Just to recall, of the three candidates being considered here for major antiChrist status, Saddam Hussein was the first to be seen to fall into this category - at least as far as this writer is concerned.
Saddam had earned a reputation for cruelty as Iraq's dictator - until the Spring of 2003 that is, when US-led forces invaded that land. Their advances resulted in Saddam fleeing Baghdad, and later that year (in December) he became a prisoner of the US military. You may have seen the pictures of him emerging from an underground hole at gunpoint. (He was a pretty sorry sight then, wasn't he?) Almost two years later, in October 2005, his trial began in Baghdad. Initially accused of a massacre that took place in the mostly Shia town of Dujail, in April 2006 he was charged with genocide also. Found guilty of the massacre, Saddam was executed in Baghdad today - December 30, 2006 (the date of writing this). Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had pointed out that there were serious lapses in the justice system as applied to Saddam. And there is certainly an argument for saying that by killing the killer, sadly, we bring ourselves down to his level.
In terms of this chapter, there is now a bit of a problem, in that he is no longer here to defend himself. And yet, if he really was an antiChrist, it would be important for us not to sweep that fact under the carpet. Perhaps the best thing we can do in this situation is press on and see what justification there is for giving him that label, do you agree?
First though, what's the significance of "Old Babylon" - in the chapter title, above? Well from history it's known that Babylon was the capital of the ancient Babylonian empire. One of their most powerful kings was Nebuchadnezzar II. Ruling from 605 to 562 BCE, he is the king whose dream Daniel both revealed and explained (please see Daniel chapter 2). Daniel was one of the Jewish people whom Nebuchadnezzar had forcibly removed from Jerusalem to Babylon.
It was in this that Nebuchadnezzar had shown himself to be an antiChrist (opposing Christ before the Mission which began with Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem). Laying siege to Jerusalem, and eventually defeating it, he burned the First Temple, killed a great many Jews, and exiled most of the rest to his capital(1). Later, he would compound his offenses by never letting these exiled prisoners return home (Isaiah 14:17). The final touch came when he made it plain that he fancied himself to be more of a god than a man (Daniel 4:30).
But where is the connection between Saddam and ancient Babylon? It's in this: Saddam apparently believed himself to be the reincarnation of this king; as a result he modeled himself after this early tyrant, as can be seen in Note 1 - please see above link.
Saddam took this to great lengths: although Baghdad is the modern capital of Iraq, Saddam's ambition was to restore the older capital to its former glory, and in the 1980s he spent more than $1/2bn. on his Babylonian project. Each brick used in the reconstruction (for instance, directly on top of the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace) was inscribed with Saddam's name.
Nebuchadnezzar II had many magicians on hand, as is made clear in the Book of Daniel (ch. 2:1-3). Likewise Saddam had his own "specialists" in magic(2). Further, he was said to have had a lifelong interest in the occult; certainly it is a documented fact that Saddam had a copy of the Koran made in which the text is written using his own blood. Incidentally, this self-serving act was as unacceptable to Muslim decency as it would be to that of other religions(3).
Nebuchadnezzar had a humbling experience, as Daniel chapter 4 records. For seven years he lived outside as an animal! Saddam too lived rough for a while - on the run from US-led forces. Some have drawn a parallel between the images of Saddam shown after his capture, and Nebuchadnezzar in his affliction - as can be seen in Note 1 - please see above link.
By the way, it is worth noting that although Nebuchadnezzar opposed the Lord in the same way that other antiChrists have done, his enmity did not last. He was transformed as a result of the above seven belittling years (please see Daniel 4:34-37). By the end of this experience he was an enthusiastic convert to the worship of the True God. What a great example of the power of the Good News - in the long run it seems the Lord is always more than a match for those who deny Him! In the light of Nebuchadnezzar's conversion, we can have real hope for the future of the trio of antiChrists being studied here.
As a boy Saddam had developed a high regard for Hitler. This may strike us as bizarre and sick; however it is clear that Saddam saw it differently. And it is known that, like Hitler's, Saddam's childhood was blighted with severe and prolonged abuse(4)(5). This may help to explain his attraction to the Nazi leader, and may likewise throw some light on Saddam's tyrannical behavior as a dictator (but of course, the beatings Saddam the boy suffered do not excuse the crimes Saddam the man committed).
Later, Saddam grew to prefer Joseph Stalin as a hero, and cast himself more in his mold than in Hitler's. But when Saddam had forced his way into power, he made sure he stocked his armory with supplies of poison gas, which he did not hesitate to use in the Iraq-Iran war(6). So he had not forgotten the tips he picked up from Hitler's past.
Following the awful examples of Hitler and Stalin had more or less ensured this bad outcome - Saddam was by then already on course to become a despotic leader of Iraq.
^ The core evidence for pinning the antiChrist identity on Saddam lies in his campaigns of ethnic cleansing - genocide - carried out against the Kurds in the North and the Marsh Arabs in the South of his country. We don't know the exact figures, but it is probable that hundreds of thousands of mortal lives were lost in these purges. In addition, any Iraqi who opposed him publicly could expect a death sentence. Then again, what's your opinion - maybe the basest of his crimes was the murder of his own two sons-in-law?(7) The record of his lethal acts betrayed an utter ruthlessness - a trait which seems to be a trademark of Christ's major opponents.
Despite the above pointers to the antiChrist nature of Saddam Hussein, it makes sense to stop for a moment and ask: If he really was an antiChrist, and George W Bush and Ariel Sharon also, then wouldn't the three have acted in step with one another? Wouldn't it be a natural thing for all those who are closely identified with the evil one to band together? How can it make sense for antiChrists to fight each other? How can it be that one of their number is executed by the combined influence/efforts of the other two?(8)
Well, Jesus shed light on this subject when He pointed out that:
... "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste;
and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself;
how then shall his kingdom stand?"
Matthew 12:25-26 (NAS 1975)
Our Lord is saying isn't He, that if Satan were ever to be divided against his own interests, that would spell the beginning of the end for him? And moving on in the Bible from Matthew to the Book of Revelation, we see there in chapter 20 that Satan and his kingdom will indeed be brought down to nothing. One hope in this the End-Time is that the day when the devil gets his final Judgment draws nearer. And if we are seeing division in Satan's realm, this can only add to our hope!
(Using words taken from the chapter headings in this e-book, it seems that the "New Babylon" has turned on "Old Babylon". The old has had to fall and has given way to the greater force of the new.)
So actually, the obvious enmity that showed itself between Bush-Sharon and Saddam can be for us a helpful testimony to the idea that the Day of the Lord is imminent. That Day when Jesus will return, and usher in the genuine New World Order - in which the basis for living in this world will be the rule applying in the Kingdom of Love. This true Order will see off the competition: others have been trying to foist a sham "new world order" on us. But their human scheming has resulted so far in a state that some folk might say is more like "new world chaos." What a contrast between this turmoil and God's concept of order! By faith we can look to Jesus to help us sort out this and all the other messes that our foolishness has caused to come upon the Earth.
A little sidelight on the division that existed between Bush-Sharon, and Saddam: Look at events earlier in the End-Time, and what do we see? The three antiChrists of the WWII period - Hitler, Stalin, and Mao - did the same thing. Not only did two of these antiChrists fight each other, but they broke an agreement that said they would not!
This is what happened: Going back to 1939, just when WWII was about to break out, Hitler and Stalin agreed to a pact whereby Germany and Russia were committed to maintain peace with one another(9). This accord was to be for a term of ten years initially, with provision to extend it for five years at a time after that. Just two years later, in the Summer of 1941, Hitler mounted a sudden, ferocious attack on Russia - the ensuing battles resulted in the loss of many millions of mortal lives(10).
Division between the antiChrists can be seen then, to be part of the End-Time pattern. And, looking at it from our point of view, a bit coldly perhaps, this division has been to our benefit. We see that as a result of the split in the camp, Saddam has become history. Thank God that he can no longer cause harm to the poor Iraqi people. But let us be clear - the fact that he did not last (in earthly terms) does not mean he wasn't a major antiChrist after all. It just means that the time came when his own evil methods would be turned on him. So now we see the American antiChrist looking as if he is the sole contender for the title. However, what has been revealed of God's Plan shows that Bush's hold on the unenviable post of antiChrist can only be temporary.
Hold on you might say, isn't something missing here? Wouldn't we expect to see the number of the beast - 666 - point to Saddam Hussein? Yes indeed. And it does; in fact there is more than one way in which 666 corresponded with the ex-dictator. Perhaps the most striking example is UN Security Council Resolution 666 - which involves Saddam(11). Passed during his armed occupation of Kuwait, Resolution 666 was about ensuring that there be enough food for Iraqis and Kuwaitis in spite of UN sanctions against Iraq.
The acid test of Iraq's ex-ruler is found by measuring his actions against the standard Jesus set in John 10:10:
"A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.Did Saddam bring life to Iraq? On the contrary, would you not think? And the opposite of life, as told in this verse, is robbery, death, and destruction. Saddam's spending on palaces, etc, and his costly war against Iran had an inevitable result: the impoverishment of his people - resources that should have been spent on the wellbeing of his fellow Iraquis were wasted instead. Added to this theft was the loss of many precious loved ones in that war and in other ways, for we know that his rule was accompanied by much death and destruction.
I came so they can have real and eternal life,
more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (Msg.)
Well then, is there anything we can say that is favorable toward Saddam Hussein? One thing certainly: he did show a consistent loyalty to his clan. Arising out of the Sunni Muslims of Tikrit, he appointed many from this area to positions of power in the land. The closer a person was related to him, the more Saddam felt able to trust that person. Even dictators can't run things entirely on their own, and Saddam remembered his own people when it came to handing out the plum jobs.
Doubtless this patronage made him feel more secure; nevertheless, he is now in the next world. What, we could ask, is the present-day reality for such a man in that place? Those who bring hell to many people - don't they have to bear painful consequences? This scribe is afraid they do. In fairness though, we need to add that Saddam Hussein did not pop up out of nowhere. In previous years he was amply supported by America; he had also been, and continued to be, sponsored by the Russians(12). For a number of years Saddam even managed the difficult balancing act of riding these two mounts at the same time (which risky behavior may have sealed his downfall). So we can see that his rule over Iraq and her people was not entirely of his own making. Still, on the basis that no one is fairer than God, let us be clear and let us rest in the knowledge that the Judgment made in Heaven concerning him takes all these factors fully into account.
Further, we can rejoice, because our Lord God is the Ultimate Savior - He loves to turn around, heal and restore people no matter how far they have strayed away. And so with Saddam, whose departed soul - though suffering for his sins - is not out of reach of God's Love. Despite all of his crimes, we should be able to see - with the eyes of faith - God's Redemptive Power at work in him. This man, formerly so hard-hearted, finds that the Lord within is changing him. Thanks to the Grace of God, we can expect to witness the "peaceable fruit of righteousness" Hebrews 12:11 (KJV), emerge - astonishingly - from Saddam.
We look for the day - after all the cleansing and correction - when Saddam Hussein is transformed as his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar was: "those who walk in pride He is able to humble," Daniel 4:37 (MKJV). And then we can expect Saddam to become as keen as his forerunner on living in the simplicity of this precept: "what does Jehovah require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 (MKJV). And we shall indeed rejoice!
Holding onto this identification of Saddam as one antiChrist, let us move on. In the next chapter we consider the second of the three men who had set themselves up (whether knowingly or by default) as god. And so by accident or design, striving to be a replacement for Christ.
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