The tragedy in Afghanistan is ongoing. The United States has withdrawn all our troops from that nation and the radical Islamic terrorist group, the Taliban, has rapidly retaken control. Now women will lose their rights, girls will lose their opportunities for education, only to be married off at age 12. People who supported the West now have their lives in danger. This past week, people keep asking me questions like, “What is the prophetic significance of the situation in Afghanistan?” and “Is there a biblical way to think about these events?” I believe the Bible can guide us in any situation, so here’s my take on the Bible and the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
First, there doesn’t appear to be any specific prophetic significance to the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan again. Of course, no one knows everything about prophecy until after all the events reach their culmination in God’s program. Still, the fall of the Afghan government and the return of the Taliban don’t seem to have any kind of implication about Bible prophecy. It’s true that in Matthew 24:4-14, the Lord Jesus spoke of wars and persecution of believers as signs of the end of days. But, these signs are specifically related to events in the future tribulation period, not to today.
Second, according to Scripture, sometimes the bad guys win. This has become especially clear to me as I’ve been reading the Twelve (Minor) Prophets lately. Habakkuk, seeing that Babylon will overwhelm Judah, asks God, “Why are You silent while one who is wicked (meaning Babylon) swallows up one who is more righteous than himself” (Hab 1:13)? Also, Daniel 7 describes the times of the Gentiles, the period of time from the Babylonian captivity until the return of the Lord Jesus, when Israel must live under the rule of violent and wicked nations. Each one of the kingdoms, from Babylon, to Medo-Persia, to Greece and Rome, is depicted as a fearsome and terrible beast. The point is that these nations reign over the earth even though they are brutal and evil. Why should we be surprised when the bad guys win? We’re still in the times of the Gentiles.
Third, God is always sovereign over the nations, even when the bad guys win. Isaiah reminds us, “Look the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered as a speck of dust in the scales; He lifts up the islands like fine dust . . . All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are considered by Him as nothingness and emptiness” (Isa 40:15-17). The Psalmist reminds us that God the Judge “brings down one and exalts another” (Psalm 75:7). The Lord is in charge even when it appears that everything is out of control. We dare not think that God’s sovereignty has evaporated even when evil nations rise up and succeed. The Lord is in charge and He will accomplish His purposes.
Finally, according to Scripture, the rise of the Taliban and the victories of wicked nations is not the end of the story. The success of evil armies should motivate us to look for the return of the true king, the Lord Jesus. Revelation 19:11-16 depicts the ultimate end this way:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. 13 He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: King of kings and Lord of lords.
What we’re seeing in Afghanistan is not the end of the story for that nation or for any nation. One day, the righteous judge will rule the earth and His kingdom will have no end.
This is why I love Tolkien’s novel, The Lord of the Rings so much. The characters in the story know they’re facing a terrible evil threat. As far as they know, they have no certainty of victory against it. But they do know they must meet that threat with courage. But the author, Tolkien, always knew that the ring would be destroyed, that Sauron and his armies would suffer defeat, and the true King, Aragorn, would return and take his throne. For us, it seems that we’re in the midst of a story with evil succeeding. We need to remind ourselves that the Author of the Book has already written the end of this story, and it’s about the return of our true King Jesus, who will reign over a kingdom that will never end.