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

Breaking: Trump Expels 60 Russian Diplomats and Intelligence Personnel from US

Many domestic news outlets, including USA Today, New York Times and CNN, as well as several foreign outlets have announced that President Trump has expelled 60 Russian diplomats, including 12 intelligence operatives.  Several NATO allies have followed suit.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said:

“Today, the United States began the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission to the United Nations who have abused their privilege of residence in the United States.  After a review, we have determined that the 12 intelligence operatives engaged in espionage activities that are adverse to‎ our national security.”

Joel Rosenberg posted analysis of these actions and suggested 5 additional things President Trump should do, regarding Russia.  You will find those suggestions here.  (Not to say we should always agree with Rosenberg, but he expresses interesting thoughts regarding the situation.)

BTW – if you are reading Rosenberg’s newest novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, these actions are a welcome course of action compared to what is depicted in the book!  Let’s pray that our president and his security team act more aggressively than the president depicted in that novel.  Our leaders need wisdom…let’s ask of God!

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
~James 1:5

Israel Sends Trauma Experts to Parkland FL

Following the recent school shooting in Parkland FL, Yotam Dagan had a particular concern: how would student at Stoneman Douglas High School react to the next fire drill?  The Israeli clinical psychologist and former Israeli special forces member realized the shooter had pulled the fire alarm to empty classrooms.

According to CNN, Dagan said:

“If it’s just done without any early preparation or warning, the sound of the bell is going to reactivate the traumatic response….There are going to be meltdowns. There are going to be panic attacks.”

So, Dagan and fellow psychologist Alan Cohen hopped on a plane and flew to Florida.  “It’s not as if Israel knows anything America doesn’t.  But we have a lot more practical experience in putting them into a coherent program.” Indeed, as members of the Israel Trauma Coalition, they have experience in providing trauma counseling following terrorist activity in Israel and around the world, as well as assistance following natural disasters worldwide.

They are also experts in identifying those in need of trauma assistance, and brought their expertise to those impacted, as well as to community leaders who are in position to provide resources to those in need.

Read the inspiring story here.

I am reminded once again of the Israeli commitment to tikkun olam…making the world a better place.  Consistently, Israel is one of the first on scene anywhere in the world when assistance is needed.  Praise God for their tikkun olam commitment…and may we learn from their faithfulness.

Protests in Iran and Jesus Making Himself Known!

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Protests have broken out across Iran over the past few days.  Though freedom of speech is not supported in Iran, news is leaking out through social media and foreign press.  CNN (a very liberal news organization) is reporting, and President Trump is tweeting.

The fact is,  we don’t know all the details, though it appears that many are protesting against both President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.  Mired in a corrupt economy and high unemployment, Iranian citizens expected things to get better following the 2015 nuclear deal in which America gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran.  Instead, the Iranian regime dumped funds into sponsoring terrorism, to the neglect of their own people.

So, what’s the outcome? That question would be answered differently from different perspectives, but let’s consider the spiritual perspective for a moment.

Some media sources (such as this one) are reporting mass conversions, particularly by young people, to Christianity.  Jesus has been revealing Himself to Iranians for years, so this is not all the work of the current protests.  But the fact remains that many are seeing the void that Islam creates and are looking for something that will truly fill that void.  They are in search of the One True God!

Get your Bibles out and you will see that others have been in search of the One True God.  Hagar in Genesis 15-16.  The Samaritan woman in John 4.  Consider Acts 2, known to us as the account of Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit showed up there, and guess who was present?  A whole bunch of people groups we would recognize as Arabs today!

Most interestingly, verse 9 mentions Parthians.  Guess who that is!  Iranians!  Yes, they were present at Pentecost, when the One True God made Himself known through the coming of the Holy Spirit.  That very same Holy Spirit is speaking once more to Iranians, and they are coming to know the God of Abraham…the One True God.  Not Allah, but Jesus Christ!

Friends, as our world continues to lurch toward the end of days, view news of current events through the lens of Scripture and know that God is preparing us for a new kingdom!  One in which He will rule and reign.

He desires that none should perish, thus He is revealing Himself to all who will believe in Him!  Pray for the Iranian people.  They are normal human beings, just like us.  They are ruled by an evil regime, guided by a false religion.  They simply need to know Jesus!  He is moving in their midst, so let’s join forces with our Lord and pray for the salvation of many!