The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has their own purpose—to establish an Islamic state that will encompass the Arab world, and after that to go to other countries, eventually to include the entire world. And their methods, as we have witnessed, are barbaric and evil.
But the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has other plans for the world—plans for good and not for evil. And in His wisdom He uses and orchestrates all things and all people to accomplish His will. He will even use, and has been using, the evil, terrorist group ISIS.
Ever since ISIS has been on the move beheading and crucifying people who will not submit to them, I have been racking my brain and searching the scriptures, trying to find in the bible how they fit into prophecy. Some, like Bill Salus, have strongly suggested that they are the prime movers of the Psalm 83 prophecy—but others, like Thomas Ice, think Psalm 83 is not a prophecy but a lament for that time.
Then, also, in a more general sense, we may see that 2 Timothy 3:13 applies to ISIS, that in the end times “evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse…”
Then some, I suppose, would look at the four horsemen of the apocalypse, in Revelation 6:1-6, and link ISIS to them. And I would say that certainly there are some things that would apply to them. But I think that, for the most part, the four horsemen apply specifically to the tribulation period.
It was at this point—thinking about the four horsemen—that I began to think more broadly about ISIS. If the symbolism of the four horsemen applies only to the tribulation, but yet I can see how the devastation of ISIS fits at least the red horse, why could there not be a connection. Yes, it seems very logical that God is using ISIS to create on the earth the conditions necessary to begin the prophesied 7 year tribulation.
And then I began to think even broader. If God would use ISIS to bring about the tribulation, why would He not also use them for other purposes? Here are…
Four of God’s Possible Uses for ISIS
1. To bring God’s judgment on disobedient people and nations. It has been God’s practice from the beginning of time to punish and discipline His disobedient people (Israel) through other people who are more wicked then they (e. g., God used wicked Assyria, Isa. 10:5). God is still concerned for Israel and He will keep His eye on them and will discipline them, but He also has His eye on other nations—nations that He will discipline, in an effort to bring them to Himself. My nation, the United States—which is one of the leading nations for materialism, pornography, and immorality of all kinds—is certainly a nation that could benefit from His discipline. ISIS may be the instrument He will use for that purpose.
2. To bring Christians to obedience, holiness and prayer. There is nothing like a large group of evil people coming at you with the intention of terror and murder that will motivate you to prayer and holiness. This is exactly what happened to Judah a long time ago, recorded in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. The sons of Moab and Ammon, together with Meunites—a great multitude—came to make war against Judah and Jehoshaphat the king. And they in fear fasted and gathered together to seek the Lord’s help in prayer. As a result God gave them a great victory.
ISIS certainly has methods that are evil and frightening and that God, no doubt, has used and may use to bring Christians to their knees. (I’m sure we are aware that many Christians have already been tortured, beheaded and crucified. I don’t know any of the stories of how they have responded, but I am sure that there are some wonderful faith filled stories that we may hear at a later time).
3. To create the fear necessary to bring unbelievers to repentance and salvation. A long time ago God used the warnings of Jonah to the unbelieving and wicked people of Nineveh to cause them to repent and believe. His message was simple: He cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown’” (Jonah 3:4). A similar message like this from key evangelists and even from the media regarding the coming of ISIS could similarly cause many unbelievers to repent and believe.
4. To create the chaos and lawlessness necessary on the earth to bring about three end-time events:
(1) The war against Israel described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. In this war, Russia with her allies (Iran, Turkey, Libya, Sudan and the nations of Central Asia) will come against Israel, but God will miraculously Intervene. This war many think will be during the first part of the tribulation period, however, many think that it can happen just before the tribulation.
(2) The electing of a world leader to bring peace on the earth. This person is described in the bible as the antichrist or the beast. He will begin his peace campaign by signing a 7 year peace treaty with Israel. This treaty will begin the prophesied period of seven years of tribulation (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:3, 6, 8; Rev. 13:4).
(3) The uniting of all religions to form one central religious system. It will be a false religious system, which the bible calls the great harlot. At first the harlot and the beast will team up together and the beast will use the harlot to help him gain power over the world. Later, after he has gained world authority, he will discredit and destroy the harlot. I have written two articles on this (click HERE and HERE), which you are welcome to read.
Now some of you may be asking the question, where does the rapture fit in? My answer is that it does not have a time table. Nothing needs to happen in order for it to occur. However, the bible is clear that it will occur before certain events. It will happen sometime before the seven year tribulation period. Since all indications suggest that the tribulation period will start very soon, this also means that the rapture will also occur very soon.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.