Hi gang! If you logged in today to follow along with our study entitled Why Israel Matters: Rightly Relating to Our Jewish Roots, I hope you will stick around. I am postponing the next lesson until Monday in order to address two things:
- Questions I have been asked regarding the activity in the Middle East, and
- The 7th and final Jewish feast of the year: the Feast of Tabernacles.
I’ll share exciting things about the Feast of Tabernacles tomorrow, but today I want to address the current events questions.
If you have followed recent news, you know:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to sign trade agreements and gas deals
- UNESCO passed a resolution denying Jewish connection to Temple Mount and other holy sites in Israel
- Iranian missiles were fired at American naval vessels
- Russia has moved nuclear-capable missile to the doorstep of Europe
- Putin suspended a treaty with the US regarding stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium
There are literally dozens more very recent articles I could cite regarding events in the Middle East that seem to line up specifically with Bible prophecy. Couple those bits of news with what is going on in America, and here are some thoughts:
America is not mentioned specifically in Bible prophecy, and Bible scholars differ in opinion about how involved (if at all) America will be in end time events. Personally, I believe if America is involved at all, it will be as a bystander, doing nothing to assist Israel. Ezekiel 38:13 is the only place we can potentially associate with America. Are we “merchants of Tarshish” (or “young lions” in some translations) of Spain and/or the UK (Tarshish)? Possibly. But if so, that passage indicates we will stay on the sidelines with Saudi Arabia (Sheba and Dedan), asking senseless questions and doing nothing.
Currently in the US, we are embroiled in the most bizarre presidential race in history. No matter which way the pendulum swings, we are in deep trouble in terms of real leadership. Meanwhile, we have a spineless president in the White House who has refused to take a stand against Russian (and other) aggression in the Middle East and, as a lame duck president (only months left in his term), there is no way he will engage in any way…UNLESS he wishes to suspend the election and remain in office a bit longer. (That is not a long-term solution, and with his political ally and puppet, Hillary Clinton, significantly pulling ahead in the polls, there is no reason for him to manipulate the election. Though, I suppose, it would not be a surprise!)
That further emboldens opposing world leaders, particularly the power-hungry Russian president. Vladimir Putin is a shark in blood-infested waters. Because he knows the US doesn’t have the leadership (or the stomach) to stand our ground or enter a conflict, he is free to do whatever he wants, including suspending treaties with the US, building relationships with Turkey (which will give them free access to, and “legitimacy” in, Syria and beyond), positioning nuclear-capable missiles right in the face of NATO, and urge their ally, Iran, to do things such as fire missiles at American naval vessels.
Meanwhile, Iran continues their “in your face” attitudes and actions versus the US and western allies. The missiles fired at an American naval vessel were not fired BY Iran, but by their radical Islamic terrorist proxy in Yemen, the houthis. We don’t hear much about the houthis, but we need to understand that they are Iranian/Shi’ite-backed terrorist rebels, similar to what Hezbollah is in Lebanon. Thus, Iran has puppet terrorist organizations north and south of Israel, with the houthis fighting for control of the waterways that service the Middle East (and provide launching pads for naval vessels interested in attacking Israel).
At the same time, the UN continues a different kind of war on Israel. They work with the Palestinians and other Arab nations in attempts to obliterate Israel in any way possible. If they can convince the world that the Jews have no right to the holy sites of Israel, they convince the world that Jews have no right to land or possessions. That would leave the Jews once again dispersed and without a homeland.
Now, let’s put this all into Biblical perspective. We MUST view current events through the lens of Scripture in order to understand the times in which we live.
First and foremost, understand that God promised Abraham (through the covenant) land and descendants. That is an eternal promise. We can rest assured that the Lord will preserve Israel, because His plan of world redemption relies upon it! God is faithful…He will do His part!
However, that doesn’t mean there will not be hard times and tribulation. When we study Bible prophecy, we learn that God’s plan of the end could not happen until Israel was back in her land and living securely (Ezekiel 38:8). Thus, May 14, 1948 was a key date in history: Israel was re-born as a nation. Before that, Jews were scattered throughout the world, with no homeland. Now they have returned, and they are more secure today than they have ever been in their history as a re-born nation. That means the end can come, but first comes the tribulation!
Isaiah 17:1 tells us that, in the last days, Damascus Syria will be utterly destroyed. Today, Damascus sits atop huge stores of weapons of mass destruction, and all kinds of evil regimes are after them! That is one reason for the horribly destructive civil war we’re seeing in Syria! It is NOT a political war, or a nationalistic war, though. It is a spiritual war, as Satan, his demons and those who follow their ways seek to conquer Israel and establish their own worldwide kingdom!
Why does Russia dabble (more heavily these days!) in Syria? Does Putin really give a care about whether or not ISIS is defeated? Of course not! But if Syria becomes a vacuum, Russia can step right in. Putin attains the power he so desperately seeks, and Russia then sits right on the border of Israel! Don’t think Putin is not watering at the mouth to be the world superpower. He is blatantly mocking the US and our non-existent leadership. (He is also laughing with the choices we’re left with.) He knows he has nothing to worry about with America. He can do what he pleases and America will not do anything about it.
That brings us to Ezekiel 38-39. There, Scripture clearly tells us what will happen in the last days. Russia and Iran will lead a coalition of nations (including Turkey, Sudan, Libya and others) that will invade Israel. What is Putin seeking right now? Power. Russia’s and Iran’s economies are in bad shape (though certainly growing as America pours money into Iran following the Iranian nuclear deal), and Putin will be after the oil and gas (staples of Russian economy) the first chance he gets.
That begs the question: Is Vladimir Putin the “Gog” (leader/head/czar) of Magog who will lead the Northern Invasion detailed in Ezekiel 38-39? I have always said, “It is too early to tell.” However, the signs seem to be pointing more and more assuredly to Putin as Gog. I’ll stop short of saying Putin is absolutely, positively Gog, but I think we have to take a good hard look and discover that he seemingly has all the qualities. I would certainly not be surprised if he is.
Finally, Bible scholars differ on whether the Northern Invasion happens before or after the rapture. I tend to think (and hope!) it happens after, but I haven’t found where Scripture is 100% definitive on that point. However, if the Northern Invasion happens first, it will bring about tremendous nuclear destruction. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (and other places) promises that God has not destined us (Christians) to wrath. Therefore, we won’t be around long while that type of wrath is being poured out. The rapture will occur before the tribulation begins.
When we view today’s events through the lens of Scripture, what we find is that we are living in the very last moments of the last days. Jesus was very clear (Matthew 24:36 and several other places): no one besides the Father knows the day or the hour that Jesus will return to receive us in the air (rapture). However, we are to know and understand the time and the season in which we live (Luke 12:54-56).
Friends, our world is not falling apart…it is falling into place! These are exciting times for believers and scary times for those who do not know Jesus as Savior. If you do not know Him, now is the time!
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.