In its heyday, ISIS conquered large swaths of territory.Al-Qaeda and other terror groups have controlled pockets of land here and there, but not like ISIS.For a couple of years, ISIS was building a country.More precisely, they were building a caliphate.
In 2014, ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made the claim that his genealogy went back to Mohammed himself — a requirement for a true caliph.His followers began using the title “Caliph” to address and describe him.They called him, “Commander of the Believers.”They saw him as the leader of all Muslims.ISIS changed names.It became simply “The Islamic State.”
Thankfully, all that is disappearing now.ISIS controls territory in Syria and Iraq, but less every day.Their hope of a grand future is dying.Young people from all over the world came to Syria and Iraq, eager to join “a great cause.”Thousands of them now lie in mass graves.
Our military commanders correctly remind us that there is much to be done.But the fearsome ISIS war machine long ago lost momentum, then began to lose its lands.In July, Iraqi forces retook the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.A few days ago, a U.S.-backed group called the “Syrian Democratic Forces” took over Raqqa in Syria.That had been the defacto capital of ISIS.
War is always a grim business.But we should all be thankful to God and our military for the defeat of one of the cruelest, most barbaric groups in the last thousand years.
With these developments, we’re all asking what comes next?What will happen when ISIS has been driven from its territory in Iran and Syria?What will happen in the region, and the world?What will happen to terrorism?
First, what will happen to ISIS itself?President Obama often promised to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”During last year’s campaign, candidate Donald Trump vowed to “utterly destroy ISIS.”
Are we on the verge of that?They’ve been degraded as a power in the Middle East, but they are far from destroyed.Governments around the world now fight a kind of whack-a-mole war against them.There have been ISIS terror attacks on the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia, the United States, Kuwait, Denmark, Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, Libya, Turkey, Bangladesh, Spain, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Germany, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.
While that’s not a complete list, it gives an idea of the width and breadth of the Islamic State’s reach.It goes well beyond their dying strongholds in Iraq and Syria.ISIS as a global entity will not soon disappear.In fact, it may become more active.The number of casualties from ISIS terror attacks has gone up each year since 2014.
ISIS carried out the October 4th ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. Green Berets.A small group of American Special Forces soldiers are in Niger to assist that nation in their battle with terrorists.
ISIS is not going away.It’s going everywhere.
From a prophetic standpoint, it is particularly intriguing to look at how all this may affect Israel.For instance, with its mission in Syria coming to an end, will Hezbollah now turn its attention back toward Israel?Hezbollah has 130,000 working missiles sitting just off Israel’s border.The Weekly Standard described it as “an offensive arsenal bigger than that of all Western Europe.”
Will Russia leave Syria?Will Iran?Will Iran-backed Shiite militias give up their power in Iraq?The answer to all those questions is, “No!”
The Russian economy is predicated on the sale of natural gas.They are Europe’s primary supplier.That allows Russia to overcharge Europe for fuel.But in the 2000s, Israel began to find natural gas.At first, the fields were small.Then, in 2010, they discovered the Leviathan field with an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.As of 2014, they had verified finds of 35 trillion cubic feet.
In April, Israel signed an agreement with Cyprus, Greece, and Italy that will allow it to pump natural gas to Europe.They plan to build a $7 billion pipeline beneath the Mediterranean.It will be the longest, deepest subsea pipeline on earth.They expect to have it in operation by 2025.
To Russia, that makes Israel a threat.The Russian economy is not diverse.It is built on the sale of natural gas to Europe.Israel’s pipeline threatens the Russian economy far more than sanctions.So, yes, expect Russia to remain on Israel’s doorstep.
The nuclear deal opened a massive flow of cash to Iran.Since then, they have been projecting their power everywhere they find their fellow Shiite Muslims — especially Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.As they gain greater control in those areas, expect them to focus increasingly on their most important goal, “Al-Quds” — known to most of us as “Jerusalem.”
Hamas is the one Sunni Muslim organization that Iran seems to back wholeheartedly.Their hatred for Israel exceeds internal Islamic rivalries.Over the last few days, Hamas leaders were in Iran for consultations.Iran reportedly told them that its continued support depends on Hamas continuing the “axis of resistance” against the “Zionist entity.”
The most important sign of all are the prophecies the Lord Jesus Predicted would occur just before the Rapture of all Believers. These prophecies are allhappening right now.Christ can come for us at any moment.It is time for us to give the gospel at every opportunity.