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

Russian War Games, Iran Cuts a Deal with Syria, EU Cooperation with Turkey and Russia

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You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
~Matthew 24:6-8

Signs of the time.  The birth pangs are intensifying once again.

Reuters has reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia is set to commence the largest war games since 1981.  Vostok-2018 (East-2018), involving 300,000 troops and thousands of aircraft and naval vessels, will take place in central and eastern Russia next month.

For what purpose?  Are they suddenly ramping up unprecedented levels of training just to stay sharp, or is there an ultimate objective they are working toward?  I suspect the latter.  With a tumbling economy and oil riches at stake, could it be the shark-like czar smells blood in the water?

Meanwhile in Syria, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami has signed an agreement stipulating Iran’s assistance in rebuilding the Syrian military.  He also issued a warning against “foreign aggression,” seemingly in defiance against America’s stance on Iran’s support of the Assad regime.

Saber-rattling, or are Syria and Iran up to something?  Signs of the times…

Beyond that, French President Emmanuel Macron is pressing for an EU defense project in cooperation with Russia and Turkey.  Seemingly, his plan is to abandon NATO policy, in preference to a stronger EU.  (Think: revived Roman empire!)  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host a summit in Istanbul in September, where France, Germany and Russia will send representatives.

Friends, we know for certain that Damascus will one day be utterly destroyed (Isaiah 17:1), and that Russia, Iran and Turkey will lead a coalition of others in an attack on Israel (Ezekiel 38-39).  Jesus Himself told His disciples that war and rumors of wars, and nations rising against one another, will happen in the last days.  (Matthew 24:6-8)

Verse 8 says these things are the beginning of birth pangs.  Matthew 24:14 tells us that, ultimately, the end will come.  We are watching the birth pangs happen right before our very eyes!  Thus, the question: How long before we are called to meet Jesus in the air?

It’s coming!

The King Awaits His Invitation

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Hold on to your hats, study friends, as we’re taking a whirlwind ride today!

Recall that after Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, He proclaimed they will not see Him again until He hears “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  (Matthew 23:39)  Jesus, a gentleman, is not going to barge on to the scene, but rather will wait for that special invitation, signaling His people are ready to receive Him.

But, before we get there, let’s talk briefly about the immanency of His return.  This week’s study is focused on the return of Jesus to His people.  That occurs after the tribulation, which means at least 7 years after believers in Jesus are taken out by rapture.  Thus, while we see signs pointing to that, we must be reminded that our departure via the rapture is indeed very imminent.

Here are some signs of the times, some of which will happen before the rapture, some of which will happen later.  All of which we see lining up right now!

  • Prophetic signs of Jesus.  Example: Matthew 24 warns of false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters, all of which have greater prevalence now than ever before.
  • Prophetic signs of Paul.  Try reading 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where Paul leaves a laundry list of moral failures that characterize the last days.  We’re living in that time!
  • Prophetic signs of Isaiah.  There are many, but perhaps none making today’s headlines more than Isaiah 17:1, indicating the destruction of Damascus.  How much longer can Damascus stand?  Almost the entire city is destroyed right now.
  • Prophetic signs of Ezekiel.  It is likely no one needs to remind you that the Ezekiel 38 coalition of forces that will attack Israel is now firmly in place on Israel’s northern border.  The stage is set.

Luke 21:28 says:

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

The King is coming, and He is awaiting the Matthew 23:39 invitation.  However, I believe there is another invitation that pleases Him also.  It is found in Revelation 22:17:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

This is a wedding scene where the Spirit of God and His bride (believers!) join together in a chorus of “Come!”  Can you even imagine what heaven will sound like when God brings His family together as one to wed His Son!

It doesn’t hold a candle to it, but perhaps the imagery in your mind is kindled with this:

 

Indeed, the grandest wedding celebration of all time will occur when God establishes His family and brings us all together in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant…the Millennial Kingdom!

Meanwhile, we keep looking for the Blessed Hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)!  (That is the topic of our last week of study together, so be sure to stick with us!)

Expectant Syrian Mother and Her Baby Saved by Israeli Doctors

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Syrians cross the border into Israel to received medical care in Israeli hospitals. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Imagine being a pregnant mother in war-torn Syria.  Your physician reports that a normal birth is impossible and he is not willing to perform a C-section that would almost certainly lead to your’s or the baby’s death.  What to do?

You travel north to Damascus, but are denied entry into the city due to heavy fighting in the area.  Your only hope is to journey to the “humanitarian gate” on the Israeli border in hopes of receiving life-saving treatment.

This is no made-up story.   In fact, this woman was taken to Ramdam Medical Center in Haifa, where a team of Israeli experts in high-risk pregnancies and deliveries perform the miraculous procedure that saved the lives of both mother and baby.

Read the account here: Israeli Doctors Save Syrian Mother, Baby who Came to Israel for Treatment.

Friends, the Syrian people live in dire circumstances.  Those fortunate enough to live through chemical weapon attacks are typically living in poverty and/or in bombed out buildings lacking power and sanitation.  Food is scarce in places.

Are we complacent in our comfortable surroundings?  Are we so “unattached” to what’s going on that we hardly give it a thought?

I’m burdened for the people of Syria, the Gaza Strip, and yes…even Iran, as they live under oppressive regimes.  Scripture teaches us (in many places) to pray for those in need.  Who will stand in the gap?  Who will pray for mercy?  Who will plead for salvation of those without hope?

I will.  Will you join me?

PS: Check back later today for more news on “Operation Good Neighbor”