Things are heating up in the Middle East as Russian activity increases. Many of the players mentioned in latter day Bible prophecy are being positioned into their roles as the Bible predicted thousands of years ago. This is Matt Davies joining you for another Bible in the news.
Russian air strikes in Syria
We are living in momentous times.
Russia began its air campaign in Syria last Wednesday on the 30th of October claiming that they are directly assisting the Syrians in countering terrorism.
The Russian operation in Syria amounts to the biggest deployment of Russian forces outside the former Soviet Union since the withdrawal from Afghanistan back in 1989.
A US-led coalition has been conducting air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq since September last year. The Russians have not joined this coalition but have formed their own.
Nato and allied states have expressed concern that Russia is concentrating its attacks on rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. Some of these groups are actually backed by the West, and not jihadist groups like ISIS.
A power block led by Russia
These incidents are exposing two very clear “sides”. Russia leading one and the United States leading the other.
On Sunday 4th October, the president of Syria, Assad made a startling claim. In a BBC article entitled "Syrian crisis: Assad warns of Mid-East destruction” the following was stated:
"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said a coalition between Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq must succeed "or else the whole region will be destroyed".
Mr Assad also criticised the US-led coalition and its air strikes in Syria and Iraq as counter-productive, saying that terrorism had only spread."
This is all very exciting for Bible students who have for many years been expecting these power blocks to begin to appear in the Middle East.
Assad has said that the coalition between
Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq must succeed
"or else the whole region will be destroyed"
Last week on Tuesday 22nd of September CNN ran an article “Petraeus accuses Putin of trying to re-establish Russian Empire…”
"Russian moves in Syria are designed to bolster and hold on to their naval base and airstrip along the Mediterranean coast of Syria, and shore up the al-Assad regime in order to preserve Russian influence in the Middle East, Petraeus said...
"I think that what Vladimir Putin would like to do is resurrect the Russian empire," he said.”
Back in 1849 Bible student John Thomas wrote the following in his book "Elpis Israel":
"The future movements of Russia are notable signs of the times, because they are predicted in the Scriptures of truth... When Russia makes its grand move for the building-up of its Image-empire, then let the reader know that the end of all things, as at present constituted, is at hand. The long-expected, but stealthy advent of the King of Israel, will be on the eve of becoming a fact; and salvation will be to those who not only looked for it, but have trimmed their lamps by believing the gospel of the kingdom unto the obedience of faith, and the perfection thereof in "fruits meet for repentance”
How could John Thomas, way back in 1849, be so confident that a dominant Russia would arise before the return of Christ? Because of Bible prophecy and particularly an understanding of Ezekiel chapter 38.
The prophecy of Ezekiel 38 speaks of a great invasion of the land of Israel by a coalition led by Russia just before the Lord Jesus Christ returns (See Ezekiel 38:1-9).
Russia falls out with Turkey
On top of all the events in Syria, cracks are appearing in the relationship between Russia and Turkey.
On Tuesday 6th of October CNN posted the following news story:
"Russian involvement in the 4½-year-old Syrian civil war seems to be escalating, with NATO's secretary general confirming Tuesday a second incursion by Russian planes into Turkish airspace and saying Russian ground troops were in Syria as well.
"Russian combat aircraft have violated Turkish airspace," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, according to NATO's website. "This is unacceptable."
Stoltenberg elaborated at a news conference.
"We also have seen two of them, two violations of Turkish airspace," he said. "Intelligence that we have received provides me with reason to say it doesn't look like an accident."
The first violation of Turkey's airspace is reported to have happened Saturday. The second was Sunday, officials said.
In addition, the Turkish air force said in a statement that an MiG-29 fighter jet of an unidentified nationality had interfered Monday with eight Turkish F-16s on the Turkey-Syria border. The Turkish air force reported the jet put its planes under a radar lock for four minutes and 30 seconds.
Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and alliance rules say that an attack on any of the 28-member states should be treated as an attack on all."
The King of the North
Things are certainly heating up then. The amazing thing is that we see in Bible prophecy an outline of the conflict which will unfold before the Lord Jesus returns and Turkey is a key location.
In Daniel 11 we read at the start of the chapter how that, after Alexander the great was to die that the Greek empire would split into four.
The prophecy picks up on two of these four divisions, one to the North of Israel (called “the King of the North”) and one to the South (called the “King of the South”). It explains, in extraordinary detail, how these two areas and their occupying powers would war against each other down through time.
History teaches us that the territory of “The King of the North” consisted of the area of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Pakistan. The Southern territory belonging to the “King of the South” was largely the area of Egypt.
In verse 36 though, another character is introduced, in addition to the “King of the North" and the “King of the South". He is simply known as "the king". As you follow the prophecy through, you will find that this describes the rulership of the two territories when one occupying power was in control of them both. This is the time when the Roman Empire controlled the north and the south and so there was no "king of the north" and "king of the south" - there was just "the king". The capital of the Roman Empire at this point was Constantinople and so it's logical to conclude that "the king" is the power holding Constantinople or modern day Istanbul in Turkey.
This has subsequently been taken over, after the fall of the Roman Empire by the Ottoman Turks.
In verse 40 we read of the time of the end. We read of a revival of the occupying power of “The King of the North” - the propehcy states: "and the king of the north shall come against him (the power in Istanbul) like a whirlwind”.
Here then, God has revealed that an occupying power which controls all the territories of the king of the north will come against the territory of Istanbul.
Russia will become the King of the North
Because of the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 we expect the occupying power of the King of the North to be none other than Russia and so it is hugely significant that Russia has troops on the ground and planes in the air in this area as well as leading the coalition of Syria, Iran and Iraq. This is all the territory of the King of the North.
We expect that Russia's influence in the region will become greater and greater.
The next step in fulfilling the prophecies is that, at some stage Russia will invade the remnants of the power of “the king” in Istanbul.
We are unsure exactly when or why this might happen but things are certainly moving in that direction.
A Special Bible Talk - 8th October God Willing
If you would like to examine this subject more closely, the Nottingham Forest Road Christadelphian's are holding a special Bible Talk on the subject “Russia moves into Syria - Sign of Christ’s Coming” which we’d like to invite you to watch. The talk is to be held, God Willing on Thursday 8th October at 7:30PM UK time and will be given by Mark Allfree.
The details for the talk can be found by following this link.
Watch online: If you cannot make it to Nottingham for the talk it will be broadcast online at the same time. This can be seen by following this link. Tune in from 7:00PM UK time it would be wonderful to have you join us.
The poster advertising the Special Talk by the Nottingham Forest Road Christadelphians
Christ is coming
So we watch and we wait for God’s plan to finally come to pass. The exciting thing to remember as we watch the worlds nations being pulled and pushed into position is to remember that God has a plan for this earth and that is to establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem - with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ ruling. In His love and mercy He has given us signs in His word as to when this will occur; the time period labelled “the latter days”. In Isaiah 2 we read of this time period:
“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
So as we see events unfolding around us let us remember the great message of the gospel - of forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Let us live lives to the glory of God. Let us fix our minds on the wonderful prospect of being with Christ in the age to come, to rule with him in the Kingdom age through God’s love and forbearance. If you have not yet comitted to Christ through baptism, now is the time to consider your position. The time is short.
"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea". Habbukuk 2:14
Join us again next week at www.bibleinthenews.com Godwilling.