Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Radical Islam: A Sword of Extremism That Threatens the World
In an August 1 speech, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned of an "arc of extremism" that extends across much of the Islamic world posing a very real threat to Western civilization. How great is this threat, and where is it leading?
by HOIM Staff
The world has long been fascinated by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing a sequence of centuries-encompassing events foretold in the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. You can read about them in the sixth chapter.
The first horseman rides a white horse and carries a bow, "and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer" (Revelation 6:2). There is but one event or epoch in the history of the world that accurately fits this scenario: The going forth of YEHOVAH God's Truth with the power of His holy spirit. Of all the influences that have combined to shape the character of Western Civilization, and have controlled the course of human affairs from the beginning of the age until now, the most potent by far has been, and still is today, the Good News of YEHOVAH God as proclaimed by Yeshua the Messiah and the apostles.
The color of the horse -- white -- is used exclusively throughout the Bible to designate things Divine and pure. There is absolutely no reason for assuming we have an exception here -- and an exception so great as to reverse the meaning of the symbol, as many in the Churches of God believe today. Not only that, but the evidence for this is raised from the level of high probability to that of virtual certainty by the fact that when YEHOVAH God issues forth out of heaven to fulfill the words "and to conquer" (Revelation 19:11), He will come riding a white horse: "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him..." The words italicized are identical to those of Revelation 6:2.
The first horse (Revelation 6:2) represents the going forth of YEHOVAH's Truth, proclaimed powerfully by Yeshua himself and then by the apostles and disciples as they took the Gospel message to the four corners of the then known world; while the last horse (Revelation 19:12) represents YEHOVAH God Himself returning to earth in His Shekinah Glory to once again take up residence in a newly built Temple in Jerusalem.
In Revelation 6 we see the spreading of the Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God being followed closely by war, symbolized by a horseman riding a red horse (verse 4). But it would be a great mistake to regard this symbol as meaning only (or even primarily) physical wars. It signifies something much broader in scope than that -- namely strife or variance of every sort. In other words, what is pictured here is something spiritual rather than material.
This is underscored by the Messiah's words in Matthew 10:34, when he sent forth the twelve apostles to proclaim the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. He then warned them to "beware of men," predicting that they would be delivered up to councils, and that they would be scourged and brought before kings and governors. Yeshua then warned them that brother should deliver up brother to death, and the father the child; and children should rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death (Matthew 10:17-21).
This has been the state of affairs from the days of the apostles of the Messiah until now. The Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God has divided families into hostile camps, tearing apart the very closest ties of nature. Then with its effects widening, it has divided communities into antagonistic groups; and then nations; and finally it has set nation against nation. Sometimes the warfare has been confined to words, feelings and attitudes. More often than not it has taken the form of physical violence -- persecutions, inprisonments, tortures, and where there was resistance (as between Protestants and Catholics in France, and later Ireland) civil wars. The Roman Catholic Church murdered millions of people during the Middle Ages -- this would never have occurred but for the Good News. All other causes of dispute put together have not contributed nearly as much to hostility between human beings as the single cause of religious difference regarding the Gospel! Yeshua's word's have proved profoundly true: "I came not to send peace, but a sword"!
The third horseman rides a black horse, carrying "a pair of scales in his hand" (verse 5). It is commonly assumed that this vision represents famine; and the prices quoted for the wheat and barley are supposed to support this theory -- for it is said that these are "famine prices." However, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a man -- going forth with a pair of scales and crying the sale of wheat and barley at any prices -- is a symbol of famine. Neither has any proof been given that the prices quoted in these verses are "famine prices."
That we have something directly in contrast with the Gospel itself should be very clear -- for black is the diametric opposite of white. Not only that, but the Gospel freely gives the bread of life, while here we find something that sells the prime necessities, both for rich and poor at fixed prices. The Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God brings blessings for all; but here is something that would "hurt" the oil and the wine if not restrained by Divine command.
The color black symbolizes that which is hidden (deceit), as white fitly represents that which is truthful and open. And the balances are plainly shown to represent the merchandising of the Gospel, to which our nations of Israel have addicted themselves! While the rider of the white horse symbolizes the going forth of the TRUE Gospel under the power of YEHOVAH's spirit, the rider of the black horse symbolizes the going forth of a FALSE gospel under Satan's spirit -- a false gospel going forth with "the balances of deceit" -- a deceitful gospel that has ensnared millions! If the white horse and its rider represents the going forth of the TRUE Gospel, the black horse (which is the very opposite of white) must represent the going forth of a FALSE gospel -- a gospel of darkness and death.
This came to pass when the Roman Empire collapsed and the Roman Catholic Church rose to power in its vacuum. From Paul's day to the present, the black horse has followed right behind the white and red horses, seemingly to overwhelm and hide from the world the true Gospel message that Yeshua and the disciples brought to a darkened civilization. Look around you today -- instead of one pure, unadulterated worship of YEHOVAH God you find dozens, even hundreds, of differing and bickering "Christian" sects each claiming to have the "truth." Logic dictates that only ONE can have the truth and that one, wherever it may be, is the result of the work of the white horse and its rider, while all the others are a result of the ride of the black horse across the centuries.
The fourth horseman rides a sickly-looking pale horse (verse 8). The significance of the color of the horse is not so clear as in the other three horses. However, we do not need as much help in this case as in the others, for the name of the rider is plainly given -- DEATH. Moreover, Death is joined here with HELL, that is, Hades or the grave. The rider is "Death," and his mission is "to kill"; and Hades -- or the grave -- is pictured as following with him to gather in, as it were, the victims.
The going forth into the world of the Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God necessitated a complete change of tactics on the part of the "enemy." Satan's devices, which had served to keep the nations in the darkness and corruption of paganism would serve no longer. Other means must therefore be adopted; and the course of the Good News must be observed and followed with something specially adapted to counteract its influence and nullify its effects. The effect of the Good News is to impart life; but the purpose of Satan is "to kill." Those who obey YEHOVAH God in faith are gathered into the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God here on this earth -- where "grace reigns unto eternal life." In contrast with this, death is accompanied by Hell, or the grave, into which its victims are gathered. The Good News is "the word of truth" so, by way of contrast, Satan would employ for his ends various forms of "the lie" (II Thessalonians 2:12). In other words, some deceptive form of teaching, some imitation of the Good News, "another gospel," which represents "another Jesus," a gospel which corrupts and perverts the true Gospel of YEHOVAH God.
This deadly, soul-destroying lie -- in various forms -- has followed the track of the Good News in every part of the field -- and from the days of the apostles until now. Wherever the white horse and its rider have gone, the red and black horses have followed, with the PALE horse and its rider tagging along in the rear with HELL or the GRAVE as his companion. DEATH and the GRAVE were the natural results for those who refused to partake of the heresies of the black horse!
A look back at the 20th century enables us to see that this sequence has been followed with the same dire results.
Tens of millions of people followed "black horses" who claimed they would lead them to a perfect society that would last forever. While now discredited by history, tens of millions died in brutal wars and their inevitable tragic consequence as a result of this horse's deceitful ride.
Now, in the 21st century, we see another false religious system perpetuating the same sequence of events. Because the West no longer takes religion seriously, it is difficult for people in Western countries to understand people who do, so there is little comprehension of the dire threat to Western civilization that comes from radical Islam.
Radical Islam On the Rise
Three major conflicts are now being fought by democratic Western nations against radical Islam -- in Afghanistan, Iraq and in and around Israel. While many in the West are hostile to Israel, the fact remains that Israel is a Western-oriented nation with a pluralistic society and democratic form of government that goes back to the foundation of the nation in 1948.
Israelis are in a conflict with Hezbollah, Hamas and various smaller groups, all radical Islamic terrorist organizations that are dedicated to the total eradication of the nation of Israel. Many are backed by Iran, a theocratic nation that espouses radical Shiite Islam.
The president of Iran has repeatedly threatened the destruction of Israel. The Tehran government also backs various factions in Iraq, where sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims increasingly threatens a full-scale civil war in the country. According to Amir Taheri, a former executive editor of Kayhan, Iran's largest daily newspaper, "Iran is now the strongest presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, after the US. It has turned Syria and Lebanon into its outer defenses, which means that, for the first time since the 7th century, Iran is militarily present on the coast of the Mediterranean. In a massive political jamboree in Tehran [in April], Ahmadinejad also assumed control of the 'Jerusalem Cause', which includes annihilating Israel 'in one storm', while launching a takeover bid for the cash-starved Hamas government in the West Bank and Gaza" (Daily Telegraph, April 16).
Because so many in the West are hostile to Israel and blame the Israelis for the constant conflict with Hamas, Hezbollah and other factions, they view the recent war between Israel and Lebanon separately from the other two major conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many in the West also separate the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some countries are quite supportive of the Afghan war but critical of the war in Iraq. In other words, the West is divided in dealing with three conflicts that all involve radical Islam.
The only commonality that many in the West see in all three conflicts is failures in U.S. foreign policy. But is it that simple?
Fourteen Centuries of Conflict
The religion known as Islam is almost 1,400 years old. It started with Muhammad, who claimed to receive visions beginning in A.D. 610. "As a young child," writes Ramon Bennett, "Mohammed was nursed by a Bedouin woman by the name of Halima. In his third and fourth years, 'The child had numerous fits, which made Halima think he was demon possessed' [Shorrosh, Islam Revealed, p. 48]. Early Moslem tradition records that when Mohammed was about to receive a revelation from Allah: '...he would often fall down on the ground, his body would begin to jerk, his eyes would roll backward, and he would perspire profusely. They would often cover him with a blanket during such episodes' [Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 71]. It was while Mohammed was in this 'trance-like' state that he received his 'divine' revelations. 'After the trance, he would rise and proclaim what had been handed down to him' [ibid.]" (The Great Deception: Philistine, p. 43). Most Western and many Arab biographies of Muhammad believe that he suffered from epilepsy -- but the above clearly indicates that he was under the influence of demons. The revelations he received led to the birth of Islam, which in Arabic means "submission" -- submission to Allah.
Muhammad died in A.D. 632. In his farewell address to his followers in March of that year, he is reported to have said, "I was ordered to fight all men until they say 'There is no god but Allah."'
By the end of the seventh century his followers had spread out from the Arabian Peninsula, conquering territories and forcing people to convert to their new religion, right across North Africa and east and north into the Persian and Byzantine empires. Islam fed on violence and deceit from its very inception. It spread like a cancer and proved to be equally deadly. Muhammad's expression of delight, "Allahu ahkbar!" (Allah is greater!), became the battle-cry of Islam. Even today the sound of "Allahu ahkbar!" rings out as suicide bombers detonate themselves in the midst of Israeli civilians. It resonates from the lips of Arabs as they plunge knives into the backs of unsuspecting men, women and children. It reverberates not only throughout the cities and towns of Israel, but also across the entire world -- including the United States with the 2001 savage attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. It sanctifies Islamic murder and mayhem and turns it into divine injunctions from Allah.
Professor Efraim Karsh, head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King's College, University of London, notes what a group of Byzantine officials in Egypt said of the invading Arab armies: "We have seen a people who love death more than life, and to whom this world holds not the slightest attraction" (Islamic Imperialism: A History, 2006, p. 23).
"The great Muslim historian and sociologist Abdel Rahman Ibn Khaldun (d[ied] 1406) expressed the same idea in a somewhat more elaborate form: 'When people possess the (right) insight into their affairs, nothing can withstand them, because their outlook is one and they share a unity of purpose for which they are willing to die'" (ibid.).
Throughout the centuries the followers of Muhammad have shown an incredible zeal to spread their religion around the globe. Today, theirs is the fastest-growing religion in many parts of the world, including the nations of Western Europe. Islam is a mystery of the darkest character. It defies explanation along any rational or natural basis. Its origin is so utterly different to that of other empires that we are left with no alternative but to believe that it originated supernaturally. Its growth is just as difficult to explain on natural grounds as its origin. It is, without a doubt, a designed counterpart of Christianity. Its visible source was in a personal leader who claimed to be the sole representative and prophet of God (more accurately, Allah) -- and in a book that is venerated by its adherents as the word of God. It has, moreover, the supernatural power of Satan and his demons to inspire millions of stern, fierce and bloodthirsty men with an extraordinary degree of religious fanaticism that quite often rises to a fever-pitch of frenzy. In this way it is without parallel in the history of mankind.
Clashes Between Islam and Europe
Exactly 100 years after the death of Muhammad, Islamic forces were defeated near Paris by Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne. The Battle of Tours -- sometimes called the Battle of Poitiers -- marked the turning point in the northern advance of Islam under the Moors. The victory of the Franks under Martel checked, once and for all, the fast-moving expansion of Islam into western Europe. However, they were to remain in Spain for centuries.
Islam repeatedly clashed with the Catholic and Orthodox worlds down through the centuries. Islam had a remarkable recrudescence under the ferocious Seljuk Turks. They became converted to Islam after a conquering career against the Muhammadans. In the late 1050s, the Caliph of Baghdad came under Seljuk "protection." In the year 1063, the Turkish Sultan Toghrul-Begh, Seljuk's nephew, died and was succeeded by his own nephew, Alp-Arslan. By 1064 Alp-Arslan had crossed the Euphrates into the Empire. In 1067 he took the great city of Caesarea; in 1068 he took Iconium and, in 1071, he won a decisive victory at Mantzikert. He captured Jerusalem in 1076, ushering in an era of cruel oppression "which filled all Christendom with sorrow and indignation" (Green's Church History).
In 1095, following centuries that saw the spread of Islam into the Holy Land and other areas, Pope Urban II called on Europeans to launch a "crusade" to recover the Holy Land. Over two centuries of conflict followed. The Muslim leader Saladin, who drove the crusaders out of Jerusalem, promised in January 1189, "I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah" (quoted by Karsh, p. 1).
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Islamic forces under the Ottoman Turks took control of the Balkans and Hungary before being repulsed at the gates of Vienna -- in the heart of Europe -- on two separate occasions. The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest political structures that the western part of the world had known since the Roman Empire disintegrated. It ruled eastern Europe, western Asia and most of the Maghrib, and held together land with very different political traditions, and many ethnic groups such as Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, Armenians, Turks and Arabs. It maintained its rule over most of them for 400 years or so. This was brought about, as explained by the Encyclopedia Britannica, "by a series of the most warlike princes in history" (Vol. 18, p. 272).
These periods of Islamic expansion all took place before the existence of the United States. So the conflicts between Islam and the West could hardly be blamed on U.S. foreign policy!
In the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was in decline, enabling European powers to dominate parts of the Middle East. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, many regions it controlled were put under the jurisdiction of the British and French. After World War II, the area saw the birth of Arab nationalism (and many new countries), which pushed the colonial powers out of the region.
The United States, which had now reached its ascendancy, became more involved in the region, particularly in backing the new nation of Israel. But it wasn't long before disillusionment with Arab nationalism set in and people turned increasingly to radical fundamentalist Islam.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 was a major turning point and a critical failure of U.S. foreign policy at the time. The pro-Western shah of Iran was overthrown by the forces of radical Islam, and Iran became a theocratic state with real power in the hands of the clerics. Their influence has since grown throughout the region, leading to an "arc of extremism" stretching from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean.
At the time of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first leader of the new Iran, pledged: "We will export our revolution throughout the world ... until the calls 'there is no god but Allah' and 'Muhammad is the messenger of Allah' are echoed all over the world" (quoted by Karsh, p. 1).
What's At the Root of the Hostility?
Americans only really woke up to the reality of radical Islam with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, perpetrated by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Two months later its leader, Osama bin Laden, proclaimed his motivation for the attacks: "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad" (quoted by Karsh, p. 1). Many, however, blamed the attacks on U.S. foreign policy, failing to see them as part of a historic continuum that began 14 centuries ago!
Professor Karsh puts in his book Islamic Imperialism: A History: "The 9/11 attacks have inspired two diametrically opposed interpretations regarding their 'root causes.' According to the first school of thought, the attacks were the latest salvo in the millenarian 'clash of civilizations' between the worlds of Islam and Christendom ...
"Not so, argues a vast cohort of academics, journalists, writers, and retired diplomats. The attacks were a misguided, if not wholly inexplicable, response to America's arrogant and self-serving foreign policy by a fringe extremist group, whose violent interpretation of Islam has little to do with the actual spirit and teachings of this religion" (ibid., pp. 1-2).
The flaws in the second view are evident from the fact that it's not just the West that has suffered attacks. Secular India, home to the world's second-largest Islamic community, has not escaped. The devastating Bombay train bombings that killed more than 200 and injured 700 others on July 11 were the work of Muslim separatists seeking to wrest control of Kashmir away from India.
Further east and south, Islamic extremists have staged terrorist attacks in Thailand and the Philippines and against Australian tourists on the Indonesian island of Bali (Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world). To the north, a particularly appalling terror attack took the lives of 186 schoolchildren and another 158 civilians when Muslim terrorists took more than 1,300 hostages at a school in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004.
To the west, 192 were killed and 2,050 wounded in the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, and 52 died and some 700 were injured in the London subway bombings in July 2005. Just weeks ago, British and American authorities broke up a plot to blow up a number of transatlantic airliners that, if successful, could have easily surpassed the death toll of 9/11.
This is truly a worldwide conflict, impacting almost every region of the globe. But there is a singular failure on the part of Western nations to see the threat as universal, as their governments and citizenry mostly isolate the different conflicts from one another.
Total Victory Over False Religion
Islam explicitly denies the true role of Yeshua the Messiah, without whom salvation is not possible. As Acts 4:12 tells us, "There is no, other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Nor can one reconcile the many other direct contradictions between the Koran and the Bible (or between the Koran and history, for that matter).
The Bible shows us that Yeshua the Messiah will soon reveal himself to all as the Messiah. He will return -- along with YEHOVAH God -- to establish the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and save the planet from total destruction. We certainly appear to be entering that dangerous time in which humanity itself faces extinction. Islam has a superman and a book. It is a Satanic imitation of true Christianity. It has spread over a great part of the world embracing, at this time, more than 1.2 billion people in its curse. Its founder was, without doubt, demon inspired. As one writer put it, "Mohammed, the fallen star, opened the pit and let loose the darkening power of Satan; and he flooded the eastern part of the Christianized earth, and considerable portions of the western also, with doctrines which can justly be termed hellish in their nature and effects." Radical Islam, with the nuclear genie at its disposal, will not bat an eyelid or loose a minute's sleep in unleashing death and destruction upon the non-Islamic world.
After His return, YEHOVAH God will establish the government and the laws of YEHOVAH God throughout the entire world. Everyone will at last learn YEHOVAH's truth and obey His laws -- which include "You shall not murder" and "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3, 13).
Then a most remarkable thing will take place: "It shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD [YEHOVAH] of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16).
The Feast of Tabernacles is a biblical festival commanded for all true believers (Leviticus 23:34). It looks forward to the coming millennial rule of YEHOVAH God and Yeshua the Messiah, when peace will replace the constant warfare of man's rule.
Continuing in Zechariah 14, we read that even those in nations that are today Islamic will have to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. "And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD [YEHOVAH] of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain" (verses 17-18).
Only when there is one universal religion -- the true religion of the Bible -- will the world enjoy true and permanent peace.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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