America and Turkey have engaged in an economic war of tariffs and sanctions. Turkey's place in NATO is being questioned - unbalancing the status quo in the Middle East as it is a buffer between Russia and the Middle East and between the Middle East and Europe. All the while Russia is circling the prey, looking to take a slice out of Turkey. In this edition of the Bible in the News we examine the storm that has been brewing and the prophecies related to it.
The political world is a volatile place described, at times, to be like the sea and waves roaring, by our Lord (Luke 21:25). Indeed the prophet Isaiah describes the political scene in similar terms:
“But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” (Isaiah 57:20)
Daniel, when seeing a vision of the nations in chapter 7 described what he saw:
“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” (Daniel 7:2–3)
This week has been no different with a storm gripping Turkey, a country that borders the Middle East, Europe and Russia. A storm has been brewing for quite some time.
Turkey In Prophecy
For years, Turkey, or its predecessor the Ottoman Empire ruled the Middle East. Turkey’s role was introduced with the unloosing of the four angels bound in the Euphrates in Revelation 9:
“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.” (Revelation 9:13–14)
The first three angels were the Seljuk Turks under Togrul Beg, the Mongols under Gengis Khan, and the Moguls under Tamerlane. These all flooded into the Byzantine third of the Roman Empire. The Fourth Angel was the Ottoman Turks who were unleashed on the Byzantium, and conquered it in 1453 under Mehemet II, establishing the Ottoman Empire that lasted until 1917.
The Bible predicted the unleashing of these four powers into the area of the Middle East under the Trumpet judgments, and their successive drying up under the Vials. Revelation 16 details the drying up in period of the 6th Vial.
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” (Revelation 16:12)
The removal of the Ottoman Turks from what was then termed Palestine made way for the coming Kingdom of God.
The British and the Young Lions were involved in the drying up of the Ottoman Empire in 1917 when General Allenby lead the Allied forces and pushed the Ottomans back to the geographic area we know as Turkey today, preparing the way for the birth of the Nation of Israel. This was identified by Isaiah when he wrote:
“Surely the isles shall wait for me, And the ships of Tarshish first, To bring thy sons from far, Their silver and their gold with them, Unto the name of the LORD thy God, And to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.” (Isaiah 60:9)
This has been documented in previous Bible in the News sessions, as well as Bible Magazine articles.
Today we are looking at the remnants of the Turkish Empire, which yet have a role to play in the time of the end. Let us consider the situation today.
Turkey Against the US in Syria
Former US Ambassador to Turkey
Turkey has been a strategic partner of the USA and NATO for some time in the global struggle for world domination that was played out in previous generations between the Soviet Union and NATO.
Turkey is not just President Erdogan but a regional geographic and economic giant that stands as a buffer between Europe and the Middle East, and between the Middle East and Russia. Losing Turkey as a Western ally would mean bringing the Mideast to Europe’s threshold, and the potential frontier of Russian influence into the heart of the Middle East. Turkey is also the state best positioned to balance against Iran, whose ambitions and influence are growing along with its partnership with Russia. The dependency is mutual; without the United States, Turkey would be left to Tehran and Moscow’s tender mercies. In a March article, former US Ambassador to Turkey James F. Jeffrey wrote the following:
Jeffrey was commenting on the degrading of the relationship between Turkey and the USA.
In the ongoing Syrian civil war, the USA has backed the Kurdish YPG (peoples protection unit), a Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey considers them terrorists and invaded Syria to combat them. This has brought two NATO allies face to face on opposite sides of the battlefield. In February, Bloomberg reported of an exchange between officials of the two countries:
General Paul Funk
The U.S. commander, Lieutenant General Paul Funk, said in a direct warning to Turkey in the interview published on Feb. 7:
“You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves,”
Turkish President Erdogan addressed the Turkish parliament about the heated situation in Syria and threatened America stating:
“It’s obvious that those who say, ‘If you hit us, we’ll hit back hard,’ have never in their lives gotten an Ottoman slap… We’re going to destroy every terrorist we see. Then they’ll understand that it’d be better for them not to stand beside them.”
In his article, Jeffrey argued for the need to preserve America’s relationship with Turkey:
Preserving the Turkish-American alliance and the strategic value both sides derive from it will require refocusing on shared strategic threats, such as the growing Russia-Iran alliance, while compromising on the disagreements distracting from that focus.
The obvious reason is the Russian-Iranian Alliance. The need to counter the growing Russian influence in the world would supply the reason for maintaining this alliance, but God has other plans as the scriptures outline which we will consider shortly.
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President Erdogan himself wrote of the relationship between America and Turkey over the years in an August 10th article in the New York Times:
Over the years, Turkey rushed to America’s help whenever necessary. Our military servicemen and servicewomen shed blood together in Korea. In 1962, the Kennedy administration was able to get the Soviets to remove missiles from Cuba by removing Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey. In the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, when Washington counted on its friends and allies to strike back against evil, we sent our troops to Afghanistan to help accomplish the NATO mission there.
Yet the United States has repeatedly and consistently failed to understand and respect the Turkish people’s concerns. And in recent years, our partnership has been tested by disagreements. Unfortunately, our efforts to reverse this dangerous trend proved futile. Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy.
Erdogan accused the USA of being complicit in the 2016 coup attempt against his government. He also pointed out his frustration with American support for the YPG, a Syrian branch of the P.K.K. (recognised as a terrorist group by the USA). He also mentioned the latest spat regarding the American pastor Andrew Brunson who it believes was involved in aiding terrorist organizations in the 2016 coup.
Trump’s Economic War
Military alliances are not the only pot boiling over on the world stage.
This last week President Donald Trump has been surprising many countries who have been trading partners with America by launching a bombastic economic trade war. Canada, its closing trading partner, has been clobbered by tariffs on many levels and has been left wondering what is going on, and struggling with how to handle its closest ally. Europe has also been experiencing a backlash from Trump. China and Russia are both facing tariffs as Trump’s protectionist doctrine is being implemented.
However, Turkey has come into Trump’s sites. Trump singled out the case of pastor Andrew Brunson as one of the reasons for the economic war against Turkey stating to the media:
Well, Turkey has been a problem for a long time. We will see what happens. They have a wonderful Christian pastor, he is a wonderful man, pastor Brunson. They made up this phoney charge that he is a spy, and he is not a spy. He is going through a trial right now, if you can call it a trial. They should have given him back a long time ago. And Turkey has, in my opinion acted very, very badly. So we haven’t seen the last of that, we are not going to take it sitting down. They can’t take our people. So, you will see what happens.
Economic sanctions have been taken against Turkey, and Erdogan responded in his August 10th Article:
In recent weeks, the United States has taken a series of steps to escalate tensions with Turkey, citing the arrest by the Turkish police of an American citizen, Andrew Brunson, on charges of aiding a terrorist organization. Instead of respecting the judicial process, as I urged President Trump to do in our many meetings and conversations, the United States issued blatant threats against a friendly nation and proceeded to impose sanctions on several members of my cabinet. This decision was unacceptable, irrational and ultimately detrimental to our longstanding friendship.
In a follow-up Editorial Article in the New York Times the change that has taken place was identified:
Not long ago it would have seemed unthinkable to add Turkey to the list of countries — including North Korea, Iran and Russia — that the United States had sanctioned for unscrupulous behavior. As a NATO ally, Turkey has a mutual defense treaty with Washington, benefits from American intelligence and hosts American nuclear weapons at Incirlik air base, near its border with Syria.
As August began, however, President Trump named Turkey’s interior and justice ministers as “specially designated nationals” barred from doing business with Americans and gaining access to financial assets in the United States. On Friday, Mr. Trump announced in a tweet that he had authorized a doubling of the steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey.
Turkey retaliated as Russia Today reported:
“There is an economic attack against Turkey. Earlier such things were done in secret, and now they are open to us. We can react in two ways: economically and politically,” Erdogan said in Ankara Tuesday.
“Our Ministry of Finance and the Treasury are working day and night…we will boycott electronic goods from the United States. They have iPhones, but on the other hand there are Samsungs. We have our local brand Venus Vestel, we will use it," the Turkish president added.
“What is this you’re doing?” Erdogan asked, referring to the US. “What is it that you are trying to accomplish? What do you want to do? You should know that the character of this nation is not one that wavers.”
The situation has escalated in the past few days as the article identified:
Turkey, which has ordered retaliation for the new American sanctions, has also detained 19 Americans besides Mr. Brunson as well as three Turks who work for the American consulates. Intensive negotiations, including with a Turkish delegation that visited Washington this week, have so far failed to resolve the conflict over Mr. Brunson, which has turned deeply personal.
The economic fallout was seen this last week as Turkey went into a financial downward spiral. The article continued:
… under an eroding rule of law and under American sanctions, Turkey’s weak economy is weakening further. After Mr. Trump penalized the two cabinet ministers and announced the new tariffs, the lira, already down more than 20 percent for the year, fell to a record low, and world financial markets trembled.
Many countries tie their countries currencies to the US Dollar for trade, and purchase US Treasury Bonds to help stabilize their economies. Turkey has been selling its US Treasury Bonds in exchange for gold to disconnect itself from the US influence, reducing its holdings to only $28.8 billion.
Putin has been calling on nations to dump the US Treasury Bonds in exchange for gold or other currencies, as The Business Insider reported:
“The whole world can see that the dollar’s monopoly is precarious and dangerous for many,” he said. “Our gold and currency reserves are being diversified, and we’ll continue to do that further.”
Russia has also sold off $96 billion in US Treasury bonds this year, reducing its holdings to only $14.9 billion. Russia Today reported Russia’s suggestion to Turkey that it change the way it does business under the headline, “Russia proposes deal with Turkey to ditch US dollar for lira-ruble trade amid currency crisis”. It reported Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating:
“The issue of using national currencies in bilateral trade operations is a topic that has been raised by the Russian side for a long time and consistently at various levels, including at the top level. This is what we are striving for in our bilateral trade and economic relations, and what has been repeatedly mentioned at the bilateral Russian-Turkish talks.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Forbes magazine has also reported on this during the past week, stating:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested Tuesday that countries facing sanctions like Iran, Turkey and Russia may start doing business in their national currencies, suggesting that the days of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency may be numbered…. “I strongly believe that abuse of the role the U.S. dollar plays as an international currency will eventually result in its role being undermined,” Lavrov said. “A growing number of countries — even those not affected by US sanctions — will more and more stay away from the dollar and will rely on more reliable partners using their (own) currency.”
It has been a goal of Russia to have countries dump their US currency reserves from many years. That was one of the original goals of the EURO, the European Union’s attempt to remove themselves from the influence of America. Russia would like to see the USA destabilized in the hope that countries will look towards it for security and stability.
Turkey and NATO
Coming back to Turkey’s relationship with NATO. Jeffry, the former US Ambassador to Turkey, pointed out Turkey’s strategic importance to NATO and the USA in a July 9, 2018 article:
NATO and the U.S. need its airspace, land routes, and control of the Dardanelles to contain Russia in the Black Sea and the Caucasus to the north, and to counter the myriad threats to the south in much of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Another reason Turkey’s slide is particularly notable in NATO is that it constitutes a rarity among member states other than the U.S. — it is a security provider, as opposed to security consumer. In addition to its critical strategic location, Turkey boasts a burgeoning population of 80 million, a strong economy that ranks as the 17th biggest in the world, and a powerful military, the second-largest in the alliance…. It thus is hard to imagine an effective NATO without Turkey.
However, Turkey’s recent cooperation with Russia have called its participation in NATO into question as Jeffrey continued:
Concerns about this democratic drift (combined with different concerns about the Erdogan government’s cooperation with Putin’s Russia, including a major weapons purchase) have generated calls by the U.S. Congress to limit U.S. military cooperation with Ankara.
Retired General Jack Keane
Fox News reported on the follow-up and the implications in an interview with Retired General Jack Keane, a Fox News Senior Strategic Analyst.
Turkey is an important part of NATO to be sure. They sit at the confluence of Europe and the Middle East. It is probably the most strategically placed country in NATO, and also they have the second largest army by far, much larger than any other European Army, military, not just army. The United States obviously has the largest.
You are absolutely right Melissa, this has been going on for a couple of years now, this strained relationship. When the coup took place against Erdogan in 2016, he was really frustrated that the United States, and not a single NATO nation came out to support him, to provide moral support for him as he was going through that. It is because he has become an authoritarian leader, and he has taken away democratic values. The United and Europe certainly doesn’t appreciate the direction that they are moving in. Relations with Turkey are at an all-time low…
According to Erdogan, Turkey is going to start looking for New friends and Allies, something it has already been doing with Russia:
At a time when evil continues to lurk around the world, unilateral actions against Turkey by the United States, our ally of decades, will only serve to undermine American interests and security. Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.
The Russian news agency Itar Tass reported on the growing relationship between Russia and Turkey:
Turkey is preparing to switch to settlements in national currency with the largest trading partners, including Russia, President of the Republic Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after the exchange rate of the Turkish lira fell to a historic low due to US raising duties on Turkish aluminum and steel. According to experts interviewed by Neza-visi-maya Gazeta, the situation might prompt the Turkish leadership to strengthen contacts with Moscow, but on the latter’s terms.
According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Turkey should prepare for a significant strengthening of partnerships with other countries. Russia and Turkey are almost in a similar position - fluctuations in the Russian currency are caused by a new package of sanctions, which is expected to be introduced by the US on August 22…
The article continues:
…the expert sees benefits in the current situation for the Kremlin. In a difficult economic situation and in tense relations with the West and the US, Ankara will be have to move closer to Russia, but on Moscow’s terms. According to Has, this situation plays into the Kremlin's hands, because Russia needs Ankara's "loyalty" on many issues related to the settlement of the Syrian conflict and the much anticipated military operation in Syria’s Idlib.
So the fallout of the American-Turkish breakup may well play into Russian plans for the Middle East.
Not only this, but Turkey has a strong alliance with Hamas as author Stephen Cook pointed out in his August 17th article for the Washington Post:
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Turkey became a champion of Hamas, supporting the organization diplomatically in its periodic conflicts with Israel and welcoming its operatives in Istanbul. In Syria, Ankara enabled extremists who used Turkish territory as a rear area in the fight against the Assad regime. And the Turkish government has stirred up unrest at Jerusalem’s holy sites.
The Biblical Connection
Turkey’s role in Biblical prophecy didn’t end in 1917 when it was pushed out of the Middle East to prepare the way for the birth of the nation of Israel and the coming kingdom of God.
The prophet Daniel records the same drying up of the Euphratean powers in slightly different terms. In Daniel’s description there is a King of the South (which would line up with Britain and her allies called merchants of Tarshish of Ezekiel 38, who would be involved in the restoration of Israel in Isaiah). He also speaks of a “him” in this passage which is the Turkish power.
“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him.” (Daniel 11:40)
The push began in the First World War when Turkey joined Austria and Germany against Britain and its allies. However, this is just part of the story, the full passage reads:
“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and 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. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” (Daniel 11:40–43)
The Russian host (king of the North) is to come against Turkey, (the him) and overflow and pass over into the land of Israel (the Glorious Holy Land), and continue down into Egypt.
What we are seeing in the Middle East today is a gradual disconnect between Turkey and its post World War II NATO allies, leaving it vulnerable to Russia’s influence.
Russian troops patrol the Israeli - Syrian border.
The war in Syria was a way for Russia to re-insert itself into the Middle East. This past week the Times of Israel reported the Russian army’s proximity to Israel under the headline, “Russia deploys police to help UN patrol Israel-Syria border” where it reported:
The Russian military said its forces in Syria would help UN peacekeepers fully restore their patrols along the frontier between Syria and the Israeli Golan Heights.
The UN peacekeeping force known as UNDOF first deployed along the frontier in 1974 to separate Syrian and Israeli forces after Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War, but was halted on the Syrian side of the border in 2014 amid the violence in the country’s civil war.
Last month, Syrian government forces reached the Israeli border area after capturing territory from rebels and Islamic State fighters. It was the first time regime forces had taken up positions along the frontier since the uprising against President Bashar Assad swept through the country in 2011, becoming a seven-year civil war…
Russia’s Defense Ministry says its military police have been deployed in all areas recaptured from rebels by the Syrian government, including the Golan — a move that appears aimed at reassuring Israel.
Russia’s move into the Middle East has been a successful attempt to unbalance and replace the United States in this area. The US was able to act in a vacuum for quite some time following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, but now the situation has changed.
The prophets have declared a Russian presence in the Middle East at the time of the end, and its destiny to invade Israel in Ezekiel 38. It is currently heavily ensconced in Syria, but eventually will come down against Turkey as Daniel predicts, and overflow into Israel as it outlined in Daniel 11 and detailed in Ezekiel 38, Joel 3 and Zechariah 12-14.
What we are seeing today is the erosion of the relationship between Turkey and NATO that will cater to this scenario.
Many analysts see Trump’s actions against Turkey as irrational, bellicose and counter intelligent to the maintenance of the status quo. However, the angels have a different agenda, and they are in control in seemingly stormy waters:
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4:17)
It is God that stirs up these storms as the Psalmist declares:
“These see the works of the LORD, And his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, Which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: Their soul is melted because of trouble.” (Psalm 107:24–26)
The sea and the waves will definitely be roaring as man’s dominion reaches its end, and men’s hearts will be failing them for fear.
We need to ensure that we are anchored to the hope of Israel, because we have…
“…a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” (Hebrews 6:18–19)
The Lord will soon return and following the tempest that is about to unleash bring peace and quiet through his judgments with his declaration, “peace be still”, when the sea and the waves will obey his voice once again.
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.