This is the title of an article published in the Intelligence Digest and referred to in the following remarks by Brother Rob Thiele. By contrast, we are encouraged by the words of the Lord, “when ye see these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads for your redemption draweth nigh” Luke 21:28

Middle East War in 1998 ?

The Intelligence Digest has recently commented that: “There is now a distinct possibility (openly aired by Turkey’s former prime minister Tansu Ciller) that Turkey could find itself at war with Russia, over the supply of Russian S-300 missiles to Cyprus, by the end of 1998. Turkey has said delivery of the missiles would be a cause for war with Cyprus; Russia has said it intends to deliver by the end of 1998… It is possible (we will put it no bigger than that for now) that Russia has made a strategic decision to make a last gasp bid to regain its former superpower status by providing the Islamic world with the means to defeat Israel and reconquer Jerusalem. We know already that Russia is actively arming both Syria and Iran”.

They go on: “And what of Israel while all this is going on around it? The more information that leaks out about Syrian and Iranian unconventional capabilities, the closer Israel comes to launching its own first strike. With Turkey possibly heading for war with Russia; with Iran and Syria arming themselves with deadly unconventional weapons and the means to deliver them; and with the Palestinians moving toward an armed intifada in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the temptation (for Israel) to strike first will become intense, as has been openly hinted at by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“At Netanyahu’s 11 September meeting with US Secretary of State Madelaine Albright, he pointed out that Iran would have acquired enough ballistic missile technology within a year to 18 months so as not to require outside assistance. And because of this, both in the meeting in private, and outside the meeting in public, Netanyahu warned: There must be an appropriate response (by Israel) in the  time that remains… In other words, both Israel and Iran, and Turkey and Russia, are on an 18 month countdown to war. 1998 is beginning to look like a year to fear.”

We are seeing an accumulating body of evidence that in many ways there is a coming together of Russia and Europe as we have been anticipating. Whether the scenario outlined by the Intelligence Digest will ultimately be the way in which Turkey (“the house of Togarmah of the north quarters”) becomes aligned with the developing Russian confederacy, time will tell. If some see 1998 as “a year to fear”, we need to remember that we are “the children of the day; we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober”.

Sport as Religion

 The recent intense focus on drugs in sport, particularly at the World Swimming Championships in Perth, has highlighted our national obsession with sport—an obsession not peculiarly Australian; it is world-wide in scope. One commentator, as reported in a recent article in The Australian, has stated that “Marx’s label for religion, the opium of the people, should be applied to professional sport”.

The writer notes: “In elite sport, qualities we normally resist, such as ruthlessness, prejudice and tribalism, are acceptable and actively encouraged. Athletes are expected to harbour feelings of hatred for opponents and to express these feelings through aggressive, rule-bending behaviour. Spectators celebrate victories and abuse opponents and referees with an intensity that is unacceptable in their day-to-day lives”.

In a world largely without religion or ideology  people increasingly look for diversion and entertainment in sport and other activities to fill the void in lives without purpose. We do well to reflect on our blessings in having lives rich in hope and not be distracted by the obsessions of our age.

Germany Ringmaster to East-West Ties

 This was the heading of a Financial Review article highlighting the growing economic interdependence of Germany and Russia and the former Soviet bloc countries. The article commenced this way:

“German business is now a major force in driving economic change in the former Soviet Union and its satellites, with Germany’s trade throughout the region racing ahead by about 70 per cent over the last seven years.

“For most nations in Central and Eastern Europe, Germany is now their leading trading partner,  with German business links helping to create jobs while expanding Germany’s political influence in the region… Germany’s trading relations with central and eastern Europe had become vital in their push for economic and political integration with western Europe”.

Significant too is the comment that: “Signs continue to emerge that the giant Russian economy is turning the corner after years of economic gloom”.

Surely there is developing in Europe and the East a confederacy which will soon be of overwhelming wealth and power, “a great image, whose brightness was excellent… and the form thereof terrible”. “When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”