Russia is Furious! What Does that Mean for Israel?

Image result for Il-20 down

Russian IL-20 (Photo credit: Avionews)

Major news outlets have confirmed Israeli airstrikes in and around Latakia, Syria on Monday.  In the midst of the attacks, a Russian-made S-200 anti-aircraft defense system activated by Syrian forces, inadvertently shot down a Russian IL-20 that was on reconnaissance over the Mediterranean Sea.  While Russian President Vladimir Putin cited “tragic chance events” publicly, Russia’s Defense Ministry clearly blamed Israel for irresponsible actions that led to the downing of the Russian aircraft.  In fact, Israel’s ambassador to Russia was summoned and rebuked for the action taken by Israel.

But here is what the media will not tell you: potentially, there are significant Biblical implications to what is happening in and around Syria.  Let’s set the stage:

Syria serves as host to many nations, rebel groups and terrorists vying for power in that war-torn land.  Not surprisingly, the Bible is more accurate than today’s news!  Ezekiel 38 describes a coalition that will invade Israel in what is known as the War of Gog and Magog.  A trio of modern-day nations, currently entrenched in Syria, will lead that coalition: Russia, Iran and Turkey.  Verse 4 says God Himself will put a “hook in the jaw” of Gog, a Russian czar who will lead the invasion, and drag him down from the “remote parts of the north” (verse 6).

Today, Russia patrols the Syrian-Israeli border, Iran has very actively moved weapons and troops into Syria (which may be what prompted Monday night’s attack), and Turkish President Erdogan is marking his territory with troops and bluster in Syria as well.  One could make a strong argument that the “hook in the jaw” has already been set, God has drawn Gog and his allies down to Israel’s border, and will soon draw them to the mountains of Israel (where they will ultimately be defeated by the Lord).

But tensions ratcheted up on Monday, leaving Russia embarrassed and furious.  Why?

  • The Russians claim Israel did not provide sufficient warning before launching airstrikes.  Thus, furious at Israel.
  • A Russian plane, along with 15 airmen, was shot down…by a Russian-made defense system fired by Syria.  Thus, furious at Syria, but embarrassed that their own defense system did not identify the aircraft as Russian.
  • Israeli F-16’s are accused of having “hidden behind” the Russian IL-20 to avoid return attacks from the S-200 defense system.  Thus, embarrassed, yet furious at Israel for those tactics.  (It is unclear if the allegation is true, as reports indicate IAF F-16’s were back in Israeli airspace when the Russian plane was hit.)

Though not widely reported, undertones suggest Russia views the US as the instigator behind Israel’s attack (or at least very much in favor of it), and is viewing Israel as a US “proxy.” Thus, Putin is hinting that any action taken by either Israel or the US may result in direct attacks upon Israel.  To make matters worse, a very significant influx (perhaps doubling or more) of Russian fighter jets, cargo planes and other military equipment has occurred at bases not only in Syria, but in Iran as well, just since the Latakia attacks!  They are preparing a multiple front against Israel.

If all is accurate, the gravity of the situation is extreme.  Imagine Israel continuing to take preemptive action in Syria.  While Russia has allowed them to come in and take care of business in certain areas, Russia is now thoroughly embarrassed and likely not in a cooperative mood.  Yet, Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have consistently said they will not allow Iran to build up their military in Syria and threaten Israel’s security.  At the moment, Idlib is the focus of attention in Syria (at least in the media), as that is the last rebel stronghold.  However, Damascus is the real barometer.  Interestingly, Israeli officials just released a satellite photo of Assad’s palace in Damascus.  Why?  Who knows!

Secondly, imagine Russia declaring war on Israel.  They are certainly laying the foundation of their rationale when they imply that Israel will be the whipping boy if the US or its allies take action.  A French warship apparently fired off missiles during the attack on Latakia.  The Polish president requested the US to build a large military base in Poland (a former Russian ally!)  Israel is cutting deals with Greece, Cyprus and others to supply oil and gas to Europe (in place of Russian exports). There is plenty of activity taking place by US-NATO allies.

Is it conceivable that Russia could declare war on Israel?  My answer is this: the Bible is more accurate than today’s headlines.  Through the prophet Ezekiel, God has warned that Gog (Russian leader) will indeed lead a coalition into Israel “to capture spoil and to seize plunder” (Ezekiel 38:12).  Vladimir Putin is very “Gog-like,” and is certainly in a position and has all the necessary motivation to fulfill what the Word of God says will one day take place.

The question is: Could it be soon?

So, here is my challenge to you:  Pull up and read any news article about what is happening with Russia and Iran inside Syria right now, then slowly and carefully read Ezekiel 38.  See for yourself if the headlines or the Bible is more accurate.

As a believer, these are exciting times, as we know our time on earth may be coming to an end.  For others, these are dreadful times, as the Bible describes the terrible days of the tribulation that will follow our departure in the rapture.  It is time to wake up, and to determine on which side of the fence we stand!

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.  The night is almost gone, and the day is near.
~Romans 13:11-12

“Operation Good Neighbor” Comes to an End

Prior to the Syrian civil war, the border with Israel was relatively quiet, with a small UN peacekeeping unit nestled in a buffer zone between the two.  It was one of Israel’s most peaceful borders.

After war broke out, rebels fled many parts of Syria and gathered in areas near the Israeli border.  Gradually, Assad’s forces pressed in, making life very isolated and difficult for Syrians living inside Syria, but on the border with Israel.

So, in 2016, the Israeli Defense Forces made a bold decision to launch Operation Good Neighbor, providing humanitarian and medical aid to Syrians in need.  Tons and tons of good were shipped into Syria over the past couple years, medical teams were escorted deep into Syria under cover of night, and hundreds were treated in emergency rooms set up on the border.  Some were even transported to Israeli hospitals where they were treated at no cost.

But recently, Assad’s forces conquered the rebels in southern Syria, and now control the very areas that were benefiting from Israeli aid at the border.  Operation Good Neighbor has run its course.

However, OGN certainly left a positive mark on the Syrians they served.  One Syrian said:

“I wish you all the best, and I thank you very much for your help and for supporting us. In God’s name, this deed will not be forgotten, and we will teach our children of what you have done.”

What an incredible witness to the world of God’s grace and goodness shown through His chosen people.  As we say farewell to this marvelous mission, let’s take a look back at the work of the IDF:

 

What a Chemical Attack Looks Like

Last night 60 Minutes reported again on the chemical attacks of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his own people.  This is not the first major network to report on the atrocities, nor is it even the first time 60 Minutes has aired a lengthy segment.  (The first was back in February.)  It cannot be said that the world does not know what is happening in Syria.

Yet, neither the UN nor any nation is taking definitive steps to curb the brutal killing of innocent citizens.  True, many (including Israel) are providing humanitarian relief to those impacted, but Assad allies (such as Russia) turn a blind eye to the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.  Not a single UN resolution has been issued, despite the blatant human rights violations.

(If you wish to see the latest 60 Minutes report on Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his people, click here.  Warning: parts are very graphic and not suitable for children or those highly sensitive to seeing human cruelty.)

These are signs of the times.  Total disregard of human life will become more and more prevalent as the end times unfold.  Believers, it is time for us to be about our Father’s business.  While most of us will never have the opportunity to do something tangible in Syria, we most certainly can pray.

But understand also that we can do tangible things right where the Father has placed us.  Syria is not the only place in need of God’s love.  Our workplaces need it.  Our neighborhoods need it.  Our families need it.  Our friends need it.

Indeed, prayer is the Father’s business, but He has called us to more!  Let’s be fully about the Father’s business!

Fatemeh’s Story: An Iranian Tragedy

What is life like in Iran?

Today, with the help of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I want to give you some insight.  Find out what life is like through the eyes of 15-year-old Fatemeh:

Beyond simply unveiling the reality of what life is like for many Iranians, my point is this: On every front, Israel is reaching out to her enemies to free the people of oppressive regimes.  Here is what you need to know about Israel and her enemies:

  • Iran, Israel’s single greatest enemy, is experiencing terrible drought conditions, yet Israel (the world’s #1 recycler of water) offered to help.  Unfortunately, the Iranian regime rejected help and said, “Mind your own business!”  So, Israel got creative and launched a website (in Farsi, Iran’s native language), accessible directly by the Iranian people, which provides tips on how to conserve water, recycle waste water and improve water usage for crops!
  • Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and his tyrannical dictatorship plunged Syria into a multidimensional civil war that has absolutely crushed the citizens of Syria.  So, in 2013 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began treating ill and wounded Syrian citizens at field hospitals set up on the border.  That developed into Operation Good Neighbor in 2016, a multi-faceted humanitarian relief effort to provide food, medical care and daily living supplies to citizens inside Syria.  More recently, partners such as Frontier Alliance International have joined forces with the IDF to provide specialized medical aid deep within Syrian territory.
  • Recently, the IDF has promoted #FreeGazaFromHamas, tearing away the veil to reveal what is really going on in Gaza.  Here is one of their videos:

Israel seems to understand the difference between dictatorial regimes and the oppressed citizens those regimes control.  Responses from those citizens are amazing, as they acknowledge and thank Israelis.  Love and care are much more powerful than political solutions, so let’s pray that efforts to befriend and assist citizens in “enemy nations” build important bridges of peace.