The voice was attributed to the most hated man in the West—Osama bin Laden. Six days before the horror of Bali, in a recorded message played on Arabic television, he said: “God is our witness that the men of Islam are preparing for you what would fill your hearts with terror, and they will target the hinges of your economy until you stop your injustice and aggression or either of us dies first…” (Bulletin, October 22, 2000, p33). And Bali demonstrated that their preparations were thorough.

Devastation in Bali

The adherents of Islam struck with such sudden terror and ferocity that few of the Australians and other nationals, tragically struck down, would have ever imagined it possible. But struck down they were, and Islam claimed another victory in its misguided mission to bring significant parts of Asia under its control.

All of our community would have been dismayed at the images of bedlam and carnage that filled the media. None of our community would have missed the significance of this barbarous act. So close to our shores was a graphic demonstration that the times in which we live have no parallel, except the days of Noah, when men had no respect for another’s life.

In the days of Noah, the influence of men like Lamech had reached the depths of dreadful depravity. In very similar terms to those used by Osama bin Laden, Lamech sang to his wives—

“Adah and Zillah, listen to me. O wives of Lemek, hear what I say:

The man who wounds me, him I will slay

I slay a boy for a blow

If Cain be avenged seven times

Then seventy and seven times Lemek!” (Gen 4:23,24, Weymouth)

Such was the influence of Lamech, that by the time of the Deluge the earth was a terrible place, riddled with crime and men who ruled by fear and terror described as “giants” and “men of renown”. The similarity with our own times is chillingly identical.

Sadly, we know that conditions will continue to deteriorate as we wait for the coming of the Master (2 Tim 3:13). There will be further senseless waste of human life and suffering, until the will of wayward mankind is turned to the will of the Creator. However, it is times like these that should make us increase our longing for the coming of the Prince of Peace (2 Tim 4:8; cp Matt 24:37,38).

Our obligation towards those of our families and friends who remain outside the Ark of Salvation should be actually heightened in time of tragedy as we have seen in Bali and many other places in our troubled world. The Lord himself warned at a time of tragedy that stunned the nation of Israel, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1–5). Let us heed the warning, for “behold the judge standeth at the door” (James 5:9).

Elections in Turkey

For the first time in its democratic history, a Turkish political party with Islamic roots has won government in its own right. The leader of the triumphant AKP, Mr Erdogan, was quick to reassure the West that it does not intend to change the alliances and leanings of the outgoing Government.

However, there is considerable unease in the West, particularly NATO and the US, which needs bases and facilities in Turkey in the event of war with Iraq. The unease stems from the sentiments of a poem read by Mr Erdogan, which too has a striking similarity to those of Lamech, and which he read at a political rally in 1999. The poem in part reads—

“Minarets are our bayonets,

Domes are our helmets

Mosques are our barracks

Believers are our soldiers”

(Australian Financial Review, November 5, 2002, p10 Islamists Sieze Power in Turkey.)

Nevertheless, upon his party winning power, to shore up the not inconsiderable foreign aid that floods into Turkey from the US and Israel, Mr Erdogan seems to have tempered his extremist views with a healthy dose of economic pragmatism. In return the US retains its bases on Turkish soil for potential strikes against Iraq, and Israel can count Turkey as a friend in an increasingly hostile Middle East.

The enigma of an Islamic nation with its eyes towards the West is not a difficult situation to explain. Daniel 11:40 prophesies that we can expect to see it overrun by and made a vassal nation of Gog and his confederates, more than likely because of the allegiances to the US and Israel it promises to continue to honour.

Here is yet another reminder that the “most High ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Dan 4:17) soon to “… become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

Britain and Gomer—Major Rift Emerges

In a major development, relations between Britain and France have hit an all time low, almost rivalling the stand-off between the leaders of the two nations in the 1960’s over Britain’s aspirations to join the Common Market, as the EU was known then.

The split came to a head over the plan announced by France for a United States of Europe, which was “immediately decried by the Blair Government.” (Adelaide Advertiser, October 30, 2002, p32 Bitter Feud Engulfs Blair, Chirac) In fact, the most ‘common’ thing that seems to exist between the two nations is their differences! The major issue is the strong public support of Britain for the USA in its “War on Terrorism”, where the European position has been a little more subdued. However, when the USA extended its war to Iraq, the gulf between Britain and its EU peers became sharper and more strident. France, together with Russia in the UN Security Council, continued to rail against the United States’ proposed resolutions, much to the chagrin of Britain.

Britain and France also have major differences over the Common Agricultural Policy. This policy favours the retention of many economically nonviable farms in countries like France through heavy subsidies resulting in overproduction, and to the disadvantage of new members of the EU like Poland with crumbling agricultural sectors. Notably the major fallout between the two nations came when Britain found that a deal had been struck between France and Germany to retain the current policy framework until 2013 before a scheduled meeting to discuss future directions was held in Brussels.

The remarkable strengthening of the alliance across the Atlantic in recent times, will continue to develop in line with the prophetical position that Christadelphians have maintained for over 150 years. We will see the continuing alienation of Britain from her EU partners, such that the time is fast approaching for Britain to make the break from the EU. The plan for a United Sates of Europe is out for discussion and the final draft is expected by June 2003. It calls for a President of Europe and an elected Congress of the Peoples of Europe. As we see the alignment of the nations described in Ezekiel 38 becoming a reality, it is only a matter of time before Britain will be either forced to make a decision or have it made for her by the EU.

Is Russia a Spent Force?

There is no doubt that Russia is continuing to find times difficult. The queues for food and staple items are still as long as ever in her decaying cities; her demoralised and poorly equipped army continues to fight, in all probability, an un-winnable war in Chechnya; the navy is mostly mothballed and rusting in bases, too unsafe to go to sea; her fledgling stock market has added little value to the sagging economy, given its spectacular failure to attract foreign capital; huge interest payments on loans to worldwide agencies dwarf her inability to meet them, and so the list of woes goes on.

Is this one of the major forces that will be used as an instrument of the living God to unite with Europe and the Muslim world to make that long awaited pre-emptive strike deep into the land of Israel, sweeping Egypt and Turkey out of the way ensuring unfettered access through the Suez Canal and the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits?

The answer is quite simply, yes.

Whilst the assessment in the first paragraph is without equivocation, it is purely a human assessment of the state of a nation and if factored into our considerations of prophecy, asserts that God would not be able to work through Russia to fulfil His Purpose. Consider the following important points which, whilst not exhaustive, should cause anyone who is rethinking our traditional position to review their position—

  • In Ezekiel 38, the prophet repeatedly addresses “Gog, the land of Magog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal”, as being the full title of the dictator, in verses 2, 3, 14 and 18. Note how the prophet makes specific reference to the other nations that will be joined with Gog, only once. There is no doubt that they will be one in purpose with each other, but it is the principal nations comprising Central Europe and Russia that are the principal drivers of this confederacy. The language is clear that the Islamic nations, whilst part of the host, are being led by the others. One factor though is certain. The nations used by God to describe the extent of Islamic solidarity are at the extremities of the Muslim countries in the Middle East. Persia to the East, Ethiopia in the South, and Libya in the West, all represent as it were points on the map which, when joined, demonstrates that all of Islam will stand with Gog and his principal confederates.
  • Joel 3:9,10 describes the waking up of mighty men and a class described as “the weak” saying that they are “strong”. The time of the conflict we know as Armageddon will clearly see some surprising shows of strength from sources least expected. God being all-powerful is able to make what we surmise to be weak, or as good as asleep, strong for his Purpose. These terms may well be applied to Russia today. In economic terms they are on the verge of collapse and militarily they have outdated equipment, unserviceable ships and tanks, and poorly trained troops who cannot win against a handful of rabid terrorists. This is the very type of nation that will draw on their reserves of patriotic fervour and be rallied to make that fatal drive to the gates of Zion.
  • Why would they go there? We could speculate many reasons, but none make good sense. In pure business terms Russian and European interests in crushing Israel seem to lack a return on the investment. Perhaps they will do so to curry favour with the Islamic nations that hold the bulk of the world’s oil. Or maybe it will be to gain access to the significant mineral deposits in and around the Dead Sea. Or it could be to gain control of the software industry that focuses on the development of security software just outside Tel Aviv. None seem to warrant either individually or collectively the huge risks and costs associated with the incursion. In fact, it seems that that is behind the question asked by the merchants of Tarshish and the young lion nations, “Art thou come to take a spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13) In the context the question seems to be, “We heard your stated objectives (see v12), but we find it hard to believe that it is really worth your while.” Given that no definitive answer is available from the Scriptures, we must resist the temptation to become amateur political scientists, and rather accept that, what to man seems illogical and perhaps impossible, God can and will do. The Almighty states very clearly that He will bring the host down to the Middle East virtually against their better judgment and prevailing common sense. The prophet describes the invaders as being dragged down by hooks that Yahweh has put into their jaws (Ezekiel 38:4). And come they will, for God has said they will. This could hardly describe the attitude of the Arabs to become involved in fighting the Jews over a land that they think is theirs.

We have been faithfully watching the developments in the world and particularly as they relate to Russia, and there is no doubt that Russia will feature as a principal actor in the final days of the Gentiles. Let us be found watching and waiting in faith, believing that with God all things are possible.

There is no doubt that we live in the last days. They are exciting and dramatic days, as the plan of the Almighty steadily unfolds before us. But we need to be ever vigilant lest the day come upon us unawares through being caught up in the affairs of the age, that will surely drag us down. Soon God will witness against all the peoples of the earth and everything that elevates itself against the magnification of His Holy Name, not the promotion of the cause of the Osama bin Ladens (Micah 1:1–4). “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.”