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'Terror In The Land Of The Living'

Leslie M. Grant

This expression is found in Ezekiel 32:23. saying of Assyria. 'who caused terror in the land of the living.'

Such terror was manifest during Old Testament history. and it will be just as true in the coming 'Great Tribulation'. It was the king of Assyria who took the ten tribes of Israel captive when Hoshea was reigning in Israel (2 Kings 17:5-6), and those tribes have never been restored since, though God has decreed they will be by the end of the Great Tribulation (Eze. 37:15-22). On the other hand, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were taken captive later by Babylon in the days of King Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:1-20), but after 70 years in captivity were allowed to be restored to their land (Ezra 1:1-4). Thus Judah was in the land at the time of the birth and death of the Lord Jesus, but in having rejected Christ, they were soon after dispersed in many countries. Now many have returned to the land, but still with no faith in the Lord Jesus, their true Messiah. In 1948 they took control of the land. and the Palestinians, who were there at the time, but had no proper government. were allowed to remain if they would be subject to Israel's government. (Notice that though the nation is called Israel today, yet not all twelve tribes are there.)

Because the Palestinians have not had a functioning government of their own, but are virtually tributary to Israel, they resent this deeply, and demand what they consider their own territory, so that there are constant terrorist attacks against Israel, and Israel retaliates decidedly with open warfare.

Is Assyria interested in all this'? Absolutely! But who is Assyria? In the past it became a large empire, embracing a number of mid-east countries, with Nineveh as its capital. Nineveh is of course in present-day Iraq. In fact, so is Babylon, and we are told that Saddam Hussein's ambition is to become a second Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, with absolute authority, as had Nebuchadnezzar.

However, scripture does not give a restored Babylon a place in the Great Tribulation (except for the New Testament Babylon, the false church). But the Assyrian. the king of the north, is very prominent in the prophecies dealing with the Tribulation. Though the United States may possibly seek to force terrorism out of Iraq, they will not succeed. This attempt may even lead other Muslim nations to rally to the banner of Iraq, so that the empire of Assyria will be virtually revived. At any rate, at the time of the end, that empire will be of great significance.

In Israel a man will arise who pretends to be an orthodox Jew, going in company with others to the house of God (Ps. 55:12-14), for the temple will have been rebuilt at that time. He will use the remnant of Israel to raise him to a place of high authority, then turn against them, exposing himself as antichrist. He will link himself with the Roman Beast, head of the revived Roman Empire, no doubt erecting an image to the beast in the temple so that this empire of European nations will protect Israel from the king of the north.

Because of this gross idolatry, God will send the king of the north, against His people Israel. This does not mean that God approves of the King of Assyria; rather, as Isaiah 10:5-12 records, that Assyria is the rod of His anger, whom He sends against a hypocritical nation. However Assyria does not think this way, desiring only to cut off other nations so when God has done His complete work on Israel, He 'will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the glory of his haughty looks.'

Daniel 11:36-45 is the most interesting concerning this great subject. 'The king' in verse 36 is the Antichrist, doing according to his own will. 'At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him', or as the Authorised Version reads, 'shall push at him' (v.40). The king of the south is Egypt. but he will not inflict any significant harm on Israel. 'And the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind'. This is indeed the terrorising king, who inflicts such suffering on Israel as they have never had before, for this is 'the time of Jacob's trouble'.

The Assyrian, intoxicated with his own arrogance, will proceed to the south, conquering many countries, including Egypt, before the Antichrist succeeds in bringing the Beast and his armies to Israel. They only get as far as Armageddon (about 75 miles north of Jerusalem), for the Lord Himself with the armies of heaven will face them there, destroying them with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 19:11-20). They may say they are doing good work in defending Israel against terrorism, but they are interfering with God's disciplining of His people Israel, and must suffer dreadful judgment, even before the king of the north is judged. The beast himself and the Antichrist (called the false prophet) are thrown into the lake of fire without the necessity of a trial.

It is only after this judgment that the Lord Jesus will appear in Jerusalem when the Jews look on Him whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10), and are broken down in true repentance at His feet. How marvellous and wonderful will be the work of God's grace in their hearts! Only when that work is accomplished will the Lord go forth from Jerusalem to judge the nations that came against Him, including the king of the north (Joel 2:12-16) who will have come back to Jerusalem, intending to totally exterminate Israel. Many Muslim nations have for years desired this, but God has other plans!

Certainly the believer is against terrorism, just as the believer is against sin. But if we are going to banish terrorism from the world, we must banish sin. Who is going to do this? Only the One who is Himself without sin, and He will do this in His own time. But the believer will not be on earth to witness all the terrible events of the Great Tribulation, for we look for the Lord Jesus to come and rapture us into His own blessed presence before God's judgments fall on the world of the ungodly. However. we can easily see how events today are leading toward the Tribulation, so that we may certainly expect the Lord Jesus very soon. Then we shall have the privilege, from a far higher point of view, of seeing all these things unfold in a way that will impress us with the fact that, however much we may have learned before, yet our intelligence has been very deficient. May we therefore spend much time in searching the Word of God, remembering that 'the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy'. and that a special blessing is announced for those who read, hear and keep the truth as found in the book of Revelation. In doing so, we shall find ourselves, not on the side of Israel, nor on the side of the Palestinians, but on God's side. May His honour, as revealed in the person of His Son, be our object and our delight.