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!

 

 

The UN is at it Again! 6 Absurd New Resolutions Against Israel

Six Arab-sponsored resolutions were passed by the United Nations a couple days ago.  Among the condemning resolutions: Temple Mount must be called only by its Arab name and condemnation of Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights.

To put this in context, the rest of the world combined received only 6 condemning resolutions…one each on Syria, Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Myanmar and the US (for an embargo of Cuba).

Here are statements from UN Watch’s Executive Director, Hillel Neuer:

  • “The UN assault on Israel today with this torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal.”
  • “While there will be a total of 20 resolutions against Israel this session, not a single UN.General Assembly resolution is planned today or this year for gross human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, China, Cuba, Pakistan or Zimbabwe.”
  • “At a time when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his state-controlled media incite to the continued stabbing and shooting of Israeli Jews, the UN’s response is to reflexively condemn Israel in six separate resolutions, each of them one-sided, each of them utterly silent on Palestinian abuses.”

Fortunately, the US voted against those resolutions, and in a surprising move, the UK split from the typical EU position and also voted “no” on the resolutions.  Read the entire article here.

Don’t be surprised, my friends.  In time, not only will the UN be against Israel, so will every nation on the planet.  Regardless of where nations stand, where do you stand?

And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
~Genesis 12:3

PA to Sue Great Britain…?

Just when we think we’ve heard it all…

100 years after the Balfour Declaration, calling for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki states:

“We are working to open up an international criminal case for the crime which they committed against our nation – from the days of the British Mandate all the way to the massacre which was carried out against us from 1948 onwards.”

Yes, you read that right…the Palestinian Authority plans to file suit in international criminal court against the UK for affirming British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine back in 1917!  (Haven’t statutes of limitations run out on that!)

Perhaps you are not familiar with the Balfour Declaration, so let me put it into context.  Following years of British and French oversight of territories in the Middle East, British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour penned a statement to Walter Rothschild, a leader in Britain’s Jewish community, voicing support of a Jewish homeland…yet not at the expense of destroying civil and religious rights of non-Jews.  The Palestinian Authority now claims that the Balfour Declaration “caused this catastrophe against the Palestinian people.”

You can read the short declaration and a bit more about this pending lawsuit in international criminal court here!  Israel’s struggle for existence never ends…and never will!  Praise God that His promises to His people are steadfast!

 

 

ISIS Planning “Enormous and Spectacular” Attacks

Is ISIS a precursor to tribulation days?  In some ways, I believe it is.  Here’s why:

Revelation 20 gives us a glimpse into the millennium, when Satan is bound and cast into the abyss.  John saw the souls of tribulation believers come to life (Revelation 20:4), but how had they been killed, and why?

As disgusting as it sounds, beheading will be in vogue during the tribulation.  It seems that ISIS is making it vogue today.  So vogue, that hundreds of thousands of people have watched videos of ISIS militants cutting off heads.  The world is becoming desensitized to extreme violence that will be rampant in the tribulation!

Do you remember the Columbine school shootings in 1999?  The nation was stunned and appalled, and vows were made that it would never happen again.  Fast forward a few years and the number of school and public mass shootings has sky rocketed and some hardly make the news.  We have become desensitized, and to make matters worse, perpetrators are now seen as less responsible because of supposed mental illnesses.  Friends, it is sheer evil, and the pervasive excuse that somehow perpetrators are not responsible for their actions has penetrated society.

So, it is with ISIS and radical Islam.  The more we become desensitized to the atrocities, the more deceived society is to the threat of evil.  No, ISIS is not mentioned in the Bible.  However, in reference to the tribulation, I’ve heard the evil of ISIS described as “the ingredient being added to the pot to make that dish [tribulation] ready.” (Amir Tsarfati with Jack Hibbs, April 27, 2015)  ISIS gives us a glimpse of how bad things will be during the tribulation.

News out of the UK indicates that ISIS is preparing to launch “enormous and spectacular” attacks on their homeland.  Even cutting heads off has not been conceived as “enormous and spectacular” attacks.  So what must ISIS have in mind?  Mark Rowley, national head of counter-terrorism, had this to say in The Guardian:

“In recent months we’ve seen a broadening of that [threats from ISIS], much more plans to attack western lifestyle. Going from that narrow focus on police and military as symbols of the state to something much broader. And you see a terrorist group which has big ambitions for enormous and spectacular attacks, not just the types that we’ve seen foiled to date.”

The reality is that everywhere we look, we see signs of the last days.  Jesus told His disciples exactly what to expect (Matthew 24), and Timothy gave us the characteristics of last days (2 Timothy 3).  When we look at the world today, we see the things of which Jesus and Timothy taught.  We are moving close and closer to the time the Bible says that Jesus will return.

Meanwhile, regardless of how bad things get, Jesus has given His promise that He will respond to His Father’s command to come get us (believers) some day!

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
~John 14:1-3