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Is ISIS the revival of the Assyrian Empire?
In one year Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS has become the most powerful jihadi leader in the world. After his forces captured Mosul, he has emerged as a figure who is shaping the future of Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East.
In an attempt to claim himself a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, he recently changed his name to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi. After Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)) leadership was killed in April 2010, al-Baghdadi took over, and AQI became increasingly well organized, even issuing annual reports over the last two years, promoting its operations.
Taking advantage of the Syrian civil war, al-Baghdadi sent experienced fighters and funds to Syria to assist Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. In 2013, he announced the formation of ISIS and the merger of the Syrian Jabhat al-Nursra into ISIS. The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani, disputed this merging of the two groups and appealed to Al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawhiri, who ruled that ISIS should be abolished and al-Baghdadi should stay in Iraq. Baghdadi, dismissed al-Zawahiri’
In June 29, 2014, ISIS announced the establishment of a caliphate. Baghdadi was named its caliph (spiritual leader), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) was renamed the “Islamic State”. There has been much debate across the Muslim world about the legitimacy of these moves.
The declaration of a caliphate has been heavily criticized by Middle Eastern governments and other jihadist groups, and by Sunni Muslim theologians and historians. Several critical scholars have said the title caliph can “only be given by the entire Muslim nation” not by a single group.
On July 2, 2014, al-Baghdadi announced that ISIS would march on Rome in its quest to establish an Islamic State from the Middle East across Europe, saying hat he would conquer both Rome and Spain in this endeavor.
ISIS is receiving financing and recruited fighters through Saudi Arabian and Qatari citizens recruitment drives. The organization also receives revenue from seized oil production and power plants in Syria and from robbing banks and charging protection money from local business people.
After four days of fighting in Mosul, Iraq, ISIS militiamen took over army bases, banks and government offices. The jihadist seized American-supplied arms, ammunition, Black Hawk helicopters and $430 million dollars worth of Iraqi currency.
The speed of ISIS’s advance suggested it was co-operating with a network of Sunni remnants from Saddam’s underground resistance who opposed the Americans after 2003 and have continued to fight against the Shia-dominated regime of Nuri al-Maliki since the American left at the end of 2011.
If ISIS continues to expand its controlled territory in Syria and Iraq this could become the end time fulfillment of the revival of the Assyrian Empire.
The Bible has many references to Assyria playing a major role in the end times. The Antichrist is called the Assyrian Micah 5:5 & 6 and Isaiah 14:25.
Many Bible scholars believe the seven heads of the beast in Revelation 17:9 are seven successive empire consisting of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and a revived Roman Empire in the last days consisting of a ten nation confederacy. This is because the image of Daniel 2 showed two legs representing the Eastern and Western Rome, and then ten toes representing ten nations. And this ten nation confederacy will last until God sets up his kingdom on earth. (Daniel 2:44).
We know that the people of the antichrist to come are the Roman Legions who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Daniel 9:26). However, the majority of the Roman soldiers who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., according to an eye witness, the historian Josephus, were provincial recruits and auxiliary troops consisting of Syrians, Greeks, Egyptians and Arabs.
The seventh head of the beast in Revelation 17 is believed by many scholars to be the revived Roman Empire consisting of 10 kings or 10 toes. The eighth head or “The beast that was and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven and is going into perdition.” (Revelation 17:11). Many Bible scholars believe this refers to both a kingdom and a person. The kingdom would be Assyria, because it must be one of the seven, it did not exist during the time John was writing, it completely disappeared and went into Sheol, but is resurrected in the last days. (Ezekiel 31:3, Zechariah 10:10). The eighth head is also the world leader or the antichrist which has a false death and resurrection, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed.” (Revelation 13:3).
The King of the North (Assyrian antichrist) overpowers the King of the South (Egypt), Turkey and Greece and is accepted as the leader of the 10 nation confederacy of the revived-Roman Empire. (Daniel 7:23 & 24)
Daniel 8 predicted that the king of Greece would die (Alexander the Great) and his empire would be divided by four generals. Antiochus Epiphanes King of the Seleucus dynasty (215 B.C.-164 B.C.) was predicted to desecrate the temple in Jerusalem, just as the antichrist will due in the last days. (Daniel 8:23). The Seleucid Empire controlled Assyria and Babylon, and many believe a double fulfillment would mean the antichrist would come from the Seleucid portion of the Greek Empire and end up controlling the revived Roman Empire. ISIS is beginning to control an area that looks a lot like the area of the Seleucus dynasty. The issue is whether ISIS is going to cause of the revival of the Assyrian Empire. Only God knows.
For more information on the Middle East and the clash of worldviews see:
Dr. Stephen Johnston