Commentary by Jack Kelley
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army-your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops-the many nations with you. (Ezekiel 38:1-6)
I first became a serious student of Bible prophecy in the mid 1980s. During all that time there have been 3 major barriers preventing the fulfillment of a prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39 that tells of a coming battle between Israel and a coalition of Moslem nations. To say it’s an important prophecy would be an understatement because this battle will cause Israel’s national return to their covenant relationship with God. It will also bring about the appearance of the anti-Christ, and through him the confirmation of a treaty initiating a period of time known as Daniel’s 70th Week, the last seven years before the Lord’s return to establish His Kingdom on Earth. The last half of this period is known as the Great Tribulation, said by the Lord to be the most devastating time for man in all of human history. (Matt. 24:21)
Two of these three barriers are Biblical and are identified in Ezekiel’s prophecy. The nation we call Turkey today has to be on the Moslem side, and Israel has to be taken by surprise, a peaceful and unsuspecting people as Ezekiel 38:11 describes them. Today Turkey is bound to Israel by several military and economic treaties, and Israel is consistently at a high level of military preparedness, alert for an attack that could come on any day.
The third barrier is a pragmatic one. The USA has always maintained a protective position toward Israel, and has sworn to come to Israel’s aid in case of an attack. No nation has dared risk US retaliation for an attack on Israel of the magnitude Ezekiel described.
Now, two of these barriers suddenly appear to be coming down. It’s as if someone in the upper echelon of the US Government has read Ezekiel’s prophecy, sat down with some other decision makers, and decided to see what they could do to help make it happen. Here’s what I mean.
Watch What I Do, Not What I Say
President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently told a Jewish leader; “In the next four years there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister.”
This is a remarkable statement, given two current events. One is that Pres. Obama has just returned from his “apology tour” where he asked European and Arab leaders to forgive the US for being so arrogant in the past and promised that the future would be different. And the other is that the Jewish people have just elected a slate of leaders opposed to the 2 state solution, having correctly observed that since giving up Gaza brought them the opposite of their desired result, there’s no justification for believing that giving up the West Bank and half of Jerusalem would turn out any differently. Even that perennial dove Shimon Peres now says that Israel is not going to do anything that weakens its security.
But as if he hadn’t heard his boss’s apology to the world, Mr. Emanuel said that the United States will exert pressure to make sure that deal is put into place.”Any treatment of the Iranian nuclear problem will be contingent upon progress in the negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory,” he reportedly said. In other words, US sympathy for Israel’s concern about Iranian nukes depends on Israel’s willingness to get out of the West Bank and permit the establishment of a Palestinian state there, in Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed, saying that if Israel refrains from engaging in peace talks with the Palestinians, it will risk losing Arab support in its fight against the Iranian threat – and by clear implication, risk losing American support as well.
“For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-à-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand,” Clinton told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.
According to author and commentator Joel Rosenberg, a train wreck is coming between the U.S. and Israel over the Iran issue. He said, “The White House and State Department do not seem to understand the radical Shia eschatology that is driving Tehran, and thus do not understand how high the stakes are. Worse, they are getting dangerously close to becoming appeasers of the Ahmadinejad regime.”
Rosenberg was referring to a belief among the leaders of Iran that during a time of extreme chaos on Earth, Islam’s 12th Imam, a Messiah-like figure called al Mahdi, will appear to restore peace and establish a world wide Caliphate under Moslem authority. Pres. Ahmadinejad believes he has been called to power for the specific purpose of hastening al Mahdi’s appearance by creating the necessary chaos. (I think we can all agree that he’s off to a pretty good start.)
An editorial this week in a major Israeli newspaper concluded, “The Americans will not lift a finger (to help Israel against Iran) unless it becomes clear that the main target is America.” The paper said Israel should “prepare for war in an arena and at a time not to our liking.”
And Now For My Next Trick
Not to be outdone, and without consulting with or even informing Israel, Pres. Obama has approved a large Turkish arms sale to the Lebanese army, half of whose manpower are Shiites loyal to Hizballah. As he signed the arms deal in Ankara Tuesday, April 21, Lebanese president Gen. Michel Suleiman once again pledged publicly to place the Lebanese army at the disposal of Hizballah in any confrontation with Israel.
This was taken as further proof that the US is deaf to Israel’s immediate security concerns. There’s a growing conviction in Jerusalem that Mr. Obama endorsed the transaction as a means of breaking up the long-standing military pact between Israel and Turkey, because it interferes with his Middle East objectives. (In fairness, the relationship between Israel and Turkey has been slowly deteriorating for several years. In fact, the first ever joint military exercise between Syria and Turkey is set to begin on April 27,2009. This was apparently OK’d by the US as well. But to approve a major arms sale that will so obviously benefit one of Israel’s sworn enemies is being seen as a major effort to accelerate this deterioration.)
If he’s successful in breaking the alliance between Israel and Turkey, Mr. Obama will have gone a long way toward facilitating Turkey’s move to the other side in Ezekiel’s line up. Having a mostly Moslem population and having been put off for years by the EU, Turkey will find a natural home among the other Islamic nations of the Middle East.
In all the time I’ve been studying prophecy, the question has been, “What will it take for the US to turn its back on Israel?” For a long time it was believed that only something as crippling as the Rapture of the Church could do it. Then after 9-11 it became obvious that a major terrorist attack, or even the credible threat of one on that scale could perhaps force the US to stand down. Now it appears that it’s just a matter of changing foreign policy. Regardless of what assurances we give, forcing Israel to accept an agreement that seriously threatens their national security, then helping to arm one of their fiercest enemies, while driving a wedge between them and an important ally, signals a change in policy that the people of Israel have read loud and clear.
2 Down, 1 To Go
So that leaves the 3rd barrier, the fact that Israel is not, nor has it ever been a peaceful and unsuspecting people. In all of its 60 year modern history, the only time Israel even came close to fitting that description was just before the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and we all know what happened then. What will it take to bring down this final barrier?
It turns out that by bringing down the other two, the Obama administration will have helped hasten the day when the third comes down too. Here’s how.
Imposing a 2 state solution will not bring peace to the Middle East. In fact the opposite will happen. War will become more likely. As far back as the Oslo Accords of 1993 experts have been insisting that the ultimate outcome of the peace process will be war. Make no mistake about it. As soon as they believe Israel has been sufficiently weakened and they’ve gained all they can by negotiation, its enemies will attack. This attack will most likely come from Israel’s next door neighbors who are being armed and prepared at a furious pace. Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 indicate that Israel will emerge victorious and enemies like Hamas, Hizbollah, the PLO, Syria and Lebanon will cease to be a threat. (This explains why none of them appear on Ezekiel’s list of attackers.) When that happens, Israel may believe it’s finally safe to take a breather, and Ezekiel 38:8 says they’ll be living in safety when the attack comes. The Hebrew word translated safety denotes perception rather than fact, and the word careless is included among its meanings.
So the course seems to have been set, and Israel will be left to its own devices for protection, just like Ezekiel prophesied. An “unauthorized” attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would further alienate them, and could be the trigger for the battle of Psalm 83.
As Sweet As Honey?
Both Ezekiel (Ezek. 3:3,14) and John (Rev. 10:9)were told to eat a scroll of prophecy, and both said that while it tasted as sweet as honey in their mouths it turned bitter afterward. Prophecy is often that way. We all know that the end result is to brings God’s people to the point where He can bless them like He’s wanted to for so long, and reading about it brings joy to our hearts. But when we see how much heartbreak and destruction is caused in the process by man’s rebellious nature, it’s enough to make us sick to our stomach. For Americans, who have always felt a strong connection between religion and patriotism, this is especially hard to watch. Maybe this is why Paul cautioned us to fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:18) You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 04-25-09