Welcome to another edition of the Bible in the News. This is Paul Billington with you this week, and scanning the news headlines we are once again reminded of the on-going hostility of Iran towards Israel in particular, and towards the West in general.
Iran's threatening pronouncements against Israel are well known by everyone--and her own recent internal unrest over presidential election results doesn't seem to have quietened the barrage. Iran wants Israel wiped off the map--that's clear. She also continues to develop her own nuclear programme which many fear could provide the means to achieve her stated ambition.
An article in today's Washington Post (July 2nd, 09), by John Bolton the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has the headline; "Time for an Israeli Strike?" His article suggests that the policies of President Barack Obama have left Israel with very little option, if Tehran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear capability. He says:
"With no other timely option, the already compelling logic for an Israeli strike is nearly inexorable. Israel is unbdoubtedly ratcheting forward its decision-making process. President Obama is almost certainly not."
With the apparent failure of the resistance movement in Iran, Bolton believes that the Iranian nuclear threat is even more certain.
From Bible prophecy we know of course that Iran (Persia) will take part in a multinational coalition force that is to invade Israel. Ezekiel chapter 38 tells us about that. But it will be noted that this is not a solo operation by Iran. It is to be undertaken in cooperation with a Europe led by Germany and Russia. In view of this, it seems virtually certain that Iran will not mount a successful attack on Israel before the invasion of Gog, as described by Ezekiel.
An attack on Iran by Israel is not out of the question however. Prophecy does not require it, but neither does it rule out that possibility. Israel undertook an air-strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, and according to many reports took out Syria's Korean built reactor in 2007. John Bolton is now saying in the Washington Post, that Israel has little option but to attack the Iranian installations. The costs of doing so have to be calculated however.
Those costs were examined by Bolton in an earlier Washington Post article that appeared on June 12th of this year. The headline was 'WHAT IF ISRAEL STRIKES IRAN?'
Saying that "Central to any Israeli decision is Iran's possible response," Bolton considers the possibilities. He gives six possible scenarios and concludes:
"Risks to its civilian population will weigh heavily in any Israeli decision to use force, and might well argue for simultaneous, pre- emptive attacks on Hezbollah and Hamas in conjunction with a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Obviously, Israel will have to measure the current risks to its safety and survival against the longer-term threat to its very existence once Iran acquires nuclear weapons. This brief survey demonstrates why Israel's military option against Iran's nuclear program is so unattractive, but also why failing to act is even worse. All these scenarios become infinitely more dangerous once Iran has deliverable nuclear weapons. So does daily life in israel, elsewhere in the region and globally."
We do not know what Israel might decide to do, or how successfully Iran could respond--and certainly we do not know how Israel would protect itself. But as Bolton points out, if (and it is a big IF), if Israel dealt with the Iranian nuclear threat many Arab states would be thankful. He writes:
"Most of the Arab world's leaders would welcome Israel solving the Iran nuclear problem, although they certainly won't say so publicly and will rhetorically embrace Iran if Israel strikes. But rhetoric from its Arab neighbors is the only quantum of solace Iran will get."
Almost certainly, Europe would rush to Iran's defence on the diplomatic front, heaping condemnation on Israel. Some Moslem nations would doubtless join in the chorus of protest (the Biblical Ethiopia and Libya perhaps?--Ezekiel 38:5), and others may be more enthusiastic about forming the alliance indicated in Ezekiel 38:13.
Now admittedly there is considerable speculation when it comes to the chain of events immediately ahead of us--but the situation that must emerge is not. It is quite certain that the final picture will involve two blocks of nations. In Ezekiel 38 they are:
Block A. Russia, Germany (East and West Europe), Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, Libya, France, Spain, Syria, Turkey and the Caucasus.
Block B. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Gulf States, the Anglo-American capitalist nations (Egypt).
In Daniel chapter 11, Block A equals the power called "the king of the north" and Block B, "the king of the south" (Verse 40). So we must expect to witness a north-south division between nations at the time of the end. Israel is to be at the centre of this divided state of things.
Iran, it seems, will not abandon her ambition to wipe Israel off the map, but circumstances will prevent her from achieving it on her own, she will join others who share the same objective. But that also will not prevail--The nations will be brought into a valley of judgement.
Another name for Persia (modern Iran) in the Bible, is Elam. There is an interesting section about Elam in Jeremiah 49:34-39. This teaches us of the downfall of Elam, and that the God of Israel will set His throne in Elam. The throne of the Lord Jesus Christ will be set up there in the latter days.
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