WorldNetDaily Warns Bible Might Predict Destruction of Saudi Arabia

More mangled pseudo-scholarship from Joel Richardson, who at WorldNetDaily asks a Great Religious Question to Which the Answer is No:

Does the Bible predict destruction of Saudi Arabia?

Middle-Eastern media outlets are reporting that Israel may be about to launch a major attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Last week, Israel Today reported that Saudi Arabia had given Israel permission to use its airspace for an attack, and now the Iranian Fars News Agency has reported that a squad of Israeli jets has even landed at a military airstrip in Saudi Arabia. Could this development have any significance with regard to biblical prophecy? I believe it could.

And the reason is – because the weird symbolism of the Book of Revelation allows just about any interpretation to be imposed upon it:

As the story unfolds, we are introduced to the seven-headed beast, a being which represents the seven world empires of history that have sought to destroy Israel. In that the beast is seen to be a reflection of Satan the dragon, it is also believed that these gentile empires have been Satan’s primary vehicles or strongholds in the earth. The first world empire that made efforts to destroy the Hebrew people, of course, was Egypt. Egypt was followed by Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. This brings the number of empires to six. There is one more. Each one of these empires share the commonalities of having possessed the same destructive anti-Semitic spirit. Each sought, but failed, to exterminate the Jewish people.

…Identifying “Mystery Babylon” is actually far simpler than it might seem. The prototype of the ultimate last-days Babylon, of course, was simply Babylon, the spiritual and economic capital of the Empire of Babylonia. Later in the first century, however, the Apostle Peter, writing from Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, referred to Rome as “Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13). In this, we see that the early church understood “Babylon” to be a concept that migrated. Babylon is a symbolic codeword that refers to the capital of the reigning beast empire. In the first century, the persecuting beast empire was the Roman Empire. But today, the anti-Semitic beast empire of the earth is the Islamic Empire.

Where to begin? Yes, the early church regarded Babylon as Rome – but that was because of Roman persecution of Christians, not because of how the Roman Empire treated “the Hebrew people”. The author of Revelation’s villain is Nero, not Vespasian or Titus. The seven-headed beast thus simply represents Rome, which, as everyone knows, is famous for having seven hills. That’s the simplest solution to the problem of the “seven heads”: there’s no need to go ransacking ancient history looking for other empires that have attacked Israel, much less speculate about some future empire which isn’t even hinted at in the text of Revelation.

And Richardson’s “six world empires” that “made efforts to destroy the Hebrew people” is botched, anyway. Obviously, his schema is derived from the vision in Daniel 2 in the Hebrew Bible, but it’s not a close reading: Daniel’s vision is concerned with Asian empires from Babylon through to the Hellenistic period – Egypt does not figure, and Daniel’s empires are listed because they were successive world powers, not because of their antipathy to Israel. Richardson’s list is just his own speculation – and why would Persia be included as part of “Mystery Babylon”, when the Bible regards Cyrus as a Messiah who restored the Jews following the Babylonian capivity?

And if attempts to “extermine the Jewish people” are the author of Revelation’s primary concern, and he really did have a supernatural power to foresee the future (rather than writing for his own time and context, as with comparable Apocalyptic texts), surely he would have referenced the Third Reich?

As for Saudi Arabia, Richardson notes that it exports “radical Islamic pro-jihad” literature, while simultaneously being reviled across the Muslim world as corrupt. Thus,

As the spiritual and economic capital of the reigning anti-Semitic beast empire of our day, Saudi Arabia/Mecca may be identified as the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18… As I have traveled the nation, after teaching on this subject, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has rejected the idea outright.

Maybe he should meet a wider range of people…

Apparently, Saudi Arabia is likely to be destroyed because “the Saudis are collaborating with the Jewish nation, the enemy of all enemies, to launch an attack on Iran”. This is despite the fact that supporting Israel is supposed to be a good thing. Such is the convoluted thinking of Christian Zionism, in which bizarre speculations about geo-politics and global war seem to have completely displaced the historic concerns of Christianity.

Mosab Hassan Yousef Update

The National Review Online has an editorial on the case of Mosab Hassan Yousef:

Mosab Hassan Yousef must have encountered nearly everything on his unlikely journey. But surely he never ran across anything as stupid as the American immigration bureaucracy.

As has been widely reported,  Yousef is threatened with deportation due to his past links to Hamas – even though he was spying for Israel:

…The department bases its argument on Yousef’s autobiography, Son of Hamas. In it, he reports that when Shin Bet agents showed him pictures of Hamas members who were suspected of involvement in a March 2001 bombing, he told the agents that he’d driven some of the members to safehouses. Of course, this is the kind of thing that spies do routinely — assist the enemy when asked, especially in small ways, so as not to blow their cover. Common sense indicates that our material-support rules don’t apply to support that’s provided — at the behest of a U.S. ally — within a broader attempt to bring down a terrorist organization.

If Yousef returns to the West Bank, he risks execution. Obviously, DHS doesn’t believe he’s a threat, or it would detain him; in fact, the FBI has advised DHS that Yousef is not a threat. He has converted to Christianity and has become vocal critic of Islam.

This is a reasonable assessment of what’s probably going on – various other commentators, though, are suggesting that the deportation threat is coming directly from “the Obama administration” as part of a pro-Muslim conspiracy.

But (as I asked previously) why would he be returned to “the West Bank” even if he is deported? Surely he would simply arrive at Tel Aviv? There’s something of an elephant in the room here  – and there’s a piece of evidence from the Israeli right that would perhaps assist Yousef’s case for remaining in the USA. The Jerusalem Post reported the following in April:

Thousands of Palestinian collaborators who have moved to Israel in search of protection live here without basic human rights, financial assistance or adequate social benefits, according to a first-of-its kind report on the living conditions of those who have risked their lives for the Jewish state.

Published last month by the Legal Forum for Eretz Israel, the report highlights the plight of more than 6000 individuals and their families who are either not officially recognized, or only partially recognized, as being collaborators with Israel, and who are basically left to fend for themselves after being deemed traitors by the Palestinian authorities.

“There are literally thousands of threatened people who have been living in Israel for more than ten years with a special [temporary] permit but who are not allowed to work and do not receive health benefits,” said [Michael] Teplow [var. Michael Tupelow], explaining that many are employed on the black market for very low pay and under terrible conditions. “These people go through serious mental anguish every three months when their permit has to be renewed. They never know if they might be suddenly arrested [by the Israeli authorities] and returned across the border.”

Perhaps this isn’t surprising – while Yousef was motivated by humanitarian concerns, many other Palestinian collaborators were coerced by Israel; the BBC noted last month that

Some do it for money, some are compromised sexually, others may do it for the promise of medical treatment unavailable in the Palestinian territories.

It is unlikely that Israel is going to care about such Palestinians’ long-term interests. However, this context does not feature in any of the discussion about Yousef’s case. It appears that Israel’s support for him has not gone further than a letter of recommendation, although his Shin Bet handler has broken the rules to speak on his behalf.  If Yousef faces a “death sentence” if deported, it’s because Israel either cannot or will not look after its collaborators – but this doesn’t seem to be a subject that anyone wants to talk about in any detail. Is the USA to take in all collaborators under threat, or just those who convert to Christianity and link up with conservative “anti-jihad” pundits?

Meanwhile, among those supporting Yousef is Walid Shoebat, who promotes the conspiracy-theory version of the situation on OneNewsNow:

Like Yousef, Walid Shoebat is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity and became an outspoken critic of Islam. He says authorities are trying to find something in Yousef’s book that would allow them to accuse him of terrorism.

…”We have an administration that basically wants to fight against repentant terrorists while they want to release the real terrorists in Gitmo [Guantanamo Bay, Cuba],” he notes. “I think the reason is because Mosab Hasan Yousef speaks against Islam openly. He talks about the Koran and Islam as being evil. They don’t like this kind of thing, and they want to extradite him.”

Although Shoebat is keen to endorse Yousef,  Yousef would be wise to keep some distance: Shoebat’s own story is far less impressive – and is coming under renewed scrutiny with the recent humilitation of Ergun Caner. Caner is being demoted by Liberty University after discrepencies in his story of being an ex-jihadist came to light; the Religious News Service reports that:

Other terrorists-turned-Christians have invited scrutiny as well, including U.S. citizens Walid Shoebat, author of Why We Want To Kill You, and Kamal Saleem, who has worked for Focus on the Family, and recently wrote The Blood of Lambs. Like Caner’s book, their books purport to be insider explorations of radical Islam.

…Skeptics point out Shoebat and Saleem claim to have carried out their terrorist activities in the 1960s and 1970s, long before modern Islamic radicalism emerged in the 1980s. They also question why, if their terror claims are true, they’ve been able to retain their U.S. citizenship.

In Shoebat’s case, he’s a birth American on his mother’s side, but he and Saleem do seem to have rather an easy time of it when compared with Yousef’s current difficulties.