Ramadan is the Islamic holy month, marked by “fasting, prayer, reflection and community,” in commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation. Muslims are to refrain, not only from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, but also from things such as tobacco products, sexual relations and sinful behavior. This year, it commenced on Monday, April 12 this year.
Only days into a holy month meant to bring spiritual renewal, violence has broken out in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. The area outside Damascus Gate, a major entrance into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, has become especially dangerous. Take a look at this short video of Arab men attacking an Orthodox Jewish man on the street just outside of Damascus Gate:
These are focused attacks between people groups who have been mortal enemies throughout history: Jews and Arabs. Many attacks are unprovoked, but lest you believe it is one-sided animosity, small groups of radical ultra-orthodox Jews are known to taunt Arabs with chants such as “Death to Arabs.”
I am reminded of Jesus’ discussion with His disciples about the signs of the last days. Check out Matthew 24:1-8.
In the midst of a passage warning of false Christs, wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters, we find a specific phrase that clearly describes what we see in Jerusalem today. In most English versions, verse 7 indicates nations rising against nations. But a quick look at the original Greek word translated “nation” is actually éthnos in Greek. What does that sound like?
Yes, it actually means “ethnic group against ethnic group.” Strong’s Greek Dictionary (at left) defines it like this: a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe; specially, a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually, by implication, pagan). Indeed, the Middle East is very tribal. For example, various groups of Arabs, depending upon their “tribe,” are continually at war with one another. Add in the “foreign (non-Jewish)” portion of the definition and you clearly see “ethnos against ethnos.”
What we see on the video took place less than 2 miles from the Mount of Olives where Jesus spoke of the clash between ethnic groups. As difficult as it is to watch the video, we know it is prophecy coming to fruition right before our very eyes. The disciples wondered what the last days would be like. We’re seeing it!