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Middle East Peace - fantasy or reality?
Part One - Prophecy of peace

"The Road Map" and the programme to create a "democratic Palestinian State at Peace with Israel" being promoted by President George W. Bush which he says will bring lasting peace, once more directs the world's attention to Israel. Clearly the peace plans are not going according to plan as we continue to witness suicide bombings, political wranglings and talk of Arafat's expulsion. However it is not for us to predict the outcome of these latest efforts. God, the creator and sustainer of all things, is in control amongst the kingdom of men and therefore world affairs can change course in a very short period of time. From Bible prophecy we do know that Jesus Christ will come a second time and will judge the earth at a time when nations are crying "Peace and Safety!" (1 Thess. 3). This judgment will allow God's righteousness to be established-a prerequisite for lasting peace. We also know a peaceful atmosphere will exist before Jesus Christ reveals himself to the nations of this earth. How can we reconcile these prophecies and what do we expect will happen?

Part Two - God rules in the kingdom of men

Following last month's introductory paragraph above, we purpose to enlarge on the Bible statement that "God rules in the kingdom of men", and that he therefore "removes kings and sets up kings" (see Daniel 4.17 and 2.21).
Evidence of this can be seen in recent events in the Middle East arena. These dramatic events saw Saddam Hussein’s power finally wrenched from him with his capture by American soldiers. Saddam’s fall from power ends a 35-year period of brutality and murder during which he had terrorised the people of Iraq. His arrest opens a new chapter for the Iraqis, but one which no doubt will dominate Middle East politics for the foreseeable future.
These events bring to our notice the time frame within which, under the hand of God, this new situation has developed. Our minds go back to the 1991 Gulf War in which Saddam Hussein’s overthrow was abruptly denied the American forces by the then unexplainable decree of President George Bush senior. Having expelled the Iraqis from Kuwait and with the Iraqi army in retreat, the American advance and any attempt to apprehend Saddam Hussein was inexplicably stopped. The divine hand had decreed the time was not ripe for the reshaping of the Middle East! Saddam’s cup of iniquity was not yet full.

When viewing the situation that existed before the 1991 Gulf War, we can better appreciate the guiding hand of God in bringing about a reversal of a previous situation. When Iraq declared war on Iran she was courted by both France and America who, because they then considered Iran as a potential threat in the Middle East, supplied Iraq with arms and military equipment. The crushing defeat of Iraq over the Kuwait fiasco changed the whole scenario and brought Western powers in line with the purpose of God (see below).

On the Iraqi side, the invasion of Kuwait was hastily instigated without any apparent attempt at preparation for a successful outcome. "The timing of Saddam’s Kuwait adventure was wrong. He believed that a similar display of the iron determination he saw in Nebuchadnezzar would deliver victory for Iraq. Willpower was enough; tactical skill in pursuing his goals was beneath him. So he bungled over and over again". Observers were bewildered as to why Saddam did not pursue and perfect his nuclear weapons programme before launching his attack. "Why did he launch the invasion first and then begin the crash nuclear weapons programme, instead of the other way round? This was perhaps one of the world’s luckiest escapes in the last century. Had Saddam waited until his nuclear weapon was ready before attacking Kuwait, he would undoubtedly have pulled off his master stroke. If he had possessed an ounce of tactical skill, Saddam would have occupied Kuwait on a Monday, carried out a nuclear test on Tuesday and then declared that his bomb would be used against anyone attacking an inch of Iraqi territory, including its latest gain. Then Kuwait would have disappeared forever, there would have been no Gulf War, no question of deposing Saddam and he would have achieved regional dominance. At the same time he would probably have attacked Israel and the ultimate result could well have been a nuclear exchange in the Middle East" (acknowledgments to The Daily Telegraph). But God’s time had not come, and the people of Israel were given further time to develop their economy to the point of attracting envious Russian eyes (see below).

Saddam Hussein
It has also come to light that, when Yitzak Rabin was Prime Minister of Israel, he had authorised an attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein in revenge for Saddam’s launching of 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. Elaborate preparations were made for this to be carried out when Saddam attended the funeral of his uncle Khairallah Tulfah, who at the time was seriously ill and not expected to live. A number of practice runs were made by Israeli commandos at a specially-constructed model in the Negev desert of the cemetery in Ouja, Saddam’s birthplace. However, the final practice run ended in disaster, with five commandos being accidentally killed, and the plan had to be abandoned. Saddam’s number was not yet up!

The Middle East
The situation seems to mirror the times centuries ago when a ruler of the same territory waged his brutal atrocities against other nations in the Middle East, particularly against the people of Israel. Sennacherib was allowed free rein in his evil desires until the time came in God’s purpose for him to be restrained and his army decimated. Later, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and committed acts of brutality against its king and people, taking Jerusalem and holding captive in Babylon the people of God. It seems to be no coincidence that Saddam Hussein "saw himself as an immortal hero of the Arab world in the mould of Nebuchadnezzar. He knew in minute detail how Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 586 BC".

War in Iraq has brought American and British troops into the area. With the war won, both nations still have many troops and armaments in the country. It has just been announced that British troops are to remain in the country for a long time in the future, as will no doubt be the case with American troops. The scriptures have indicated that Britain and her allies will become closely associated with Israel at a time when Russia, Germany and France will seek greater influence in the area ending in their invasion of Israel. We are probably witnessing the final stages in the purpose of God which will eventuate in the return of Jesus to the earth.
With the removal of Saddam we can see Middle East politics being reshaped. Israel is no longer vulnerable to Iraqi belligerence. Now it is reported that Libya is seeking rapprochement with Israel. We may have opportunity to comment later on this development.

More soon... next part (God willing) ‘Two poles of power’ – Britain & America vs Europe & Russia as prophesied in scripture!

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