This last Wednesday, Denver Snuffer posted an intriguing and ominous, single-sentence post on his blog as follows:
“The God of Heaven tells me all the world should pray that Baghdad does not fall.”
Since that post, I’ve seen a number of reactions. Some have offered thoughts about the humanitarian elements of war and suffering in and around Baghdad; others have talked about the economic consequences to the United States and the world. And some, honestly, have no idea where Baghdad is, or why its fall might matter at all.
As for me, I’m quite concerned that one of the most important events in world history is staring us in the face and so many of us are unaware and oblivious. So here’s a quick primer on Baghdad and why it is so important, even vital, to the future, not just of the Middle East, but of the world. I pray that you’ll consider these things carefully, as they affect your future as well.
Please keep in mind, the following is my opinion. I don’t speak for Denver Snuffer. I’ve reached these conclusions by study and prayer. I invite you to study it for yourself.
Let's talk about Baghdad.
A Modern City with Ancient Roots
Baghdad is the political, governmental, cultural, social and educational capital of Iraq. The name Baghdad comes from the Persian word meaning "the gift of God." The city is situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the land known as Mesopotamia.
The foundation of Baghdad dates back to AD 800. It was built after the destruction of the prior capital of the area—known as Babylon—the ruins of which lie 50 miles to the south. Yes, THAT Babylon. Modern Baghdad occupies the same general region and governs the same territory as ancient Babylon. Baghdad is, in some prophetic applications, the modern equivalent of Babylon.
Babylon, you will recall, attacked and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, carrying the Jewish population captive back to Babylon for a period of 70 years. It was, in fact, this pending attack that Lehi warned about, prior to fleeing Jerusalem with his family. Mulek, son of king Zedekiah also fled this attack and came to the promised land with a different group. The prophet Jeremiah was among those taken captive by Bablyon. Hence, in Jewish scripture, Babylon is often synonymous with wickedness or the world. Babylon is also highly significant in modern prophecy, which we’ll get to in a minute.
The city of Baghdad is also very important in Islam, having been the political capital of prior Islamic empires for hundreds of years. It was, at one point, the largest city in the world, with 1.2 million inhabitants.
Today, over 7 million people live in the city of Baghdad with another 5 million in the immediate surrounding area. Baghdad is the largest city in Iraq, and the second largest city in Western Asia.
U.S. Intervention and Presence
Since the fall of Baghdad to U.S.-led coalition forces in April, 2003, the U.S. has had a continuous military presence in the city. The heavily fortified U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad is the largest embassy in the world, and is really a city within a city, housing up to 35,000 personnel.
Baghdad and ISIS
Now, let’s talk about the importance of Baghdad to the current world situation. To do that, we must start with ISIS.
If you pay attention to the news, you’ve likely heard of ISIL, ISIS, or the Islamic State. This is a group of Islamic insurgent fighters who have waged war in Syria and Iraq, and have now gained control of large parts of both countries.
ISIS employs brutal tactics in its warfare, and has gained much recent notoriety for barbaric cruelty. Dressed in black clothing, black masks and carrying black flags, ISIS has mastered the psychological impact of terrorism on their enemies and on the world. A small sample of their most recent acts include the following:
- Placing a downed Jordanian pilot in an iron cage, dousing him with gasoline, and burning him alive while onlookers cheered.
- A follow-on, caged burning of 45 captured enemies.
- The mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.
- Executing unarmed, captured enemies by the hundreds in front of machine-gun firing squads.
- Beheading captured relief workers, journalists, and Christians.
- Murdering women and children in occupied areas.
- Stoning, crucifixion, torture, slavery, rape, forced marriage, and sex slavery.
Many of these heinous acts are captured on video, professionally edited, and paraded before the world. These are not isolated events, but carefully planned propaganda. ISIS has a very effective PR machine and gets all the press attention they want.
ISIS is also waging very effective war. It has doubled the land it controls since last summer, despite over 1,000 coalition airstrikes. ISIS now controls a third of Syria and a third of Iraq. The fighting has displaced over 1 million Iraqis and over 3 million Syrians, creating a desperate humanitarian situation.
Fighting for God
The most important thing to understand about ISIS is the religious ideas driving their war. Volumes could be written here, but I’ll attempt to give a brief overview. Here is what you need to understand:
- ISIS follows a very strict interpretation of Islam. These are not ignorant barbarians, but deeply religious, and often educated, devotees to the prophet Muhammad. You will not beat them in debating their scripture, the Koran, nor will you find more strictly religious adherents to Muhammad’s original teachings. This is not about oil, jobs, money, fame, power or control. This is about religion.
- ISIS is committed to purifying the world by slaughtering vast numbers of people, until all are brought under Islamic rule and Sharia law. They consider this their mandate from God. The executions, crucifixions, slavery, beheadings, and brutality are condoned by their scripture and considered religious duty. They are proud to parade these things before the world as evidence of their devotion to God, claiming that prior terrorist groups like Al Queda were simply too weak to do what God requires.
- ISIS has done something quite remarkable that few have dared to do in nearly 100 years. They have declared a Caliphate. If you’re not familiar with this word, a Caliphate is like a religious kingdom, led by a Caliph, who is like a religious king. In calling themselves the Islamic State, they are reinforcing the idea that ISIS is now a separate political entity, and not merely an insurgency. In their eyes, they are the Kingdom of God on earth.
- The leader of ISIS, a man named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself the Caliph. Such a title makes him the direct successor to Muhammad. If he were to gain widespread acceptance as Caliph, all Muslims worldwide would be required by their religion to swear a vow of allegiance to him and take up his cause. As Caliph, he would be required to wage continuous war until Islam conquers the world.
- ISIS followers take this all very seriously. Many Muslims throughout the world are already beginning to accept Baghdadi as Caliph and are flocking to Syria and Iraq to join the fighting. Estimates say 20,000 Muslims have come from other regions including Europe, Africa, Russia, Asia, and even the U.S.
- To be considered a legitimate Caliphate, ISIS must control a substantial territory where Sharia law is enforced. Without territory, there is no Caliphate, just as a king with no kingdom is just a man. Land is essential. This explains the highly aggressive incursions into Syria and Iraq that have brought large areas under ISIS control. But these areas are mostly rural and sparsely populated.
- And finally, this explains the relentless push toward Baghdad. ISIS, by capturing Baghdad would have an incredibly strong position, not only militarily, but also religiously. It would be nearly impossible for most Muslims, who believe the Koran, to deny the legitimacy of the Islamic State Caliphate when it controls such a large, powerful, and important city. (Incidentally, the last caliphate to exist was also centered in Baghdad, as were many others for over 500 years.) Rather than thousands of Muslims pledging their loyalty and coming to fight, there would be millions. Many millions.
- Taking Baghdad would also defeat the sparse U.S. forces defending the city. This would send a resounding message to the world, massively enhancing the respect and credibility of ISIS in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, US forces in Baghdad are not nearly strong enough to defend the city, and they rely heavily on air strikes, the weak Iraqi army, and the fortifications of the US Embassy compound. Imagine the effect on other Muslim insurgent groups worldwide if ISIS were to defeat US forces, take Baghdad, and take over the heavily fortified US embassy compound as their new worldwide headquarters.
- This sort of success would unite rival insurgent factions, like Al Queda, Boko Haram and others, to the ISIS banner.
- In short, the fall of Baghdad would give ISIS the credibility, numbers, allegiance, weapons, infrastructure and legitimacy they need to completely dominate the Middle East and launch a full-scale attack on Israel. ISIS has openly stated that this is their intention.
- Tiny Israel, massively outnumbered, unprotected by a weakened U.S. military with no resolve, and facing an attacking army many millions strong, would have no choice but to respond with its nuclear weapons. Israel would undoubtedly nuke Baghdad, striking at the head of the snake, fulfilling prophecies of the desolation of Babylon for the second time in history, and launching Armageddon. ISIS expects and welcomes this. They also expect and welcome European armies to meet them on the field of battle. They expect to win because they have prophecies that say they will.
If you want to more fully understand ISIS, there's a lot on the internet. Here's a great article to start with.
What will Stop Them?
So, given the fact that ISIS has made their intentions clear, and that the scenario I outlined above is a very real possibility, we have to ask ourselves what stands to stop the fall of Baghdad and the resulting Armageddon.
Well, last June, ISIS attacked Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Despite having a population of 1.8 million, the city rapidly fell to ISIS as the Iraqi army fled in terror. This city has served as the the headquarters of ISIS since it was taken.
ISIS is very well armed and increasingly well organized. Most of their weapons are US made, and came from Syria, where the US was providing arms to the wrong people. ISIS also controls vast oil resources, bringing in over $3 million per day. In other words, they have lots of resources at their disposal.
ISIS actually attempted attacks on Baghdad last summer, but was repelled. They’ve spent the intervening time solidifying their hold in more areas of Iraq, growing in numbers, and perfecting their skills. Last week ISIS forces reportedly burned alive 45 prisoners just 5 miles outside the Ain al-Asad US air base, which is only 50 miles from Baghdad, and is protected by about 320 US Marines. The base has been under more or less continuous attack for weeks and could only repel a full-scale assault by using air strikes.
In total there are fewer than 4,000 US military personnel in Iraq, and ISIS forces are estimated between 30,000 and 50,000, with more arriving daily in response to a very effective PR and propaganda outreach. Incidentally, rival Kurdish leaders have estimated ISIS has 200,000 fighters.
The Iraqi army is very weak and showed at Mosul they would almost immediately flee, rather than risk being killed, or worse captured, then tortured and burned alive.
I won’t go into the strategic side of things here, but suffice it to say Baghdad is very exposed, and very vulnerable. The fall of Baghdad is not only possible, but likely. U.S. Air defenses are the only real bulwark the city has at this point. If our bombers and fighters fail, Baghdad falls. That said, keep in mind that over 1,000 air strikes have so far not slowed the advance of ISIS. Air strikes are not effective against certain kinds of attacks.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (Revelation 16:16, 19)
To say the situation is grave is an immense understatement.
Babylon in Modern Prophecy
And so we come to modern prophecy Consider this, from the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, in which Christ tells us the following:
Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. (D&C 1:11-13)This is not an idle warning from the Lord. He is serious about what is coming.
And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; (D&C 1:14-15)The Lord has sent and is sending prophets to warn us of the danger of our situation. Who is raising that warning voice today?
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (D&C 1:16 emphasis mine)And this is the crux of the matter. The world has fallen into great wickedness and idolatry. And so the world and its idols are waxing old, and will perish in Babylon. Remember, where Babylon is? A valid reading of this verse tells us that the fall of Babylon brings the destruction of the world.
Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments; And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets— (D&C 1:17-18 emphasis mine)The Lord always sends prophets before destruction. He has sent one in our day. We must have ears to hear and hearts to heed.
The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world; (D&C 1:19-20)
The message of repentance and warning teaches us that each of us can, and must, come to know the Lord ourselves. We cannot, and must not, trust in the arm of flesh. No man can save us.
And so We Must Pray
The leader of ISIS, who has now declared himself Caliph, is named Baghdadi, which means “of Baghdad.” This is reportedly not his given name, but one he chose for himself. I think he means it.
I don’t believe military force will stop what’s coming. Our only hope is that God will intervene.
Of course, we need to pray for the victims of this brutality. We need to pray for the displaced refugees, and the threatened. We need to pray for our fellow Christians, who face death for their faith. We need to pray for the perpetrators of this awful violence. These are our brothers and sisters, and we should be doing that anyway.
But most of all, we need to pray that Baghdad will not fall. A prophet has given us this warning from God. I intend to heed it.
A Little Longer
In the Zenos allegory of Jacob 5, a point is reached at which the vineyard has become utterly corrupt and the Lord determines to burn everything.
But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer.
And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:50-51)
The Lord of the vineyard, rather than proceeding with the destruction, was persuaded by his servant to take extraordinary measures and spare it a little longer.
You and I, we need a little longer. We need time to repent, to prepare, to humble ourselves to the dust. We need to to be the servants who cry unto the Lord. If the chain reaction is touched off now, Zion may not come before the destruction. We need more time before the world burns.
There are currently thousands and tens of thousands who are praying every day that they will be able to take Baghdad. Like it or not, they're asking God to let it happen. We MUST counter with our faith and our prayers. The situation is desperate, and God can, indeed, intervene. But it will require the faith and prayers of thousands.
A prophet has warned us with a message from the God of Heaven. This Sunday, February 22, many will be fasting and praying that Baghdad will not fall. Please unite your prayers and faith with ours. We need more time to repent and prepare—before the world falls into the coming dark day.
Lord, spare it a little longer!