Once again Ezekiel 38 is the basis of what we see happening in the news. On the one side we have an alliance led by Gog of Rosh (see RV etc, i.e. Rus or Russia) which includes Germany (Magog), Iran (Persia), Ethiopia, Libya, France (Gomer), Turkey (Togarmah). On the other side, "Sheba and Dedan," the southern Arabian nations, and the merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions, including Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. It's just incredible the way nations are aligned, whether it's the Sunni-Shia split, or whether it's between those nations allied with the US and Britain, or with Russia and Europe on the other side. It is amazing. The situation fits the prophetic signposts we are looking for perfectly! So, when we look at Ezekiel 38 and the situation that is described in the "latter days," we see Russia with its alliance as a mighty military force which eventually will invade the land of Israel (Eze. 38:18,16), and we have a description of the situation where the Jews are regathered back to their land out of the nations, including to the mountains of Israel, Judea and Samaria. Of course, this is the picture we see today!
We see Israel "dwelling safely" (vs. 8,14). We see them "at rest ...dwelling without walls ...bars nor gates" (v.11). We also see them in a situation where they have acquired wealth. They are the target of spoil, of silver and gold, cattle and goods (vs. 12,13). As Tim asked a few weeks ago on this program, could sovereignty (i.e. in Judea and Samaria) be the last sign we see? Could sovereignty and this prosperity be a catalyst for the peace and security that Ezekiel describes, with Israel taking more control potentially over Judea and Samaria? We'll see what happens, but certainly all the signs that we are looking for are either in place already or are hot issues and possibly something that will come about in the near future.
Time will tell. We will be watching to see what comes of Trump's "deal of the century" and the other things that are being talked about as the search for peace continues. Considering then, the "spoil" that Ezekiel describes, Israel continues to be an economic powerhouse fueled by its tech innovation and new-found energy resources. I have just finished reading The Israeli Solution by Caroline Glick. Speaking about Israel’s economy, Glick says,
“In April 2013 Israel turned sixty-five years old. Except for its international diplomatic weakness, it has been a massive success by every possible measure. During the 2009-12 global economic downturn, Israel’s economy grew 14.7 percent. In comparison, the U.S. economy grew just 3.2 percent over the same period, and the economies of the Eurozone contracted 1.5 percent. Per capita income in Israel grew 5.2 percent, while it grew a bare 0.1 percent in the United States and contracted 2.7 percent in the Eurozone.” The Israeli Solution, Caroline Glick
So, it was interesting to hear last month that another huge gas deposit was found off Israel's coast, adding to the two large fields already being developed. In June further licenses are to be auctioned for further exploration.
Another interesting book on this subject that I highly recommend reading is Start-up Nation, The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. It presents Israel’s technological prowess and innovation culture, making this small country second only to Silicon Valley as a center for startups and venture capital.
Israel's new-found energy resources may have also brought new opportunities, but they have also brought challenges as Alec Pollard of i24News explains:
"Construction on the longest and deepest gas pipeline in the world is set to begin. The EastMed pipeline is an ambitious plan to export an annual 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Israeli waters in the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe. The 1305 mile line will pass through Cyprus, Greece and Italy and lie at a record 1.86 miles deep, a 7 billion dollar project that Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says is a strategic game changer for Israel:
'It's the largest Israeli-European infrastructure project ever, the longest and deepest gas pipeline in the world, that will allow Israel to become Europe's natural gas and energy exporter within just a few years.'
Europe's dwindling gas production means it could need an additional 125 billion cubic meters per year by 2030, part of the reason it invested 100 million dollars to investigate the feasibility of the project. But there is competition. Last week Russia and Turkey inaugurated the first stage of their gas pipeline to Europe with a plan to export a similar amount. So, who has the upper hand?
Greece's former Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dulles, who was heavily involved in the project from its inception, told i24News:
'the EU will prefer the Israeli pipeline over the Turkstream project because EU countries are involved. Also, to diversify gas imports since Europe already relies heavily on Russian gas. The project is of top geopolitical importance to Israel, Greece and Europe, and for this reason is backed by the United States.'
Greece is expected to hold bilateral talks in Washington with Secretary of State Pompeo on December 13th, followed by another strategic meeting in Jerusalem with Greek and U.S. representatives.
Shoring up strategic defense for the pipeline and planning for the future, Greece and Cyprus are on the cusp of potentially massive additional gas finds in their own waters, potentially supplying over 40 percent of Europe's natural gas needs in the future, with the possibility of Egypt linking up its Zohr gas field at some point. The EastMed pipeline could shift the entire energy dependence of Europe towards the Eastern Mediterranean."
These competing interests are becoming more acute as time goes on. On the one hand those of Turkey and Russia, and on the other those of the new Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which includes Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Italy, the gateway to Europe.
For now, the new gas and oil discoveries in the East Mediterranean are bringing old enemies together. There were two headlines on this last month. The first was in the Financial Times (April 15, 2019) under the headline Energean shares jump 10% on Israel gas discovery,
"Energean… has seen its shares soar over 90 percent since listing on London’s FTSE 250 last year, marking it out as a rare recent success story among listed independent exploration and production companies.
The company said on Monday its Karish north well off the coast of Israel had discovered between 1tr and 1.5tr cubic feet of natural gas, becoming the latest big discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean basin…
The Eastern Mediterranean region is rapidly transforming into a major gas hub following discoveries off Egypt, Cyprus and Israel that are set to see the basin become a significant exporter of the fuel, attracting attention from energy giants such as ExxonMobil, Eni and Total."
The second was reported in Forbes a few days later (April 18, 2019) under the headline Israel's Natural Gas Discoveries Are Bridging Political Divides and Are Forging Economic Ties:
"Will Israel be able to leverage its natural gas discoveries with other nations in its region — ones that have been historically hostile to it? Yes, but political risks remain while logistics are problematic.
“Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have formed a front against Iran and its Gulf ally Qatar, bringing them ever-closer to Israel politically and militarily…,” says Professor Bailey.”
The article continues noting that,
“Israel has been blessed with new natural gas discoveries, including the latest announced this week by Greek oil and gas developer Energean. The findings have not just reshaped Israel’s electricity portfolio but they could also potentially alter the region’s geo-political dynamics. Former enemies, in fact, may become trading partners and go on to form long-lasting economic ties."
Considering Israel's trading partners noted here include nations that are identified in Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11 this is very interesting. It is exactly what we would expect. In Daniel 11, regarding the king of the north and Egypt, we read that,
"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 (i.e. the same power that we see in Ezekiel 38, Russia and its alliance) 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
In 2015 perhaps the largest natural gas and oil deposit in the Eastern Mediterranean was found in the waters of Egypt. Following the start-up of the giant Zohr field in early 2018, Egypt became an important player in the Mediterranean. The new deposit that Egypt has discovered may, at least partly, explain the riches that Egypt would seem to have when Russia comes and invades the region.
It was also reported on Strait Talk (April 26, 2019) that new legislation is energizing U.S. policy in the Eastern Mediterranean:
"The Eastern Mediterranean has long been a flashpoint between Turkey and Greek administered Cyprus and now tensions in those energy rich waters might be set to rise.
Two U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez recently introduced legislation that could drastically alter a delicate balance of power that's been in place for decades. The proposed bill calls on the U.S. to end its prohibition of arms sales to Greek administered Cyprus. The legislation also offers millions of dollars in military aid to the island and plans for energy cooperation deals that exclude Turkey. The announcement came just a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Moscow. He was there reaffirming the purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system, a deal that has been loathed in Washington."
Andrew Hopkins adds that,
"Just last month the U.S. Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) traveled to Jerusalem to sit down with the leaders of Israel, Greece and Greek administered Cyprus to demonstrate his commitment to work with them, saying 'as we cooperate on these important energy issues, I know we'll improve our security and prosperity even more broadly between our four nations. We believe this deeply. When free countries with free markets act together and work to develop infrastructure for energy, greater security always follows.'
Just three weeks later a new bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress, The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act. It proposes the establishment of a new energy center for these four countries. The bill also includes 3 million dollars in military aid for Greece, 2 million each for Greece and Greek administered Cyprus for military education and training, and the lifting of the 1987 arms embargo on the Greek Cypriots. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, since Turkey intervened to protect the Turkish Cypriots living there, pulling a coup by the Greek Cypriots trying to unify the island with Greece. The U.S. imposed an embargo in the hope of stopping an arms race on the island and also to encourage reunification efforts…"
However, as the report continues,
"Turkey has its own drilling vessels searching for oil and gas. It's working with the Turkish Cypriots in direct competition with the Greek Cypriots who are working with the U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil. Disputes over who has exploration rights in which areas means they haven't worked together. All in an area where billions of dollars in energy are at stake.
U.S. involvement with Turkey's competitors isn't the only source of friction. The bill also seeks to obstruct the sale of new F35 fighter jets to Ankara if Turkey continues to take delivery of an S-400 missile defense system from Russia."
This is a very interesting news item. We'll see whether the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act (2019) is passed, but if it is, it will be very interesting as it involves the relationship of the U.S. with these Eastern Mediterranean countries Greece, Israel and Cyprus. It is legislation which seeks to strengthen "our bonds of friendship through joint efforts to promote peace, prosperity and security for our nations"! If Turkey continues in this direction, then the act calls to impede "the transfer of F35 aircraft to Turkey, as long as Turkey continues with plans to pursue the S-400 air defense system from the Russian Federation" which of course is what Turkey has now said is a "done deal."
The act also requires Congress to submit "a strategy on enhanced security and energy cooperation with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as reports on malign activities by Russia and other countries in the region." If the act is passed it will be a significant development.
What we see with these news items is that NATO is under attack. Of course, we know that Trump has threatened to pull out of NATO. We've now seen Turkey disregard the U.S. saying that their procurement of the S-400 is a done deal, and Erdogan has continued to stir the pot with crashing the Mediterranean gas party (as Haaretz put it in their headline). So, NATO from that angle, with Turkey at least, does not seem to be doing well.
The other headline we noted was "Russian spies sentenced in Montenegro coup plot", quoting the Daily Telegraph (May 9, 2019). The article says,
"Two Russian military spies have been given prison sentences after being convicted of trying to overthrow Montenegro's government in a bloody coup to stop the Balkan nation joining Nato."
So, again another example of NATO under attack from Russia, and likely to be further weakened (at a minimum) with Britain pulling out of Europe eventually as we expect they will. If Europe continues with plans for a European army, that will be another reason to question NATO’s relevance.
Based on the picture presented in Bible prophecy, we expect that NATO will become increasingly irrelevant and further weakened, and in the end Europe will be with Russia. So, if this is NATO’s fate as we would expect, it will be exactly in line with what God has predetermined. There is no question that Europe's future relationship will be with Russia and not Britain and the U.S.
Why do we expect this? Revelation 17 states that,
"The ten horns which you saw are ten kings (a symbol of the nations of Europe), which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast (i.e. Russia). These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the lamb, and the lamb shall overcome them…" (Rev. 17:12-14)
The other aspect, which we haven't spoken about in our program this time, is the involvement of the Catholic Church, represented by the woman sitting on the beast, and the prominent role that they have in this. This will be another interesting aspect to talk about another time!
Before closing there are two other shares I would like to mention! First, Israel's ambassador, Danny Danon has addressed the United Nations outlining the four pillars that his government believes prove the case for Jewish ownership of the land of Israel including Judea and Samaria. It is very interesting to see the case that is laid out in this speech as well as the prerequisites for peace that Israel is putting forward. As we've heard previously on this program, this is also what Netanyahu included in his platform toward the end of his successful campaign, plans to put in place sovereignty over large parts of Judea and Samaria.
Lastly, also on this topic, I recommend Caroline Glick's book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East (2014). This book will give its reader a good understanding of what is taking place in Israel at this point in time and the momentum that is growing towards a one-state solution versus what a growing number of commentators are agreeing is the failed two-state solution. I expect Glick’s analysis will be very relevant regardless of what path future events take.
As we finish this weeks’ report we are left with a sense that Gentile times must soon end! “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).
This has been Daniel Billington with you this week reporting on the Bible in the News as we continue to look forward to the return of Zion's King, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will establish righteousness and peace in the earth.