A while back, I said that September would be a most interesting month, and there sure is a lot going on just now. Leaks from both political and military sources would have us believe that US Pres. Bush will not leave office with the Iran nuclear issue unresolved.
Perspective by Jack Kelley
A while back, I said that September would be a most interesting month, and there sure is a lot going on just now. Here are the highlights.
US vs. Iran
Leaks from both political and military sources would have us believe that US Pres. Bush will not leave office with the Iran nuclear issue unresolved. These “unofficial” reports have it that a list of 2000 Iranian targets has been drawn up for use after a period of escalation that will begin with finally doing something about Iran’s deadly meddling in Iraq.
Their belief is that Iran will respond strongly to a US attack against Iran’s training and bomb-making bases, probably by shutting down the Persian Gulf oil shipping lanes. This will give the US an excuse to send in the bombers to avert a world wide oil crisis. Apparently even the State Department has given up on the diplomacy effort. Iran says it has 600 missiles pointed at Israel and will launch them if either they or Syria are attacked. The number is probably an exaggeration but the intent certainly isn’t.
Syria and Israel
Syria has been caught doing something bad enough to prompt Israel to bomb a location close to Syria’s north eastern border on the Euphrates River. It must have been really terrible because Turkey helped Israel pull it off. Speculation ranges from a practice run on nearby Iran, to destroying a shipment of arms meant for Hizbollah, to taking out a nuclear weapons shipment supposedly from North Korea. Everyone knows the incursion was made, and that it was successful, but nobody’s saying what it was or why. All we know is that Israeli pilots out foxed the brand new state of the art Russian anti-aircraft defenses that both Syria and Iran just bought to protect themselves against Israeli attacks of this very nature.
Syria has just announced that a response will be made at a time and in a manner of their choosing and the smart money is betting that it’ll be soon. In 1973 Syria caught Israel napping on Yom Kippur which is September 23 this year. Maybe they think it’ll work again.
This isn’t the first time this summer that Syria has been caught being naughty. In July an explosion on a Syrian missile base killed dozens of Syrian and Iranian technicians and injured several more. The official explanation blamed it on unusually high summer temperatures that caused an ammo dump to explode. The problem was that the explosion happened at 4:00 AM when the area was relatively cool. This week a respected intelligence news service (Jane’s Defense Weekly) revealed that the explosion occurred when a chemical warhead exploded as it was being fitted atop a scud missile, in preparation for use against Israel. You can see why Israel would be concerned if there was a possible clandestine nuclear program underway as well. It’s also telling that no countries except North Korea and Iran, the co-conspirators, have condemned Israel’s attack on Syria. The Moslem world is being uncharacteristically quiet.
Israel And Hamas
In the south Israel has named Hamas as an enemy entity clearing the way for potentially cutting off water and power that Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip. Hamas called it an act of war, making no mention of the possibility that it’s Israel’s response to the daily rocket attacks (700 since January). Israeli officials are starting to wonder out loud if it’s time to take Gaza back.
Russia’s making practice bombing runs and missile attacks on the US again as in cold war days, and has just announced the development of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb. Russian long range bombers have also been challenging English and NATO northern defenses of late.
The US Economy
Equally as important although not as widely reported is the fact that the US economy continues to take some heavy punches. The dollar is fast losing value against other world currencies and may soon be surpassed by the Euro as the world’s reserve currency of choice. This could depress the dollar even further since as the reserve currency it has enjoyed an undeserved bump in relative value. Other countries have had to buy and hold more dollars than they otherwise would have in order to conduct international transactions like purchasing oil, and a dollar in demand is worth more than one that isn’t.
Domestically the sub-prime mortgage situation is having its own impact. The Federal Reserve has lowered the interest rate, having decided that a weak dollar abroad is preferable to a recession at home, and those appear to be the only two choices.
From an earthly perspective it looks like every thing’s going to go “boom” and soon. But before we jump to any conclusions, let’s look at this from the prophetic point of view. Here are some factors to consider.
Neither Syria nor Iraq is mentioned in Ezekiel’s list of participants in the Gog Magog battle. This could mean that neither is involved, but it could also be that the mention of Persia is meant to include one or both of them. When Ezekiel wrote this prophecy, Babylon was just beginning its tenure as the dominant force of the day, but God instructed Ezekiel to identify Persia as a primary participant instead, although Persia wouldn’t become a world power for 70 more years.
Nebuchadnezzar conquered Damascus in 572 BC ending its autonomy for good, and the Persians took it over in 538 BC making Damascus the capital of their Syrian province barely a year after conquering Babylon. At that point the Persian Empire controlled both Damascus and Babylon for several hundred years, so there’s a possibility that the use of Persia was intended to include both Syria and Iraq.
Today, Syria and Iran are already united by several treaties, and Iran has invested heavily in Syria’s military, even paying for arms Syria recently purchased from Russia. And Pres. Ahmadinejad has promised that if the US pulls out of Iraq, Iran will step in and restore order. What he means is that Iran will absorb Iraq. So if the US hasn’t succeeded in Iraq before a new president takes over, and the next president begins pulling out (as would be likely if he or she is swept into office on a wave of anti-war sentiment) Iraq will fall into the hands of Iran.
Despite the rumors to the contrary many students of prophecy believe that either the US won’t attack Iran before Pres. Bush leaves office, or if it does the effort won’t be successful. Iran has to be ready and able to lead the Moslem coalition against Israel when the time comes, and the time certainly appears to be coming soon. It would be hard for Iran to present itself as the rightful leader of the Islamic world after being bombed to ashes by the Great Satan.
Then there’s the fact that the US has to be taken out of the way before anyone would dare mount a massive attack on Israel. Our retaliatory capability is still way too strong, and even though God will be the One Who defeats Israel’s attackers, that will only be clear after the fact. Right now Israel’s enemies fear the US more than they fear the God of Israel.
As for Israel living in peace prior to Gog Magog, remember that Ezekiel said their belief that peace has finally come to them won’t be justified. The Hebrew word “betach” in Ezekiel 38:8 & 11 that’s translated safely can also mean boldly or carelessly. In other words it’ll be more a state of mind than a matter of fact. It’ll be interesting to see if the current round of peace talks with the Palestinians and the international pressure for a two state solution puts them in that state of mind. The West is pushing for something definitive before the proposed November summit, but both Israel and the Palestinians are less optimistic.
Ezekiel 39:9 calls for fire to rain down on Magog and those who dwell carelessly in the “isles” or coast lands. Some see this as a reference to nuclear warfare. Note that the Hebrew word translated “carelessly” here is the same one translated “safely” in Ezekiel 38:8. All we know for sure about these coast lands is that in Biblical times they referred to somewhere beyond the Mediterranean. It could be Western Europe.
But by most accounts Magog is Russia. Who’s ready and able to nuke both Russia and Europe this fall, even if Israel can be persuaded that peace has come? And the fact that Turkey helped Israel do whatever it did to Syria tells us we don’t have all the players on the right teams yet.
All this leads us to the conclusion that the world is not ready for Ezekiel 38 just yet.
On the other hand, Isaiah 17, which predicts the destruction of Damascus, makes no mention of a wider conflict, as would be likely if it came in conjunction with Ezekiel 38. This could mean that it’s a separate incident, and since the Moslem armies are decimated in their attack against Israel, Isaiah 17 is more likely to precede Ezekiel 38 than follow it. There is also no list of pre-existing conditions that have to be met for Isaiah 17 to happen. All either party needs is a little more provocation. Surely Syria has provided just about enough of that. Aside from the chemical and nuclear incidents, both of which constitute existential threats to Israel, they’ve made their presence on the Golan most obvious, threatening to start taking it back late this fall. So if they respond to Israel’s attack as they’ve promised to do, it could be on.
As I’ve indicated in previous articles, Syria has made preparations to survive in the event of an attack on Damascus, which they expect in any coming confrontation. They’ve set up alternative command and communications centers and moved all historical documents out of the city. The minister who announced Syria’s intention to respond to the Israeli aerial bombardment is widely believed to be Pres. Assad’s official spokesperson, which means he’s ready for a fight. If anything of a military nature happens this fall, it seems much more likely that it’ll escalate into a fulfillment of Isaiah 17 than Ezekiel 38. Selah 09-22-07