by Joel Rosenberg
ORIGINAL POST February 28, 2011:
It is so painful to watch the horror show underway in Libya right now. Estimates tell us that at least 1,000 Libyans are dead. Many more are wounded. Some 100,000 people have apparently fled Libya in recent days as the situation goes from bad to worse.
The first sentence of a new Time magazine article asks, “Is it the End of Days for Libya?” The article looks at the rising death toll as Gaddafi continues using his army to slaughter the Libyan people desperate for change. It also asks the question of whether Libya will experience peace even if (or when) Gaddafi is deposed. Dirk Vandewalle, a Libyan expert at Dartmouth University, told Time: ”Both sides, both the population, and the security organizations, know exactly what’s at stake. If government militias [are to] win, they will have to kill many more, and if the security organizations lose, then the people, the regular people in Libya are going to take their revenge….Either way we’re going to see a terrible blood bath.” David Mack, a former deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, told Time that the worst possible outcome would be a widespread lawlessness in which Libya degenerated into a kind of “Somalia on the Mediterranean.”
What does the Bible tell us? Libya is referred to numerous times in the Scriptures, both directly and indirectly.
- In Matthew 27, for example, we learn that it was a Libyan man — Simon of Cyrene (a part of ancient Libya) – who carried the cross for our Lord Jesus.
- In Acts chapter 2, we learn that God-fearing men from Libya were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and heard the Apostle Peter preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some 3,000 people that days repented of their sins and became fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. It is likely that Libyans were among them since they are mentioned in the text.
- In Acts 11, we learn that Libyan (Cyrene) followers of Jesus Christ helped bring the gospel to Antioch, Syria, and made disciples for Jesus there.
- In Acts 13 we learn that a Libyan man — Lucius of Cyrene — becomes one of the leaders of the church at Antioch, helping send out Barnabus and Paul to take the gospel to Asia and Europe.
Again and again in the Scriptures we see that the Lord loves the people of Libya. He wants them to know Him and receive His free gift of salvation.
That said, Bible prophecy also tells us the government and many of the people of Libya will be engaged in great evil in the End of Days.
- In Ezekiel 38-39, we learn that Libya is one of the nations that joins the Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel in “the last days.” In this prophecy, Ezekiel uses the name “Put.” The first century historian Flavius Josephus wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that “Put” or “Phut” is “ancient Libyos.” Ancient Libyos, we know, certainly included the territory of the modern nation state we refer to today as Libya, but also included Algeria and possibly Tunisia. This tells us the no matter what the near term outcomes of the revolutions underway in North Africa are, in the not-too-distant future Libya for certain and possibly her neighbors will have virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel leadership who will eagerly join a coalition bent on destroying the Jews and occupy the land of Israel. Gaddafi, of course, is already such a leader. Perhaps he will ride out this storm and stay in power. Perhaps someone worse will rise up after him. Hopefully Gaddafi will be deposed and a more moderate leadership will rise up for a season before the prophecy of the “War of Gog and Magog” comes to fulfillment. Either way, the Church should be using this window of time to do everything possible to get the gospel into Libya and to strengthen the persecuted believers in Libya before the country faces God’s judgment for attacking Israel.
- In Daniel 11, we learn that Libya is one of the countries that will be under the control and direction of the Antichrist in “the last days.” The Hebrew Prophet Daniel tells us that “a despicable person will arise” during “a time of tranquility” and will seize global power “by intrigue” and by “overflowing forces” in the End Times. This person, known in Christian theology as the Antichrist, ”will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” The Bible tells us the Antichrist “will enter the Beautiful Land” — that is, Israel — and “will stretch out his hand against other countries.” Eventually, the Antichrist will gain control of the entire world and force all people who haven’t received Christ as Savior and Lord to bow and worship him or be beheaded. But the Bible specificially notes that the Antichrist ”will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians [the people of “Cush,” which includes modern Sudan, Ethiopia and possible Eritrea] will follow at his heels.” It is not entirely clear why the Bible points specifically to “Libyans” and “Ethiopians” as among those who will follow and serve the Antichrist, but this is what the Lord tells us in advance will happen.