The Bible Magazine About Bible in the News Contact Us
2014 - A Review
The year reviewed in the light of Bible prophecy
December 27, 2014 - Audio, 24.15 MIN
(Links at bottom of page to download free viewers.)
Another gentile year has come and gone and the Lord Jesus Christ has not yet returned. During 2014 it certainly feels like world events that connect to Bible Prophecy have intensified and at the end of the year geopolitics have been left in a state of unease and tenseness. The signs of the times are slowly coming into focus and give us indications like never before that soon the Lord will be here. This is Matt Davies joining you for the Bible in the news. 

We know that God’s purpose is with the earth. We are told, for example, that "all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh” in Numbers 14:21. The Lord Jesus Christ taught his followers to pray to God, in the Lords prayer, for "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Having a part in that coming Kingdom is the very essence of the truth of the hope contained in the Bible (Acts 8:12). The gospel message shows how that men and women can have their sins forgiven and become acceptable to God through the work of Christ (Col 1:14, Eph 1:7, Gal 3:27-29). The Bible teaches us that Jesus will soon return, to sit on the throne of his father David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32, Acts 1:11). We read of how when he does return he will conduct a resurrection of those who are responsible and accountable and a judgment will be conducted (Rom 14:10, 1 Thess 4:16, 1 Cor 15:52). The mechanism for acceptance is based on a firm belief in the gospel and then the demonstration of this belief in baptism and a life of humble service (Rom 1:16, Eph 1:13, Jam 2:20-26, Rev 22:12, Mark 16:16). Those who are acceptable will live and reign with him for a 1000 years in his Kingdom when the earth will be filled with peace and righteousness (Rev 20:16, Psa 72:2, Rev 5:10) after which all will be given up to the glory of God (1 Cor 15:28).

The Bible gives us a clear vision of what the world will look like just before the Lord Jesus Christ returns. The prophecies of Rev 16:12-16, Ezekiel 38, Daniel 11, Joel 3 and Zechariah 14 all harmonise to tell us of the uniting of the nations to battle against Israel. The ancient names are given for the territories of Russia, Iran, Northern Africa and Europe as being the aggressors under the leadership of a character called Gog (Ezek 38:1-9). We read of how a few nations are not part of this invasion - those associated with Britain (Tarshish) and the Gulf States (Ezek 38:13).

This week, we would briefly like to review the key themes in the news stories which we have picked up on during the year to show how that the world is indeed on the brink of the crisis foretold of in the Bible and that it will not be long now before Christ returns.

The rise in Russian aggression

It has indeed been a busy year and Russia has not been far away from the headlines each month. A ruthless and aggressive Russia has once again flexed its muscles. Its military spending has again increased. This year we witnessed the annexation of Crimea on 21st of March and the increased aggression by Russia on Eastern Ukraine. One commentator recently wrote that in 2014 "Great Russian chauvinism returned with a vengeance”. Why has Russia been so aggressive to those in Ukraine? Because they started to look West, to the EU for support rather than East to Russia. The rest of the world looked on helpless as Russia took over and sponsored the unrest against the Ukrainian government. President Putin was recorded to have breathed out all sorts of threats. For example on 2nd September 2014 a headline in the Guardian read “Putin claims Russian forces could conquer Ukraine capital in two weeks”. On the 29th of August the Telegraph had a headline “Vladimir Putin: Don’t mess with a nuclear-armed Russia”.

The annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in March (source: www.kremlin.ru)

This aggressive, arrogant and totalitarian style regime is exactly what we expect to eventually be embodied in Gog. The one who will lead Russia and its allies into conflict with Israel according to Bible prophecy. Although it is unclear whether Putin himself will be this one, he is certainly setting the precedent.

In reaction to this aggression, and in particular because of an event in July where a civilian jetliner was shot down over territory held by pro-Russian rebels, the West made economic sanctions against Russia. These, along with a slack in the demand for oil have caused the Russian economy to crash in the latter quarter of the year. Putin, although still a popular leader in Russia, will have to take drastic steps if he is to remain unchallenged - if nothing is done commentators are warning that real damages will be done to the average person's living standards in Russia.

One way of increasing the value of Russian oil is to begin a war. Some astounding headlines were published last week suggesting Russia is considering just that - starting a war with none other than the Israelis. Under a headline of “Official: Russia plotting to start war on Israel”,  American News Network WND, on 20th December reported:
"Russia is preparing a contingency plan to prompt Hezbollah and possibly the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into a direct military conflict with Israel, according to a French official who has been apprised of the situation"

Another headline on the same story was published by the International Business Times - "Russia Plans War on Israel: Moscow to Push Hezbollah, Assad Regime into Direct Confrontation”. These are staggering headlines which show that there is no love between Russia and Israel and that conflict could be on the horizon.

A recent staggering headline (source: www.wnd.com)

Therefore as we enter 2015 we are poised on the brink of a Russian crisis which could bring about a war in 2015. How this may develop we are unsure but it is possible that the sparks of conflict could soon ignite the great battle of Armageddon which will  engulf the Middle East before Christ returns to save God’s people of Israel.

Articles on this subject from this year's Bible in the News:

Islamic State and the latter day Assyrian

This year the Syrian civil war got worse. According to the BBC there are now apparently 3.2 million refugees from the conflict. The vacuum created by the war and the failure of Iraq to produce a government which represented all aspects of its society allowed for the rise of ISIS this year. The Islamic State are extreme Sunni muslims seeking to establish a Caliphate where shia law is used to govern the territories it rules. The group are ruthless and blood thirsty and the news was full of the horror of beheadings and terrorist messages that ISIS conducted.

The black flag of ISIS (source: wikipedia)

ISIS are of interest to us because they now hold the current territory of ancient Assyria. In Micah 5 there is a prophecy about our times, the time when Israel returns to their land. During this time we read in Micah 5 of an invading force, the same force as that of Gog in Ezekiel 38. In Micah 5 this force is called “Assyria”. Gog then, it seems, must conquer the area currently controlled by ISIS. It is possible that the “latter day” prophecy in Numbers 24 relates to this.

In Numbers 24:23-24 we read of an invading force which comes with ships to afflict Israel (Eber). We are also told the force "shall afflict Asshur” or Assyria. Piecing these prophecies together then it seems that there is possibly a hint in the Bible of the Gogian confederacy coming down to attack ISIS and to take over its territory so that Gog becomes the latter day Assyrian. To see the rise of an aggressive power in the area of ancient Assyria then is of great interest to us as we watch the signs of the times. 

This year we have seen headlines about the aggression that ISIS has towards Russia. For example on the 3rd of September the International Business Times had a headline “ISIS Tells Vladimir Putin ‘We are Coming to Russia’ to ‘Free Chechnya’”. The Independent had a headline of a similar nature on the 10th of October “Chechen ISIS fighters under Ormar Al-Shishani threaten to take fight to Putin”. If Russia did decide to swarm down to take out ISIS the West would support such a move and possibly even lend a hand producing the union of the nations we might expect from Ezekiel 38.

However things might pan out one thing is sure - and that is how volatile the Middle East is at this time as we end 2014. With so much happening in just a year in the region, we wonder what the situation might look like at the end of 2015.


Articles on this subject from this year's Bible in the News:

European Integration

We now turn our attention to Europe. Europe is still reeling from the international economic crash. This has triggered calls for not only a more robust monetary union but also for a political union to underpin it. This uniting of the nations of Europe is of course what Bible Students expect. The Western side of the Roman Empire is described in both Daniel and Revelation as a “beast”. In Revelation 17 we read of how this beast revives in the time just before Christ returns and that the kings of the earth "shall give their power and strength unto the beast.” Rev 17:13. It is this that we see occurring in Europe today.

In November the Pope addressed the EU (source: ctvnews)



On the beast of Revelation 17 is a harlot woman. A symbol of a religious community who have not been faithful to God’s true ways. To sit on something in symbol, is to control and direct it. It is therefore of note that this year, on the 25th November, the leader of the religious community of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, addressed the European union. His humanistic message of unity was there for all to see as he sort to guide the beast through the leaders he addressed.

Articles on this subject from this year's Bible in the News:

Tarshish and trade in the Gulf States

In Ezekiel 38 we note that the Tarshish powers of Britain however are not allied with the Russian, Eastern, African and European invaders. This indicates that Britain will not be part of any European union which involved armies. They are independent and are to be found in the time leading up to Christ’s return trading in the area of the Gulf because the prophet records that they are there with Sheba and Dedan, ancient names of the area of the Gulf.

Britain's place in the EU is in question (source skibbereeneagle.ie)

It is very interesting to therefore note that this year has again seen Britain taking steps to back out of Europe. The rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party and its charismatic leader, Nigel Farage has been unprecedented. This year the party has taken Westminster seats and now has two Members of Parliament. It has one key policy, to leave the European Union and this has been gaining support across Britain. The popularity of this has put pressure on the main political parties with the Conservatives promising a referendum in 2015. David Cameron, the Conservative British Prime Minister, has promised the British people he will renegotiate Britain's position in Europe and will put this to the British people before the referendum. By all accounts any negotiations seem to have failed thus far causing some distress. We’ve witnessed headlines such as “Britain will not remain in Europe ‘come what may’, David Cameron says" (The Telegraph 10th Nov), “David Cameron: I’m ready to lead Britain out of Europe if migrant reforms fail” (the Telegraph 27th November 2014).

With an exit now a real possibility Britain is looking elsewhere to trade its wears. Significantly it is focused on ramping up trade with the Gulf states. In March we had reports from the government that “Trade Minister brings UK business delegation to the Gulf" (Gov.co.uk, 17th March). Later in the year we had “UK Trade Envoy to Saudi Arabia: Kingdom’s economy has huge potential outside oil sector" (Asharq Al-Awsat , 1st Dec 2014). Then in early December the news came that “Britain returns ‘East of Suez’ with permanent Royal Navy base in Gulf”  (The Telegraph 6th Dec 2014).

It is easy to see then how this year the formation of the nations in accordance with Bible prophecy is well on track.

Articles on this subject from this year's Bible in the News:

The wealth of Israel and her controversy with the nations

We finally now turn our attention on events in Israel this past year. The big story here was the breakdown in peace talks and the war with Gaza which was sparked by the murder of three Israeli teenagers and the increased launches of rockets from the Gaza strip. On July 8th Israel launched "Operation Protective Edge”, a ground invasion of the Gaza strip in which the IDF destroyed a sophisticated network of military tunnels which were going to be used by the terrorist organisation Hamas to invade Israel. As usual the Western media reported in a biased way against Israel. Emphasising the Palestinian casualties and destruction and painting Israel as the great aggressor in the conflict despite the rockets which had been reigning down on Israel’s civilian population.

Although the tensions are obviously still present the conflict has now died down. However the presence of a hostile force on the coast of Israel is to be expected by the Bible student. In Joel 3, as part of a prophecy of a great invasion of Israel additional supporting nations are given a special condemnation in verse 4: "Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine?”. Tyre and Zion are to the North of Israel in modern day Lebanon where Hezbola currently operates. "The coasts of Palestine" clearly relate to the Gaza strip and the area Hamas controls.

The fact that God has brought Israel back to their land and that there are hostile nations left in these areas shows the power and foresight of the Almighty.

We are told in Ezekiel 38 why the invasion takes place. In verse 12 we read that Gog comes against the people and to take a spoil. Therefore we would expect to see international hatred of the Jews in Israel and also for Israel to become wealthy. These two things have indeed been in the news this year.

In terms of wealth Israel has increased across the board with reports of its economy growing faster than many developed nations this year. In January the “Pipeline and Gas Journal” reported: “Israel on the Cusp of an Energy Revolution… There are reports that Israel possesses the second-largest deposits of oil shale in the world outside of the United States”. Significantly Israel is now exporting gas which is expected to bring in an influx of economic growth.  One amazing report was that again a huge gas field has been found. Haaretz had this head line on the 14th of December “Major new gas find off Israel’s Mediterranean coast”. The new field has been called “Royee” and it is thought it will be the third largest of the recent finds off the coast of Israel. Indeed the wealth of Israel is set to increase as we would expect from prophecy.

2014 saw a rise in antisemitism  (source: Newsweek)

In terms of the hatred of Israel this has indeed increased. The war in Gaza exposed a huge hatred of Israel in the West with boycotts of Israeli produce and a huge rise in   attacks. In July, the Magazine Newsweek had a picture on its cover of a Jewess holding a suitcase. The headline read “Exodus - Why Europe’s Jews are fleeing once again”. The article within reported on an event in Paris: "The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s – except this was eastern Paris on the evening of July 13th, 2014. Thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. But the protest soon turned violent – and against Jews in general. One of those trapped told Israeli television that the streets outside were “like an intifada”, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.”

This is typical of increased hatred faced by Jews in Europe this year.

Inside Israel, increased attacks by Palestinians upon Israelis were looked on with indifference by the Western media. In November, when two Palestinians broke into a synagogue with axes and hacked to death four Jews at prayer one headline from CBC News read “Jerusalem police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack”. The reporting is obviously anti-Israel with the focus again painting Jews as the aggressor!

The controversy of the building of Israeli settlements on the West Bank has continued to cause international outrage. In September the Guardian has a headline “Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank condemned by US and UK” (1st Sept) also in September the Telegraph reported “Five EU nations complain to Israel over land grab” (The Telegraph 11th Sept 2014).

So the scene is being set for the great conflict revealed by the prophets to take place.


Articles on this subject from this year's Bible in the News:

Conclusion

So there ends our review. The world is indeed on the edge of crisis. The signs that Christ is at the door have intensified. What will next year hold? Will it be more of the same or will it be the year so longed for of the return of Christ from heaven.

The important thing must surely be our reaction to these things in the midst of an apathetic and ignorant society. The exhortation of the Lord Jesus is most relevant for us to be reminded of: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev 16:15

We shall end this year's last Bible in the News with passages from the prophecy of Zechariah. Passages which prove that God’s purpose is with the earth. That after the great battle of the nations God’s kingdom will be established on the earth. 

"And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one… And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles…” Zechariah 14:8-9, 16

How we long for that day. How indeed we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This has been Matt Davies joining you. Come back again next year God Willing and watch with us the Bible in the News.









Bible in the News provides a weekly analysis of world politics and events
in the light of Bible prophecy — the Bible in the News!