The Coming Russian Whirlwind
Russian and Turkish relations become tense, as the situation in Ukraine heats up further.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
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For this Bible in the News we take a look at the role of Turkey in Bible prophecy and how this relates to current events. This is Matt Davies joining you.
The sorry state of Eastern Ukraine
The Geneva Accord between Russia and the West relating to de-escalation in the Ukraine has been short lived. The Russians seem to have won another international chess game: obtaining key concessions about Ukraine's future, in exchange for them helping to calm down the pro-Russian gunmen in Ukraine. This bought them time and the political prestige of being the lead helpers in the situation. However, the peace that the West had hoped would follow has not been forthcoming. Instead, this last week has been filled with more violence in Eastern Ukraine. The balaclava-clad, pro-Russian gunmen have continued to occupy Ukrainian government buildings and violence has escalated.
One such gunman - a gentleman called "Valdimire" was reported by the BBC to have stated that the military occupation would not stop in Eastern Ukraine - "Maybe we'll celebrate New Year in the Western Ukraine or maybe in Brussels or Berlin" he told the BBC. The men with the guns don't look like they are going back towards Russia. They look to push on.
On Sunday 27th of April, European military observers were captured and detained by the rebels in Slavyansk. On Monday 28th of April the mayor of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine was shot and critically wounded - it was interesting to note he was later flown to Israel to receive treatment. Events like these have been constantly in the media this week, amid continuing unrest in the region and reports of other towns being taken over by gunmen.
All of this has caused the West to add a second set of sanctions to Putin's cronies - which comprise of overseas asset freezes and visa bans. In reality, this will do little to stop the course of action currently being pursued by Russia.
On Wednesday 30th of April, Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov admitted to the media that his forces were "helpless" to quell unrest, driven by the pro-Russian militants in the eastern regions of the country. Russian troops are gathering on the border and the Ukraine is 'on full combat alert', against a possible Russian invasion.
On Thursday 1st of May, Reuters reported that "Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel... that the withdrawal of Ukrainian military units from the south-east of the country, ending violence and launching a national dialogue are key issues, the Kremlin said." Meanwhile Ukraine's President Olexander Turchynov reinstated military conscription in the Ukraine to deal with the onslaught of pro-Russians in the East.
It really is a sorry state - the pro-Russians gaining ground, Russian Military swarming, the Ukrainians and NATO trembling, poised for war but not really knowing if they really have the strength to stand up to Russia.
Turkey watches on as Russia gains an upper hand in the Black Sea
However, one very interesting thing to observe as Bible students, is the political movement of Turkey in relation to the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.
With the takeover of Crimea, Turkey now looks on in dismay as Russia suddenly has a massive upper hand in the Black Sea. Prior to the take-over, Turkey pretty much matched Russia's power on the sea. Turkey was fairly confident that this situation would continue and so, for political reasons, it actually ceased in the building of some planned major military vessels (called its Milgem project) last year. Now Russia has a huge advantage - it has acquired more "commandeered" ships from Crimea and it is adding new ships to this acquisition that have recently been built.
This article from the Jerusalem Post sums the situation up bluntly:
"The politically motivated stoppage of the MILGEM’s production schedule has created a window of vulnerability in Turkey’s Black Sea naval defences in the face of rapidly rising Russian naval power. The delayed production of the Ada-class anti-submarine corvettes will put Turkey at a disadvantage relative to Russia’s imminent deployment of a new fleet of Black Sea submarines. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will also possess six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates capable of countering supersonic anti-ship missiles while Turkey will lack the comparable capability because of the setback to MILGEM’s four TF 100 frigates.
Until Turkey can build and deploy these naval assets, Ankara’s deterrent capability has eroded and Russia will dominate the Black Sea. Exercising sea control, Moscow can more easily deploy its newly acquired Mistral-class helicopter carrier to stage amphibious assault operations against other Black Sea littoral states including Georgia and Azerbaijan....
Having taken control of Ukraine’s offshore oil and natural gas operations, Moscow will likely attempt to alter regional energy transport arrangements in Russia’s favour while Russia still enjoys naval dominance. With Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, Russia no longer needs to route its “South Stream” gas pipeline through Turkish waters to avoid Ukraine’s EEZ. Moscow may attempt to cancel its agreement with Ankara and reroute the pipeline through Crimea’s continental shelf, resulting in a considerable revenue loss for Turkey."
This shift in power has not gone unnoticed in Turkey. Last month on the 18th March, in an article entitled "Turkey Threatens to Close Bosphorus for Russian Ships", the website novinite.com reported how Turkey were preparing to limit Russia's influence in the Black Sea should Russia resort to violence. According to another article "After the annexation of Crimea to Russia, tensions in the eastern regions of Ukraine resulted in increased tensions in the straits as well as supporters of both sides sending warships to strengthen their positions." Therefore at the moment they seem to be allowing Russian and US ships in and out but should they choose to close the straights to Russia this could turn Putin's wrathful eye on Turkey.
Turkey has refused to accept Russia's annexation of Crimea, which is home to a large community of Turkish Tartars. However it has remained relatively mute against the Russian aggression - probably due to the reliance it has on Russian gas. It is a part of NATO and so would be bound internationally to help other European NATO allies who seem to be preparing for defense strategies against Russia. The whole region is like a box of fireworks ready to light up.
Daniel 11 and the prophecy of the fall of Turkey to Russia
So why is it interesting for a Bible student to keep an eye on Turkey-Russian relations? Well, because of the prophecy of Daniel 11.
Daniel 11 is a fascinating prophecy about two key territories down through time. One to the north of Israel called "the king of the north", which is 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". We know that 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, which subsequent to the Roman Empire, became Turkish.
Verse 40 begins:
"And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him:" As the prophecy draws to a close and reaches its dramatic climax we read how an occupying force of the "king of the south" territory will push against the power of "the king" that resides in Constantinople. The criteria of this prophecy has been fulfilled in the events of Word War 1, when the occupying power of Egypt (at the time this was Britain), pushed against the Ottoman Empire from the south. This also marked the start of the fulfilment of another prophecy in Revelation 16:12 about the drying up of the power of the Euphrates, the great river of Turkey, in the time period just before Christ returns.
The prophecy continues: "and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind". It is this part of the prophecy that seems pertinent to the events we are witnessing in the news. God has revealed by the criteria of this prophecy that an occupying power which controls all the territories of the king of the north will indeed come against the territory of Constantinople. The criteria of the prophecy therefore requires that a power will appear on the world scene which will dominate and control Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Pakistan. Once such a power is seen on the world stage, we will be looking at the latter day "king of the north". When he appears, he will then attack Turkey, "the king". He won't stop there though - the prophecy goes on:
"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."
We then read of how he comes back from Egypt into Israel but meets his end in Jerusalem in verse 45.
There are many connections between this prophecy of Daniel 11 and that of the prophecy of Ezekiel 38. If we piece this prophecy together, with that of Ezekiel 38 the scriptures are clear. Russia is the "king of the north" and the "Rosh" of Ezekiel 38. It is Gog in Ezekiel 38 who is the leader of Rosh.
It is not hard then to see how the events we are witnessing in the world today are linked to this coming crisis. We would expect Russia and Turkish relations to disintegrate for the prophecy in Daniel 11 of the Russian invasion to take place. We would expect a powerful navy to be at the King of the norths disposal because he comes against Turkey "like a whirlwind... with many ships". We would expect a militant, ruthless and powerful Russia dominating the powers of Europe. Little do they know it but the nations of the world are setting a course which will draw them together to a battle termed in the scripture as "the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Rev 16:14) or "Armageddon" (Rev 16:16) where Christ will appear to defend God's people of Israel.
Trusting in God and His coming Kingdom
So after looking outwardly at world events in the light of Bible Prophecy we must stop and look inwardly. Man is full of unrighteous madness, violence, helplessness and war. His ways end in sin and death and there is no real hope for those who trust in humanity for a solution. The advice of the inspired Proverbs are well worth us noting:
"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
As mankind plummets forward into the crisis of the time of the end, let us be thankful that God has indeed revealed to us the events that will occur just before Christ returns. Let us trust in Him to fulfill His word and examine ourselves in the light of His glorious character; for all of these signs of the times tell us that Jesus will soon fulfil his words at the end of Revelation 22:12:
"behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
This has been Matt Davies joining you. Come back next week at www.bibleinthenews.com as we continue to watch world events with our Bibles in hand.
Printed: Sunday, May 11, 2014
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