It says, if only ISIS members weren’t so poor; if only they had more jobs. However, if we look deeper, we will soon discover that ISIS views Judaism and Christianity as religious competitors that must be silenced through any and every means possible. Only one worldview can emerge victorious—and according to ISIS, the final chapter of history must end in victory for Muhammad.
The Maze of Islamic Eschatology
Islamic eschatology is difficult to understand and sure to confuse those who have little or no knowledge of religious systems in general and Islam in particular. This is why many are puzzled about the motivations of ISIS. Some members may simply be driven by the desire to inflict harm and pain on others, but most are committed to a certain theology that shapes their present and future.
The recent execution of 21 Coptic Christians can shed some light on ISIS’ motivations. In the video released on Sunday, February 15, 2015 the phrase “They supplicate what they worship and die upon their paganism,” appears on the screen as the men are lowered to their knees. This puzzling assertion holds a clue as to ISIS’ understanding of end-times prophecy and attitude toward Christianity. For ISIS, the presumed Christian veneration of the cross is evidence of the corrupt nature of Christian theology. In fact, Christianity is viewed as a threat to ISIS’ dream of the establishment of the future caliphate (Islamic government) and the authority of the Mahdi (Islamic messiah).
It might come as a surprise, but Jesus is a central figure in the end of days in Islamic theology. However, in their way of thinking, Jesus’ role is to put an end to all religions other than Islam. Of course, this is not the Jesus of the Bible. It is the Jesus of Islamic conception.
Arming Ourselves with the Truth
There are some amazing parallels between Christian, Jewish, and Islamic end-time scenarios. All recognize a final confrontation between the forces of evil and the forces of righteousness. Islam and Christianity see a role for an Antichrist-like figure and acknowledge the importance of Jesus.
The differences, however, far outweigh the similarities. A
Jesus who stands for the destruction of Jews and Christians? Unthinkable! A Christ who returns to establish the caliphate of Islam? Not according to the inspired Jewish prophets!
Believers are facing grave challenges today from ISIS. We must first and foremost arm ourselves with the knowledge that our scriptures provide in order to combat falsehood. We must also understand the kind of battle in which we are engaged. As the Apostle Paul writes, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
Finally, we must acknowledge that ISIS is not well understood by the West. We must reckon with the motivation that sanctions gruesome killings and a variety of criminal activities all in the name of a religious belief that may be as fervently cherished as that of the most convinced Christian and observant Jew. This is in fact what makes ISIS so dangerous, as they are driven by their theology. And if anyone can understand this—we can!
We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem. If ISIS has its way, it will stop at nothing to either destroy or take over Israel. Neither Isaiah nor Jeremiah ever named ISIS specifically, but they do say enemies would surround Israel, and this is apparently coming true in even more alarming fashion. As the second coming of the Lord looks closer and closer as the predicted future unfolds before our eyes, let us pray, but also prepare our hearts for the difficult times to come by drawing close to the Lord. Let us also do all we can in these days to proclaim the truth that there is salvation in no one other than Jesus the Messiah. This is true for Jewish people and non-Jews, whether they follow Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam.
We worship a Savior who loved us all so much that He died for our sins and rose from the grave, conquering death. We serve an all-powerful God and we should not fear the future. We should look ahead knowing that what was foretold will come to pass. Our responsibility is to be His vessels of mercy and grace to all—to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles—including ISIS!