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War, peace and the end?

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War, peace and the end?

March 20, 2003, saw a coalition of armed forces from the United Sates of America, Britain and Australia invade the Middle Eastern country of Iraq in order to liberate its citizens from the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein and to uncover and destroy the country’s ’weapons of mass destruction’. There was deep concern over unilateral action without the approval and support of the United Nations. Seemingly frustrated with the UN’s inability to resolve the situation or take decisive action, the US, and its President, George W. Bush (following the direction of his advisors) went in anyway — with the involvement and staunch support of the British and Australian Prime Ministers.

Peace protesters marched against the war with Iraq in numerous countries around the world. Militant Muslim extremists threatened revenge. Saddam Hussein and his cohorts arrogantly defied US demands for him to step down, and belligerently assured the world that Iraq would fight and succeed in driving out all invading forces.

Numerous Christians around the world began to predict that this war would be the war to end all wars. Many saw it as a sign of The End.

End Time interpreters have ’seen’ biblical prophecies being fulfilled in Iraq as a result of selecting verses from Revelation 9 which mentions ’the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon’

and also ’the great river Euphrates’, while Revelation 16 makes mention of the sixth angel pouring out God’s wrath

on the ’the great river Euphrates’ and also mentions the gathering of Kings at Armageddon (Har Megiddo) and the fury of God’s wrath coming down on ’Babylon the Great’.

These people are quick to point out that the meaning of the name of ’the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon’ is Destroyer, apparently also one of several meanings for the name Saddam.

Some wasted no time getting onto the bandwagon, as is seen in the advertisement and write-up for a prophecy video tape just before the March Iraq war began:

’Name: The Iraqi War in Bible Prophecy (VHS) Description: The Iraqi War in Bible Prophecy

The world thought September 11, 2001 was a day to remember! Wait until they experience what the Bible says will occur in the very near future, a war that will kill one-third of mankind.

Newly released video by … (Also available on DVD!)

Respond now and receive a FREE One-Hour Bonus — Absolute proof that the United States is in the Bible. It is the first lesson from the landmark prophecy teaching series, “Understanding the Endtime”

Gulf War 2. It seems to be upon us, whether or not we want it, for whatever reasons. The world has come to a critical fork in the road of human history, as the countdown for Jesus’s return continues. Spiritual preparation for what lies ahead is paramount, regardless of which fork in the road the human race chooses.’

One of America’s prophetic ’experts’ publicly declared that the war with Iraq would result in tremendous numbers of casualties amongst the combatants AND amongst people in neighbouring countries who would be struck by retaliatory missiles of mass destruction AND that Americans would fall victim to terrorists armed with portable nuclear weapons.

In addition, with the Americans at war in Iraq, China would seize the opportunity to try and retake Taiwan, and/or India would make an all-out assault on Kashmir. This would lead to World War III, resulting in a nuclear holocaust that would take the lives of 2 billion people, the ’one-third of mankind’ stated in Revelation, according to this End Times expert.

Another End Times expert, an avowed ’pretribulationist’, declared that true believers in Jesus would soon be raptured, while everyone else would face seven years of ’hell on Earth,’ Armageddon, and the return of Jesus in the Glorious Appearing — all occurring before Jesus’ 1,000-year reign on Earth.

All this would occur after the Americans got Saddam Hussein out of the way, had sanctions against Iraq lifted, and restored the oil wells to full production capacity. Iraq (Babylon) would then regain full power and allow the Antichrist to mount an army for an assault on Israel. According this particular ’prophetic expert’, the stage would thus be set for ’the Rapture, Armageddon, the Glorious Appearing and the other stages’.

In reality the March 2003 war with Iraq went very swiftly. Anticipated all out massive resistance battles, especially from the elite and apparently fierce Republican Guards, did not eventuate. After only six weeks the major hostilities were formerly declared to be over by US President Bush. By that stage Saddam had long disappeared (either dead or in hiding); army units and weaponry destroyed; no weapons of mass destruction found; museums looted of priceless world heritage artefacts; efforts begun on restoring essential utilities and infrastructure; old Iraqi Communist party members sang their songs in public for the first time in some 30, and Shi’ite Muslims openly held public rallies calling for the departure of the Americans and the establishment of an Islam Republic; humanitarian and relief efforts were intensifying and reconstruction was under way.

During the conflict no neighbouring country suffered catastrophic numbers of casualties as a result of retaliatory missile strikes, while the greatest number of combatant casualties on the allied side came from so-called ’friendly fire.’

Easter was celebrated by most of the Western world as the war was coming to a conclusion. Amidst calls for an end to hostilities in Iraq and a focus on longed for peace, Christians around the world prayed for peace and the end of suffering amongst the civilian population of Iraq (and others caught in conflict not of their own choice). This was done as Christians celebrated Easter and remembered the One who conquered that final conflict enemy — death.

It was Jesus who called the peacemakers blessed, and declared that he would bring his peace: ’Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’. (John 14:27)

It was Jesus who prevented his followers, especially Peter, from protecting him against violent hostility with the use of violent force. He told them that he had access to enormous and potentially destructive forces, but using them was not his way of doing things, especially in that situation.

’“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, ’for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”’ (Matthew 26:52-54)

Reflecting the spirit and teachings of Jesus, the Apostle Paul expressed:

’By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:1-5)

May the true peace process begin with each one of us — by each one of us taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ!

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