That’s the question buzzing around this week. The answers I’m hearing are pretty diverse: from the cautious to the profane. I thought I’d drop my answer into the mix.
In 2006, I was watching FOX News. Four talking heads were loudly debating the USA’s inability to find and dispatch our mortal enemy OBL (or UBL if you prefer) five years after 911.
We had reportedly missed our chance to capture him in the 1990s when then President Clinton refused an offer from the government of Sudan to turn OBL over to the USA. We reportedly missed a chance to kill him at Tora Bora after the invasion of Afghanistan.
OBL escaped and successfully went to ground. I joked many times that OBL was probably living in a villa in the south of France with several of his wives watching FOX News along with the rest of us.
But OBL was no joking matter. He continued to propagate terrorist acts around the globe, and the failure to finish him was costly in real world lives and in lost credibility in the media wars.
My thoughts – as I watched the news that day — were interrupted by the Holy Spirit. I pray a lot. I mean, I pray a lot. So you would expect me to occasionally hear something from God. On this particular day, what I heard startled me.
I’m surprised you haven’t bothered to ask Me why the USA can’t catch and kill OBL.
“I never thought to ask you. It never occurred to me that you would tell me if I did,” I replied.
Would you like to know?
“Well, yes, if you want to tell me.”
His enemies can’t see him because I have covered him with My hand. Even if they walk right past him, they will not see him.
That provoked an immediate follow-up question, “And why would you do that?”
Because I am using OBL to bring more Muslims to Christ is a short period of time than have come to Christ in the last 1300 years. He is my missionary to the Muslims. He is my ‘messiah’.
I was stunned. How could this be? How could God use the most visible enemy of Christ in the world (outside of American public life) as a missionary? As His messiah, as His anointed one, for goodness sake?
When I am finished with him, I will lift My hand, his enemies will see him, and they will kill him.
Then I remembered Isaiah 45.
In the 6th century B.C., God raised up Cyrus the Persian to conquer the known world. This man was chosen for God’s purpose of fulfilling God’s prophetic promise to return the Jews to Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity.
God called Cyrus – a king who did NOT acknowledge the God of the Hebrews as GOD over all (45:4) – God called Cyrus His mashiach – His anointed one — His messiah!
Now in 2006, as the Age of Grace is racing toward its conclusion, God seemed to be using OBL to accomplish His purposes again — using a ‘king’ (who despised and blasphemed the GOD of the Jews & the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian faith) to bring millions of his own people out of Islam into saving relationship with the same Son of God OBL so bitterly hated.
How could this possibly happen?
In short, three things have held Muslims captive to their religion for 13 centuries:
- Their relative isolation from the living Gospel culturally and geographically
- Their ignorance about the origins and attributes of their own faith (until recently very few Muslims actually studied and analyzed the Koran and Islamic history)
- Their fear of execution – conversion to Christ is a capital offense.
To further stir the religious pot, Islam has been going through a Reformation for almost a hundred years: i.e. reaffirming the Koran as Allah’s authoritative revelation – promoting Mohammed as the ideal man – returning to Islam’s original ethics and conversion methods – all in an attempt to recover true, uncorrupted Islam and drag it into the 20th and 21st centuries.
The purpose of all of this being to activate and unify the world of Islam for the final push to subdue the larger world under sharia law through jihad.
This Islamic Reformation can be seen in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida, Taliban, et al. Each group has competed to see who could most purify The Faith and successfully impose sharia law through jihad.
OBL has been the primary spark plug igniting this religious firestorm. He has forced the issue upon his own people: Are you down for the struggle? Will you sacrifice your life and the lives of your children for Allah and his prophet Mohammed?
At the same time, God has been fracturing the Islamic world’s monopoly over its people:
- Travel, media, education and business have brought many Muslims into positive contact with Christians and the Gospel
- Many Muslims have been forced by the demands of jihad to critically examine their own faith, and many do like what they are discovering
- Large numbers of Muslims are having supernatural encounters with Jesus or with His angels who are confirming that Jesus iis in fact the Son of God and the way to teh Father & helping those Muslims push through their fear to embrace Christ.
In short, this is the historic moment for Muslims to meet, experience and embrace the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of Man – God’s unique Son — the 2nd persona of the Triune God – the Messiah to the Jews and the Savior of the world — before He appears to destroy the wicked, gather His People into God Country and commence His reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem for 1000 years.
Many Muslims have chosen to reject Mohammed as the Ideal Man and instead have placed their faith in the resurrected Christ as the incarnation of God. Some are public about their conversion. Others are ‘under the radar’, so only God knows their number.
One final observation about OBL’s departure for Hades.
I have had the understanding (since the spring of 2001) that WW III would begin in the autumn of 2001.
WW III would begin and progress slowly (in comparison to hte worldwide explosions of WW I and II). Casualties would be relatively low in the early years – the fighting would be contained and managed – so much so that many people would declare that we are not even in a war!
But that initial season would eventually pass. And when it did, WW III would escalate. The world powers would no longer be able to manage and limit it. Casualties both military and civilian would rise (into the millions?).
I believe this international ‘holding pattern’ of the last decade provided God the opportunity to reveal himself to millions of Muslims (and others) and to bring them into relationship with Christ Jesus.
We now see that brief season passing along with OBL. A new season is upon us. A season that is going to test us to the core. A season we are not going to like.
If my perceptions are anywhere near correct, we are facing escalating war, social disorder and political chaos that will disrupt finances, business, travel, food supplies and energy. The social fabric of civilization will tear. Escalating natural disasters will add to the misery and the death toll.
We are about to witness the passing of the world as we have known it. America will not be exempt from this.
I am happy to report that there is an available lifeboat in this deepening storm. There are available seats.
God knows who truly belongs to Him. He knows who has given their heart and life totally to Him. He knows who you are. He knows where you are. His eye is on you. He will cover you. He will provide for you. He will protect you in natural and supernatural ways.
This is the time to press hard into Jesus. This is ‘last call’ to establish one’s sense of security and well-being on your eternal relationship with him. Now is the time to practice dependence on Him in matters great and small. Now is the time to expect him to intervene in your life.
Christ is our Strength. He is our Hope. He is our Life.
If the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ can cover with His hand (for ten years) the most sought after terrorist in the world, he can surely cover you until it’s time to bring you Home.