Is the Direct Conflict Between Israel and Iran the Beginning of World War III?

Most likely not. So what should you focus on in the meantime?

By Michael Brown Published on April 22, 2024

Is the conflict between Israel and Iran about to explode? Are we on the edge of World War III, if not Armageddon? The answer to all these questions is the same: not likely.

In saying this I do not claim supernatural, prophetic insight. Rather, my remarks are based on a general understanding of Scripture, a broad view of where we stand on the prophetic calendar, and pragmatic observations about the situation in the Middle East.

I will unpack my threefold reasoning and then address what has happened recently between Israel and Iran.

Not There Yet

First, I do not see any specific texts in the Bible indicating that the final conflict, the last great war, is at hand. Others who have also studied the Scriptures for decades may have different views, which I respect. But from my perspective, there’s nothing I could point to in terms of recent developments which shout to me, “The end is very near!”

Second, as to the larger prophetic calendar, there are at least two billion people on the planet who have never heard the Gospel in any form. We still have a way to go before we see “the fullness of the Gentiles” come in (Romans 11:25), let alone see “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” come to faith in Jesus (see Revelation 7:9).

As for “all Israel” coming to faith (as per Romans 11:26): While I recognize that things could change on a dime, right now, much work remains to be done before that sacred day comes.

As for the unified Church for which Jesus prayed in John 17, that dream, too, seems far-fetched at the present time, leading to the obvious question: Is this the version of the Bride for which He is returning, or will He continue to change us and purify us until He comes back?

In short, while the pace of God’s working in the earth will continue to accelerate in the years ahead, there is no indication that we are in the last sentence of the last chapter of the story.

Not In Anyone’s Best Interests

Third, as to my pragmatic observations about the situation in the Middle East, as unhinged as some of the worst elements of the Netanyahu government might be and as deluded as some of the Islamic leadership of Iran certainly is, I don’t believe either party wants to fight an all-out, potentially apocalyptic war right now. That’s why both Iran’s April 13 drone and missile attack on Israel along with Israel’s April 18 attack on an Iranian nuclear facility were limited in scope and nature.

To be sure, Israel’s April 1 killing of the Iranian general allegedly behind the October 7 massacre was overt, direct, and bold. But this was not a new escalation. This was part of Israel saying, “We will get to those responsible for the massacre, and they will pay with their lives.”

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As for Iran’s April 13 response, even if their leadership was surprised by the 99 percent success rate of Israel’s defense (with the help of the United States, Britain, France, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia), Iran’s actions seemed more symbolic than anything.

Israel’s April 18 response also is best seen as limited, with internal Israeli sources indicating that, more than anything, they were sending Iran a message. As Joel Pollak noted on Breitbart, “Israel downplayed reported airstrikes against Iran that appeared to hit targets near that country’s suspected nuclear program on Friday, seeming to cast the operation as proof Israel could reach the sites, rather than a full-scale attack.”

Different Sources, Same View

Confirmation for this comes from Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst. He wrote,

Iranian officials say they don’t have a plan to retaliate – and that’s not surprising. I think it was very clear from the very beginning that this was going to be a limited exchange, just as we’ve seen between Israel and Hezbollah. … Iran is not interested in a direct confrontation with Israel because conventional war between Iran and Israel – backed by the US and other Western power – is not to Iran’s advantage.

The fact that the pro-Israel, rightwing Breitbart and anti-Israel, pro-Islamic Al Jazeera see this the same way says a lot, confirming to me that it is in no one’s interest now to force an incredibly costly, even catastrophic World War III – or Armageddon.

I do believe that day will come, as the end of the age will be marked by parallel extremes of light and darkness, of the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. And it is possible that, in a short period of time, what would normally take decades or even centuries will unfold in a few short years. I just don’t believe we have reached that point yet.

As for how we should posture ourselves, that remains the same: We should live with a sense of holy urgency, knowing that every day people are dying without God and that we have only one life with which to do the Savior’s work in this world. At the same time, we should live with a multigenerational mentality, knowing that, until this moment, everyone who has predicted that Jesus would return in their lifetime has been wrong.

So let’s keep running our race so as to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), while remembering that it is a marathon and not a sprint.

 

Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?; Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on Facebook, X, or YouTube.

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