Hello and welcome to another Bible in the news. We live in an epic time period. It seems that world events are heating up with more and more happening on the world stage which is relevant to the prophecies we read of in the Bible. This is Matt Davies joining you for another Bible in the News, I hope you are well.
The events leading up to the coming Kingdom of God on earth
Bible students have long been awaiting a Russian led, multinational invasion south into Turkey and then beyond down into Israel (see Daniel 11). The invading army will consist of the Russians and nations from Europe, Northern Africa and also the Middle East (see Ezekiel 38). This force will sweep down and head for Egypt (Daniel 11:42-43, Isaiah 19). Then, it will turn about and attack Israel (Daniel 11:45 and Zechariah 14:1-2). This event will bring about the revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven who will defend the Jews and defeat the attackers with his immortalised saints (Zechariah 14:4-5, Acts 1:11). The Lord Jesus will then re-establish the throne of his Father David in Jerusalem and reintroduce the Kingdom of God on the earth (Luke 1:32-33, Ezekiel 21:27, 1 Timothy 4:1). The nations will be required to submit to him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and a time of peace and tranquility like no other will be seen on the earth (1Timothy 6:14-16, Psalm 72).
We live in the momentous times leading up to this epic event. We know we are living in the time period leading up to these events because the Bible speaks of a momentous prophetic event which is to take place just before these things unfold. That event has past. It is the regathering of the people of Israel back into their land. This is required by the prophecies in order for the rest of the prophetic story to unfold. For example in Ezekiel 38:8 we read of how the invasion comes against "the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people” a place "which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations” (Ezekiel 38:8). We have seen the re-establishment of the nation of Israel since 1948 and so we are living in the days proceeding the next phase of the prophecies.
So, when we look around us at the political landscape of the nations today we look for indications of how God might cause this great event to take place. Many signs abound. Although we are unsure exactly of the precise detail of every step in the development of things we have been given, in God’s prophetic word, indications of what will happen and we have been given an even clearer vision of the end picture of the destiny of the nations and the return of Christ to the earth.
In the last few months a wave of activity has been seen in a way perhaps we might not have guessed even a year or so ago. The islamic group ISIS are hitting the news in all of the key hotspots we might expect from a Bible prophecy perspective. Consider the following three examples:
1. ISIS in Turkey
One of the new developments in the last week has been Turkey’s U-turn in regards to its position on engaging with ISIS. On Monday 20th July a terrorist suicide bomb exploded in the Turkish town of Suruc near the Syrian border. It killed over 30 people and wounding nearly 100 more.
In a Guardian article published on Saturday 25th July the following was reported:
"In a major tactical shift this week, Turkey decided to take a more active role in the US-led coalition fighting against Isis, agreeing to open its airbases to allied forces as well as carrying out its own air raids. It is the first time Turkish fighter jets have entered Syrian airspace to attack Isis militants on Syrian soil. Previous air raids were conducted from the Turkish side of the border, according to the Turkish government."
In another article by the Mail Online the following was reported:
"Senior ISIS 'commander' among those arrested as Turkey raids hundreds of addresses in Istanbul and carries out its first airstrikes on terror targets in Syria
• Suspected ISIS fighters raided in Istanbul as Turkey finally acts on jihadis
• News comes as Turkey bombed ISIS positions inside Syria for the first time
• Three Turkish warplanes dropped bombs on three ISIS targets overnight
• Just hours earlier the first major cross-border clashes between Turkey and ISIS took place, leaving one soldier and one militant dead”
Turkey then have been sucked into the conflict with ISIS.
2. ISIS in Egypt
In a recent DEBKA file the following was reported on the 23rd of July "Islamic State affiliates in Sinai and Libya have banded together with the Palestinian Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip for the shared goals of capturing northern Sinai from the Egyptian army…”
ISIS have stepped up it’s attack in Egypt in recent weeks. Time Magazine had an article on July 23rd entitled "Egypt Is Struggling to Cope With Its ISIS Insurgency”. It reported "The surge in violence began in late June when Egypt’s chief prosecutor was killed in a car bombing in daylight in an upscale Cairo neighbourhood. Two days later, the ISIS-affiliated militants launched a massive assault on military positions in north Sinai, attempting to seize control of a small chunk of territory in Egypt. At least 17 Egyptian soldiers died, although some reports placed the death toll much higher. The attacks did not stop there. Early on the morning of July 11, a bomb destroyed part of the Italian consulate in Cairo. Another attack targeted soldiers on the Suez road. Later, Wilayet Sinai published photos of a missile hitting an Egyptian navy ship in the Mediterranean. The Egyptian military said no one died, while the insurgents claimed they killed the whole crew.”
3. ISIS in Russia
Russia are looking South at the events which are unfolding and have realised that they too may become subject to the Islamic States attacks. Rumour has it that there is an ISIS branch operating close to Russian soil in the North Caucuses in the region of Chechenia.
In a recent news article in the Daily Beast entitled "ISIS Comes to Russia” the following was reported:
"At the same time that bombs rain down on the Islamic State, and it grapples with tactical setbacks in Syria and solidifying its hold in Iraq, ISIS continues to expand its brand, this time in the Caucasus. In June, one of the most important and respected rebels in the North Caucasus pledged loyalty to ISIS. The defection of Amir Khamzat, commander of the Chechen Vilaiyat, [territorial-administrative units that roughly correspond with the regional republics], represents a large gain to the standing of ISIS and its expansion into Russia. A statement posted [to Twitter] on June 21 read: “We testify that all Mujahideen of the Caucasus—in the Velayats of Nokhchiycho [Chechnya], Dagestan, Galgaicho [Ingushetia] and KBK [Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachay]—are united in their decision and we do not have differences among ourselves.” This statement led ISIS on June 23 to embrace the pledges of loyalty and declared the creation of a new Vilaiyat under the control of Dagestani Amir Rustam Asilderov...”
Moscow is keeping an eye on things on it’s southern boarder. After the Nuclear deal reported on in last weeks Bible in the News the Guardian published an article entitled "Russia says Iran deal paves way for 'broad' coalition against Isis”.
"The Iran nuclear deal has paved the way for a “broad” coalition to fight the Islamic State group, according to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
“It removes the barriers – largely artificial – on the way to a broad coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist groups,” Lavrov said in a statement on the ministry’s website on Tuesday. The normalisation of the situation with Iran makes it possible to resolve “a whole number of problems and conflicts in the region” and will have a “positive influence on the situation as a whole”, Lavrov said.
“In particular, it creates added impetus to promote the creation in the Middle East of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.”
The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told Sky Italia earlier on Tuesday that the deal “opens the way for a new confidence” in combatting Isis.”
Russia, Iran, Egypt and Israel in Bible prophecy
For Bible students this is all very interesting.
We see a Russia, the people of “Rosh” of Ezekiel 38:2, now looking to unite nations against a common enemy, that of ISIS. Iran is the modern name for Persia, and this is one of the key nations listed as being part of the multinational invading force in Ezekiel 38 verse 5.
We see ISIS operating in some key areas:
Egypt is a key location because we know from Daniel 11 and Isaiah 19 that this area will be a target to be controlled by the Northern invader as part of the events which proceed the open intervention of God in human affairs through Christ.
Turkey is also a key location. In Daniel 11 we read at the start of the chapter how that, after the “mighty king” of Alexander the great 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 broad terms, how these two power bases would war against each other down through time.
The first king of the north was Seleucus, one of Alexander’s four generals. He governed the ancient territory of the Seleucid Empire. This covered the area of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Pakistan. The other area discussed is the area to the south of Israel called "the king of the south" or the Ptolemaic Empire which contained Egypt. The prophecy goes through various events which would happen down through time, between the occupiers of these territories.
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 in Constantinople.
In verse 40 we read "and the king of the north shall come against him (the king of Constantinople) 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 Constantinople. If things escalated and ISIS did happen to gain ground in Turkey could this prophecy begin to be fulfilled with a Russian invasion South to take out the ISIS threat to Russia?
The prophecy goes on though: "The king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.”
So the northern invader comes against Egypt. Could we see a northern confederacy, supported by Europe coming down to finish it’s war with ISIS in Turkey? We then read of how he comes back from Egypt into Israel but meets his end in Jerusalem in verse 45. Other prophecies, such as Zechariah 14 fill in further details here of how this is when Christ and the saints are revealed on the world scene.
ISIS and the prophecies of Balaam
So is there any other prophecies which might link in with the idea that ISIS might be the reason the Northern invader is drawn South as the prophecies demand?
There is an indication in Numbers chapter 24 and the prophecies of Balaam.
Amongst the things Balaam speaks of, is a set of prophecies about the surrounding nations of Israel which connect with the same time period we have looked at in Ezekiel 38 - the latter days.
In chapter 24 v 14 we read
"And now, behold, I (Balaam) go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee (Balak) what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days."
In verses 23-24 he utters a very enigmatic prophecy:
"Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever." Numbers 24:23-24
Chittim is an ancient name for Cyprus. Eber was the ancestor of the race of the Hebrews - Israel. Assur is another name for Assyria. Assur is also an actual city located 110km south of Mosul and 280 km north of Baghdad.
Here then we can see another prophecy which speaks of an invading force coming with ships against the Jews. We have already read of how the king of the north uses ships in Daniel 11. Now, in the same time period we see they come from Cyprus and Russia has just done a deal with Cyprus to use their naval bases. However, note what the prophecy is saying. The ships will come and afflict Assyria or Assur as well as Israel.
The ancient Assyrians held the territory between the Tigris and the Euphrates - the exact same territory that ISIS controls today.
So perhaps here in Numbers is an indication of the reason that the northern invader comes down. He comes down to sort out an antagonistic force in the region of Assyria. Linking this with Daniel 11 it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that the same antagonistic force of ISIS which is operating in the other two hotspots of Turkey and Egypt at the moment could also fit. Instead of coming down against separate powers as we might of assumed maybe Russia will invade to clear up one and the same threat to it’s orthodox ideology. It is indeed certainly interesting that these three prophetic hotspots which Bible students have pondered for many years are now all linked with the rising power of ISIS.
The glory of God
Now of course we cannot be dogmatic on these things. Time will reveal the ultimate path the nations will take before they are in place as the prophets have spoken. As the proverbs tell us "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2). So we must watch and wait.
One thing is for sure though. Events in the region are heating up. The nations are moving from crisis to crisis and they will end up just as God has determined. We are living in the days just before Christ returns. The question we must ask ourselves is: are we ready?
The Bible speaks of the way of salvation being through belief and baptism into the gospel message (Romans 1:16, Ephesians 1:13, Mark 16:16). Have we sort out and accepted that message? Are we living lives which illustrate that faith? Do we separate ourselves from the Godlessness and humanist mindset of a world which is soon to pass away? Do we seek to gratify our own lusts or do we put God’ s ways above our own desires?
"for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:10-11.
These are the real issues we need to search out in our lives. As we see the day of Christ's return looming let us follow Proverbs chapter 3:5
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
This has been Matt Davies joining you for another Bible in the News. If Christ remains away come back again next week to www.bibleinthenews.com for further commentary on world events in the light of Bible prophecy. God bless.