Afterthoughts: The US-led Attack on Syrian Chemical Weapons Facilities

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Questions about the US-led attacks in Syria are swirling, so let’s approach them the appropriate way: by viewing them through the lens of Scripture.

What led up to the American-led attack?

In brief, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is opposed by rebel groups who have suffered under his tyrannical reign.  Thus, to rid himself of the rebels, Assad has repeatedly attacked them with chemical weapons.  Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, America (and the rest of the world) stood on the sidelines, despite “red lines” that were crossed by the Assad regime.  Once elected, President Trump vowed to take action if chemical weapons were used, and he followed through on that promise about a year ago when Assad unleashed a chemical attack on his own people.  Again, on Saturday, April 7, Assad used chemical weapons to decimate citizen (including children) in the city of Homs (just outside Damascus).  President Trump openly declared that missiles were forthcoming, though they were not launched until April 14.

Why did President Trump wait so long to strike?

That is a  complicated question and I may not have the correct answer, but here is my take.  In early April (before Assad’s latest assault with chemical weapons), Trump announced that he wants to pull troops out of Syria.  Following Assad’s attack, Trump then had a dilemma: pull out (as recently promised) or attack (to fulfill a previous promise)?  To remain true to his campaign promise to respond to chemical weapon attacks, he had to do something.  But he wanted the assistance of others, and he did not want to be dragged into a long conflict.  Thus, I believe it took time to draw the UK and France into commitment to strike alongside the Americans.  (Which they did.)

Meanwhile (in the span of that week), rhetoric from the White House, the State Department and the Department of Defense had grown fairly course toward Russia and Iran, holding them responsible for aiding and abetting Assad in his monstrous attacks on his people.  In fact, in the aftermath of Assad’s attack, President Trump very specifically aimed tweets at Russian President Vladimir Putin, stating smart missiles were coming.

So, if Russia and Iran were being held responsible, why didn’t the US target Russian and Iranian facilities?

Reports from trustworthy sources indicate that there may have been considerable disagreement among Trump’s advisors regarding attacks on Russian and Iranian positions.  Also, the timing was interesting.  It was several days after Trump promised action that he actually ordered the attack.  By that time, virtually all Russian and Iranian military assets were evacuated, leaving very little for the Americans and their allies to attack.  In fact, reports indicate that Assad very likely evacuated the Syrian chemical weapon stashes from the two storage facilities that were hit.  Therefore, while I see the destruction of the research facility as a major “hit,” I’m not convinced the attack was very successful in terms of setting back Assad’s capabilities in using chemical weapons again.

Will the US and its allies carry out further attacks?

It appears this round of attacks is over.  Things are “returning to normal,” meaning Syrian jets are back in the air, bombing rebel positions.  (Though no chemical weapons are believed to have been used since April 7.)  Though the US has said they will levy additional sanctions on Russia, Russian and Iranian military assets are returning to their bases in Syria, and I suspect it will soon be “as you were.”

Now….through the lens of Scripture.  We’ve talked at length in previous posts about the Isaiah 17:1 prophecy, foretelling the destruction of Damascus.  That is coming, and I believe, could be the spark that lights the fuse for the Ezekiel 38 prophecy.  (War of Gog and Magog – attack on Israel by a coalition led by Russia and including Iran, Turkey and others.)

Now, the elephant in the room: is the US truly standing with Israel or not?  By not taking more decisive and determined action against the thugs in Syria whose target is ultimately Israel, is the US as strong a partner as Israel needs?

Dear friends, Scripture tells us that, in the end, Israel will stand alone.  Of course I want the US to take the strongest stand possible for Israel.  Of course I don’t want America to let Israel down.  But God’s Word is God’s Word.

The US is not specifically mentioned in Scripture, so that should be our first clue that the US will not likely be a key player in the end.  If there is any possible mention (indirectly) of the US, perhaps it is part of the “…merchants of Tarshish with all its villages…” in Ezekiel 38:13.  However, if that is the case, those “merchants” and “villages” do nothing to assist Israel.  They simply stand on the sidelines asking questions!

Furthermore, Joel 3:2 indicates a time in which God will gather ALL nations to be judged for how they treated Israel.  Unfortunately, America is part of “ALL nations.”

But here is my favorite view of these current events through the lens of Scripture:

Some boast [trust] in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast [trust] in the name of the Lord, our God.
~Psalm 20:7 NASB (“trust” used in other translations)

It will NOT be the strength of the military (US or otherwise) that will protect and save Israel.  It will be the Lord Himself!  Should we, as individuals, be faithful to stand with Israel, regardless of the cost?  Absolutely yes!  Should we pray that our nation remains faithful to stand with Israel?  Absolutely yes!  But at some point, will Israel ultimately stand alone?  Yes…and Israel will see the power of her God!  Trust in the name of the Lord our God…He reigns over all!

 

 

Presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey Met Earlier Today

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Iranian President Rouhani, Turkish President Erdogan, Russian President Putin meet in Ankara  (Photo credit: Reuters)

Ripped from the prophecy of Ezekiel 38, the three key players in the end time War of Gog and Magog met earlier today in Ankara Turkey to discuss the situation in Syria.  (Reuters released the story and you can find it here.)

Here is what I find interesting about the scenario:  while Russia and Iran are allies in Syria, Turkey actually opposes the Assad regime and is more concerned with driving out the Kurds.  However, when it comes to the end game (destruction of Israel), they will “partner up” under the guise of “discussing the situation in Syria,” plotting to use the situation in Syria to further their own separate agendas there.

Russia wants power and resources (oil and gas, recently found off Israel’s coast), Iran wants religious (Shi’ite) domination as they attempt to establish a worldwide caliphate, Turkey wants Sunni domination and is threatened by the Kurds (and Saudi Arabia, by the way).

However, Ezekiel tells us clearly that God Himself will put a hook in the jaw of Gog, the coalition leader, and draw him (a Russian czar) and the allied invaders (Iran, Turkey, Sudan and Libya) down from the north into battle on the mountains of Israel (northern Israel, near the Golan Heights).  (Ezekiel 38:4)

So, where are Sudan and Libya, you ask?  Good question!  They are silently serving as terrorist training grounds and are closely linked to the coalition partners, particularly Iran.

Today’s news continues to confirm what the prophets of old said would happen in the last days.  In this case, read Ezekiel 38 in light of today’s event and you will come face-to-face with the reality that the stage is being set for that northern invasion.

Jesus said:

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

Vladimir Putin: New Czar Rising…but is He Gog?

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On Sunday, Vladimir Putin won re-election as Russia’s president for 6 more years.  No great surprise, as there were no other viable candidates, and the election was totally rigged.  (News reports showed poll workers stuffing ballot boxes…as if Putin really needed fraudulent votes to win the election.)

Mark my words…Putin is no ordinary man, and this was no ordinary election.  The 6 years ahead will be unparalleled as the egomaniac, power-hungry Putin takes the reigns as czar in an attempt to become the most powerful man in the world.

Consider this: For years, Putin has angled to consolidate Russian power in his hands and his alone.  He has now done that.  Russia is a totalitarian state (consolidated power) with mega-imperialist ambitions to land-grab whatever territory Putin can get his hands on.  He is poised to challenge the US and our allies, betting we will not respond strongly enough to stop him.  He strives to make Russia the world’s only superpower.

Through the years, Putin has quietly built up Russia’s military, has cozied up to nuclear power states (such as North Korea), helped put Iran on the verge of nuclear capability, and has moved his military like pieces on a chess board with little, if any, opposition.  Russia has a critical seaport on the Syrian coast, and has disbursed large numbers of troops to borders with NATO member states such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.  He continues to threaten takeover of the Ukraine and has even set his sites on places like Finland.  If left unchecked, he will undoubtedly run amok in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

The only real hurdle left for him: the Russian economy.  It is still in the tank and, in order to fulfill his ambitions, he must somehow address that need.

Here is where it gets dicey!

In that part of the world, Russia does what Russia wants to do…except they are in desperate need of an economic engine to fuel their ambitions.  Oil and gas, the bedrock of their economy for ages, are dribbling now.  They have no other resources capable of filling the void.  So, what does Putin see?  Seemingly the best economic windfall in the entire region: Israeli oil and gas!

You know where this is going!

Russia is not in Syria to fight terrorism.  They are in Syria to take over valuable footholds (such as seaports and military bases), ultimately to get oil and gas flowing once again into Europe.  Not surprisingly, as Russia and Iran (who is in Syria for an entirely different reason) land-grab in Syria, they threaten Turkey’s Erdogan, who is also power-hungry!  His ambition, though, is not economic, but religious, as he wants to re-establish an empire, similar to the old Ottoman Empire, and become the Sunni sultan.  He wants to rule the entire region (indeed, the world) religiously!

All that is happening in Syria, and those three (Russia, Iran and Turkey) are the key players in the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy, predicting that coalition (along with others) to advance from the north to invade Israel.  Every one of them have motive, and the stage is completely set for that to take place!

So, the question that has been asked routinely over the past several years is now more relevant than ever before: Is Vladimir Putin the character Ezekiel identifies as the leader of the coalition, Gog of Magog?  Some Bible scholars who have been hesitant to make clear statements about that are now stating their belief that Putin is indeed Gog.

While I believe Christians will be raptured prior to the antichrist being revealed, I think it is possible God could unveil Gog of Magog in our lifetime, while we are still here on earth.  So, do I think Putin is Gog?  He definitely has the characteristics the Bible describes, and the stage appears fully set.  Yes, I believe he could be…but only God knows that at the moment.

But here is an interesting thought: the Russian constitution allows a president to serve only 2 consecutive terms and this is Putin’s second.  (He served previously as Prime Minister.)  If Putin is indeed Gog, it seems highly likely the invasion of Israel by the northern coalition will occur in the next 6 years!

We don’t know for certain the chronology of end time events.  Will the rapture occur before or after the northern invasion?  Will the defeat of the Islamic world during the War of Gog and Magog prepare the way for the antichrist to come to power? If the rapture occurs after the northern invasion, how long after?

We just don’t know!  But I DO know one thing for certain: there is nothing that MUST happen before Jesus appears in the clouds and takes us (Christians) up to be with Him!  As Christians, I believe we are living in perhaps the most exciting time in history!  Jesus could come in our very lifetime…and He tells us to be ready.  I am excited about our future.  How about you!  But, are we ready?  Are we about our Father’s business?  Are we watchmen on the wall, sounding the alarm to all who will listen?

That’s our call, and in these end times we must look up, for our redemption draws near!  (Luke 21:28)