What’s the Latest in the Middle East? (Part 1)

Image result for whats going on in the middle east

Current headlines seem to confirm day-by-day what the prophets of old predicted over 2,500 years ago. As those prophetic signs continue to flash like neon in today’s dark world, it becomes more and more difficult to deny the soon return of our Lord Jesus. We’ll discover why as we view some current events through the lens of Scripture.

Let’s start with the latest activity in and around Syria.  As you know, Israel rarely confirms or denies its military operations, yet in a very rare admission, Israeli officials recently confirmed hundreds of attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, including a heavy strike on weapons storehouses near the Damascus airport last Friday.  Over months of satellite surveillance and “on the ground” intel, the IDF observed daily flights from Tehran to Damascus.  Though the planes often appeared to be commercial jetliners, they were actually carrying arms from Iran.  In typical Israeli style, Iranian troops were allowed to fully fill weapon storehouses before the IDF took care of business!  One strike, lots of collateral!

Such was last Friday’s attack on military targets near the Damascus airport.  Initial reports from the Syrian government media were that Israeli missiles were all shot down.  Yet, here are before-and-after satellite images of one of the primary targets:

Furthermore, out of embarrassment, the Syrian media reported that civilian aircraft, not Iranian transport aircraft, were hit.  But the damage is clear.  It is believed key military personnel fighting for Iran also lost their lives in the strike.

Despite genocide and use of chemical weapons by its own leaders, Syria immediately filed complaints with the UN Security Council, claiming Israel is getting away with attacks.

Meanwhile, a war of words took place between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump.  Erdogan’s desire to annihilate the Kurds in Syria is obvious and President Trump vowed to impose harsh economic sanctions on Turkey if they attack the Kurds.  Because Turkey’s economy is already tanking, Erdogan was forced to back down.  Discussions are now underway to create a security zone in Syria.

In other news, Israel announced they will soon wrap up Operation Northern Shield, the initiative to find and destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels from Lebanon into Israel.  The IDF located a sixth tunnel last week and believe it is the last Hezbollah attack tunnel dug into Israeli territory.  Early on in the operation, Hezbollah denied the existence of tunnels from Lebanon to Israel.  However, when the IDF pumped cement through the tunnels, it flowed out inside Lebanon!

Additionally, a power struggle is ensuing within the ranks of Hezbollah.  The tunnel scheme has not only been embarrassingly uncovered, but totally destroyed. It is also believed the key Hezbollah leader is hospitalized due to a severe illness.

Funded by Iran, the tunnels were meant to be a means of infiltration, kidnapping and massacre of innocent Israeli citizens.  Despite being in violation of international law, Hezbollah has been met with virtually no resistance beyond Israel.

So much more is happening in the Middle East, so we’ll examine more headlines tomorrow.  However, let’s get to the point of all this.  God revealed future events to Old Testament prophets who recorded their visions of what would take place in end times.  Today, we are watching 2,500-year old prophecies play out right before our very eyes.  For example, the prophet Isaiah predicted the fall of Damascus (Isaiah 17:1), and based on the current state of things in Syria, we wonder how much longer Damascus can stand. 

God gave Ezekiel a vision of a great invasion of Israel from the north.  A coalition, led by Russia, and including Iran and Turkey, will form in order to fulfill the prophecy of the War of Gog and Magog.  Ezekiel 38 describes it, and we are seeing it

What is one to do? 

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

~Luke 21:28

Look up, my friends, look up!  Our redemption draws near!

See you tomorrow!

Setting the Stage: Are We Seeing the Rise of the False Prophet?

As we race toward 2019, we see ominous activity in the Middle East and what appears to be prophesy-fulfilling developments around the world. Bible believers understand we do not (and will not) know the day or the hour of the rapture (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32), but we are to understand the times and the seasons (Luke 12:54-56).

We are living in the last days and we consistently see the stage being set for end time events. One of those events, according to Revelation 17 and 2 Peter 2, is the rise of a false religious system, led by the False Prophet.

Are we seeing that prophetic development right before our eyes? It certainly seems possible.

2019 must be a year of eyes wide open and a commitment to ready ourselves as a Bride awaiting the return of the Bridegroom! Happy 2019!

The Power of Jesus’ Presence: Mary’s Conception

Image result for power of jesus' presence

Jesus’ presence is powerful, and was active even prior to His birth.  As the Christmas season winds down, we’re going back in time to before our Savior’s birth to discover the earthly advent of that power.  Yesterday we focused on the announcement from the angel Gabriel to Zacharias that his wife, Elizabeth, a barren, older woman, would bear a son.  Upon a visit from her cousin, Mary, Elizabeth’s baby “leaped in her womb.”

What led to Mary’s visit, and why would there be a leaping in the womb?  Let’s go back to Luke 1 to pick up the account.  In verses 26-38, we the angel Gabriel made a second announcement following his proclamation to Zacharias.  This time to Mary (Elizabeth’s cousin).  Mary was a virgin, yet the angel announced she would conceive and bear a son.  That Son would be great, would be called the Son of the Most High, and would reign from the throne of David forever.  There would be power in His presence!

That is miraculous enough, but the angel had another message:  “By the way, Mary…your cousin, Elizabeth, has also conceived and will bear a son.”

Imagine!  Miraculous conceptions by the two cousins (Elizabeth being barren, and Mary being a virgin)!   Nothing is impossible with God!  What joy must have flooded Mary’s heart when she was proclaimed a favored one, then told her cousin would bear a son.  Isn’t it fitting that Mary would go right away to rejoice with Elizabeth!

Now we know the purpose of that visit, and we begin to understand why Elizabeth’s baby (John) leaped in her womb!  Read the account again:

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
~Luke 1:39-45

I don’t know about you, but studying this passage gives me greater depth of appreciation for the power of Jesus’ presence.  Even before the birth of Jesus, God the Father was setting the stage to introduce the power His presence would bring.  Throughout the New Testament, Jesus was a power plant! Power characterized His life.  His miracles displayed His power.  His teaching displayed His power.  His life displayed His power.  His death, burial and resurrection displayed His power.  Yet it was at His conception that the presence of that power was first illustrated in human form!

Dear friend, you and I are impacted by the power of His presence as well!  Come back tomorrow as we examine the power of His presence in our lives today!

The Power of Jesus’ Presence: A Leap in the Womb

Image result for power of jesus' presence

Christmas has come and gone, but the power of Jesus’ presence remains!  In fact, His power was made known even before His birth.  Over the next few days we’ll take a look at the months leading up to Jesus’ birth to discover the impact of His presence, even in us today.

At this time of year, we typically focus on the Christmas story as reported in Luke 2.  But the story doesn’t begin in chapter 2, so let’s go back to chapter 1 where we find the angel, Gabriel, foretelling the birth of John the Baptist (whose mother was Elizabeth) and Jesus (whose mother was Mary).  Following the announcements, Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth.  Hear is the account of that visit:

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
~Luke 1:39-45

Looking back at Gabriel’s visit to Zacharias (Elizabeth’s husband) even before Mary’s visit, let’s begin to examine the circumstances that reveal the power of Jesus’ presence.  Zacharias was a priest, serving in the Temple.  Luke 1:6 tells us both Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous in the sight of God, but Elizabeth was barren and in advanced years.  Nonetheless, Gabriel, the messenger angel, appeared to Zacharias, announcing Elizabeth would bear a son.

Can you imagine the scene?  Verse 13 says “…your petition has been heard.”  Apparently, Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed fervently for a child, yet odds seemed slim as child-bearing years slipped away.  But what joy awaited!

The angel also promised that Zacharias’ son would be great in the sight of the Lord and would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even while in his mother’s womb.  It was in that promise that the power of Jesus’ presence became known!

We find, in verse 41 that, upon Mary’s visit, the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb.  (That baby was John the Baptist, a forerunner of Jesus.)  It is not unusual for babies to move in a mother’s womb, so what made this occurrence different?  What made the baby “leap in the womb?” Take some time today to read Luke 1.  Ponder the fact that Elizabeth was barren and beyond typical child-bearing age.  Then ponder that “leap in the womb” in light of the power of Jesus’ presence. 

We’ll dig deeper tomorrow…and it’s going to get interesting, so be sure to check in then!