High Prices at the Pumps Push the Nations into the Middle East
As the North Sea Oil reserves dry up - the nations focus on the Middle East.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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Welcome to Bible in the News. This is Jonathan Bowen reporting.
There doesn’t seem to be a place on earth where the price of gasoline (or petrol) is not becoming a major issue. There have been fuel-price protests across the world. Recently, road haulers in Britain blocked the main roads in central London. The Economist reported that oil prices in Britain had almost reached the record breaking prices of the 1979. Britain, America, Canada and just about all oil dependent economies around the world are feeling the pinch.
What does all this mean? Is there any significance with respect to Bible Prophecy? Let’s take a step back and have a look.
It was in 1848 that John Thomas, a Bible Prophecy student wrote the following based on his conviction that Britain and her allies had a role to play in the Middle East, leading up to the Battle of Armageddon. He wrote:
“I know not whether the men, who at present contrive the foreign policy of Britain, entertain the idea of assuming the sovereignty of the Holy Land, and of promoting its colonization by the Jews; their present intentions, however, are of no importance one way or the other, because they will be compelled, by events soon to happen, to do what, under existing circumstances, heaven and earth combined could not move them to attempt. …. The finger of God has indicated a course to be pursued by Britain which cannot be evaded, and which her counsellors will not only be willing, but eager, to adopt when the crisis comes upon them. The decree has long since gone forth which calls upon the Lion of Tarshish to protect the Jews.”
Thomas’ predictions proved to be correct. He had based them on what the scripture had said, so how could they have been otherwise? Britain did assume sovereignty of the holy land when General Allenby took Jerusalem in November 1917. She was issued the mandate by the United Nations and governed what was called Palestine until the state of Israel was formed in May of 1948.
Following World War I, Britain’s policy in the Middle East was directed by its need for oil. Britain reneged on its commitment to the Balfour declaration from the 1930’s through the 1940’s due to its fear of offending the surrounding oil producing states, going so far as to bar or drastically limit the immigration of Jews to the land. Britain gave up the mandate after WWII, although it remained involved in the politics of the Middle East due to its reliance on oil, and its need to protect its industry.
When the North Sea oil fields opened up in the 1970’s, Britain’s reliance on Middle Eastern Oil was relieved, and it was able to move into more of an observer status. Crushed with huge war debts left over from WWII – it moved out of the scene as a player in the Middle East. This allowed America to take more active role and it developed into the superpower it is today. However, regardless of the momentary policy of Britain, ‘The finger of God has indicated a course to be pursued by Britain (and the other Young Lions such as America) which cannot be evaded... The decree has long since gone forth which calls upon the Lion of Tarshish to protect the Jews”. So regardless of the policies of the British government during the latter two thirds of the last century they have a job to do.
Fast-forward to the state world affairs today. The luxury of Britain’s own oil reserves are now dissipating and it will once again need to become involved in affairs elsewhere to guarantee its continuance as an economic power.
Britain, used to be a net exporter of oil. However, it is now becoming an importer. The Economist reported on May 29, 2008, “sharp declines in North Sea output turned the country [England] into a net importer again in 2005”. An Economist article entitled “Drying Up” on May 29th reported,
“Britain's glory days as a fossil-fuel producer are over (in 1999 it was the world's sixth-biggest source of oil and gas; today it is twelth).” The article went on to state, “Since its peak in 1999 production has fallen by 40%. The North Sea has been pumped and drilled for 40 years and the big finds are gone.”
Now, Wikipedia states,
“North Sea oil production fell ten percent in 2004, and fell an additional 12.8% in 2005. This was the largest decrease of any other oil exporting nation in the world, and has led to Britain becoming a net importer of crude for the first time in decades, as recognized by the energy policy of the United Kingdom. The production is expected to fall to one-third of its peak by 2020.”
So, in a nut shell, Britain no longer has the luxury of supplying its own oil – it must look elsewhere.
But where will Britain look for its oil production?
Well, it would appear Britain is being frozen out of Russia’s oil fields.
British Petroleum (BP) currently owns 50% of TNK-BP, Russia’s third largest oil company. However, the Economist reported this week that BP’s Moscow office was raided by Russia’s security service, and an injunction was imposed upon its staff whose work permits were denied. The firm was under threat to lose its license for the giant Kovykta oil field in Eastern Siberia and was forced to sell 64% to Gazprom, the Russian state gas monopoly. (Incidentally, Gazprom is Russia’s largest company, and the world’s largest gas company. Not only this, but Gazprom ranks third in the world when it comes to oil reserves. Wikipedia states,
“Gazprom, with 119 billion barrels of reserves, ranks behind only Saudi Arabia, with 263 billion barrels and Iran, with 133 billion barrels as the world's biggest owner of oil and oil equivalent in natural gas….. The European Union as a whole gets about 25 percent of its gas supplies from this company.)
So, British Petrolium is up against a very big competitor when dealing with Gazprom. The Economist reported, “People close to BP say the Russian oligarchs are up to their old tricks again, and are trying to exploit Russia's weak institutions and take control.” So the prospect of Britain expanding its oil interests and supplies in Siberia seems to be “out in the cold”.
Well, it would seem Britain’s options are limited to the Middle East. Britain’s influence in the oil fields of the Middle East was drastically reduced from 1970-1975 when Libya, Iraq, and then Iran nationalized BP’s shares in different Petroleum companies throughout their own countries. Britain participated in the 1991 Gulf War when Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait who happens to have the 4th largest reserve of oil in the world. Kuwait had only become independent from Britain in 1961. Kuwait was the staging ground for the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the USA, Britain and Australia.
Due to its rapidly depleting oil supplies, Britain is being forced into involvement in the Middle Eastern region whether it likes it or not.
The political stage in the western world is in a state of flux. George Bush is on his way out, and America will be faced with the choice of Barak Obama or John McCain for President. Britain is watching as Gordon Brown stands on wobbly legs, having narrowly survived the “42 day detention vote” in the Commons. It appears he will survive into the autumn session… but then what? What will the political future hold?
Well, It really doesn’t matter. Regardless of the potential leftist, isolationist or socialist or whatever-ist values the new governments of the western world bring with them, the “finger of God has indicated a course to be pursued which cannot be evaded”.
The finger of God can take on many forms as the nations are compelled to do what they might not really want to. One of them may well be the price of fuel at the pumps we are seeing today, and the drying up of Britain’s own oil reserves.
Eventually, God will draw the nations into the Middle East. He tells us in Zechariah 14:1,
“I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle."
In Joel 3:2,
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat….”
He has told us that one of the tools he will use is the presence of the Tarshish powers at the time of the end.
The scripture describes a military power (the King of the South) in the Middle East at the time of the end whose actions will provoke a response from the “king of the North”:
“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 King of the South has to be in a position to “push” at the king of the North at the time of the end. One of the contributing factors may well be the economic interests of the “trading” nations at the time of the end.
The scripture is clear in Ezekiel 38:13 where it describes the protests mounted by the Tarshish nations:
“Sheba (Yemen), and Dedan (Saudi Arabia), and the merchants of Tarshish (Britain), with all the young lions thereof (the USA and other former Colonies), shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? To carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”
The world around us is descending into a stage of panic. As men’s hearts fail them for fear of what is coming upon the earth we need to take assurance in the fact that God is in charge. As the world begins to swirl into the vortex that will lead to Armageddon we need to make sure that we are not invested in the “here and now”. We need to “look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). As fuel prices rise, as food crises occur – we need to remember the words of our master, “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt 28:20).
We are at the end of the world – the end of the kingdom of men, and what we need to worry about is whether we are with our master, as the way is being prepared for the Kings of the Suns Rising to conquer the world.
Just not the oil reserves that the world concerns itself with. Take a look at Matthew 25:1-13. Our captain warns us,
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”
We are all awaiting the return of our Lord to the earth. If we are wise we have oil in our lamps – and oil reserves with us. These oil reserves are the word of God – which is able to make us wise unto salvation and from which we get faith (Rom 10:17). Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6). This is the oil we need to invest in. Because an oil crisis is about to come upon us…
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”
So we need to buy oil reserves for ourselves now. Reserves of the word of God and the faith that it creates within each and every one of us…. Not storing up for ourselves treasures in this life - but the life to come.
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
We don’t know when the Son of man will come, but we pray it will be soon, and that each of us will be found ready with oil in our lamps.
Tune in next week for another edition of the Bible in the News. www.bibleinthenews.com