Commentary on world events that relate to Bible prophecy and on Rapture Ready issues world events.


Feb 8, 2010

A War of Words Between Israel and Syria

A war is raging in the Middle East, but at least for now, it only involves words rather than bullets and bombs. In just a week's time, there has been a very heated exchange between Israel and Syria that has led to a dramatic rise in Middle East tension. I've been following prophecy for thirty years, and I've never seen a time when so many hostile statements have been made between Israel and Syria.

The war of words started when senior Israeli policymaker Yossi Peled said that another conflict on the northern border was a "matter of time." Peled noted that in the event of such a conflict breaking out, Israel would hold "Syria and Lebanon alike responsible." Up until now, Israel had always viewed Syria and Lebanon as separate concerns.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, meeting with Michael Williams, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, expressed his concern that Hezbollah fighters have been training on surface-to-surface missile systems in Syria.

Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was more outspoken: "Assad must be told bluntly that in the next war, not only will Syria be beaten, but he and his family will lose power. You will not remain in power, and neither will your family," the Moldovan-born former nightclub bouncer told a group of businessmen.

Lieberman's most damaging remark was not the suggestion of a forced regime change, but the idea that Syria had better forget about ever getting back the Golan Heights. "We must bring Syria to realize that just as it gave up on the dream of greater Syria and control of Lebanon, so it will have to give up on its ultimate demand for the Golan Heights."

His remark did contradict the official Israeli government position that it will trade territory for peace. The Syrians have long been totally fixated on getting the Golan back from Israel. They've even said in the past that the failure to return the Golan in a timely manner could mean war.

Damascus wasted no time in firing back. Syrian president Bashar Assad said that Israel is not serious about its intentions to make peace with Damascus, as evidenced by "its conduct, which is leading the region to war." His foreign minister Walid Moallem boasted: "You know that war at this time will come to your cities."

In Lebanon, the secretary general of Hezbollah--a puppet of Syria--said his forces will “change the face of the Middle East region” if there is another war with Israel.

The most likely reason Israel is taking a hard line with Syria is the realization that the vast amounts of weaponry being poured into Lebanon are part of an aggressive act by Syria. A rocket fire from southern Lebanon might as well come from Syrian soil.

There has also been a change in Israeli military thinking. Years ago, Israel was genuinely threatened by Damascus, and thought a war with them would be very costly. In the past few years, Israel has come to realize they have a huge technological advantage over the Syrians.

While the Syrian military should not be underestimated, it does not really have an air force, it has outdated artillery and armored corps, and its air defense systems were embarrassingly ineffective in the September 2007 strike against its nuclear reactor. The poor Syrians were so blindsided by the attack that they first denied it ever occurred.

One of the most dangerous factors at work in the Middle East is the idea that a conflict can be contained. Israel launched its attack against Syria with the belief that Damascus would do nothing. Syria has been shipping arms to Hezbollah with the belief that any conflict would remain confined between Hezbollah fighters and Israel.

At some point, Israel and Syria are going to reach their uncontrolled flashpoints. The involvement of key prophecy players like Russia and Iran in this potential conflict leads me to suspect that the progression of Bible prophecy is an equally unstoppable flashpoint.

If the Israeli brass knew Bible prophecy, they would probably warn the Syrians about the eventual fate of their capital. Because Israel 's leadership lacks an understanding of prophecy, they are most likely doomed to play a role in the destruction of Damascus.

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1).

-- Todd

Rome, EU, Israel Linkage Bears Watching

It is, in my view, more than interesting that Rome and the European Union (EU) seek to bring Israel into their orbit on a formal basis. This is especially fascinating, considering that the world of nations in general is more and more marginalizing Israel because of the Jewish state's perceived guilt in the matter of being the chief obstacle to Mideast peace.

The prime minister of Italy--at the heart of which sits Rome, whose people destroyed the Jewish temple and Jerusalem in AD 70, and out of which the "prince that shall come" is prophesied to emerge--is courting Israel's government, as is reported within the following news excerpt:

JERUSALEM--Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday he hopes to bring Israel into the European Union, at the start of a three-day visit to the Jewish state...

Under Berlusconi's leadership, Italy has become one of Israel's strongest allies in Europe. Berlusconi's efforts to strengthen ties with Israel followed decades of a pro-Arab tilt by previous Italian governments...

Speaking on arrival in Israel, Berlusconi told [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that "my greatest desire, as long as I am a protagonist in politics, is to bring Israel into membership of the European Union." (Aron Heller, "Berlusconi: Bring Israel into the EU," MiamiHerald.com, 1/2/10)

The fascination ratchets up when one considers the collateral dynamics making the linkage Berlusconi seeks understandable.

Europe for the most part is at the mercy of Russia and others to their east for keeping oil and natural gas flowing their way. In that regard, the EU is truly vulnerable to pressures from those regions that act sometimes less than civilized by middle European standards.. EU leadership would desperately like to have a source of natural gas, for example, that would assure at least a modicum of independence from Russia and the natural gas producing nations in its orbit over which Russia can exert hegemony.

Another interesting news item perhaps further illustrates the point of Israel's growing attractiveness to the courting Berlusconi and his EU colleagues.

The Canadian Bontan Oil and Gas Company, which has been exploring for natural gas off the coast of Israel, announced Tuesday that it had found prospective resources of up to 6 trillion cubic feet [TCF]of natural gas in Mira and Sarah Prospects off the country's coast. As defined on the company's website, prospective resources are "those quantities of petroleum estimated, as of a given date, to be potentially recoverable from undiscovered accumulations by application of future development projects." The two finds could be worth upwards of US $6 billion. ("Prospective Resources off Israel's Coast Could Be up to 6 Trillion Cubic Feet," Jerusalem Post, 2/2/10)

Some students of Bible prophecy have long speculated about the possibility of vast quantities of oil and gas perhaps one day being discovered in the small geographical area covered by modern Israel. There seem to be some indications due to recent exploration that the possibility exists. It seems, to me at least, that the Italian prime minister and others from the region out of which Antichrist is foretold to come might be thinking along the same lines.

Certainly, there is to be something that puts hooks in the jaws of Gog, the leader of the coalition of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. The western powers, as well as the Saudis and others of the region surrounding Israel, it seems, will send a diplomatic note of protest to the Russian leader, asking if he is coming to take "great spoil" from the area occupied by God's chosen people.

The attack, of course, will be satanically inspired, but it is logical to at least ponder whether it will be oil and natural gas that might be the geophysical "hook" that causes Gog and his Persian and other partners to think the "evil thought" foretold by the prophet Ezekiel. Israel's being brought into the EU realm by the leaders of the region prophesied to produce Antichrist would certainly be a spectacular stage-setting ingredient to the prophetic puzzle. The "beast" would, when coming to power, have legitimate claim to all that is Israel's, from the earthly perspective, if Israel were a member of the EU--and if, as many of us suspect, the EU is indeed the nucleus of Antichrist's future kingdom.

According to Daniel the prophet, Antichrist will at least for a time cause great industrial productivity that promises security. This will all quickly turn to hell on earth, of course, as Antichrist's luciferian rage and God's wrathful judgment begins. Antichrist will need, most likely, control of the oil and gas sources in order to "cause craft to prosper" (Dan 8: 25).

The attempts of the leadership of the EU to bring Israel into its sphere of influence by making it a member is a matter to watch.

--- Terry