Ok friends, here we go with the third (and final) in our series of the latest news from the Middle East. In case you have missed them, two preceding posts focused on:
Today, we’ll focus on Iran.
It is definitely no secret that Iran has steadily and consistently tried to build up forces in Syria, even along Israel’s border, for years. It is also no secret that Iran has pumped millions (if not billions) of dollars into arms and infrastructure to both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza in an attempt to destroy Israel. All at great cost to Iran’s citizens.
Israel, however, continues operations in Syria to prevent Iranian-backed forces from setting up shop on their border, and to prevent more sophisticated missiles and other Iranian armaments from being transferred to Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, in Iran, the bottom is completely falling out of their economy, many industries are on strike, and Iranian citizens are rioting in the streets. Why? Because Iranian wealth goes virtually nowhere other than to the military.
Iran is also experiencing other difficulties. Gigantic sinkholes are opening up, particularly in drought-stricken western Iran. In addition, over 500,000 illegal wells are said to be operating throughout Iran, depleting renewable water supplies. In some areas, excavations for things such as subways and parking lots are caving in due to the dryness of the soil in the ceiling of tunnels.
Furthermore, based on satellite imaging, some places in the capital city of Tehran appear to be sinking at an alarming rate of about 10″ per year. Couple that with diminishing rainfall and some scientists are wondering if it is too late for recovery.
If political, social and physical conditions are not enough, consider what is happening in the inner workings of Iran’s military. Drug use in the general Iranian population has exploded in the past few years, and reports are floating that drug use has equally (or more so) consumed Iran’s military. From front line soldiers to top commanders, every level has been impacted, and drug use seems to have driven Iranian forces to become even more irrational than ever.
(FYI – Afghanistan, Iran’s neighbor to the east, produces as much as 90% of the world’s opium, and Iran is a major transit lane for distribution to Europe. Is it any wonder drug use has increased so dramatically?)
Now, let’s turn another corner. Around Christmastime, Iran launched severe persecution of Christians in their country, causing Iranian Christians to cry out for help. According to Fox News:
The Iranian group Alliance for Rights of All Minorities reported on December 30 that “nine Christians were arrested in Karaj, Iran on alleged charges of affiliation with Christian Zionists and recruitment of Muslims to home churches. The arrests are also based on fears that this group intends to harm Iran and insult Iran.”
Iran is feeling the pressure of economic sanctions, civil unrest and inability to achieve the goals of an incredibly evil regime. As they continue to grasp at straws, Christians have become more and more a target.
But amidst the chaos, our Lord God is doing a miraculous work! Estimates vary widely, but it is believed there are at least 300,000 Christians in Iran, and that number is growing daily as Muslims, fed up with a failing belief system, find hope in Jesus Christ. In Iran, one puts his life in jeopardy by publicly proclaiming faith in Jesus. Therefore, it is believed by many that the number of believers is well over the 300,000 estimate.
But even if the conservative estimate is accurate, there is a revival happening in Iran that we don’t hear about in our western media! Ordinary Iranian people are just like us. They may follow a false religious system, but they were created in the image of God, just as any one of us are. (Genesis 1:27) Indeed, they are in search of the One True God, just as we are…they just think His name is Allah. (But the One True God is truly revealing Himself!)
In 2016, I wrote a piece called Is There Hope for Iran and the Middle East, in which I shared how the hope of Jesus Christ…the Blessed Hope…is causing revival in Iran. Please read it, then pray for the people of Iran. In many ways, they are slaves to an evil regime. They need the grace of God, and the hope of an eternal future.
Everything happening in the Middle East points to the soon return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, our world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket while Christians stand by and watch. Let’s not be “watchers,” but rather watchmen (and women!). Let’s be those who stand on the walls, setting our sights on what is to come, then shouting a warning from the vantage point God has given us. If not, then blood is on our hands. (Ezekiel 33:1-6)
Are we about our Father’s business today?