“The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”[Daniel 10:13]
Obvious attention has been given to the escalating tension between Iran and the United States. Iran has carried out numerous acts of war through military aggression, terrorism, espionage, and piracy in the Middle East. Not to mention Iran’s direct involvement with mercenaries and proxies throughout the region, including Iraq, Yemen, Syria, the Gaza Strip [Hamas], Lebanon [Hezbollah], and the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has been working relentlessly to acquire and develop nuclear weapons — if they don’t have them already — brandishing ballistic missiles with intercontinental range. Let’s not forget Iran’s irrational hatred for Israel. Not only does the Holy Land sit basically in Iran’s own back yard, but Israel considers Iran its most-serious and imminent threat to survival.
Iran’s most recent act of war was a strategic attack on our U.S. Embassy in Iraq. The U.S. military wasted no time and carried out a precise drone strike on Iran’s top general — Qassem Soleimani — killing him and his entourage outside the Iraqi Airport on New Year’s Day. The swift response by President Trump somewhat stunned Iran, who vowed revenge by raising the notorious red flag of war over the country.
But now Canada, France and Ukraine are demanding answers after a passenger jet leaving the Iranian Airport allegedly was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile — killing everyone on board. While an investigation is pending at this time, it is difficult to believe that this latest act of terror was in any way accidental or coincidental.
For good reason, the world is taking notice to the mounting tensions in the spiritual epicenter of the world. Many have a sense that this latest exchange somehow is different, perhaps providing the spark that will set many unpredictable and consequential fires into motion.
But regardless of the potential geopolitical dynamics and regardless of how the media machine will spin the truth and redismisinate misinformation, we must be able to view everything through the lenses of Scripture to see the whole picture.
As followers of Christ and students of the Word, we must grasp the deeper, more substantial issues with Iran, which include the historical, the spiritual and the prophetic.
From the original table of 70 nations in Genesis 10, the ethnic and geographic roots of modern-day Iran can be traced back to Elam — the son of Shem and grandson of Noah. After the dispersement of the nations at Babel, Elam settled in the territory northeast of the modern day Persian Gulf and eventually rose to prominence as a world power in the 6th Century B.C.
From a biblical perspective, Media/Persia provides a critical historical backdrop for many of the Old Testament authors, including Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Ester, Haggai, and Malachi. As we will see, Persia represents both the historical kingdom contemporary with the likes of Daniel and Esther, and the future territory of ancient Elam/modern-day Iran, which plays a key role in the end times and is a key piece to the prophetic puzzle.
Through decades of military conquest and expansion, the Persian Empire [circa 550-330 B.C.] absorbed one of the largest imperial land masses in the ancient world, including Media, Babylon, Egypt, Asia Minor, Assyria, and parts of India. Finally in 330 B.C., Macedonian King Alexander the Great conquered Persia and brought the dynasty to an end.
Daniel refers to Persia — like the other major world empires — in cryptic and apocalyptic language. Yet using the context, the external data and the internal witness of the Scriptures, we can be confident in the historical reliability of Daniel’s vision and also in the prophetic accuracy of things to come. Here are some examples.
- Persia is the second kingdom represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, as described by its chest and arms of silver. You can read Daniel’s interpretation in Daniel 2:31-45.
- The 2nd beast kingdom in Daniel 7, as described as a bear raised up on one side [Daniel 7:5].
- The ram with two horns in Daniel 8.
After Javan (Ancient Greece/Macedonia) conquered Persia, it has remained somewhat on the periphery of the geopolitical main stage and Biblical timeline until just recently. Inspired by radical Shia Islam, the Iranian regime has emerged once again as a significant player in the Middle East.
These most recent developments also force me to wonder if Iran has started down a path of defiance and has passed the point of no return?
The Persians historically are known for embracing pagan idolatry and polytheism — like virtually every Gentile nation that was established after the tower of Babel. Later at the height of the empire, Zoroastrianism officially was the most highly regarded and widely practiced religion in Persia. Zoroastrianism would dominate Persian spiritual and cultural life for over 1,000 years, until Islam brought jihad to Persia in the 7th Century A.D. and subdued the land under Shariah.
Historically, the spiritual complexion of Persia has been very dark and oppressive. Persia is not known for being a spiritual beacon of light and hope to the rest of the world. Persia has not been known for being a haven of spiritual liberty. Persia certainly is not known for worshiping and honoring Yahweh — the Most High God. Quite the contrary. Persia is one of Israel’s great traditional enemies.
Furthermore, Persia — aka Iran — has been one of the most restrictive nations of the gospel of Jesus Christ in recent memory. Since the revolution and regime change in the 1970s, Iranian followers of Jesus have been systematically purged by the radical Muslims.
That is … Until NOW!
In the midst of all of this chaos, conflict and confusion, the Word of the LORD has broken free in Iran, the Spirit of God has been poured out on the people or Iran, and Iranians are turning in faith to Jesus Christ in record numbers.
We are witnessing at this time one of the greatest revivals on planet earth. Many are receiving the gospel message from the resurrected Jesus Himself in dreams and visions. The underground church is growing like wildfire, and it has much to do with the relentless courage and obedience of the faithful women of Iran, who are unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ even unto death! [discover more here]
Of course this reminds us of the testimony of both the prophet Joel and the Apostle Peter.
“And it shall come to pass afterward,[Joel 2:28-29, 31b]
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit … before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.”
It is through Messiah — the Lord Jesus Christ — that the Most High God is reclaiming the nations as a people for His own possession, so that everyone who calls in faith upon the name of the Lord Jesus — whether Jew or Gentile — will be saved and will become heirs of God’s kingdom.
This is why Paul makes a direct connection between the promised “seed” of Abraham and the blessing of all the nations on the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). We know that the promised “Seed” is Jesus Christ — the son of Abraham — who would eventually bring into fulfillment all that Yahweh promised the nations.
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith … for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith … There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.[Galatians 3:7-9, 26, 28-29 ]
It is by grace through faith in Christ that any of us inherit the promises God made to the patriarchs. So today, may we give God all the glory for demonstrating His grace and power among the Iranian people by redeeming those who at one time were not His people. Through Christ, God is including the Gentiles and bringing them into the commonwealth of Israel and the family of God, incorporating them into His body and calling people from every nation His beloved bride.
While we rejoice with God for His saving grace for the people of Iran, we also must recognize the spiritual component of evil resonating and influencing the kings and rulers of Iran. Although the Son of God ultimately reigns supreme over every nation, there remains an ancient spiritual principality and power controlling the Persian regime, and this supernatural prince of Persia will not surrender quietly.
The PrincIPALITY OF PERSIA
According to the Biblical testimony, the Most High God — Yahweh — effectively disinherited the nations in response to their rebellion at Babel and relinquished the nations over to rebellious sons of God, called princes. These divine princes at one time were included in God’s heavenly council and sat alongside Yahweh on thrones. These princes were given authority by Yahweh to participate with Him in accomplishing His will and purposes in heaven and on earth.
The rebellion of the divine council and Babel episode are the only Biblical explanations sufficient to explain the presence of the supernatural prince of Persia in Daniel 10. As Gabriel resisted and contended with the prince of Persia for 21 days, the reader is given a glimpse behind the scenes into the spiritual battles taking place between the principalities and the powers in the heavens and on earth.
Both Moses and Paul agree that the Babel episode is the exact moment in history when God divided up the nations and set their boundaries according to the number of the sons of God, while claiming Israel as His own portion on the earth.
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.”[Deuteronomy 32:8-9]
“You should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.”[Acts 14:15-16]
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.”[Acts 17:26-27]
Instead of honoring Yahweh and submitting to His authority, these sons of God rebelled and set themselves up as the heathen gods of the Gentile nations, introducing to mankind all forms of evil, idolatry, violence, astrology, sorcery, divination, occult ritual, human sacrifice, moral debauchery, and pagan superstition. All the nations of the earth universally have been vassal nations for the heathen gods. These dark princes and supernatural rebels have been working relentlessly behind the scenes for millennia to disrupt God’s plan and destroy God’s people.
That is precisely why the LORD has pronounced judgment on the gods of the nations. They have dealt corruptly with mankind. They have sought worship and power and glory above the One True God. They have abused their power and kept the people in darkness. They have abandoned their loyalty and allegiance to Yahweh.
God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,[Psalm 82:1-5
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
The New Testament categorizes these supernatural spiritual forces as the cosmic rulers, principalities and powers, thrones, dominions and authorities in the heavenly places. Satan is the chief prince of the demons and has been given the authority over the kingdoms of the world [Luke 4:5-8]; therefore, the Devil is at the head of the enemy hierarchy.
More than demons — who primarily torment individuals — these evil princes have substantial control over national and international affairs in the world.
Just as God has promised to judge the nations, all human rebels and all the ungodly on that Day when Christ comes, He also will judge the divine rebels on that Day, when He inherits the earth and takes His seat on His throne as King and LORD!
This leads us to the last aspect of Persia — the prophetic.
The Prophets Daniel and Ezekiel provide the most comprehensive account of the prophetic destiny of Persia/Elam. We will first consider Daniel 8 and then Ezekiel 38-39.
Daniel is visited by the angelic messenger, Gabriel, and given a prophecy about a regional conflict in the last days. Gabriel emphasizes three times to Daniel that his vision was concerning the time of the end [Daniel 8:17, 19, 26]. Many scholars believe Daniel 8 has already been fulfilled through the historical exploits of Alexander the Great, and although the prophecy may partially have been foreshadowed by these past events, it is clear that it involves two nations in the last days — Javan — the goat –and Persia — the ram.
“As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece (Javan). And the great horn between his eyes is the first king.”[Daniel 8:20-21]
According to Daniel’s vision, we can expect a regional conflict between modern-day Javan (Turkey) and modern-day Persia (Iran) at the time of the end. This prophecy predicts that Iran — the ram — will grow in power and prominence in the last days and then will be confronted by Turkey — the goat — who will defeat Iran and shift the power in the Middle East.
As you can imagine, with the instability and turmoil in the Middle East and a political vacuum existing in Iraq and Syria, it is not difficult to see a conflict erupt between Turkey and Iran for control of the region.
More importantly, we discover that the Antichrist himself — the little horn — will begin to emerge on the political scene following this coming conflict and transfer of power.
Now to the other prophetic passage in Ezekiel that outlines the role Persia will play in the final battle of Armageddon. According to Ezekiel 38, Persia is one of the primary nations that aligns itself with Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I have written extensively about why Gog is the end-times Antichrist, so I will not spend time defending that here.
As the false prophet sends our demonic spirits to the kings of the earth in the last days to gather them for what is known as the Battle of Armageddon, Persia will fall in step [Ezekiel 38:1-6, Revelation 16, Zechariah 12-14].
“Elam is there, and all her multitude around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised into the world below, who spread their terror in the land of the living; and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.”[Ezekiel 32:24]
It will be at this unequaled moment in time that the Lord of Glory will return from heaven to strike down the nations, judge the Antichrist and his armies, and punish the evil principalities and powers in heavenly places.
And how will the rebel sons of God be judged? What will it cost the supernatural princes who declared treason against Yahweh?
They all will be cast down and die like a men. Every prince will be thrown down to the earth and die a mortals death. Let us finish Psalm 82.
I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”
Arise, O God, judge the earth;[Psalm 82:6-8]
for you shall inherit all the nations!
Isaiah adds …
“On that day the LORD will punish[Isaiah 24:21-22]
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.”
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.