Lebanon (MNN) — The Lebanese government collapsed last week when 11 Hezbollah members of the Lebanese cabinet resigned. Now there's reason to believe that the country could be delivered to Hezbollah control.
The ministers resigned in response to a U.N. sanctioned Special Tribunal looking into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. No one knows for sure who the Tribunal will indict, but members of Hezbollah are expected to be blamed. The Washington Post reports the resignations as "a last-ditch effort by Hezbollah to pressure [Prime Minister Saad] Hariri to renounce the work" of the Tribunal.
With the government flipped on its head, however, Hezbollah now has the opportunity to seize control. According to Al Jazeera, Hezbollah does not want Hariri back in office. There have already been several reports of staged coup drills across Beirut. The Israel Project believes Hezbollah members are practicing for an eventual overthrow of the capital and that they plan to install a new, Hezbollah-affiliated prime minister.
The results of an overthrow by the Iran-backed, Muslim extremist group could be devastating.
"Lebanon's always had its problems and its wars and radical terrorist groups–there's a Palestinian radical group there, and al-Qaeda, and everyone you can imagine. But this just would make it official, and really change things," notes E3 Partners Middle East-Central Asia Director Tom Doyle.
For one thing, Doyle says, Israel would suddenly be surrounded by threats. The country is already threatened by Iran and Syria, and this would add their northern border, Lebanon, to the mix. "We know that this obviously would not be good for Israel and obviously not be good for the believers there within the country," says Doyle.
Christians are already suffering more than usual in the area, some even likening the persecution to that within the Ottoman Empire. Doyle says, "We have seen the Christian population declining, the Muslim population growing. So if Hezbollah completely takes over, then obviously this goes from a moderate–even though there's been lots of problems, they're moderate–Muslim country, to one that is fanatical and is driven by a jihad mentality. It just changes the whole game-board in the Middle East."
Lebanon historically has had a Christian-Muslim split in government, but Hezbollah rule would undoubtedly be less tolerant toward believers. "If Hezbollah were to take over the country and get control of the government, and be in control of them, then I'm sure all of those freedoms would cease, and we'd see a different situation there for the believers altogether," says Doyle. "It'd look much more like Iran, or Syria."
Iran is currently number two on the World Watch List for Christian persecution.
For now, the church is still standing. "The church is strong in that it has not lost its focus," explains Doyle. If Hezbollah takes over, there may be a different story. "This would put [the church] into a new day, which would very much be like what happened in Gaza with Hamas taking over. So it would definitely be difficult for them."
With this in mind, intercession through prayer is in order. Pray that Hezbollah would not take over Lebanon. Doyle says the best case scenario would be for the Lebanese government to get back on its feet with the aid of some international assistance.
Pray that whatever happens, the church would not let up but would continue to spread the Gospel. Pray that the Lord would use the political instability in Lebanon to build His kingdom and spread His truth. Doyle says many Muslims–even Islamic leaders–have already come to Christ.