By Hal Lindsey
We often hear that peace in the Middle East cannot happen — that the region is doomed to perpetual war. Even optimistic estimates have said that the current turmoil will last for at least several more generations.
But the Bible indicates that in the next few years that region is destined for two eras of peace. I call the first one Pax Antichristo — the peace of Antichrist. It will not last long, and it’s not the kind of peace a sane person would want.
Right now, it may seem difficult to imagine peace of any kind in the area. There’s a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but Hamas continues its terror attacks along the border, and Israel retaliates. I wonder how bad it would be without the cease-fire.
Iran continues to fund the Hamas military machine. That’s interesting because Iran is a Shiite nation, and Hamas is a Sunni group. Iran usually supports only fellow Shiites. Sunnis and Shiites have been in a life and death struggle for the direction of Islam since Muhammed died in the year 632. That’s 1,386 years of anger, war, suspicion, and strife. But Shiite Iran supports Sunni Hamas because they know Hamas is a thorn in the side of Israel. And they hate Israel so much that they are willing to cross their most revered lines in order to attack it.
Iran also supports Hezbollah, a Shiite terror group operating out of Lebanon. Western intelligence sources say that Hezbollah has an arsenal of 130,000 missiles aimed at Israel. As I’ve pointed out before, that’s more than all the missiles of western Europe combined. A terror group was able to amass that many missiles because Iran was paying for it.
Israel recently shot down a Syrian warplane that crossed into the Golan Heights. Syria is another proxy for Iran. Even with Iranian troops on the ground in Syria, they prefer to have their proxies fight for them.
With the Syrian Civil War winding down, there’s no longer an excuse for the presence of Iranian troops in Syria. But don’t hold your breath waiting for them to leave. With actions all over the Middle East, Iran is in no position to take on Israel directly, but they’ve been remarkably honest about their goal. They intend to utterly destroy the Jewish State. Sitting on Israel’s northern doorstep puts them in a good position for future invasion.
Ezekiel 38 says that in the end-times, Iran will attack Israel. But they won’t do it alone. They will be part of a coalition of nations led by Russia and including Turkey. It’s no accident, then, that both Russia and Turkey also have troops in Syria and are in an alliance with Iran.
So far, Russia has stayed out of Israel’s way in Syria. Prime Minister Netanyahu has met with Putin or his subordinates several times over the last few months. Syria seems to be the primary point of the discussions. The United States also has a presence in Syria, but, for now, Russia sits in the catbird seat. It looks like Putin will decide what happens next in that war-torn country.
After President Trump’s Helsinki summit with Putin, the President seemed to believe the Russians were working toward a secure Israel. “We discussed Israel and the security of Israel,” he said, “and President Putin is very much involved now with us and the discussion with Bibi Netanyahu on working something out with surrounding Syria… and specifically with regards to the security and long-term security of Israel.”
But it would be deeply surprising if the long-term security of Israel amounts to much of a priority for Vladimir Putin.
So, how will the Antichrist pull off a peace treaty between Israel and her enemies? Surprisingly enough, movement is already underway. Recently, Saudi journalist Sukina Meshekhis called on all Arab nations to take bold steps for peace. She said, “We must advance peace with Israel, even if we have to make concessions.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seems to be thinking along the same lines. As regent for his ailing father, King Salman, the Crown Prince now effectively runs Saudi Arabia. In an interview with Time Magazine, he said that Israel and Saudi Arabia “have a common enemy” — an obvious reference to Iran. He said that both Israel and the Palestinians “have the right to live and coexist.”
Those kinds of remarks from the leader of Saudi Arabia would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It foreshadows a time when Antichrist will be able to bring the parties together — though only briefly.
In English and in much of the western world, the word “peace” has come to mean “the absence of war.” The Hebrew word for peace — “shalom” — includes much more. It carries the connotation of total well-being. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it literally means “completeness, soundness, welfare.”
Strong's Concordance says “shalom” refers to being “well, happy, friendly” and having “health, prosperity, peace.” The King James Bible translates it as “favor,” “good health,” “peace,” “prosperity,” and “rest.”
That describes the kind of peace we all long for — the kind of peace Jesus will bring to the whole world at His second coming. “Shalom” will be a hallmark of Christ’s millennial reign. Isaiah 11:6-7 says the peace of that time will be so great that it even extends to the animal kingdom. “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid [baby goat], And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox.”
Isaiah 2:4 also speaks of the peace during that era when it famously says, “They will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.”
Since the earliest days of the human race, young men (and in many generations young women) have learned the arts of war. But when Jesus returns, such learning will never be needed again.