And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? – Revelation 6:9-10.
Over the past several months, the jihadist group ISIS has dominated news headlines as they have swept through portions of Syria and Iraq, taking over cities, raising their flag and killing and pillaging their way to a new Islamic “caliphate.” This organization uses gruesome killing and carnage to take over land in the name of Islam and threatened all manner of violence against the United States and Western nations who dare oppose them. All the while, Christians have been the primary target over their reign of terror, giving a chilling fulfillment of Bible prophecy and the coming end times.
What Is ISIS?
ISIS, also known as ISIL, stands for the Islamic State In Iraq and The Levant and Islamic State. It is an unrecognized is “an unrecognized state and a Sunni jihad group active in Iraq and Syria in the Middle East. In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate, it claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring most of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control beginning with territory in the Levant region which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and part of southern Turkey.” (source). Formerly known as AQI or Al Qaeda in Iraq, the group saw its true rise to prominence in 2013, when it merged with a Syrian terrorist organization and started to take over whole swaths of land in Syria and Iraq, obtaining oil fields, weapons and millions of dollars in gold and cash. Declaring itself a state, ISIS uses murder, kidnapping, rape and torture to advance its goals of spreading Islam and Sharia law throughout the Middle East.
During the Arab Spring, in which protests broke out among a number of Middle Eastern nations such as Syria, Libya and Tunisia, among others, violent rebellion led to the secular governments of those nations being toppled. President Obama praised the Arab Spring uprisings as a way to advance “democracy.” Soon the United States, under Obama’s directive, along with French and British military officers, were training and arming rebels in Libya and Syria to help combat the rule of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The rebels were then aided by U.S. bombing campaigns and drone strikes. Once these regimes were toppled or crippled (in Al-Assad’s case), the same rebel fighters who were “allies” to the United States, used their weapons, military training and might, to advance their own cause.
An August 2014 Washington Post article summarizes how rebels who were once considered friends of the United States soon turned to enemies:
“Washington and its allies empowered groups whose members had either begun with anti-American or anti-Western views or found themselves lured to those ideas in the process of fighting. According to interviews with members of militant groups, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s Al Nusra Front (which is aligned with al Qaeda), that is exactly what happened with some of the fighters in Libya and even with factions of the Free Syrian Army…
“From IS to the Mahdi army you see groups that basically are not our friends but who became more powerful because we have handled the situations wrong,” says a senior U.S. security official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.
Some European and Arab intelligence officials also voiced their worries and frustration about what they call the mistakes the United States has made in handling the uprisings in Arab states. “We had, in the early stages, information that radical groups had used the vacuum of the Arab Spring, and that some of the people the U.S. and their allies had trained to fight for ‘democracy’ in Libya and Syria had a jihadist agenda — already or later, [when they] joined al Nusra or the Islamic State,” a senior Arab intelligence official said in a recent interview.” (source).
The Washington Post article also cited that the Obama Administration’s treatment of Iran – the easing of long-existing sanctions, repeated requests for sit-down discussions, perceived as “pampering” of a nation that is predominately Shiite Muslim. Thus further alienating and angering the Sunni Muslims and making groups like ISIS, that much more attractive.
Reign of Terror
The stories of the brutal atrocities carried out by ISIS are numerous, but here is a sampling of their horrific, murderous reign as they try to assume power in the Middle East:
‘He told us that either we become Muslims or they would kill us all,’ said Falah, mayor of the village made up mainly of members of the ancient Yazidi sect. ‘We offered money but they would not accept it.’ (source).
The Yazidis, a sect with a blended religious belief system that only incorporates parts of Islam, are viewed as “devil worshipers” by ISIS and thus forced to convert to Islam or die as ISIS soldiers rampage through their towns, crucifying victims, raping women and selling them into sexual slavery and forcing children to join their ranks.
As one journalist given access inside ISIS’ operations reported:
“After weeks of negotiations, I managed to enter the city of Raqqa, which is the capital of the terrorist group in Syria, from where it launches daily attacks against President Assad’s troops. It was a surreal and a chilling experience, as I saw a regime of absolute control which imposed its strict sharia laws.
This is not some disorganised bloodthirsty terrorist group or makeshift army. They are very organised. Islamic State fighters ruthlessly beheaded Assad’s soldiers and spies on the front line. Their decapitated bodies were brought back to Raqqa and displayed in the town centre.
The IS men gave me a horrific video of decapitated soldiers’ bodies, which were left lying on the pavement in the centre of Raqqa. Some of the dismembered heads were placed on spikes.” (source).
Christian Children Beheaded Amidst “Genocide”
Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens. We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows. – Lamentations 5: 1-3.
Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst,” said Mark Arabo, a Californian businessman and Chaldean-American leader. In an interview with CNN’s Jonathan Mann, he called what’s happening in Iraq a “Christian genocide” and said “children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”
“Right now, three thousand Christians are in Iraq fleeing to neighboring cities,” he told Mann. Arabo is calling on the international community to follow France’s lead and offer the Christians of Iraq asylum. (source).
Even children have not been spared from the terrorism of ISIS. Gruesome images of children murdered and even decapitated by the terror group litter the internet. Thousands of small children are now orphans – their parents murdered, and living in refuge camps.
Sexual Assaults Against Christians and Minorities
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. –Psalm 7:9.
As a part of the campaign to rid the region of any non-Muslim religion, ISIS has also carried out thousands of rapes and sexual assaults against Christian women and females of non-Muslim faiths. There are weekly reports of horrific attacks on women including one of a man who committed suicide after being forced to watch his wife and daughter sexually assaulted for failing to pay their “tax” imposed by ISIS. Women have been shot on the spot for not wearing veils as required by Sharia law. An ISIS defector gave an exclusive interview describing some of the practices of the group’s membership who are told that all women taken prisoner can be their “wives” and are subject to daily sexual abuse.
The United Nations have also investigated the selling of Christian women into slavery:
“As the U.N. scrambles to help tens of thousands of religious minority Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), experts are warning that jihadists may have forced 1,500 Christians and Yazidis into sexual slavery.
“Atrocious accounts on the abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner,” two U.N. experts said in a statement released in Baghdad.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms, the explicit targeting of women and children and the barbaric acts [ISIS] has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control,” said U.N. special representative for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov and special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura.” (source).
Here is a video interview of a 15-year old Yazidi girl who escaped ISIS captivity after being kidnapped:
Wiping Out Christianity
The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. – Psalm 37:32.
In August, Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq, was seized by ISIS soldiers. The group has been particularly aggressive in northern Iraq, which once was home to most of the Christians living in the nation. In the wake of ISIS’ wave of terror, the effort to completely remove Christian presence from Iraq is underway:
Islamic State jihadists who took over large areas of northern Iraq overnight have forced thousands of Christians to flee and occupied churches, removing crosses and destroying manuscripts, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako has said.
“(The Christians) have fled with nothing but their clothes, some of them on foot, to reach the Kurdistan region,” Patriarch Sako told AFP.
“This is a humanitarian disaster. The churches are occupied, their crosses were taken down,” said Sako. He added that up to 1,500 manuscripts were burnt. (source).
The United Nations put the number of people who have fled as high as 200,000, and said that many thousands of people trapped by the militants on Sinjar mountain had been rescued in the past 24 hours.
Mosul, the city once known as Nineveh, was a key area in the Bible. The prophet Jonah was sent there to preach God’s coming judgment on the formerly-pagan society. Since the first century it has been a home to some of the oldest churches in the world. In July, ISIS invaded and gave Christians 12 hours to leave the city, pay a tax or be killed.
The majority chose to flee the city. The terrorists marked Christian homes and businesses with the letter N for Nazarene and imposed a radical version of Sharia law. They told women to wear full-face veils and not leave the house without a male relative. Shopkeepers have to veil all the mannequins. The jihadists proceeded to destroy shrines important to Christians and Muslims, beginning with Jonah’s tomb.
“Yes, they expelled us from our real land,” one woman said. “From our real land! They told us, ‘Go away! This is not your land. Go to your Christian people and to your pastors. Let them feed you, shelter you, and give you homes.’”…..One resident, Bashar Nasih Behnam, left with his two children…“There is not a single family that left and was not robbed,” he continued. “They took our money, gold, even the earrings from their [women’s] ears. They took everything, even mobile phones. We don’t know if we are going to go back. Until now we have no idea if there can be a return. We don’t know what our destiny is. They have even taken our houses in Mosul.” (source).
All told, ISIS destroyed forty five Christian institutions in Mosul in their effort to remove any trace of Christianity. Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International called ISIS’ attacks on religious minorities the worst persecution since the Holocaust. ISIS also reached out to Nigerian Muslim terror group Boko Haram, to help them establish an “African Caliphate.”
“..yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” – John 16:2-3.
Jesus Christ prophesied that as the end times approached, more and more Christians would be the victims of persecution. With the rise of ISIS, Christians worldwide have seen unprecedented levels of violence carried out against them just for believing in Jesus Christ. Jesus said:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. – John 15:18-21.
The 5th Seal of Revelation Chapter 6 gives insight into this as the Apostle John is given Heavenly access to view the martyrs who died for their faith all residing under the altar of God:
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. – Revelation 6:9-11.
The increased persecution of Christians is a sign of the approaching end times and martrydom of a certain number of Christians will be the final event before the Day of The Lord (for more details this see our article on the Red Moon Rapture). ISIS recently has called for even more bloodshed in the name of Islamic dominance:
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” an ISIS spokesman says. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him…kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war. Both of their blood and wealth is legal for you to destroy. (source).
All the while ISIS has used social media in an unprecedented fashion, glamorizing murderous terrorism to attract support and new recruits. Countless videos showing their executions, holding weaponry, training and sermons on jihad are all over the web, and hundreds of jihadist volunteers from the United States and other western nations have joined ranks to wage war for the Caliphate. Newsweek reported on a recent a poll where 16% of French citizens sympathized with ISIS.
Pray For This Region
Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity..- Psalm 64:1-2.
Pray for the hundreds of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities victimized at the hands of ISIS. Pray for their safe escape and faith in this time of extreme persecution. Also pray for the United States and other nations in President Obama’s coalition who are now targets for ISIS terrorism in their own homelands. And while there may be a desire to respond with hatred towards the killers and criminals in ISIS carrying out this violence, that is not the Christian response. God will carry out judgment and vengeance against enemies of the Cross. Christians are to remember the words of Jesus Christ.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48.
Pray for ISIS to fail in their persecution and for this genocide against Christians and other minorities to cease. But pray with the knowledge that they are fallen, depraved sinners just like every other person on this planet. And Jesus Christ died for their sins. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has the power to change hearts and bring true peace. Pray that the regions hit hardest by this persecution can experience it.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah. – Psalm 9:9-20.
(Below is a video on the plight of Christians in Iraq).