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The Nature of this Cosmic Conflict
In Defense of the Faith
Friday, December 04, 2015
Alf Cengia

I first heard this quote during a sermon on Daniel by Alistair Begg. It seems appropriate to cite it here:

If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came into view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there - that is where the real conflict is waged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash. ~ Abraham Kuyper

While Kuyper identified that the real conflict is waged in heaven, its ramifications are felt within our world (Dan 10:13-21). Not just in the spiritual (Ephesians 6:11-17) but also in the political and physical realm.

We are in a Cosmic Conflict which impacts us incrementally more as we approach the end of this age. The problem is that there's a denial over the nature of this conflict. Just recently, Pope Francis tweeted the following:

"Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters, and we must act as such."

The pope declared that the cause of violence is attributed to fundamentalism in all religions. He aspires to gather Christians and Muslims into a giant group hug and reassign them to what he believes to be the biggest problem facing humanity - Climate Change.

Focusing on the environment distracts us from the real issues. The nature of this Cosmic Conflict centers on Christ's soon coming, God's future Kingdom, the millennium, and the eternal destiny of unbelievers - not Climate Change.

Contrary to Pope Francis' tweet, faithful Muslims and Christians are linked by their humanity, but aren't of the same spiritual family. One denies Christ's relationship to the Father and the terms of salvation (Gal 3:26). One growing group wants to destroy all infidels and bring about a global Islamic State, while others want to eradicate Israel. These goals are governed by their theological pedigree.

Some have placed their fingers on part of the problem:

"The Islamic version of Armageddon teaches that Syria will be the location of the final battle [slaughter], where the blood that is shed will run knee deep through the streets. Hundreds of thousands of people will be killed. The Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina will collapse...So, when the international community launches air strikes against ISIS, and the Muslim jihadists see bombs, destruction and death - they are not surprised. In fact, the attacks fulfill their own prophecies and serve to encourage them. They believe that final judgment takes place in Syria." ~ Eugene Bach, ISIS - The heart of Terror (pp 33-34)

Bach also made interesting observations regarding Israel and its neighbors:

"The primary goal of the caliph is to capture the crown jewel - Jerusalem. Israel is located in the Levant. In recent history, Muslims have been able to occupy almost every country in the Middle East; but, for reasons that cannot be fully understood, the tiny country of Israel has defied the odds. Even though it is completely surrounded by Muslim countries, it has been able to resist and repel every attack of its Muslim neighbors." (p 28, emphasis mine)

If we take biblical prophecy seriously, there is no mystery. We can understand why Israel has survived these attacks. We need to recognize that God has a redemptive plan for Israel which will be realized at the inauguration of the future millennium.

This doesn't mean that Israel wins every battle. However, in God's schema, Israel must be present in the land prior to Christ's Second Advent (see Zechariah chapters 13 and 14). Moreover, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum has noted that a prerequisite for Christ's second coming is that Israel asks Him to return. See Hos 5:15, Zec 13:9 and Matt 23:39.

This being the case, we can understand why Israel has been subjected to so much conflict and animosity. Satan wants to destroy Israel to impede the coming Kingdom.

Dispensational teacher George Gunn isn't someone who reads prophecy with the daily newspaper handy. Yet he takes biblical prophecy seriously and understands what drives fundamental Islam. I recommend listening to a talk he delivered addressing the Middle East, the Paris attacks in light of history and God's ultimate plan.

Why was France-Paris singled out? What prompted the crusades? Was it all tit for tat with equal culpability? What does the Crusader Castle Krak des Chevaliers in Syria have to do with anything? Is terrorism really enabled by Climate Change? Watch Gunn's presentation HERE.

The supersessionist view of ecclesiology has anesthetized the church into believing it has replaced Israel and that prophecy must therefore be spiritualized. They've relegated the Bible to a document which may only be understood by clued-up Gnostics. In that climate, how could Jesus expect the Emmaus disciples to ever have understood Old Testament references to Himself (Luke 24:13-27)?

This past week I came across two articles written by preterists.

The first one was written by a popular Christian apologist known for biting sarcasm. He zealously allegorized the Olivet Discourse into the framework of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

The second was written by Gary DeMar, a postmillennialist who claims the gospel will change the world. That isn't what an honest look at biblical eschatology reveals. And it isn't what we see occurring, even after two thousand years of the gospel message.

He scoffs at a future Gog-Magog event and claims his library is filled with books on failed prophecy. While we can quibble about different interpretations of Gog-Magog, you'd have to actively ignore the blindingly obvious: after centuries Israel is now a nation and its neighbors have failed to destroy it despite several attempts.

DeMar once told a dispensationalist that he didn't take the word "soon" in Revelation literally enough. He said that "soon" means "soon." As the dispensationalist pointed out, DeMar then proceeded to take everything else in a "very non-literal way."

Another common example of scriptural fudging is the insistence that the flowing of water from the temple in Ezekiel 47 was fulfilled by Jesus, who is our River of Life. Similar allegorical interpretations have been assigned to the splitting of the Mount of Olives (Zec 14:4).

Is it any wonder that the church as a whole hasn't recognized what is really occurring in the Middle East, and the dynamics which draws the rest of the world into this conflict?

We may not yet fully understand how the current conflicts play out in the long term. But we are likely seeing the culmination of an ancient Cosmic Chess Match for this earth, involving the nations as chess pieces. The center pieces of the game are the earth, Israel and human souls.

Ask yourself these questions: If Israel was prophetically insignificant, then why has it always been a focus of conflict and hatred? If the church is spiritual Israel, then why hasn't Christ returned yet? Read Matt 23:39 again. Why are Christians so marginalized and persecuted in an era which boasts enlightenment?

The strategy of the Enemy is to dumb down Scripture. To adequately understand this Cosmic Conflict we must believe the Bible. Unfortunately, too many in the church don't take it seriously.

It's time we paid attention.

Can you hear the footsteps of the Messiah?

About Alf Cengia

Last article: Salon Misreading the Bible



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