Patriarch issues dire warning: Christianity ‘disappearing’ from Mideast

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Prophecy of Daniel 7 ‘being fulfilled in our midst’
Leo Hohmann is a news editor for WND. He has been a reporter and editor at several suburban newspapers in the Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, areas and also served as managing editor of Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Ignatius Aphrem II is patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

A Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church has issued a dire warning that Christianity is in danger of disappearing across entire countries in the Middle East, the very land of its birth.

And the onslaught of ISIS has prompted an American Bible teacher, Joel Richardson, to observe that “we have begun to see the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled in our midst.”

There have been repeated warnings about the decline of Christianity in Iraq under the onslaught of the Islamic State, also called ISIS. Eight in 10 Christians have left Iraq since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, who had protected the 1.5 million Christians who lived there under his rule.

But the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Ignatius Aphrem II, has now told the Assyrian International News Agency that Christianity is also at risk of disappearing in Syria and Lebanon.

The massive decline of the Christian population in Turkey from 3.5 million to 150,000 in the last 100 years alone could be repeated in Syria and Lebanon, he told the news agency.

“I am worried that Christianity is on the way out both in Syria and Iraq as well as in Lebanon,” he said.

Already, in Syria, half of the Christians are either displaced or have fled abroad. Many are also fleeing Lebanon.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that thousands of bodies were found in 72 mass graves as images reveal the shocking scale of ISIS’ industrial-scale murder of Christian and Yazidi minorities. Satellite photos show the spot where more than 600 male prisoners were lined up and shot in northern Iraq. Aerial photos also offer the clearest look yet at massacre sites such as the one containing 600 male bodies at Badoush Prison in Mosul, a city with a once-large Christian population in northern Iraq.

International Christian Concern has recognized that two years ago, on June 10, 2014, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city fell to the Islamic State. Since then, more than 100,000 Christians have been driven from their homes by the Islamic militants who still hold Mosul. In 2014, more than 500,000 fled Mosul, and since then, the number of displaced Iraqis has grown to over 3 million, many of the Christians who are often not treated well in United Nations refugee camps and therefore avoid entering the camps.


Bible teacher and author Joel Richardson

Bible teacher and author Joel Richardson

Joel Richardson, a documentary filmmaker and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Islamic Antichrist,” “Mideast Beast,” “The Coming Battle for Jerusalem” among other books, said it’s no coincidence that what is presently unfolding in much of the Middle East is precisely what is described in Daniel 7:7.

“There the prophet saw an empire that was yet to emerge on the earth, represented symbolically as an iron-toothed beast, which would first devour the saints of God all across the then known world, after which time, it would trample the remaining saints with its feet,” Richardson told WND in an email.

The prophecy continues:

“After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”

When Muhammad’s successors, the early Caliphs of Islam, burst forth out of Arabia in the seventh century, it was less than 100 years for the heart of the ancient church to have been virtually ripped out, Richardson noted.

“All of the great missionary-sending cities of the ancient Church were devoured. Antioch, Ephesus, Jerusalem, and Alexandria were all conquered by the Muslim hordes,” he said. “The ‘remainder,’ however, hung on. They survived the ensuing thousand years of pressure and until just a few years ago, the ancient Christians continued to call the Middle East their home. Now, since the Arab Spring and the onslaught of ISIS, we have begun to see the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled in our midst.

“The remnant is being crushed like crumbs under the feet of the iron-toothed fourth kingdom of Islam. This is the very nature of the spread of Islam. Wherever it goes, it shatters, crushes, and erases the cultures it conquers.”

Video: The Christian Genocide in Iraq, Syria