Russian Jets Over Syria and Bible Prophecy
The Destruction of the Babylonian, Greco-Roman Heritage of Syria
September 5, 2015 - Audio, 11.01 MIN
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On August 31 it was reported that ISIL or ISIS, the group know as the Islamic State blew up "Palmyra’s treasured Temple of Bel” in Syria. The National Post commented that, "The temple, dating back to 32 AD, shows a unique merging of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman architecture. It is dedicated to the Semitic god Bel and is considered one of the most important religious buildings of the first century.”
ISIS is destroying the ancient Greco-Roman heritage in Syria.
Bel is one of the gods of Babylon - Daniel the Hebrew prophet, had his name changed by the king of Babylon to Belteshazzar. Belshazzar was ruling in Babylon when the Persians conquered the city. Jeremiah the prophet declares, "Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.” This is what ISIL has done, confounded Bel and broken his temple in pieces. Babylon was destroyed long ago, yet there is a way in which the spirit of Babylon lives on. The temple was built in 32 AD when the Roman Empire was ruling, yet the architecture is “Greco-Roman”. This is because before the Romans came, Syria was the heartland of the Greek Seleucid kingdom, one of the four fragments of the massive Greek empire forged by Alexander the Great. This also demonstates that the gods of Babylon lived on in the Roman Empire. So not only did the Roman Empire assume Greek culture, it also absorbed Babylonian.
This is in sync with how the book of the prophet Daniel describes the “kingdom of men”. When the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel 5:31 states: "And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.” Darius “took the kingdom”. So Darius took the Babylonian kingdom, which was the kingdom of men.
In the prophecy of Daniel 8, the "kingdom of men” is depicted as a Ram and a "he Goat". The interpretation of the prophecy is given starting in verse 20. "The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.” The Ram is Persia, the Goat Grecia, the great horn is the first king, Alexander the Great. Alexander was broken and his kingdom divided into four. One of these was the Greek Seleucid kingdom based in Syria. It is described in Daniel chapter 11 as the “king of the north”, due to its situation north of the land of Israel.
The Roman Empire arose after the Greek Empire, but is it contained in Daniel 8 - the prophecy of the Ram and the Goat? After the great horn of the Goat equating with the first king, Alexander the Great, is broken and the four horns arise, there is another “little horn” which arises from one of the horns of the goat - Daniel 8:9.
"And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” This little horn, we go on to read, breaks down the sanctuary and causes the daily sacrifice in the temple to cease. This little horn is clearly an enemy of the Jewish people and their worship.
The interpretation of the prophecy continues in verse 23. “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” This “king of fierce countenance” is the “little horn” of the goat. Is this king referring to Antiochus Epiphanes the Grecian “king of the north" who caused temple worship to stop at the time of the Maccabees, or something else?
In the detailed prophetical description of this time in Daniel 11, Antiochus is definitely referred to in verse 31, “...they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” The ideas of taking away the daily sacrifice and the “abomination that maketh desolate” definitely fit in with Daniel chapter 8. Yet there are several problems with this interpretation. First and foremost the placing of the “abomination that maketh desolate” is spoken of by Jesus Christ as a future event to his time, Antiochus was well before the time of Christ, Jesus living under Roman rule. Jesus places this event after the destruction of the temple by the Romans and therefore also after the taking away of the daily sacrifice - in the “Olivet prophecy” - Matthew 23:15, where Jesus answers his disciples question as to when the temple would be destroyed and the stones thrown down (Matthew 23:2,3). This fits in with Daniel 11:36, where the prophecy says that “the king”, shall “prosper till the indignation be accomplished”. The indignation is not accomplished so long as the sanctuary and people are trodden under foot (Daniel 8:13). We now live in the time of the end, in the “last end of the indignation” (Daniel 8:17,19; 11:40). This means that the “king of fierce countenance" power is in existence today as an enemy of the sanctuary and Jewish people. The words of Jesus also clearly show that the “king of fierce countenance” power is the Roman power who came and destroyed the temple and caused the daily sacrifice to cease. The Roman power is in existence today, as has been discussed many times on the Bible in the News. In the west there is the European Union and Roman Catholic Church. In the east the Russian power, which is called the third Rome, because it inherited the seat of power when the Eastern Roman Empire or Greek Byzantine Empire came to an end. Here then are two Roman legs of iron as depicted in the image of Daniel 2.
This Roman desolating power is described in Deuteronomy 28, centuries before it came into being.
"The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:”
The phrase “fierce countenance” is the same in the Hebrew in both places, Daniel 8:23 and Deuteronomy 28:50.
We have seen then that the “little horn of the goat” arose from the Grecian Seleucid Empire in the north based in Syria; this is interpreted for us in Daniel 8 as being the “king of fierce countenance”, which Jesus shows is the Roman power who came and destroyed the temple and caused the daily sacrifice to cease. The “little horn of the goat” is a Greco-Roman power with roots in Babylonian culture, just like the temple of Bel in Syria that ISIS has just destroyed. This power is to “prosper till the indignation be accomplished”. As Syria is the original heartland of the Greco-Roman little horn power on the Grecian goat, events in Syria today are of great interest to students of Bible prophecy.
In Syria today we see a total breakdown of order into complete anarchy. None of the warring groups have the power to establish law and order in the country, while the ferocious fanaticism on all sides does not lead to nation building.
Syria has been a traditional ally of Russia for decades and has a naval facility and base at Tartus in Syria. How far Russia would go to keep this port and its influence in Syria time will tell. At the end of June the National Post reported that, "Putin calls on Middle East nations to unite behind Assad in fight against ‘evil’ in Syria”. Interestingly this week on August 31, the Israel news site YNET reported under the headline, "Russian Jets in Syrian Skies”, that,
"Russia has begun its military intervention in Syria, deploying an aerial contingent to a permanent Syrian base, in order to launch attacks against ISIS and Islamist rebels; US stays silent.
"Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state.
"According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base.
"In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft.”
Apparently Russia does not want to give up its naval base in Syria! A bold move into Syria by the Russians to fight ISIS will be greeted with silence by the west, who can hardly object when they too are taking pot shots at ISIS from the air. More importantly a bold move into Syria by the Russians would place Russia firmly upon the heartland of the little horn of the Grecian goat.
This little horn power is to be “broken without hand” - Daniel 8:25, just as the image of the kingdom of men seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream was broken by a stone cut out of the mountains without hands. So these powers will be broken in an extraordinary manner - by divine intervention.
Come back next week God willing as we continue to watch the signs of the times on www.bibleinthenews.com. This has been David Billington with you.
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