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

Related image

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!

 

 

Nikki Haley Tells AIPAC: “Jerusalem was, is, and will Always Be the Capital of Israel!”

What do you get when you cross a brilliant mind, a bold voice and faithful public service with America’s most important position in the United Nations?  You get American Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley…and she gets roaring applause at AIPAC!

Israel has no bigger friend and ally in the American government than Nikki Haley.  She has, at times single-handedly, taken on the UN General Assembly and Security Council and has held her own.  From a political perspective, she gets an A+ when it comes to standing with Israel.

But, let’s consider her stand from a Biblical perspective.  Genesis 12:3 tells us clearly that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.  That truth carries personal connotations for each of us.  Indeed, we must each make a decision regarding how we respond to Israel.  However, Joel 3:1-2 issues a warning to the nations of the earth:

“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations
And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
Then I will enter into judgment with them there
On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
And they have divided up My land.”

The prophet tells us that ALL nations will be gathered in judgment in the valley of Jehoshaphat to answer for how they treated Israel!  Thus, it is eternally critical that the United States does not scatter the Jewish people or divide up the land of Israel!  That will not happen on Nikki Haley’s watch if she has anything to do with it!

The current administration is the first US administration in decades to stand firmly and Biblically with our friend and ally, Israel…and Nikki Haley has taken on the gigantic task of setting the US on the right side of the Biblical equation in the United Nations!  Praise God for her…and please PRAY for her!

As Haley spoke to the excited crowd at AIPAC, she stated unequivocally:  “Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel!”  Hear what else she had to say in her 21-minute speech:

Violence Intensifies in Iranian Protests

Related image

Iranians, angry about corruption and the economy, are protesting in large numbers throughout Iran.  Unemployment has climbed to almost 13% and the millions of dollars received from the United States in the 2015 nuclear deal have failed to ignite an economy mired in corruption.  International sanctions were also removed in 2015, but that, too, has failed to bring economic relief.

Human rights are also being contested, vividly demonstrated by women brave enough to remove their hajib (required head covering) and wave them in defiance.  Protesters are calling for the ouster of President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, as well as cessation of funding to Hezbollah (in order to fund their own economy).

Here’s a look at the action in Iran:

 

Additional images, footage and information regarding the protests are found here.  In addition, there are reports of possible exodus of unknown personnel from Iran via unmarked aircraft with no callsigns or destinations.  (I have been unable to confirm or dismiss the latter reports, but if true, are significant developments.)

As always, it is important to put news of current events in Biblical context.  We know that Iran will ultimately participate with Russia and others in an invasion of Israel (Ezekiel 38).  We also know that, ultimately, all nations will be judged according to how they treat Israel (Joel 3:2).  In that regard, we know Iran, as a nation, stands on the wrong side of the Genesis 12:3 equation: God will bless those who bless Israel and will curse those who curse Israel.

But consider this: Joel 3:2 indicates it will be nations, not individuals, who will be judged.  A nation, ruled by evil rulers, will incur judgment that will certainly impact its citizens.  However, judgment of individuals is reserved for salvation, and God’s Word tells us He desires none should perish, but that all repent (2 Peter 3:9), and come to salvation.

Where does that leave us?  Above all, pray for salvation for the people of Iran.  Widespread revival is happening there, as Jesus makes Himself known to them.  Secondly, though we know Iran will ultimately be judged, God is able to turn the hearts of leaders wherever He wishes (Psalm 21:1).  Let’s pray that the hearts of leaders in Iran will be softened to turn, or that new leaders will be enthroned.  Finally, let’s pray that the Lord delays the inevitable in order that many others come to faith in the God of Israel.

Let’s make 2018 a year of earnest prayer!  Are you with me?

Trump and Netanyahu United in Speeches to UN General Assembly

Praise God the US has once again taken a firm stand with Israel.  It has not always been that way, and the Bible tells us it will not always be that way in the future.  (Joel 3:1-3 and Zechariah 12:3, for examples)  But today, the US and Israel stand perhaps stronger than ever before.

It is clear that President Trump and PM Netanyahu are coordinating plans and speeches, determined to present a unified front in battles against terrorism and rogue regimes out to destroy both nations.  If you missed the speeches at the UN, carve out some time to watch and listen.  Here are some take aways:

  • Both took a hard line on Iran, committing to take necessary steps to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions (including the destruction of Israel) from coming to fruition.
  • President Trump also spoke authoritatively about North Korea’s threat to the free world.
  • Netanyahu touted Israel as the “Innovation Nation” now reaching out to countries around the world.
  • Perhaps most impressive, President Trump spoke very boldly about nationalism (vs globalism), and encouraged all nations to become strong.  (Globalism will ultimately morph into One World Order…a sign of the end times.)
  • My favorite line of Trump’s speech: “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”  Amen!

Here are their speeches.  Enjoy!

PS: I’m reviewing other speeches from the UN General Assembly as well.  Stay tuned for further news.