Monday, 16 June 2014

Crisis in the Middle East: Will the latest crisis bring us closer to the...



The civil war is spilling over into Iraq from Syria on a major level, the peace talks in Israel have come to end as Abbas joined up with Hamas and now the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the hills near Hebron makes the Middle East about as hot as ever. Certainly peace in the Middle East is something that seems like mission impossible for world leaders I’m sure.
This you can be sure of, the events of this week are a huge blow to the United States of America, a country that has lost many lives and billions of dollars trying fix Iraq. To explain the depth of the crisis an editorial of USA Today put it this way: “The lightning-fast march of a violent al-Qaeda splinter group through the heart of Iraq is not just one new slice of bad news from the Middle East. It is a defining moment that exposes more than a decade of failed U.S. policy and leaves the Obama administration with deeply disquieting choices.” The editorial continued to say “The administration cannot simply stand aside while the jihadists attain their goal of establishing radical Islamist rule. The threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is too direct to ignore. Its tactics are so extreme that al-Qaeda disowned it, and its leaders are openly hostile to America. Letting such a group gain a permanent foothold would destabilize the region and repeat the history that led to 9/11. But neither can the U.S. easily crush ISIS by plunging back into a re-invigorated Iraqi civil war.” This is such a serious blow to the US and really the entire western world that sent troops, but their options are terrible all around. Further to this as America has pulled out of Iraq, Iran has filled the power vacuum to some extent. Now Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are guarding the president of Iraq and helping to secure Baghdad. Many are now talking about the map being redrawn but it is still early days, will we see the crisis in the Middle East change the geopolitical landscape there? Well on Bible in the News and long before that in the Bible Magazine much has been written about this, change must come according to Bible prophecy, the question is when and how, that is what we watch for! Back at the time of the first Gulf War, Paul Billington wrote in the second edition of the Guardians of Israel and Arabia the following: “The fact that war has now taken over from diplomatic activity may suggest two things. Firstly, that a major geopolitical upheaval in the area is now a distinct possibility ¬– perhaps laying the basis for the north-south situation we have described. Secondly, that a speeding up of events will bring about the requirements of Ezekiel’s prophecy (chapter 38) quite soon.” That statement was written almost 25 years ago and we still watch for the same requirements of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Over the last while we have seen the dramatic events in Ukraine bring us closer to what we expect in the North. In the Middle East we still watch for the temporary peaceful situation described in the same prophecy that is present when the Northern Confederacy comes down. Israel is described as “dwelling safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates…” In case there is any confusion it is certainly not the picture there today, ask the mothers who did not have their teens come home this week. Our heart goes out to them. Will the current crisis bring about this temporary peace? Time will tell but something has to and the status quo does not seem to be going anywhere let’s be honest. The other factor that is still playing out is the role of the United States in the new crisis. This we know, when the Northern confederacy comes down there is “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof” on the other side. Much has been written in the Bible Magazine on this subject but simply put Sheba and Dedan would be represented by the Gulf nations that are in that territory today, and Tarshish is Phonecia which is today Britain, the mother lion leading the merchants or other trading nations. From this understanding of who Tarshish is, the writer John Thomas correctly foretold of Britain’s role in helping the Jews back to their land. In time Britain turned its back on the Jews and the “young lion” of America picked up the mantle of protector of the Jews. Now as America is lessening its support of Israel we have seen Canada show unprecedented support of the Jewish nation and even Australia this week has raised the ire of the Palestinians by refusing to call east Jerusalem “occupied territories” thereby causing the BBC to ask in a headline – “Israel and Australia: New best mates?” The truth is that Britain and its colonies - including the United States - have a role to play in protecting the Jewish people and are the southern power in Ezekiel 38. (On a side note the United States fits into the young lions, the group of trading nations as she was herself once part of the colonies of Britain, not only that but she has acted as a young lion in protecting and helping the Jews return. If you are uncertain about the United States coming out of Britain you have to go no further than the Declaration of Independence, the document declaring the United States’ independence FROM Britain. The following is from that document: “That these United Colonies are, and Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…” Prior to this declaration the colonies were under the British Crown and although they broke away they took with them much of the culture, not the least of which was the English Bible, the book that the nations laws and government would be built upon. No doubt it was the influence of the Bible that caused many an American to be sympathetic to the Jewish cause.) Being part of the southern power of Ezekiel 38 means that a full withdrawal from the Middle East is not on the cards for America (That said it would not be surprising if Britain went back to the leading roll as she is the mother lion). It is interesting on this point that America was looking to wash her hands of Iraq and is now quite likely being pulled back at least on some level. At the time of the end Britain and her English speaking allies are in the southern Middle East, although in a weakened state are they are unable it seems from the prophecy to stop Russia invading Israel prior to Messiah standing up for his people. It is an amazing way that God has enlightened his people through the scriptures. A number of pictures are given of the end days but what road the nations will take to get into place we are always a little unsure. There is a reason for this, God wants to keep his people in a state of readiness, much like in the day of the first Passover. The Israelites were to eat the meal in a state of readiness, with shoes and coat on ready for the call to leave Egypt. God knows that if we knew Christ was coming back in 2016 that in the year 2000 we would think well, we still have another 16 years. This way we can see that things are moving toward Christ’s return but can’t be sure of the exact day. We are in the era of the redemption, of this we can be sure. Change seems to be something we will be seeing in the Middle East but the real change we need can only be brought by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah son of David. May we be ready in that day. This has been John Billington with you this week, please join us again next week for another edition of the Bible in the News, God willing.