News this weekend seems to be ripped from the pages of Bible prophecy…or at least setting up those prophecies. Here are a few things that have occurred in the past few days:
- Satellite imagery confirms what has been suspected: Iran is building military bases in Syria. (See satellite images here.)
- The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) shot down a Syrian spy drone over the Golan Heights. (See the story here.)
- Saudi Arabia and Lebanon appear to be on the brink of war. (See the story here and here commentary here.)
My purpose today isn’t to give you the details of those critical events (though I do hope you’ll take a few minutes to read and/or research it for yourself), but to point us all back to Scripture.
In Matthew 24, Jesus Himself warned His disciples there would be wars and rumors of wars, and nation would rise against nation in the last days. But there have been wars and rumors of war throughout history. What makes what we are seeing today any more significant than before?
Great question…and I’m so glad you asked!
The difference is that the Bible is specific about certain things. Never in the history of the world have we watched those certain things fall into place at the same time. For example, Isaiah 17 tells us that Damascus will be totally destroyed one day. Today, we see Russia and Iran “setting up camp” in Syria. Ezekiel 38 tells us those nations will headline a coalition that will attack Israel in the last days.
So, let’s go back to the current events mentioned above. What’s the big deal about Russia and Iran building military bases in Syria? At least one of those bases is within 30 miles of Israel’s border! On the map to the left, find Damascus. The base identified in satellites photos is about 8 miles south of Damascus. Israel is identified as “ISR” on the map and is situated only slightly southwest of Damascus.
So, here we have a situation where the kingpins (Russia and Iran) of the Ezekiel 38 coalition (War of Gog and Magog) are clearly moving toward the Israeli border…in position to strike from the north, just as Ezekiel 38 says they will. Meanwhile, Iran has blatantly stated their desire to wipe Israel off the map. Thus, Israel has made it very clear they will not allow Iran to set up camp on Israel’s border.
If Israel has to take action to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold at bases around Damascus, we could conceivably see Damascus destroyed.
Now, consider the second news event noted above. Israel just shot down a spy drone from Syria. It is thought the drone may be Russian-made. It is no secret that Russia and Iran have worked to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. Thus, a Russian-made, Iranian-controlled Syrian spy drone observed flying over the Golan Heights is not surprising.
But what about the last current event mentioned above? What does Saudi Arabia have to do with chaos in the Middle East? As mentioned a few days ago, there is no love lost between Saudi Arabia and Iran. (Find out why here.) Just days ago, a rocket fired from Yemen into Saudi Arabia was shot down short of it’s target, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city. The rocket was fired by Iranian-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Likewise, Iranian-backed Hezbollah occupies Lebanon, where they have all but taken over the government. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned last week because of death threats. Hezbollah accused Saudi Arabia of detaining him, destabilizing Lebanon and declaring war.
So, two things are interesting here. First, the centuries old conflict between Sunni Muslims (anchored in Saudi Arabia) and Shia Muslims (anchored in Iran) is beginning to boil over, and war between the two would likely spark World War III as nations in the Middle East and around the world choose sides. The hotbed is Syria, so the destruction of Damascus (which has already been decimated by civil war) could actually happen in any number of ways.
Secondly, the Russian-Iranian alliance is growing stronger and stronger. That sets the stage for allies such as Turkey, Libya and Sudan to become active in the conflict. (Those are the very places identified in Ezekiel 38 as the coalition that will attack Israel.)
Meanwhile, America is backing Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Those places are either not mentioned in Ezekiel 38, or are noticeably inactive in the conflict. The battle lines are being drawn.
As birth pangs become more intense and closer together, we know the time is near. We are closer than ever before to the return of our Savior. Therefore, we must be aware but not afraid.
But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.