|The Fall of Damascus|
|With the current high levels of instability in the Arab nations, (former Jerusalem-based) journalist David Dolan examines the situation in the light of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the destruction of Damascus.
James Bond, Putin and Ezekiel
coming into a coincidence
The Word of God prophesies an event – still future – wheverby a coalition of nations will mount a combined military attack on Israel. Geo-political developments in the region need to viewed through the lens of Ezekiel's forecast.
first published 27/08/08
See 'Responses' at foot of article for most recent update.
An astute observer of the geo-political worldscene recently published a book which centred around the outworking of God's prophetic purposes in the Middle East. However, it was no sooner published than changing world events required a revision to take account of an evolving situation.
Yesterday the prolific author stated that version three was now necessary in response to Russia's move into the Caucusas region and the state of Georgia.
Whilst the author has a very keen mind and an excellent knowledge of the Bible, he (and so many commentators in his field) find that they cannot keep up with the run of events in our modern world. Yet the writings of the prophets, penned two thousand five hundred years ago are as up-to-date as tomorrow's newspapers. This reflects the authenticity, inerrancy and timelessness of the Bible as the revealed Word of God.
James Bond’s adventures have always been (loosely) related to current events; and back in 1999 the film The World is Not Enough centred around the super spy’s mission to protect a Caspian Sea oil pipeline running from Baku (Azerbaijan) through the Caucusas region to Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea. The story line revolved around a terrorist plot to sabotage the construction of the pipeline by sending a pilfered bomb attached to a welding rig into the pipeline headed toward the oil terminal.
Of course Bond succeeded in thwarting the evil plan and so today this Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is a vital route for oil supplies from the Caspian Sea to the West.
But there is more strategic importance to the region than that. Russia — especially since the collapse of the USSR, the re-alignment of former soviet satellite states and the eastward expansion of the EU and NATO — is increasingly boxed in. There is no route west, and China sits to the east.
So the only ‘exit’ is to the south – via the Caucusas. Thus Georgia is the critical gateway and only ‘exit’ through which Russia must pass in any expansionary forays into the critical area of the Middle East. By controlling Georgia, Russia would secure both a vital military route and also a strangle hold on vital oil pipelines feeding the West.
If the past is anything to go by, Russia’s incursion into Georgia will result in a flood of messages from (mainly trans-Atlantic) leaders who will be (again) strongly advising that we are on the brink of seeing Ezekiel's prophecy concerning the Gog and Magog war (Ezek. 38 and 39) come to pass.
And it has to be said that there are very good reasons to think this, as the prophesy describes an end-time multi-national assault on Israel led by a land from ‘the far north’ (of Israel).
The leader of the pack is most certainly modern-day Russia, whose leader (the prince of ‘Rosh’ – Ezek. 38:2) has rallied a conglomerate of belligerents around him. These include (in modern-day terms) Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, Turkey, Armenia and some others besides (Ezek 38:5,6) (See also map below).
The two relevant chapters (Ezek 38 & 39) provide a graphic description of what today we would recognize as a nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) attack on Israel which goes disastrously wrong for the aggressors (38:21,22; 39:3-5).
The attack itself (38:8,9) is pre-ordained by God (38:10) to lead the Russian leader against his will (38:4) to his destruction (38:18-22; 39:3-5). Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and others will diplomatically ‘tut-tut’ (38:13), but no-one will take any action.
God has pre-ordained this major episode in world history so that through the defeat of Israel’s arch-enemies He will get the glory (Ezek 36:22; 39:7a), and the world will know that it has been the work of the God (39:7b). And through it all, Israel will come to recognize the Lord (39:28) through His ingathering and protection of them, and His new sight to their eyes (39:27-29).
But not yet!
However, although we might be seeing the prelude to this prophetic enactment, the time is not yet. And it is regarding this point that so many Bible prognosticators seem to be blind.
In the outworking of God's purposes it is not just the 'what', but also the 'when'.
The time of the outworking of the vision given through Ezekiel is following a time, for Israel, of sustained peace and prosperity: the country and the people will be enjoying a reassurance, suffering a complacency even, regarding their safety and security.
Today, Israel couldn’t be further away from being a people "living securely, all of them” (38:8b) or a “land of unwalled villages” (38:11). The country is guarded by a high security wall and checkpoints everywhere; and lives under daily fear of rocket attacks from Gaza, terrorist incursions, suicide bombers and an implacable enemy in Iran which is working rapidly towards a strategic nuclear capability.
It is interesting to note that in the list of the aggressor nations which Ezekiel lists in his prophecy, there is no mention of three of the four countries adjoining Israel's borders. Lebanon joins in with the diplomatic mutterings from the international community (38:13), but Egypt, Jordan and Syria are not mentioned at all. Of these three, Jordan is by far the friendliest towards its neighbour Israel. And regarding the other two— Syria and Egypt —there are related and interesting prophesies awaiting their fulfillment which speak of reconciliation with Israel. Isaiah foretells the destruction of Damascus (Is 17:1) (see footnote) and upheavals in Egypt (Is 19:1-17) which will bring restoration (with Israel and the Lord) and great blessing:
"In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth.The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Is 19:24-25)
Though the time for Ezekiel’s prophesy is not quite yet, the pieces of the jigsaw might be now coming into place. It will happen: God has declared it so. But first we need the (false) peace which will cause Israel to lower her defences. Humanly speaking things are a long way from that.
God has revealed his purposes to us (Amos 3:7); our part is to have our hearts and minds in tune.
The disciples on the road to Damascus were rebuked for their ignorance and attitute (Luke 24:25; Heb 4:12-13) ; let us avoid their mistake by knowing His word, and understanding the times in which we live. Peter, at the time of Pentecost looked around him and, with God-given revelation and inspiration exclaimed: "This is that spoken of by the prophet" (Acts 2:16). We live in "this is that" days.
Although Assyria and Damascus were overrun by Tiglath-Pileser III, Damascus is listed as the second-oldest continuously-inhabited cities in world history.
Christians Together, 03/06/2010