More Russian S-300 Anti-aircraft Missile Defense Systems Moving into Syria

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Russian-made S-300 ADS

After being thoroughly embarrassed that a Russian-made S-200 anti-aircraft missile, fired by Syrian troops, shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane following Israel’s airstrike on an Iranian position in Syria, Russia is now transferring S-300 systems to their Khmeimim airbase in Syria.

In addition, it is reported that 7 other Russian transport planes, thought to carry additional S-300 components, arrived at Mozdok AFB in Russia yesterday.  Those shipments may also be headed to Syria.

All of this, after back-and-forth accusations and “walk backs” by Russian officials regarding whether or not Israel is to blame for the downing of the Russian plane.  Immediately following the incident (about a week ago), the Russian Foreign Ministry blamed Israel, claiming the Israeli F-16’s used the Russian plane as a shield, and that Israel did not give Russian enough early warning to ensure their planes could make it to safety.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin walked back the harsh accusations, stating a series of unfortunate circumstances resulted in the downed aircraft.  Yet, in the background, Russia continued to point the finger at Israel, claiming they are nothing more than a US proxy.

Then, on Thursday (September 20), an Israeli delegation (led by the Commander of the IAF) traveled to Moscow to present official investigative findings regarding the incident to their Russian counterparts.  Those findings confirmed that the Syrian-fired missile was launched while the Israeli F-16’s were preparing to land back in Israel. To make matters more interesting,  Alexander Golts, a Russian military analyst confirmed that the targeted buildings destroyed by Israel contained anti-aircraft defense systems.

Thus, Russia seemed to acknowledge the facts, but scheduled an announcement for Sunday.  But, true to form, the story changed once again.  In their official statement, the Kremlin falsified details and once again squarely pointed the finger at Israel, claiming “criminal negligence” and deliberately misleading them.

“The presented objective data indicates that the actions of the Israeli fighter pilots which led to the loss of the life of 15 Russian servicemen lacked professionalism and were an act of criminal negligence to say the least. Therefore we believe that the blame for the tragedy of the Russian Ilyushin-20 lies entirely with the Israeli air force and those who made the decision to carry out such actions.”
~Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov

Thus, the beat goes on with the on-again-off-again cooperation between Russia and Israel.

Make no mistake, friends.  Russia is no friend of Israel!  In the recent past, and still to some degree today, Russia is willing to cooperate if it means limiting Iran’s influence in Syria.  While Ezekiel 38 makes it abundantly clear that Russia, Iran and Turkey will be the “big three” in an invasion of Israel, none of the three particularly care for one another!  All have their own motives and, each with plummeting economies, all have growing economic motive to invade the prosperous and stable Israel.

We continue to see the stage being set for the showdown on the mountains of Israel, known as the War of Gog and Magog.  The clock is ticking as we see the last days coming to an end.  In light of that, I have been especially encouraged by 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and hope you are too.  Please take a few moments to look it up and meditate on God’s promises to us as believers.

Be encouraged, my friends!

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!

Iranian Forces Booted from Syrian Air Bases

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Iranian bases in Syria (Damascus is less than 60 miles from Israel’s border.)

In what some consider a surprising move, the Syrian air force has suddenly banned Iranian and Shi’ite forces from operating on Syrian air bases.  After many blistering attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Iranian positions, Syria has apparently decided they have had enough.  Despite constant bombings by the Syrian regime (at the command of President Bashar al-Assad) on its own people, fear of additional Israeli precision strikes have caused Syria to re-think the partnership with Iran on its military bases.

Other reports are claiming that Russia is also active in efforts to remove Iranian forces from the southern part of Syria.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to deny even having military activity in Syria, claiming that only military advisers are deployed there.  In fact, on Sunday an Iranian official even stated that recent strikes did not hit Iranian targets:

“Zionist regime’s claims that it ‎hit Iranian assets in Syria are false because ‎Iran only sent military advisers to Syria. It does ‎not take an active part in the fighting.”

Not sure where reality comes into play for the Iranians!

Meanwhile, Israel has drawn new “red lines” regarding Iran’s aggression and the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, warning Russia that Syrian military bases are subject to attack if Iranian or Hezbollah forces threaten Israel.

So, what does all this mean?  We have established from Scripture that Ezekiel 38 prophesies a coming invasion of Israel, led by a Russian czar and accompanied by Iran, Turkey, Libya and Sudan.  Those parties are in alliance like never before, yet Russia seems to be pushing back against Iran’s aggression at this point.

Image result for why israel mattersHow do we make sense of it all in light of Scripture?  Well, that will be part of the subject I discuss this coming Sunday at 11:00 at CalvaryPHX, Central campus, Room 209!  It’s the first class of a study called Why Israel Matters, and we’ll spend 12 weeks trying to address the issue of why Israel matters.  Info and directions are found here.

I know of some who are “on the fence” about coming.  Perhaps you live in Phoenix, but you have never attended an event or service at CalvaryPHX.  (“It’s too far! I don’t know anyone there! I’m not really a church-goer!”)  Or, maybe the time slot overlaps with something else and you are trying to decide between the two.  Perhaps a friend has told you about the class, but you’re not really sure why a class about Israel is so important.

May I encourage you?  I have never been more excited and passionate about what the Lord has in store.  The nuggets He is bringing to the surface are rich and satisfying!  I just don’t want you to miss what He is putting before us!  If you are a Christian, understanding why Israel matters is critical to understanding your salvation, and how we should live out our remaining days on earth.  If you are not a Christian, you are WELCOME…please come!  This is a safe environment to learn about current events taking place in our world, and why they are important to everyone.

Finally, this class is “family-friendly!”  If you have students 12 and older, please bring them with you!  There will be specially prepared materials that will appropriately draw your students into the class without “ruining it” for the adults!  Children’s Ministry is available for children under 12, and there is no cost for either the class or Children’s Ministry.

See you Sunday!