The socio-political climate in the Middle East has been tumultuous for decades. One could argue it’s been in a state of turbulence since the time God first called Abraham out of Haran to a land He would reveal. With the “Arab Spring” of the last several years, it seems that conditions are intensifying right before our eyes. As we speak, Syria continues in a civil war that has claimed 100,000 lives and seen over a million refugees flood neighboring Lebanon and Jordan. Egypt’s revolution has radically intensified with the ouster of Muhammad Morsi. Just a few weeks prior, Turkey came to the brink of it’s own revolution. And don’t forget within the last two years Libya & Tunisia had full blown revolutions that deposed each of their respective presidents. At the same time, at least another 15 other Middle Eastern countries have had significant conflicts.
All of these events beg the question: Where is all this heading? What’s coming next in the Middle East? I can’t predict the next revolutionary movement, but I do have a few thoughts as to what is ahead socially and spiritually for the region.
Continual Disillusionment among the Populace – The second phase of the revolution in Egypt has taught us that the disillusionment many people were experiencing has not been resolved. Because of financial lack and the absence of representation in government many people are angry and restless. Some sources say the revolution in Tunisia hasn’t produced the changes the people desired. As a result, talk of a second uprising, similar to Egypt, is beginning to boil. The issues are extremely complex and won’t be resolved easily. I don’t see these things conditions changing any time soon. Rather I believe they will continue to intensify.
Increased Islamist Control – The ideological divide in most countries is centered between two factions: Secular Democracy and Islamist Control. In Egypt, for instance, the revolution was fueled by secular opposition to the previous dictatorial regime. In the midst of change, Islamist leadership (Muslim Brotherhood) seized the opportunity to turn the nation toward a stricter Islamist agenda. Now that the populace has rejected the Islamist leadership, look for retaliation via terror attacks from Islamists. Regional Islamist leaders are likely to lend support to the Islamist movement within the country setting the stage for continual conflict, with the goal being restored Islamist control.
Increased Violence Against Jews & Christians – The growing anger among Islamists only fuels their opposition of their sworn foes, Israel. Earlier this year when I visited the Middle East I was shocked to find that the level of hatred for Israel is so great that I was advised not to even say the word ‘Israel’ publicly as a safety precaution. Violence in the region against Jews and Christians is becoming more extreme. Don’t expect this to lessen in the days ahead. Anti-Christian & Anti-Jewish sentiment will continue to grow from now through the end of the age.
Increased Salvation of Muslims – Though the situation is dire, there is still great hope. The Scriptures are clear that there will be great salvation in the Middle East. Egypt, for one, will experience a great harvest of souls before the Lord returns. Amos declares that a rising prayer movement will bring spiritual breakthrough throughout the Middle East. This is God’s intention: to have a people who love His Son from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev 5:9). In the days ahead we will hear more and more stories of God visiting Muslims in dreams, visions and power encounters, calling them to repentance and salvation.
We live in an hour that is full of promise in the midst of incredible problems. One missionary friend in the region told me there is great pressure upon believers to simply blend in, live a culturally Christian life, and neglect being a bold witness. The intimidation is great and so believers are faced with a choice to either, “Coast or confront. Be passive or proclaim.” Some are choosing to minimize their witness to remain safe, while others are boldly declaring the Word in the midst of the crisis.
Though the challenge is great, this is an hour the church can’t afford to shy away from conflict. She must declare the truth of the Gospel with boldness, trusting the Lord to confirm His Word, convict sinners and convert souls. I want to challenge you to pray for believers in the Middle East to have boldness in the midst of persecution. Also ask God to send forth laborers into the harvest in that region. The harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few. Perhaps you’d like to spend a season laboring for the Gospel in the region. I can help you get trained and launched…Ask me how.