Syrian Borders with Israel and Jordan Open Again After 4 Years

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Israeli and UN soldiers at the Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria

For the first time in 4 years, the border crossings between Syria and Israel (Quneitra crossing), and Syria and Jordan (Nasir crossing), are open.  Both are used primarily by UN peacekeeping forces.

Until earlier this year, that region of Syria was controlled by the Assad regime as he pushed rebels all the way to the border.  Russia intervened and is now patrolling the area.  The border openings, however, are being touted as “victories” by the Assad regime, and Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem claimed on Monday “We are now reaping the fruits of the beginnings of victory.”

Meanwhile, from a Biblical perspective, one has to wonder if opening the gates with Russian forces patrolling the border plays into the prophetic future Ezekiel 38-39 describes as the War of Gog and Magog…an invasion of Israel from the north, led by Russia.  Practically speaking, though open, the border will still be guarded.  However, the more permissive Israel and the UN are toward Russia’s presence on an open border, the easier it will be for the Russian leader to storm in from the north just as Scripture says he will!

Certainly, the Lord could change the circumstances and delay the onset of the northern invasion.  However, short of that, one more prop has appeared on the stage of end time events.

Look up, my friends!  Our redemption draws near!

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
~Luke 21:28

President Trump’s UN Speech

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The United Nations has gathered at its headquarters in New York City for the annual General Assembly, calling together diplomats from all over the world.  Many (including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian President Rouhani) are scheduled to deliver speeches (or already have).  Yesterday President Trump addressed the assembly.

While touting the US as “stronger, safer and richer,” President Trump thumped Iran and the United Nations.  While thanking North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un, he spoke of new sanctions and aggression against terrorism in cooperation with moderate Arab allies.

As usual, he pulled no punches.  However, his demeanor was calm and his words calculated.  (We can all breath a sigh of relief for that!)  The US delegation present in the assembly included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Here are some key quotes from his speech:

  • Rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are employed by the Assad regime [in Syria].
  • Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction.  They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the resources to enrich themselves and spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond…..The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders.
  • We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons.
  • Trade must be fair and reciprocal.  The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer.
  • As far as America is concerned, the ICC (International Criminal Court) has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy and no authority….We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global democracy.  We reject the ideology of globalism and embrace the doctrine of patriotism.
  • Together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity and pride.  Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat.  ….thankful for the grace and goodness and the glory of God.

If you wish to see the President’s speech in full, here it is:

 

PS: There is a lot going on in our world right now: rising tension between Russia and Israel, the annual gathering of the UN General Assembly, and the Feast of Tabernacles.  All intertwine in unique ways.  Lord willing, I will share more with you about the Feast of Tabernacles tomorrow, so stay tuned!

 

Russia is Furious! What Does that Mean for Israel?

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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: