Recent events in Iran show the antagonism Iran has against the West and in particular Israel. This fits the pattern of the Bible prophecies that depict Iran as an aggressor against Israel in the latter days.
Hello and welcome to another Bible in the News.
The Bible contains many fascinating prophecies that have been fulfilled. These give us confidence that future ones will also, likewise, come to pass. Perhaps the most interesting set of prophecies are the ones detailing the future return of Jesus Christ to the earth. The Bible speaks to us of the state of the nations just before he does return to reveal himself to the world. Amazingly we find that the prophecies speak of a huge controversy surrounding Israel and in particular Jerusalem. This controversy causes many nations to unite and come against God’s people of Israel - this invasion is called in the Bible “Armageddon” (Rev 16:14-16) and it heralds the return of Jesus Christ who will save the Jews from annihilation, set up God’s kingdom from Jerusalem and cause all nations to submit to him. The details of the invasion are remarkable - for in Ezekiel 38, the aggressive armies are even named by God through his prophets so that the believer living in the times leading up to their unfolding can be encouraged that the time is at hand when he (or she) sees the events unfolding.
Persia in Ezekiel 38
One nation that joins the armies that descend upon Israel in the battle of Armageddon is relatively easy to identify.
This nation became known by the international community as Iran in the 1930s. Prior to this it was called Persia. The Persian Gulf is still a place we have on our maps today. Persia is a place that makes quite a few appearances in the Bible. Most notably in Ezekiel 38v5 where it appears in a list of nations that the prophecy says will come like a storm” and “be like a cloud to cover the land [of Israel]”.
This invasion from the North (verse 15) occurs in the time period the Bible calls “the latter days”. As a careful reading of Ezekiel 38 will show, this is a time when Israel have been regathered to their land after a long period of dispersion and become prosperous. The facts of history tell us that we are in this time period now.
As the prophecy unfolds we find that, although initially successful the invasion ends when God acts to save his people. It says in verse 18 that Gods “fury shall come up in my face”. When we correlate this prophecy with other prophecies of the same time period (as we are encouraged to do by verse 17 of the prophecy), we find that this intervention by God is through the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ and his raised and immortalised followers who come and save Israel from the invader after the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth. Prophecies like Zechariah 12-14, Daniel 11, Joel 3 and Revelation 16:13-16 outline the details of this.
Persia, or Iran then, is depicted as being in opposition to Israel in the latter days - part of an invading force to come against Israel.
Persia in Daniel 2
Persia also shows up in another amazing prophecy about “the latter days”. The prophecy of Daniel 2 where the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar is given a vision by God of how his Kingdom, the Kingdom of men, would develop down through time until the Kingdom of God would destroy and replace it in “the latter days” (verse 28).
Nebuchadnezzar sees a vision of a statue of various metals. The first metal, gold - of which the head of the image was made, represented his dynasty and the empire of Babylon. The following metals represented the nations who would destroy the previous nations capital and completely take over their power and influence on the world stage. The next metal after the gold was silver of which the chest and arms of the image were made and this represented the Medo-Persian empire.
The power to take over from them was the Greek empire and this is depicted in the images belly and thighs of brass. After that we have the legs of iron denoting the Roman empire which consumed and took over the Greek influence. Eventually we get to the final phase of the image - the feet phase. The feet are made up of partly iron and partly clay elements and depict a divided empire.
Again the facts of history tell us that the Roman Empire did not have one successor that took over its power and influence. Its territory was attacked in the west by various tribes which became the nations of modern Europe. In the east the muslim powers pecked away at it and it was eventually overthrown by the Ottoman Turks.
It is in this feet phase that we read of the end of the Kingdom of Man system. For Nebuchadnezzar sees a stone “cut out without hands” (in other words by divine means) fly towards and strike the image on the feet. It grinds the image to powder and then grows to fill the whole earth (v35) representing the Kingdom of God “a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” as we read in verse 44.
Incidentally the Lord Jesus Christ identifies himself with the stone power in Matthew 21:44 and so we expect his return from heaven to set up Gods Kingdom in fulfilment of this prophecy.
What is interesting about Daniel chapter two is that although there is a dimension of the prophecy that is like a timeline - one empire giving way to the next. There is also a picture of the system of the Kingdom of man in a snapshot of time just before Jesus returns. The vision was of an image standing up. All its component parts together. Although having a historic aspect they are united in opposition to the stone. We read in verse 35 “Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together.” What is the reader to conclude than that all of these ancient territories with their history and peoples are being depicted as being united in the Latter Days.
Persia (or Iran) then is a key part of the opposing nations that find themselves battling against the stone power.
With all of this in mind then it is interesting to consider the modern history of Iran. When we do we see events have unfolded which place Iran in a stance of aggression against Israel.
During World War 2 Iran initially claimed to be neutral. However in 1941, when the Iranian leader, Reza Shah Pahlavi refused to remove Germans from the country the Allies attacked and took control over. During the rest of World War II, Iran became a major conduit for British and American aid to the Soviet Union.
When the war ended, the “Anglo-Iranian Oil Company”, owned mostly by the British government was in a favourable position, capitalising on the sale of Iranian oil and supplying most of Europe with it. After a democratically elected Prime Minister tried to nationalise Iranian Oil and stop the arrangement with with the “Anglo-Iranian Oil Company” the British and American intelligent agencies created a coup and championed a new Shah who maintained the deal with Britain and ruthlessly crushed anyone who spoke out about this arrangement.
Eventually the Shah’s regime was overthrown in the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. The peoples of Iran had become fed up with the growth of godless Western culture, western meddling in their politics, political corruption, their terrible economic situation and the suppression of Islam. They established the “Islamic Republic of Iran”.
Since this time Iran has taken a very anti-Western stance. Partially against America which it calls the “Big Satan”. This antagonism also spreads to Israel which it sees as an extension of American influence in the region and which it calls “Little Satan”.
In the 1980s the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, created Hezbollah in Lebanon with the sole aim to fight Israel. In the 90’s Israel expressed concern over the resumption of the Iranian civilian nuclear programme. In the 2000s, the prime minister of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have said Irans intentions were to “wipe Israel off the Map”. After Israel invaded Lebanon they accuse dIran of supplying Hezbollah and showed the world evidence of this. In 2012 the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to UN about Iran’s nuclear programme to no avail as the UN did a deal to allow Iran to develop their nuclear capability. In 2018 then Prime-minister Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal with Iran. In 2020 Iran accused Israel of sabotaging key parts of this Nuclear programme.
So Iran’s foreign policy then certainly is against Israel and aligns with the Biblical prophecies of the latter days.
Recent developments in Iran
Over the last few months Iran has been experiencing heightened tensions and protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in a hospital in Tehran, Iran, under suspicious circumstances where it is thought she died due to Iranian police brutality. In the protests that have followed it has been reported that at least 300 people have died.
During the recent football world cup it was notable that the Iranian team refrained from singing the Islamic Republic’s national anthem which was considered a move a show of solidarity with the protests. After a recent game where Iran played and lost to the US it was reported that an Iranian man was shot by Iranian authorities for celebrating the American victory.
These protests have prompted a response from Israel showing the tensions between the two countries. On Thursday 1st of December this week Iran International ran an article entitled “Iran Protests Reveal True Face Of Regime To World: Netanyahu”. In it it reported “Recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the nuclear deal with Iran is dead because Tehran has shown its real face to the world by its brutal crackdown on protesters. Netanyahu, who was speaking to Fox News Digital Wednesday, added that the end of nuclear talks with the regime has been achieved by the people of Iran themselves as they clearly say they do not want clerics. “That's thanks to the extraordinarily brave Iranian women and men who took to the streets – who take to the streets – against this vicious, murderous, and brutal regime. And I think people ask themselves, ‘Do we want the ayatollahs, who chant death to America, to have the weapons of mass death and the ballistic missiles to deliver them to any part on Earth?’ and the answer is of course not,” explained Likud party chief.”
In the news this week we found a report by Aljazeera entitled “Iran sentences four people to death for ‘cooperating’ with Israel”. According to the report “Four people have been handed the death penalty by Iran’s judiciary after being accused of working with the intelligence services of Israel and kidnapping, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency. Referring to Israel, Mehr said on Wednesday they were “sentenced to death for the crime of cooperating with the intelligence services of the Zionist regime and for kidnapping”.” The report goes on to state: “Tehran has long accused Israel of carrying out covert operations on its soil, with the Islamic republic accusing its arch foe of carrying out sabotage attacks against its nuclear sites and assassinations of key figures, including scientists. Iran has lately accused Israeli and Western intelligence services of plotting a civil war in the country, now gripped by some of the biggest anti-government protests since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.” Again we can see the tensions between Israel and Iran on display.
And if that isn’t enough, this week, the Times of Israel ran a headline “IDF to hold joint air drills with US, simulating strikes on Iran and proxies”. The report states “After army chief Kohavi’s visit to US, military says fighter jets and refuelers will ‘simulate a number of scenarios in the face of regional threats’”
So we can see then the nation of Iran, the “Persia” of scripture is in the place that the prophets of the Bible foresaw they would be in the Latter Days. Hostile to Israel and preparing for conflict. When the great invasion takes place they will be an aggressor. Ultimately though, all nations are destined to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. We read of this in Psalm 72 which states: “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” Psalm 72:11.
So we watch and we wait for that great day. This has been Matt Davies joining you for a Bible in the News. Tune in again next week for further commentary on how current events relate to Bible prophecy.