Libya with them – Russia becomes a Guard to its ally in Libya
Russia is exerting its hegemony over Iran, Syria and now Libya as described in the Bible.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
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As we have watched Russia’s role in the Middle East over the past while we have seen it exercising its hegemony over nations like Iran and Syria. It is moved to “protect” them from western interference but also has kept them securely within its circle of influence. Russia's involvement in Libya's civil war speaks to this. We also spend a few minutes considering the disciple's role in protest.
The scriptures clearly indicate who the allies of Russia are when the “king of the north”, or Gog of the Land of Magog, the prince of Rosh comes down into the land of Israel. Daniel indicates the nations that will walk “in stride” with the King of the North:
“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 11:43)
The New King James Version translates this last phrase, “shall follow at his heels”, the ESV, “will follow his train”, while the Complete Jewish Bible translates it “will be subject to him”. We understand from this they will follow the Russian King of the North, being subject to them. The modern word for this relationship would be hegemony defined as “leadership or dominance, especially by one country over others.”
Ezekiel adds a little more detail:
“Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.” (Ezekiel 38:5–7)
Ezekiel includes Persia, or Iran in the mix, and also states Russia will be a “guard” unto the nations that are assembled to it, and will work to prepare both itself and these nations for the coming conflict. The word “guard” is defined by the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament as “to exercise great care over.” It is used in both the sense of guarding someone in a prison and also of keeping a flock. It protects, but also maintains its leadership or dominance over.
As we have watched Russia’s role in the Middle East over the past while we have seen it exercising its hegemony over nations like Iran and Syria. It is moved to “protect” them from western interference but also has kept them securely within its circle of influence. We see this with Russia’s move to protect Iran from further American-sponsored international sanctions. We see this with Russia’s military involvement in Syria to ensure its continued influence in that area of the Middle East. We also see it with Russia’s involvement in the civil war in Libya. This past week, Russia’s involvement in Libya was ratcheted up a couple of notches.
The Background of Libya
Libya is an ancient nation. It was has mentioned in the Bible before the Roman Empire even existed. It was home to the Phoenicians following the fall of Tyre. This would develop into the Carthaginian Empires whose famed leader Hannibal would cross the Alps to attack Rome. It was ruled by the Ptolemaic Greeks. It was the breadbasket of Rome during the days of the Empire. When the empire dissolved it was the base of the Vandals who plundered Rome. It was overrun by Islam in the 7th century and ruled by the Ottomans by the 15th century. Italy invaded Tripoli and would form a colony there until the Second World War when the Italian-German forces were defeated by the British. In 1969 the government of Libya was overthrown by General Muammar Ghaddafi. Ghaddafi was under the Russian sphere of influence during much of the Cold War. Libya has the 10th largest oil reserves of any nation on the planet, and consequently, is of great interest to Russia. Ghaddafi ruled until the Arab Spring of 2011 when he was deposed.
The Rival Factions in Libya
Since Ghaddafi’s overthrow, Libya is divided between two rival factions. First, there is the UN-sponsored General National Congress (or GNC), located in Tripoli, that was put in place following the removal of the former dictator General Ghaddafi. Opposed to this is the House of Representatives located in Tobruk. The Libyan National Army is the military arm of the House of Representatives and is led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The two factions have been engaged in constant warfare, pushing each other back and forth.
For a while, Haftar’s armies were experiencing moderate successes, pushing into Western Libya. Haftar’s army has been supported by “Russian Mercenaries .” The Washington Post reported,
Russia has avoided a direct military presence in Libya — unlike in Syria, where Russia’s air force, navy and other units aided Moscow’s longtime ally, President Bashir al-Assad.
Instead, Russia last year deployed mercenaries to back Hifter, achieving its strategic objectives under the cloak of deniability. About 1,200 of the Russian fighters are reportedly from the Wagner Group, controlled by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin.
“Russia wants a foothold in Libya, and that’s a fact,” said Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer of the Jamestown Foundation. “In Syria in 2015, there was a deliberate decision to begin a major operation to deploy forces,” Felgenhauer said. “Here, there are different opinions on how to proceed, and it’s not clear that there has been a decision to do in Libya what was done in Syria.”
This has sparked criticism from the West of interference in Libya’s internal affairs, (forgetting of course that Obama sent NATO jets to help oust Ghaddafi). Haftar’s armies had reached Tarhuna, beginning the siege of Tripoli only 65km away in April of 2019.
These past few weeks have seen significant losses by Haftar’s armies. The Washington Post reported this last week:
“Russia’s ally in Libya is battered by defeats. But Moscow has wider goals to expand its influence.”
The Post reported:
Russia’s ally in Libya, rebel commander Khalifa Hifter, has suffered a string of defeats in recent months as his militias tried to oust the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli so he could install himself as Libya’s ruler…. On Friday, forces of the Tripoli government — supported by Turkey and others — seized control of Tarhuna, the last stronghold for Hifter’s fighters in the country’s west. The recapture of the city, about 40 miles southeast of Tripoli, could mark a final blow to Hifter’s siege of Tripoli and his bid to expand beyond his power base in eastern Libya.
What is of great interest here is that Turkey has become the main boots-on-the-ground military supporter of the Tripoli government. The Post reported,
“Turkey, however, has ramped up its military aid to the U.N.-backed side, deploying attack drones to drive back Hifter’s forces. It also sent in up to 13,000 mercenaries, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, many of them Syrian fighters who were allied with Turkey against Assad.
At the time of the end, the prophet Daniel details Russia’s move against Turkey, the “him” of verses 40 and on in Daniel 11:
“the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)
So the proxy war in Libya between Turkey and Russia is a sign of things to come. Russia has already involved itself in Syria, also part of the Northern Confederacy, and is now involving itself militarily in Libya.
Remember, Ezekiel’s description of Russia was to “be a guard unto” those nations who march with it or fall under its hegemony, including Libya.
This week saw the arrival of Russian MIG’s in Libya, painted over to disguise them as they did in the Crimean War. CNN reported:
But Russia -- far from abandoning Haftar -- is doubling down. As the bedraggled convoy withdrew from the desolate airbase, the Kremlin had a surprise in store. Within a couple of days, Russian combat aircraft arrived in eastern Libya, glinting silver at two remote desert airfields. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the jets -- a total of 14 MiG-29s and Su-24s -- had flown from Russia via Iran and Syria. While in Syria they'd been stripped of their markings. AFRICOM said the aircraft were "likely to provide close air support and offensive fires" for the Wagner fighters.
Russia is truly “being a guard unto them” as it has to both Iran and Syria. Russia is looking to reassert itself as a world power. CNN went on to report:
Andrew Weiss, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Putin is displaying an increasing appetite for risk, filling the vacuum left by the Trump administration. “We’re seeing a much wider pattern of Russian opportunism across both the Middle East and other parts of the world far from Russia’s direct borders,” he said in video comments on the Carnegie website.
This is exactly what we expect from the Scriptures. The CNN article went on to state:
The commander of AFRICOM, Gen. Stephen Townsend, said of the Russian move: "Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups." Beyond the Libyan context, AFRICOM told CNN: "If Russia is allowed to effectively shape the ultimate result of the Libya conflict, the US, and especially NATO and Europe, will not like the outcome." A senior western diplomat said he had been surprised by Moscow's move. "That the Russian intervention went from mercenaries on the ground to jet fighters is really quite brazen and astonishing," the diplomat told CNN.
This is not that amazing when you have the light of scriptures shining on the situation.
As the world has its attention focussed on the CORONA virus and the riots in America, Russia has it’s focus elsewhere. The Bible gives us a clear indication of the eventual outcome.
As the nations of the world prepare, we must prepare ourselves for the return of Christ.
A comment on protest, and whose lives matter.
As a footnote, we would like to comment on the reaction of some to last week’s Bible in the News. The presenter was not being political, but merely commenting on the ‘politics’ of the age we live in. Looking at the world through the lenses of the scriptures is never going to be politically correct, nor popular with the world. Recall the words of Christ,
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:18–19)
The whole world is gripped with a spirit that has become a spirit of madness in many quarters. Protests against inequality and oppression have given way to riot, looting, murder, civil unrest, and concerted attempts to remove the powers that be.
It should be noted that many people have commented on the “uprising” as being agenda-driven. The Prime Minister of the UK defended Winston Churchill. The National Post reported,
On Friday Johnson called it “absurd and shameful” that the Churchill statue was at risk of attack. “Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero,” he said.
This past week I happened to catch a clip of an interview on the CBC. A reporter interviewed African American actor Clarke Peters, who is staring in a new film about five African American’s fighting in Vietnam. He made a comment about the current reaction in America to Floyd George’s death that caught my attention:
Looking at George on the ground as he was, you know, African American people mean nothing to this government. And this isn't totally racial. This is more about class. This is about the haves, the have-nots and the haves too much. And those who have too much don't know what to do with their time, besides using those people below them as fodder to get whatever they need to continue to have more than they need, for greed. And in doing so, they've pitted people against each other.
Even Peters sees that what is going on is not all about race, it is about “class”, it is about liberty, equality, and fraternity. It is about the Frog Spirits of Revelation, even though most people in the world don’t know what they are, or how they operate, certainly Peter’s would know nothing about them.
There is a lot of inequality and oppression in the world. There always has been, and until Christ’s return, there always will be. The whole notion of re-writing history is a dangerous one. Do we hear cries to erase the Caesars from history because they trod down the Jewish people? Do you hear mobs calling for the coliseum in Rome to be torn down because it was built by Jewish slaves? Where are the crowds calling for the Gesu Church in Rome to be torn down? It proudly houses statues commemorating the Jesuit persecution of Bible believers.
Persecution and oppression are wrong and have been going on for centuries. As Bible believers, we have to step away from the charged emotion of the moment and consider what manner of persons we ought to be – not what everybody else is doing.
Several years ago, we saw the Arab Spring. Many peoples in the Arab nations were being oppressed by the rulers they were under. Yet, it is well documented that the CIA and others fomented the unrest to bring about the political change they wanted to see in the world for their own selfish reason. In some cases, it worked, in most cases, it backfired, i.e. Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Rulers may, or may not have been removed, but the countries took a turn for the worse and people’s lives became much more tenuous. At the time, articles were written, the Bible in the News podcasts were made, study days were given. There was not the same backlash there is today. Why? It was the same basic forces at play then as it is now, just different hands on the levers.
What we have to realize is, as Bible believers it is not our place to advocate for social change. All human governments are corrupt as they are ruled by men and women made of flesh, with carnal minds. There are some basic principles at play:
1. Human nature is corrupt, no matter what colour the skin might be. Whether it is an Arab government, an African government, an Indian government, a Canadian government, an American government, a British government, a Native government, a Christian government, or a Muslim government, they are all corrupt. How do we know this? The Bible states:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21–23)
2. Mankind’s government no matter what the form, communist, socialist, capitalist, humanist, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, enforce laws that are contrary to God’s law. How do we know this? The Bible States:
“The carnal (flesh) mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7)
3. It is not our place to resist or protest the current governments, as they are put in place by God. Paul told this to the disciples in the first century, who underwent horrific persecutions:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1–2)
The word resist is defined by Strong’s as “to range in battle against. to oppose one’s self, resist”. The Louw Nida Greek-English lexicon defines it as “to oppose someone, involving not only a psychological attitude but also a corresponding behaviour—‘to oppose, to be hostile toward, to show hostility.’ Resisting the government would bring condemnation to the disciples. So why would we join in?
As we see the world rise in hostility to government and authority we cannot participate. Even if what is happening is wrong, our place is not to involve ourselves in social issues. We are not going to change world governments today. Sometimes what governments do is wrong. It shouldn’t’ change our attitude. Peter exhorts us:
“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." (1 Peter 2:17–24)
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36)
This is not our country. This is not our war. This is not our cause. Even though we or people close to us may be victims of its policy. John Thomas, reflecting years ago on the notion of believers involving themselves in the politics of the day wrote the following:
A saint, who is one in deed as well as name, cannot condescend to subject himself to the conditions necessary to obtain the favor of the political mob, whether that mob be a mob of aristocrats, or a mob of what these call “the swinish multitude” he cannot, I say, condescend, as a son of the Deity, a brother of Jesus Christ, and a king and priest elect for God, to seek the favour of “the dead in trespasses and sins” whose votes and patronage are indispensable to his exaltation to the heaven; in which he may figure by the eloquence of his speech, or the gaudy decorations of a court, as a star of the first or an inferior magnitude. No saint could by any other possibility than that based upon apostacy, consent to occupy the Papal Chair, or to fill an archiepiscopal, or other ecclesiastical or secular throne. The heaven, in which these seats of glory, honor, wealth, and power exist, is infected with such malarious and poisonous exhalations of sin’s flesh, that he could not breathe them, and live and move, and have continued healthful spiritual existence in the Deity. Fortunately for the saints this heaven is shut against them, and its door bolted, locked, and barred to keep out all who will not fall down and worship the Satan, who is prince of the Aerial, and bestows its glories upon whomsoever he approves.
The Lord faced the temptation of involving himself in the government of his day, and he resisted:
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. (Luke 4:5–7)
Christ’s answer – the patter for us to follow:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8)
This is the answer to why we don’t join in politics or protest!
5. Social protests are against God’s law. Yes, that is what Paul tells Titus:
"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men." (Titus 3:1-2)
Some may argue the cause is just. It doesn’t change the command of God to speak evil of no man, and to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey the magistrates, and certainly not to be a brawler like the rioters we have seen in the past few weeks. The problem with “mob mentality” is that after a short while, nobody even knows why they are rioting. This was certainly true in Paul’s day when a riot shook Ephesus:
“And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.” (Acts 19:29)
“Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.” (Acts 19:32)
That is what happens after a while, nobody seems to know the reason for the riot, the mob is just possessed with madness.
6. Generally speaking, governments are put in place by God for our sakes, to keep a peaceful society:
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:3–7)
The word minister is defined by Strong’s as “a public minister, a servant of the state.” How can we be calling to “defund the police” when God has put them in place for our protection? The Bible has been removed from society, without it all men will act without conscience, and become like the animals they really are.
7. God created race. He has chosen the Jewish race, the seed of Abraham. It is only through this nation, and specifically, Abraham’s son, Jesus Christ, that men can be blessed, as Jesus clearly told the Samaritan – her religion was pointless:
“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)
The only way to find salvation is through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ through whom the promises to Abraham are extended to all nations:
“…in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
God has given a general call to all men – to repent and come to God on his terms:
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
As far as God is concerned, all men are the same, as Paul described:
[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)
He views all mankind equally, and his view of all mankind is expressed by the Apostle John:
“…the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19)
It doesn’t matter what our race, our colour, our creed, God views the whole world as lying in wickedness, and consequently has condemned it to death. At the same time, he has invited all to find life. God doesn’t discriminate, but invites all to participate, regardless of race, sex, or status:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28–29)
8. One thing God does require is for all men to repent. The mission of the saints right now is to spread that message. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ commanded his disciples:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15–16)
He did not tell them to organize rallies to change society, he told them to preach and change individuals.
A time to change society
There will come at a time when the saints will be dramatically involved in changing society. The fact remains we look to the future. The political heavens and earth of today, are soon to be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ:
“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7)
The political heavens and earth of today are not our responsibility:
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13)
We look to the kingdom age to bring in a righteous government. While we don’t involve ourselves in the politics of this age, they do hold great interest for us, because we see God’s hand at work, bringing about his will:
“…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)
Are things rough right now? Yes, they are. Consider what Paul said:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Romans 8:18–24)
The entire world groans and struggles in pain waiting for the coming of Christ, when the hope of Israel will save it! When the King of Israel – the righteous ruler will go forth, as was prophesied in Isaiah:
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and might, The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, Neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, And reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, And faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Isaiah 11:1–5)
The corrupt governments of this world will be brought down, and those who have sought to deceive and oppress, such as the Catholic Harlot of Revelation (also known as the False Prophet), who along with the Dragon (Russia), and the Beast (Europe), will speak the frog-spirit doctrines that will gather all nations to the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty. When the Lord’s judgment of this world is brought into play, the rulers of the new political heavens will peel with an almighty cry, described by John:
“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” (Revelation 19:1–2)
We, according to his promise, look with great anticipation for that day, when the oppressed will be lifted up with hope – the hope of the promises made to the fathers.
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.