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
It'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"
To 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.]
USS Carrier John C Stennis
Meanwhile 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.
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!