ISIS not ISIL

By Merrill Olson

There is confusion today between these two groups. The news media many times refers to ISIL as the terrorists. President Obama refuses to say ISIS. In any setting in which he speaks about the threat, he always refers to ISIL. Ignorantly, many people accept the term. However, for those who know the difference, they may react in disgust wondering how people, that should know better, refuse to say it like it is.

ISIS simply stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIL refers to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. What is the Levant? It includes the countries of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and the area of southern Turkey. There is a big difference. For instance, Israel and Jordan are not beheading, raping, and killing Christians, Jews, and non-Muslims. These atrocities are occurring under ISIS.

ISIS was founded in 1999 by Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi. He believes that he is the successor to the Prophet Mohammad. Their flag contains two phrases: “There is no god but Alllah” “Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Much violence is happening today in the world with terrorists killing people and ISIS claiming credit for it. On the other hand, the Middle East itself is also unstable economically, politically, socially, religiously, etc. It is a very diverse and complex place that consists of tribal clans, ethnic groups and religious factions. Therefore, this brings forth violence and war that makes it a very volatile place in the world today.

From this unrest has brought forth ISIS with its objective to impose Sharia Law on all humanity and to follow a strict adherence to the Qur’an and Mohammed. Its aim is to establish a social order that implements Islamic law in all areas of life. In doing this, it believes in the concept of Holy War or Jihad as a necessity in accomplishing its goal.

God prophesied centuries ago that this very thing would happen. It goes all the way back to Abraham and the confusion of Sarai (Sarah) with her maid, Hagar, after Hagar became pregnant with Ishmael by Abraham (Gen. 16:1-8).

After Hagar fled into the wilderness of Beersheba, the “Angel of the LORD [the pre-incarnate Christ] appeared to her and said, ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren’” (vv. 11-12).

Ishmael became the father of twelve sons and thus the father of the Arabs (Gen. 25:12-16). The Bible says that “He shall be a wild man….” While we must not apply these traits to every descendant of Ishmael, centuries-long hostility between Jews and Arabs are well-known. Out of this has brought, like ISIS, haters of Jews and Christians.

This violence and hatred is going to continue until the Lord Jesus returns and ends it all (Psalm 2:1-12). Therefore, “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (v. 12).

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