Don’t you enjoy watching God work out His plan, both in your own life and in the greater scheme of world events? A case in point earlier in my life was the time when our children were in grade school, and I took the family up to Oregon and Washington one summer for some camping.
My plan was we were going to stay at a hotel the first night and the last night, and camp for up to a week between the two hotel stays. We arrived in the Portland area and the hotel clerk said they did not keep our reservation due to an oversight, but to make up for it would I drive 19 miles further up the freeway to stay at their next hotel and we could stay for free? Agreeing, I started the drive and was thinking God is doing something here.
Sure enough the next day, we were told at the campground at Mt. Rainier that it was by reservation only and there was an empty spot but we would have to leave a day earlier than I had planned. Ah, that was it, I thought. Calling ahead to the hotel on the Oregon coast for the last night, they said I could come one day early. Money was tight in those days, and God was rearranging our vacation schedule. He knew we wouldn’t be able to camp as long as we planned so He was arranging for our hotel stay. He simply took the money for the first night and added it to the end, while still giving us a place to stay the first night.
I don’t really remember anything else that happened that was significant during that trip, but God knows, but I do know it was another lesson to me that my God was watching me and was there to show me the path that I should go. We are indeed His sheep as it says in Psalm 100:3 and He is the shepherd as in Psalm 23. His staff does comfort me because he uses it to block one of two paths, so I know I am going down the path He wants me to go, and more importantly I know He is near, watching me and guiding me.
Our God is sovereign meaning He rules this earth and universe, and His plans always continue to work to carry out His purpose. He has continued to show up in my life in different ways over the last many years, teaching me who He is, how to recognize Him working, and teaching me how to be more like Him. The working of His plans become evident once you learn to see them!
So it is these days with the Four Signposts, and with the specific topic of this post – a red herring that comes very close to the Signposts but still misses them. Let me explain. The interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8 yielding the Signposts is the simplest and most straightforward reading of those chapters that I have encountered. The reason it may seem complicated is because you first have to know your Roman and Islamic history over ancient and medieval times. Once you know the history which is explained in my book Daniel Revisited, piece by piece and taking the reader by the hand, this interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8 and the unsealing of Daniel become plain. After that, one only needs to open their eyes and note everything that has happened and is happening in the Middle East and God’s plan unfolding becomes plain. His purposes aren’t always known at the time – they become apparent later – but His plans are seen working.
It is when people don’t know documented history, so they cannot understand Daniel properly, that the Four Signposts are missed. Daniel 7 and 8 can be plainly read – even Daniel 7:17 and 8:17 – but today’s popular prophecy theories with their old, tired, and false assumptions require one to ignore these and other verses in those texts.
It is sad to me that in addition to the worst red herrings of preterism, and then of historicism, which would keep us from watching for signs of Christ’s coming, there is the red herring that is the belief known as Roman Antichrist which keeps us from watching and understanding the Middle East. But closer to home, and near the Signposts is yet another red herring among those who believe the Antichrist will be Muslim. And it just came up this year.
Like the camping trip several years ago, some things have been popping up that I could have reacted to, but I wanted to hold back until I saw a larger picture. I first saw a few stories come out of the western media talking about an alliance emerging between Turkey and Iran. I didn’t think much of it because the western media regularly misses things and is fooled. Turkey being Sunni Muslim and Iran being Shia Muslim are the newest reasons to be archenemies. Just as the old Persian Empire opposed the Greek and Macedonian states, and Rome opposed Parthia, so now Sunni Turkey opposes Shia Iran. The whole idea of the two countries being buddies now is just plain ludicrous.
So the politicians in Turkey and Iran want to diffuse tensions over Syria. That’s the type of things politicians do. If I remember correctly, American and Soviet-era politicians would visit each other to diffuse tension or even try some cooperation but to then say they were allies? The western secular media is fooled, but it doesn’t take much to fool them. This developing story has been reported by Reuters, Al-Jazeera, and the Huffington Post.
I suppose the appeal of such a development to prophecy students and teachers is that it could look like there is finally a development in the emergence of the caliph, hence the Mahdi, and hence the Antichrist. The problem is that we would be looking down the wrong trail. Not only does plain logic about Sunni vs. Shia make this whole idea untenable, but the Four Signposts shows it is highly unlikely.
For a time, Joel Richardson was wondering about this development and speculated about it. But I have not seen anything about it in a long time so I assume he has moved on. However, just in the last week or so readers wrote me about Walid Shoebat’s recent article (“Antichrist Nation of Turkey is Behind the Islamic Caliphate”) on this very topic. People were saying how wonderful it is that Daniel is being unsealed so that others like Walid might finally be “getting” it. But when he wrote how Turkey will consume much flesh (as the bear) but is also referred to as the leopard, coupled with using stories to justify his claims which no English reader could read, as well as the links being to sites not articles, and on top of that claiming for instance that the freeing of the truck drivers was tied to the kidnapping of embassy personnel, the scholarship is lacking and the zeal for a prophetic development twists some facts to fit the picture.
Yes it is good to see more people comparing the beasts to modern Middle East nations. But by forcing a picture of Turkey and Iran bringing about the Caliph together it gives the prophecy student a false sense of what is happening and keeps them from being ready for the Iranian invasion and knowing at that point that it is God’s Word telling us God’s plan is now moving toward the Tribulation – so be ready. When the Iranian invasion does occur, prophecy teachers including Walid and those who follow him will be scrambling to figure out what happened.
In other words, this whole Turkey and Iran being allies theme is another red herring.
Since it does bother me to have say such things about an article written by Walid, who has done much to help the prophetic cause, I felt I shouldn’t write a whole article going into the details on that specific piece. Instead I felt the thing to do was wait and see what God might bring up to speak to it. I didn’t have to wait long.
An article came up on the Al-Monitor site titled “Echoes of apocalypse in Iraq conflict.” I quote parts of it here but it is a good article to read in its entirety. The author starts out with an interesting statement that caught my eye:
“When George W. Bush invaded Iraq, he was criticized, including for being motivated by eschatology (the aspect of theology that deals with the end of days) and desiring to push a right-wing Christian agenda in terms of the Christian prophecy regarding armageddon. Yet in 2003, no one foresaw the current conflict in Iraq that would lead many among the conflicting Iraqi parties to see the events as part of the prophecy of the end times, which could have an extensive impact on the conflict.”
That last sentence is interesting and would be said by someone who does not know the Signposts. God saw fit to open my eyes and I saw the Signposts for what they were just as the war to remove Saddam was starting in 2003. Yours truly did see the events in Iraq as part of the end times.
The author goes on to write about how the events seem to be affecting Muslims too in terms of apocalyptic beliefs. He continues:
“Religious visions of the apocalypse are applied to the Iraqi conflict in a structural and radical way. The religious aspect of the conflict has exceeded being mere strife between major religious denominations and sects in the country. Both Sunni and Shiite parties have made headway in applying the prophecy of the end times to current events, and have understood the recent developments as part of a prophetic context in their religious texts on the events of the end of days. This has not only exceeded the religious analysis of the events, it has even made both parties work according to this prophecy — with the religious prophecy having become an influential factor in the course of events in the country.”
The events in Iraq today indeed have absolute end time application since Daniel 7 and 8 say so. But now we have even a secular author who sees apocalyptic overtones – not from the Bible, but from the views of the very Muslim people engaged in the conflict. This means of course there is no alliance, but just the opposite: sectarian hatred and violence escalating to full blown war between Shias and Sunnis. The author continues:
“In Islam, Sunnis and Shiites share most of the religious texts and understanding of the apocalyptic prophecy. They, however, disagree in designating good and evil to the conflicting parties in Iraq and assigning these roles to the main figures in this conflict. There are three major parties in the Sunni and Shiite versions of the end times events prophecy: the true Muslims, the misguided Muslims and the infidels (nonbelievers). Thus, Shiites and Sunnis place themselves in the first category; their Muslim enemies are placed in the second; and Western enemies in the third.”
So here we see that this author, and I believe rightfully so, identifies the mindset of the people involved with this war. The Sunnis and Shias hate each other. Each group view themselves as the champion for Allah. As I pointed out in this post, Iran is flying supplies in to support the Iraqi Shias and even sending in small groups of Basij, and likewise other nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia may be overtly or covertly supporting the Sunni IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS).
The author continues on to write specifically about the Shia view:
“…in the Shiite view the emergence of IS represents the army of darkness that shows up and exerts its power over the Shiites at the end times, before the Mahdi’s tenure. Some even go as far as to analyze the existing alliances in the conflict based on their own end times prophecy. In particular, they see the negative role played by Turkey and the Kurds in supporting the army of darkness against the Shiites.”
It does not look good for the theory supporting an alliance between Turkey and Iran. Zeal for the prophetic picture which kept all of us watching Europe and the Soviet Union for years, I believe is the same mindset that forces Turkey and Iran to have an alliance. True, the countries to be truly involved in some way are now identified but those who wait for events to play out in this alliance scenario are still not preparing for the Iranian invasion. They may be just as shocked and unprepared as a Roman Antichrist supporter.
The author also reminds us of what Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ayatollahs have been saying for years:
“…Iranian clerics have previously used these narratives to support the Islamic government in Iran, and present it as a government paving the way for the Mahdi’s tenure. Some of the close associates of the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran claimed that the latter is known as Khorasani in the end times narratives and as one of those preparing for the Mahdi’s tenure. Some of the sites that are linked to the conservative fundamentalist wing published an analysis of the end times events prophecy in the region, in an attempt to apply it to the current events.”
The government of Iran has no intention of allying with Turkey. Any seeming alliance is just another chess move, much like how they have been handling their nuclear program and recent negotiations, or weapons development, or any of the other myriad of things Iran must do to prepare for the Second Signpost. They are patient. They will not move until they are ready. An excellent book which I can recommend that speaks to Iran’s patience and shrewdness is Showdown with Nuclear Iran by Michael Evans. It is a bit dated (it came out in 2006) but the author shows how and why Iran is playing the entire region like a master chess player.
Finally, the author writing on the Al-Monitor site writes:
“The ongoing violence and sudden developments in the region are expected to escalate the religious discourse on the prophecy between the conflicting parties, which could significantly feed the battles and open new directions in the current conflict.”
Escalation in Iraq and Middle East will continue. Anyone can see it. What started as a civil war against Assad in Syria has now grown to a regional conflict. The question on everyone’s mind is, what kind of escalation will there be? God’s Word wonderfully answers this question in Daniel 7 and 8. The Four Signposts stand for anyone who is willing to see, as I write about in Daniel Revisited. At some point in time, if the Signposts are true – sooner or later – Iran will invade the Middle East.