On Feb. 11, 2011, addressing the success of Egypt’s revolution, which he himself enthusiastically supported, President Barack Obama stood in the Grand Foyer of the White House and triumphantly declared, “The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.”
But the fruit of this change quickly became bitter to the Egyptian people. It is now becoming clear that the Egyptian people have traded a more secular autocrat for an Islamist dictator.
As Americans everywhere stopped to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, Egyptian President Morsi appeared on Egyptian television and shocked the nation, issuing a presidential decree effectively banning all challenges to his decrees, laws and decisions. The decree stated:
“The president can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution. … The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal.”
The decree also stated that the courts have no authority to dissolve the country’s Constituent Assembly, which is now rewriting the constitution.
Disparate groups within and outside of Egypt have expressed their alarm.
Within Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, various secularist opponents to Morsi have quit, including Coptic Christians and representatives of the April 6 Youth Movement, the very group that initiated the revolution in Egypt.
Mohamed El Baradei, another opponent of Morsi, accused the president of establishing himself as “a new pharaoh.”
In a typically toothless statement released Friday, the European Union “urged” Morsi to “respect the democratic process.”
In Tahrir Square thousands have gathered to protest what they are referring to as a “coup” carried out by Morsi. Thousands of others are counter-protesting. Violent clashes have broken out in a few cities.
Of course, seizing an ever-increasing level of power under the guise of democracy would be the most natural path for Morsi, with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the north having already demonstrated how it’s done. In fact, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in many ways has modeled itself after Turkey’s Islamist political party.
Playing off the title of Turkey’s ruling Islamist political party, “The Justice and Development Party,” the Muslim Brotherhood ironically named its political party “The Freedom and Justice Party.”
Over the past 10 years, Turkey’s Erdogan has systematically dismantled the most well-established secular form of government in the Middle East, while establishing and guaranteeing his own power for many more years to come – all in the name of “democracy.”
The next significant step in Erdogan’s plan to ensconce himself as Turkey’s absolute ruler will come in 2014, when his present term as prime minister will come to an end. Already in the works are Erdogan’s plans to radically alter Turkey’s present parliamentary system to a presidential system, while placing himself on the ticket to be the next president. Beyond this, the present five-year term for president will expand to a seven-year term. If successful, this will guarantee that Erdogan will be able to maintain power until at least 2021.
But Erdogan’s ambitions have caused many to believe that he is seeking a leadership role beyond Turkey, throughout the whole region.
In a recent interview with Russia Today, Syrian President Basshar al-Assad said of Erdogan, “He personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella. In his heart he thinks he is a caliph.”
But if Muhammad Morsi’s recent actions in seizing greater power are an indicator of things to come, Erdogan may have competition for the title of regional caliph.
With the ascendancy of Turkey in the north and Egypt’s new role as an emerging player, could we see two competing caliphates in the region? And as politically significant as all these events are, might they have have deeper significance as they relate to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy? There are two significant passages some students of the Bible are now considering.
The King of the North & The King of the South
The first passage is Daniel 11:21-45. In this prophecy, the Bible addresses the historical conflict between the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of the Seleucid Kingdom, referred to as “the King of the North,” and Ptolemy VI, king of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, referred to as “the King of the South.” Antiochus ruled the region of modern-day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran, while Ptolemy ruled the region of modern-day Egypt, Libya and north Sudan.
In verse 40, we are informed that the various conflicts that took place historically between these two kings would be repeated in the last days, immediately before the coming of the Messiah:
“At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall. … Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape. But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Cushites will follow at his heels.” (Daniel 11:40-43)
The result of this last-days conflict between the northern “king” and his counterpart in the south will include massive regional wars, the defeat of Egypt, Libya and northern Sudan, and ultimately, the invasion and occupation of the nation of Israel. While numerous scholars and expositors throughout history have wrestled over the precise meaning of this passage, some are asking if it is possible that we are now witnessing the emergence of the last-days kingdoms of the North and South. Could Erdogan and Morsi be the last-days kings of the North and South, or are they merely precursors to the actual fulfillment of Daniel 11? Of course, we should be extremely cautious in considering these questions, but students of the Scriptures would certainly do well to remain watchful and in a sober spirit of prayer concerning the momentous evens we are now seeing unfold throughout the Middle East.
Another significant passage many are also now looking to is Isaiah 19, a profound prophecy concerning the state of Egypt in the days and years immediately preceding the return of the Messiah.
As massive demonstrations rock Egypt, some are protesting against Morsi, while many others are protesting in support of him. As violent clashes between the two groups erupt, it is clear that Egypt is a deeply divided nation. How far will it all go? Could Isaiah’s prophecy of an Egyptian civil war be seen in our day?
“So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; and they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, city against city and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)
And if Isaiah’s prophecy is beginning to unfold before us in Egypt, what would this mean with regard to the return of Jesus? Certainly, there are some “signs of the Messiah” the Bible indicates the wise would be able to discern and identify prior to his coming. Some of the more prominent of these signs include the following:
The return of the Jewish people to their homeland.
The emergence of the kings of the North and the South.
A regional security alliance between Israel and her surrounding neighbors.
The re-establishment of the biblical sacrificial system on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Over the past 65 years, we have already witnessed the return of the Jewish people to their homeland in Israel. What might we witness next? One thing is clear: The world is changing rapidly before us, and watchful students of the Bible today must remain sober, alert and in a constant state of prayer as we all together eagerly await the return of Jesus.
“Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.”