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Syria, Ezekiel and the possible consequences

Although it is tempting to view Syria and the upheavals there as just a continuation of the so-called 'Arab Spring' the country occupies an important square on the global geo-political chess board.

 


 Syria: more than a pawn on the chessboard
SyriaIt's not just 'another Arab country in turmoil': the fate of Syria is more important than most people think.

The U.S. is set to leave Iraq soon, and Iran is ready and waiting to fill the ensuing power vacuum. This is Iran's historic opportunity to reshape the regional politics in its favour and gives countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the United States something to be concerned about.

Syria is the current battleground for a much wider and longer-term struggle. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States would love nothing more than to add Syria to a coalition of states counterbalancing Iran. While, on the other hand, Iran needs to keep Syria as a strong ally in the region as means to threaten Israel.
The other player in the geo-politics of the eastern Mediterranean is Russia. During and since the Cold War, Russia has seen both Syria and Egypt  – historically, Daniel’s ‘King of the North' and 'King of the South’ (Dan ch. 11) – as a means of countering the presence of the Western powers.

Russia talking Turkey


Whether or not Russian leaders sensed the volatility amongst the Arab nations in North Africa, Russia has also been cosy-ing up to Turkey as both these Eurasian powers have, in spite of the natural tendency to ‘bump against’ each other, sufficient strategic reasons for cooperating.

Meanwhile Turkey’s relationship with Israel has been cooling for some time, and in 2009 at the last minute called of a joint military exercise with Israel. The US State Department responded: “We think it's inappropriate for any nation to be removed from an exercise like this at the last minute.” As a further snub to its partners in the exercise Turkey has, then and since, embarked on war games with Russia. [Most recently Turkey/Israel relationships have become distinctly icy with the Turkish government’s support of the efforts to break Israel’s embargo on (arms) shipments to Gaza.

To add to the heady mix, the Western nations are now openly acknowledging the threat of Iran’s developing nuclear capability to the extent that the British government has just severed ties between the British and Iranian banking systems.

"We won't be caught out again"


Golda MeirTo put all of this into an historical context, and to understand the potential dangers in the midst, we need to go back to the Yom Kippur war of 1973.

At that time Israel was in the brink of annihilation when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on the nation’s Holy Day holiday.
In the first three days of that conflict the Israeli defences were overrun to the point that Moshe Dyan, the then Chief of Defence staff, went to the Prime Minister and informed her ‘the Third Temple is about to be destroyed’. At that point Golda Meir gave instruction to make ready Israel’s nuclear weapons. As these deadly missiles were being taken from their storage silos and transported to five Israeli Air Force bases, the action was observed by Russian spy satellites. As a response the Russian armed forces were put on high alert.

However, for some reason (military tactics/miracle of God) the Egyptian and Syrian armies stopped their rapid advances into Israel just long enough for the Israel Defence Force to fully mobilise. Although the war continued for a further two weeks, Israel ultimately emerged as victor.
In fact when the tide of battle turned,  Israeli forces were within striking distance of both Cairo and Damascus. At this point the Russian army was poised to invade, but with America wishing to keep Russian forces out of the region the US forced Israel to halt the IDF's advance. This 'cease fire' was backed by the United Nations which had remained completely silent at the outset when Israel was being beaten.

With this modern history still fresh in the nation's psyche, Israel will be determined not be caught napping again; and, recognising that the country can neither hope to survive a a ‘first strike’ nor rely on support from the bulk of the international community, Israel is highly predisposed towards pre-emptive action in self-defence. [This is what happened in the 6-day war of 1967 when faced with an imminent invasion by Egypt and Syria, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the bulk of the Egyptian Air Force before the latter could get off the ground.]

Gunboat diplomacy

USS Carrier John C Stennis
USSJohnCStennis2007May11Meanwhile as we see the pressure on the Syrian President and his regime increasing, gunboat diplomacy is in full spate in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources Russia and America adopted aggressive postures on Nov. 12, when two American carriers, the USS Bush and USS Stennis sailed through the Strait of Hormuz side by side and took up position opposite the Iranian coast.

That was also the day when a mysterious explosion at the Revolutionary Guards base near Tehran wiped out the entire leadership of Iran's ballistic missile program.
Five days later, on Nov. 17, the Syrian news agency reported three Russian naval vessels on the Mediterranean were heading toward Syria.

Syrian government sources stressed that “the Russian ships would not anchor in the Syrian port, indicating that their mission was not just to show the flag for the Assad regime but was on operational duty along its coasts to resist any foreign intervention in Syria unrest.”

Amongst all of this Joel C. Rosenberg – a respected analyst and author has commented:

"There is growing interest in the Ezekiel prophecies and whether they could play out in our lifetime. I believe it is still too early to say anything definitively. But I agree that current events are strikingly consistent with the prophecies and I believe it is possible that we could see these events unfold soon. The mention of "Gomer" in Ezekiel, for example, refers to the modern-day State of Turkey which will be an enemy of Israel and part of a Russian-Iranian alliance against the Jewish state. I'm not saying the prophecy will necessarily come to pass soon, but I can't rule out that possibility. We've never seen a convergence of geopolitical and spiritual events so consistent with Ezekiel 38-39 in history like we are seeing today. We need to be prayerful, sober, alert and prepared."

However much of the ‘believing’ church would say that OT prophesy of this ilk has either been fulfilled, or is allegorical with no literal application. Accordingly, and in contrast to the men of Issacher who ‘understood the times’ substantial numbers are failing to recognise the prospect of ancient prophesies being fulfilled in our day.

In this context it is imperative that believer’s exercise the ‘this-is-that’ awareness of the apostle Peter at Pentecost. As the tongues of fire descended upon them, he recognised what was happing as being that foretold by the prophet Joel. He ‘joined up the dots’ and made the connection.
What Jesus told his disciples to do was ‘Watch’ (Mark 13:37). He is saying exactly the same today; but very sadly many are sleepwalking or anaethetised by false teaching and unbelief. The parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids is a word for our day.


Footnotes:
1. What most who predict the fulfilment of the Gog/Magog war (Ezek 38/39) fail to take account of is that the prophesy will outwork itself at a time when Israel has recovered from war and is living in a stable peace and a ‘land of unwalled villages.’ (Ezek 38:11). This is the diametric opposite of present conditions.

2. In the 'Gog/Magog' list of nations, Syria and Egypt are not mentioned. However Turkey (part of Togarmah; Ezek 38:6) is part of the Russian-led invasion which the Soviets are drawn into by God.

3. Back in 1983, when Israel mounted an essentially-defensive invasion of Lebanon, Israel’s army discovered a man-made cave that extended a mile into a mountain. They found it packed with tanks, all kinds of weapons, plus ammunition that Russia was supplying to Lebanon as a stockpile to resupply Russian paratroops if/when they invaded Israel. The massive steel doors on these underground bunkers were designed so that they could be opened by radio signals from Russian submarines in Mediterranean waters. It took the Israeli army three whole days to empty out the cave of all these armaments!

Christians Together, 21/11/2011

Feedback:
Rosemary Cameron 22/11/2011 19:26
We need also to be reading Isaiah - see for instance Isaiah 19:23-25. I don't believe all the prophecies in Isaiah have been fulfilled in the past - some are still to come. Watch!
Editor 22/11/2011 20:08
Some are wondering whether we are seeing the outworking of the early verses of that (19th) chapter right now.
Interestingly enough historians tell us that the Syrian capital of Damascus is one of the longest continually inhabited city in the world. Yet two chapters earlier Isaiah tells us: "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. " (Is 17:1).
Doug Flett (Guest) 24/11/2011 09:47
Well done, Colin, for providing the alert and background information. The silence from traditional church and pastoral new church on these issues is deafening. We are reminded of the inept response by church leaders to the 'city greed' protest in London. These are not days for playing church but for solemn assembly.
Editor 01/12/2011 15:26
There is talk of covert military action already taking place between Israel and both Iran and Syria. Escalating Syrian and Egyptian government violence against their people is making headline news almost daily.

What most news sources are not reporting is the build up (see main article) of American and Russian Naval power in the area.
The carrier USS George H.W. Bush is now on station in the Middle East Along with the USS Stennis these flagship Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carriers are floating airports with each capable of launching 4 planes per minute.

Three Russian warships anchored earlier opposite Tartus which established a command post in the Syrian port. They will be augmented by Russia's air carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov.

Not since the end of the cold war have we seen this sort of tension between Russia and the U.S. Russia will not want to allow the West to make Syria a repeat of Libya.

Israel is becoming increasingly isolated; its situation worsened by international polarisation resulting from the recent bid for Palestinian statehood at the U.N. The Israeli population fears imminent war on more than one front.
Rosemary Cameron 01/12/2011 22:15
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15936813 for some interesting background on current events in Syria and their effect on Syria's neighbours.
Editor 01/12/2011 23:32
AN IRANIAN nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".

The explosion at Iran's third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/a-second-iranian-nuclear-facility-has-exploded-as-diplomatic-tensions-rise-between-the-west-and-tehran/story-e6frg6so-1226209996774
Editor 13/12/2011 14:22
The Middle East seems to be headed for war. This brief report from Hal Lindsey looks at recent developments:

"The latest statements by the leaders of Israel, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah suggest that both sides are not just poised for war in the next few weeks, it's a forgone conclusion. Both Israel and Syria are conducting intensive war games exercises. Israel's air force is also conducting long-range training missions with NATO forces based in Italy.

The United States has moved an aircraft carrier and strike force into the Mediterranean opposite Syria.

Russia responded by airlifting 72 of its lethal ship-killer missiles to Syria and dispatched its only aircraft carrier and support group to lie off the Syrian coast. The US then withdrew its carrier from the danger zone, but has apparently moved another carrier group into position off the coast of Iran.

Several international newspapers are reporting that Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the progress of Iran's nuclear weapons program that it has secretly agreed to allow Israel's air force to overfly its territory in a strike on Iran. In fact, observers say that the Saudis have actually practiced "standing down" their air defense system.

Analysts report that the United States also seems to be stepping up its expansion of military ties with the Persian Gulf states that oppose Iran.

I don't believe that what we're seeing take shape now will become the predicted "Gog-Magog" war. This means that whatever action Israel and others may take against Iran will still leave it a viable nation.

The Bible says that Iran will later join a military confederacy with Russia against Israel. Also, Ezekiel says that at the time of the Gog-Magog war, Israel will be living in peace and security without feeling the need for "bars nor gates." Obviously, that does not describe Israel's situation today -- or any other day since its founding in 1948.

It's possible that if Israel strikes Iran and scores a military victory, it will experience the same post-victory response that the United States experienced after the Gulf War in 1991.

Though most of the Arab world hated and feared Saddam Hussein -- and cheered when we defeated him -- the ease with which we accomplished the victory inspired both fear and jealousy. Some of those who sided with us then are our adversaries now. And since Israel already has so few friends and allies in the world, if it "defeats" Iran and suffers the same post-victory alienation, it will probably become totally isolated from the world. And that will make it an even more compelling target for its enemies -- just as the ancient prophets foretold."
Editor 01/01/2012 21:12
Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal has fled Damascus together with his family, according to a report published Sunday by the London-based al-Hayat newspaper.

There have been increasing numbers of soldiers abandoning their posts and defecting to the opposition as the country's burgeoning civil war grows ever more bloody.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/151280#.TwDLnoHDU4x

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