It was just a couple days ago that the NY Times published an outstanding piece of journalism by C.J. Chivers titled The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons. This article, when read in its entirety, goes into detail on the topic written of in its first sentence:
“From 2004 to 2011, American and Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and at times were wounded by, chemical weapons that were hidden or abandoned years earlier.”
The article goes into great detail with many references and interviews of American soldiers’ encounters with chemical weapons from the Iran-Iraq War era of the 1980s. The purpose of the article is to raise awareness of (1) some of the physical ailments and changed lives of our heroic men and women in uniform resulting from not being properly trained for, but encountering anyway, chemical weapons, and (2) our government being so secretive to the point of causing detriment to the lives of our soldiers. The article is also written such that the reader is drawn into individual soldiers’ experiences.
Why do I mention this article and what does it have to do with Signpost theology? I have had a few readers now, who I know are familiar with the First Signpost ask me if the information given in this article “wrecks” the fulfillment of the first horseman by Saddam Hussein and the mystery of the WMD? Do we have to now look for a different fulfillment for the first horseman? The short answer to both questions is “no.” The longer answer I give here is a result of much thought and prayer and in the end has only sharpened the picture painted by the Signpost interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8 and Revelation 6. So I thank my readers here for being vigilant because their question only made this interpretation clearer.
In summary, the purpose of each of the four horsemen and their respective horses of Revelation 6 is to call out and bring forth each of the four beasts of Daniel 7 and hence each of the Four Signposts (Daniel 7:2: “the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea”). Each horseman is inextricably tied to his respective beast and Signpost. For example, the second horseman is given power to make men butcher one another, and to take stability and peace of mind from the inhabitants of the earth. He is tied to the Second Signpost where Iran will start a great world war in the Middle East causing the armies involved to butcher one another, and to take one-quarter of the world’s oil supply hostage and thus throwing the world economy into chaos.
Likewise, the first horseman is tied to the First Signpost. In the case of the relationship between the first horseman and the first beast, one clearly precedes the other where the forerunner, the horseman, was a sign pointing to the location and the time that the First Signpost unfolds and, could not start until the forerunner was taken out of the way. Therefore the fulfillment of the lion of Daniel 7 being raised and its mind changed, could not happen until the leader that won a crown, was bent on conquest, was acting as a conqueror and who had a missile launching capability – a bow – was removed. We were to watch for a sign starting the whole scenario, which was a leader of Iraq bent on conquest where the disposition of his missiles was in doubt.
And now benefitting from seeing the fulfillment we can ask, “why did the lion get raised up and its mind get changed?” Because George W. Bush got it into his head to conquer Iraq, oust Saddam Hussein, and to establish a democracy in a Muslim country that has only known tyranny. Why was it deemed necessary to oust Saddam Hussein who was the main player standing in the way? It was because he had a nasty habit of taking down single and smaller countries or provinces, and that he might do it with WMD. And the western world found this unacceptable.
What were the precedents for this fear of Saddam? The precedent of Saddam’s habit of conquering places was set when he went after the Khuzestan province of Iran in 1980, and Kuwait in 1990. His precedent of using WMD was set when he used chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds back in the 1980s.
The mystery surrounding the WMD as the factor connecting Saddam to the democratizing of Iraq and as the fulfillment of the bow wasn’t if Saddam ever used WMD – the fact he used them in the 1980s is well known and documented and undisputed – but the mystery of the WMD was if he still had them in the late 1990s.
The NY Times article explores this line of thinking into great detail talking about the experiences of American soldiers dealing with Saddam’s old chemical warheads from the 1980s. A couple readers have wondered if the whole mystery of the WMD is now resolved since the chemical warheads that were found are essentially the arrows of Revelation 6:3. That is easily answered: the article doesn’t talk about the mystery WMD, it talks about that which is already known – Saddam’s old chemical WMD from the 1980s. As the NY Time article itself says,
“…American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war. All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.”
Did you catch that? Analysis affirmed intelligence failures, i.e. the American government did not find the WMD it was looking for. It found only the old weapons it already knew about.
In addition, the MSNBC website carried this editorial which I begrudgingly (for various reasons) have to agree with where it says,
“That conservatives are still searching for some kind of evidence to justify the catastrophic Bush/Cheney failure isn’t too surprising. But today’s New York Times report does not offer the evidence the right wants to believe. In the years following the misguided U.S. invasion, we’d periodically hear reports about American troops finding chemical weapons. This was usually followed by a variety of Republicans proclaiming, ‘A ha! We knew it! We were right all along! Take that, liberals!’ …This generally turned out to be quite embarrassing for Republicans, who routinely failed to recognize the difference between old, inoperable chemical weapons from Iraq’s war with Iran, and the active, imaginary WMD stockpiles Bush used as a rationale for war. The same is true today. Conservatives may hope to exploit the New York Times report, but the article references pre-1991 weapons. Everything Republicans said in the lead up to the 2003 invasion is still wrong. Indeed, a little common sense is in order – if U.S. troops had found WMD stockpiles, the Bush/Cheney administration would have said so. Indeed, they were desperate to do exactly that.”
Therefore, after all is said and done, the mystery of the WMD that ties Saddam Hussein’s (the leader bent on conquest who had a bow and no mention of arrows in Scripture) removal to the First Signpost, the forcing of the lion to stand and change its mind, is still there.
In addition, I dare say that even if the mystery of the WMD is absolutely resolved with no doubts whatsoever at some point in the future, it was a mystery at the time that the first horseman rode out and at the time of the First Signpost, and that can never change.