The past few weeks have seen hostilities escalate in the Middle East with Turkey and Russia almost going to war in Syria. A ceasefire has been agreed to, and nations are celebrating peace, but the Bible clearly points out what is coming is war.
Turkey and Russia have been at it again during the past few weeks. Russia has been helping Assad reclaim most of the country’s territory. Tension and violence have escalated in the Idlib province since the end of February. Thirty-four Turkish soldiers were killed in attacks by the Syrian army during a Russian-backed Syrian offensive.
Turkey has responded to the most significant loss of its soldiers for nearly 30 years. Turkey downed three Syrian planes, eight helicopters and scores of tanks since last Thursday’s attack.
The Guardian newspaper reported:
“Adding to the volatile situation, Moscow sent two warships, the Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich, both capable of firing Kalibr cruise missiles, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean waters off Syria on Friday. They moved through the Bosphorus strait, which is governed by an international treaty, sailing through the heart of Istanbul.”
AP reported on the escalation which is increasing Russia’s involvement:
After Turkey had downed several Syrian jets, Moscow warned Ankara on Sunday that its aircraft would be unsafe if they enter Syrian airspace.
Turkey Isolating itself.
Turkey has the second-largest army in NATO but is quickly isolating itself from its NATO partners. The pro-Palestinian Middle East Monitor stated the following:
NATO has no plans to provide Turkey with military support if the government launches a military operation in northern Syria, a diplomatic source from a member state told Tass on Monday. According to the Russian news agency, a NATO official said that the alliance will not invoke the principle of collective defence known as Article 5, which is at the heart its founding treaty. “NATO countries will not support the invocation of Article 5 over the death of Turkish troops in Idlib in early February,” the source said.
This information comes from Russia, reported by the Palestinian media. That being the case, NATO, although it gives verbal support of Turkey, is very reticent to wage in on Turkey’s behalf. France has tried to launch a debate on what Turkey’s allies should do if Ankara requests their assistance under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which would require other NATO allies to come to the member’s defense. The US is not keen to lend aid to Turkey as it has purchased the Russian S-400 missile system against its wishes.
Resurgence in Refugees
Over a million Syrian refugees have started moving into Turkey following the latest violence in Syria. Turkey has been keeping over 3.6 million Syrian refugees from entering Europe under an agreement with the EU. Europe had pledged six billion Euros but has only delivered half of the amount. The EU has neglected several other areas of the agreement, and consequently, Erdogan has allowed Syrian refugees to enter Europe through Turkey, opening its border. Greece has responded violently. Turkey is trying to force the EU’s hand into being involved.
Russian-Turkish Peace Meeting
This week, Erdogan flew to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin. According to AP:
The presidents of Russia and Turkey said they reached agreement on a cease-fire to begin at midnight Thursday in northwestern Syria, where escalating fighting had threatened to put forces from the two countries into direct conflict. The deal struck by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also would set up a security corridor along a key east-west highway in Idlib province.
The agreement seems to favour Russian interests, as the AP article continued to state:
The agreement appears to achieve Russia’s key goal of allowing the Syrian government to secure control over strategic highways essential for consolidating its grip on the country after a devastating nine-year war.
AP also reported that Putin put Turkey’s losses into perspective:
Putin offered Erdogan his condolences over Turkish military losses but noted that Syrian troops also suffered heavy casualties. Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced that two more of its soldiers were killed Thursday, raising the number slain in Syria since the start of February to 60.
Peace in the Middle East... but just for a moment.
While the world is celebrating the cease-fire, the Bible tells us this is only temporary. The Book of Daniel describes clearly the events of the latter days:
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. (Daniel 11:40)
The “him” in this passage is clearly Turkey. The king of the south, the power that controlled the former area of the Ptolemaic empire, was Britain, who pushed at the Ottoman Turks in 1917 - ejecting them from the land and clearing the way for the establishment of the Jewish homeland.
Daniel 11:40 aligns with Revelation that describes the drying up of the River Euphrates, which equated with the Ottomon Turks who burst over their banks around 1299 and flooded the Byzantine empire, taking Constantinople in 1453. Since that time it occupied “Palestine”. Until pushed out in 1917, fulfilling the words of Revelation 16:12:
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)
Ezekiel 38, which runs parallel to Daniel 11, clearly states that there would be a large Jewish contingent in the land at the time of the end. They would be called “Israel”:
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. (Ezekiel 38:8)
God specifically indicts “Gog” for coming against his people of Israel in verse 14:
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord God; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? (Ezekiel 38:14)
Gog is the leader of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal (the names given by the RSV), which equate with modern Russia, Moscow and Tobolks. They are also in cahoots with the Land of Magog and the tribes of Gomer, which relates to modern Germany and France.
Turning back to Daniel 11 we find the King of the North, which equates with Ezekiel’s Rosh, is also push at Turkey, and overflow through Israel and down into Egypt:
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. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. (Daniel 11:40–44)
We see the king of the north coming against “him”, which is Turkey, with chariots, horseman and ships. This is both a land and sea invasion. So while Erdogan and Putin are “saying Peace and Safety”, the Bible clearly indicates that “sudden destruction” is coming.
Like Ezekiel’s Gog, he is interested in the spoil of the land. He doesn’t stop in Turkey, but Ezekiel describes him as “thinking an evil thought” v7, and going into Israel. Daniel describes him pushing all the way down into Egypt.
So as we seek conflict in the Middle East, simmering on a slow boil, we can be confident that the return of the Lord is at the door. Russian ships are moving into the area, and its troops are poised to strike if provoked.
However, the day will be won by the Lord Jesus Christ who will arrive on the scene to save the nation of Israel, and establish the kingdom of God on earth. The day is at hand, all the players are moving into place. So let us look up and lift up our heads for our redemption draweth night. For the bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.