As the year has come to a close the events are brining us closer to the Lord's return. While the world is drunk with revelry we must remain sober and watching. As pirates prowl the seas, the hand of God is at work positioning the nations to take up their roles described in Bible Prophecy.
Welcome to the Bible in the News, this is Jonathan Bowen joining you.
Reviewing the Year
The year 2009 was a year of great significance in many ways. We have seen the power of the United States of American slowly diminish paving the way for the reemergence of Russia and the rise of the United States of Europe. We have seen the Pope and Russia calling for a new economic order in an attempt to bring America to its knees and establish their own power and influence over Europe. Europe has finalized its constitutional treaty that cements the political legitimacy of the European Union, called the beast in scripture, and increasing the power and strength of the beast at an exponentially accelerated rate. We have seen Iran moving closer to a becoming a Nuclear power. We see the continued efforts of militant Islam to destabilize the world. We have also witnessed an overwhelming rise in anti-Semitism across the world and on an official level almost unprecedented since the Second World War.
The players are being moved on the international chess board for the final game of Ezekiel 38. The nations of Europe have been positioning themselves for their role in the war of Armageddon described in Revelation 16, and preparing for “war with the Lamb” described in Revelation 17.
Auld Lang Syne? Don’t drink that wine!
Tonight, the world watches the clock and counts down the New Year hoping for times of prosperity once gain. A drunken world may sing of sipping from “the cup of kindness for the sake of auld lang syne”, but in reality, the nations of the earth who are part of the beast system and “worship the beast and his image” and “receive his mark in their forehead” are about “to drink of the wrath of God”. We stand on the edge of a time of trouble such as never was. The Apostle Paul likened the time of the end to “sudden destruction” that “cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thes 5:3).
The exhortation of the Lord Jesus Christ sandwiched between the drying up of the River Euphrates in Revelation 16:12-14, an event which has taken place, and Armageddon in verse 16, an event we soon anticipate, are the following word:
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16:15)
The exhortation of Paul is similar,
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-10)
So while the world is drunken, we are to be sober – and watching, equipping ourselves for the spiritual battle of the last day. While we watch the world with trepid anticipation, we are consoled in the fact that “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.”
Throughout the year, as we watch the Bible in the News, it must have an effect on us – past just an intellectual stimulation. It has to motivate us to “keep our garments” – and shake ourselves from the sleepy apathy of the world around us. As Paul writes in Romans 13:11-12:
… knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Redeeming the Time
We need to realize the nearness of our Lord’s return and make every effort to heed the words of scripture and….
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:14-16)
Redeeming the time means putting whatever time we have left to use in our Master’s service. In today’s world it is easy to get trapped in the pursuit of the “cares of this life” which can quickly overwhelm us. It is also easy to become intoxicated with the entertainment of the world, caught up in imaginary escapist worlds that don’t exist. The world around us is excited by these things, the conversation at work revolves around it, and it now considered real “news”. All these things serve to take our attention away from the reality of the word of God, and the coming kingdom. By keeping in our eyes anointed with spiritual eyesalve that we can see the Bible in the news it serves as an antidote to the world’s wine. It is much easier to see the manipulation of the media by the Catholic Church with a bible in hand. We watch as world opinion is turned against Israel, and the world hypocritically holds God’s people to a different standard than any other nation.
Piracy and Prophecy
As we change the calendars on the wall, we witness the world struck with the threat of terror once again. In North America, the botched suicide bombing of another airliner has heightened security levels to near hysteria. It has also reminded both Canadian and American governments, that though they might be mourning the loss of more soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq this week, they are constantly being compelled to remain in the area of the Middle East. God has turned Israel’s enemies into America’s enemies. Try as they might to wriggle out of the role indicated by the finger of God for them, they cannot.
This past year has been a year of piracy around Africa and the Middle East – especially Somalia. Just this past week two more ships were hijacked off the coast of Somalia. A British tanker and a Panamanian cargo ship. This week the Canadian war ship HMCS Fredericton was involved in rescuing a Singaporean vessel in the Arabian Sea. Modern piracy is driving the “ships of Tarshish” into the Arabian and Red Seas, while conflict in Iran and Iraq are holding them in the Persian Gulf. The US 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain across the sea from Yemen.
In his book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present, author Michael Oren explains the American Navy was created on March 27, 1794 by President Thomas Jefferson in an attempt to fight the pirates off the coasts of Tripoli in what is now called Libya. American merchant ships were being captured by Libyan pirates under the protection of the Ottoman Empire and the crews subjected to terrible treatment. The geographic area was called Barbary. This place gave birth to the phrase “barbarous” or “barbarians” as a term applied to the Arabs of North Africa. The Marines were created to fight the pirates and preserve the trade interests of “merchants” of Tarshish. The destruction of the USS Philadelphia, and the capture of her crew in 1803, off the shores of Tripoli – and the subsequent War of Barbary and the Battle of Derne in 1805 saw the American flag being hoisted for the first time in victory on foreign soil. The US Marine hymn celebrates this when it states,
“From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
The very impetus that saw the creation of the US Marines, now sees them drawn back into the same area along with the British, Canadians and other NATO forces. They are being moved into the place designated to them by scripture. Incidentally, the drying up of North Sea oil has been a large factor in Britain’s renewed interest in the Middle East – catalyst to bring this Tarshish powers into position.
Yemen and Bible Prophecy
We know from prophecy that the King of the South described in Daniel 11:40 will be an antagonizing military power that will push at the King of the North and bring him down as described further by Ezekiel 38. There will be a protest by “Sheba, Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions thereof” (Ezekiel 38:13). So although we can expect to see America weakened to allow for the reemergence of the Russian and European powers, the Tarshish powers will be planted in the Middle East.
This weeks failed bombing by the Nigerian citizen Abdulmutallab implicated the Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. The Foreign Minister of Yemen’s faltering government has asked for Western aid in suppressing the threats posed by Yemeni based terrorists.
It was in Yemen that the ancient empire of Sheba was located, as is evidenced by the recent excavations of the Temple of the Queen of Sheba in Marib, capital of ancient Sheba. The fact that Sheba is calling upon the Merchants of Tarshish to aid in her defense is significant in relation to the alliance described in Ezekiel 38:13.
So as we enter another year the pace of events seems to be picking up like the birth pangs of the woman with child that the Apostle Paul talked about. Let us make sure we are not caught in darkness but watching, lest we be found to be walking naked when our Lord returns. May it be that this year will see our Lord’s return and we will be taken out of the world to Sinai to be hidden for a little moment until the indignation be overpast.
Tune in next week for another edition of the Bible in the News.