Dwelling Carelessly in Isles

Who would have thought that prior to Christ’s return to believers we would be writing about Russia’s move into the Middle East? This is the situation we now find ourselves in. Yet one of the most extraordinary aspects of these events is that they hardly rate a mention in some news services. In past decades, world events were openly discussed with concern by many in the work place, yet now this crisis hardly rates a mention. How could this be?

The prophet Ezekiel warns: “I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly (Heb betach) in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD” (39:6). This tells us that it is not only Israel dwelling “safely”or “confidently”(betach, Ezek 38: 8,11,14; 39:26), but there are also other nations in “the isles” who are completely unaware of the impending storm, living a life of carelessness and ease.

A similar scenario is found in Luke 17:26-32, part of which is quoted above. As one commentator in The Australian observed a few years ago,“We may have thought ourselves immune, but we aren’t, and it’s likely we will soon be engulfed.” The previous Lampstand Watchman gave an extensive overview of the world situation just prior to Russia’s intervention in Syria in late September 2015. Some two months later, however, we will now simply relay some of the extraordinary commentary in the media about these latest events. In most cases, little additional explanation will be required as we soak in the reality of what really is happening.

Russia’s War against ISIS

Earlier in 2015, some commentators warned of Russia’s inevitable move south. One article entitled, ‘Handing the Middle East to Russia’ saw the writing on the wall, saying, “With the US absence, the Middle East faces a power vacuum that could tear it apart with unforeseeable consequences for regional peace and stability. The search for a new power capable of acting as a balancing force has intensified. Some in the region think Russia could and should assume that role.” (New York Post 16.02.15) How right he was. Russia is now being portrayed as the “guard” or “protector” envisaged in Ezekiel 38:7:

New York Post 19.09.15

PUTIN IS TURNING THE SYRIAN COAST INTO ANOTHER CRIMEA: Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church [has] voiced support for Moscow’s decision to carry out air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State, calling it a “holy battle”. [The church said] “The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it.” Get ready for Russia to cast itself as the protector … Russia has always seen itself as the “Third Rome” and the last standard-bearer of Christianity … (New York Post 19.09.15).

ISIS PICKED WRONG ENEMY – PUTIN READY TO LAUNCH TOTAL WAR AGAINST JIHADIS: “Moscow is preparing to beef up its aerial bombing campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Syria in retaliation for the downing of a Russian jet over Egypt,” security experts said (UK Daily Express 5.11.15).

Sputnik 3.11.15

RUSSIA’S WINNING THE ELECTRONIC WAR: In Ukraine and Syria, Russian forces are using high-tech equipment to jam drones and block battle field communications – and forcing the US to scramble to catch up. As they have charted the war in southeast Ukraine over the past year, drones flown by the OSCE have run into the same problem: Russian troops on the ground are jamming them into virtual blindness. It’s just one part of a sophisticated Russian electronic warfare effort in Ukraine that has proved a sobering experience for the US Army. Lt Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of US Army units in Europe, has described Russian EW capabilities in Ukraine as “eye-watering” (Foreign Policy 21.10.15).

Time 28.09.15

THOUSANDS OF IRANIAN TROOPS ARE NOW IN SYRIA FOR GROUND OFFENSIVES AGAINST INSURGENTS: The Syrian army and allied Iranian and Hezbollah forces are preparing for a ground offensive against insurgents in the Aleppo area backed by Russian air strikes, two senior regional officials familiar with the plans said (Reuters 13.10.15).

Time 28.09.15

If this is not enough, the very week Russia began its grand move into Syria, Time Magazine’s front cover featured Pope Francis, to the title, “The New Roman Empire”. This followed the previous month’s front page of National Geographic featuring “Pope Francis remakes the Vatican”.

Sanctify War

Daniel 11:40-45 reveals that there will be a latter day King of the North and King of the South in the Middle East. Russia will become the King of the North when she moves into the ancient Seleucid territory north of Israel. This area spans across Syria, Iraq, Iran and part of Afghanistan. She will then re-establish the Roman Empire by taking Constantinople in Turkey. At that point, the King of the North and little horn of the goat become one and the same power. The fourth beast will at this time “stamp the residue” with its brass clawed feet (Dan 7:19). Recent events make that scenario entirely realistic.

Business Insider 17.10.15

The Russian Church is thoroughly and unashamedly involved in these events, with various images being shown of priests “blessing” bombs, weapons and troops with holy water:

‘WAR ON TERROR IS SACRED’: ORTHODOX CHURCH PRAISES PUTIN DECISION ON SYRIA AIRSTRIKES: A senior cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church has said his church fully supports Moscow’s plan to render military aid to the Syrian government: “We have an inter-religious council in Russia and I can say with confidence the coming statement of this body that unites Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists will support our state’s decision, the decision with which our state again assumes a special role in the Middle East and in particular in Syria” (Russia Today 30.09.15).

CHURCH SAYS RUSSIA FIGHTING ‘HOLY BATTLE’ IN SYRIA: Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church on Wednesday voiced support for Moscow’s decision to carry out air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State group, calling it a ‘holy battle’. “The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it,” said the head of the Church’s public affairs department (Yahoo News 30.09.15).

MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, RUSSIA’S INVASION OF SYRIA IS A HOLY CHRISTIAN CRUSADE, DONE TO PROTECT CHRISTIANITY:

Shoebat.com 2.10.15

Russia is truly a Christian Nation, and may God aid her in the war against evil and Islamic tyranny. Russia’s entering into Syria is a holy war; it is the latest crusade of our time. It is a holy fight to defend the brethren, to protect the holy sites and the churches in Syria. As (senior Church spokesman) Chaplin declared: “The active position of our country has always been connected with protection of the weak and oppressed, like the Middle East Christians who are now experiencing a real genocide. Russia’s role has always been in protecting peace and justice for all Mideast peoples. Putin is the St. Constantine of our time, for like that priestly king of old, he has unsheathed the holy sword of the Church to strike down the enemies of God for the cause of humanity. Russia is following the Christian precept of loving God, honouring the state, and defending the brethren” (Shoebat.com/RescueChristians.org 3.10.15).

Russia’s Shrewd Diplomacy

One of the amazing aspects of Russian politics in recent years is the extent of Russian influence in so many countries near and abroad. Russia continues to manoeuvre the chess pieces to expand its power. It is “by peace” that “he shall destroy many” and this is being accomplished through clever intrigue and religious fraud (Dan 8:23-25; 11:36-39).

SHREWD DIPLOMACY: PUTIN ‘FORGES ALLIANCES WITH EVERY KEY PLAYER’ IN MID EAST: Russia is particularly well-positioned to bring peace to Syria and use this achievement to cement ties with all major stakeholders in the Middle East at a time when the Obama administration is “weak and passive” in the region. “There is a growing sense in Moscow, and among diplomats and politicians in some countries in the Middle East and the West, that Russia has a better chance than others to combine its increased influence over Assad with its military muscle in Syria’s skies to broker a deal that ends the Syrian conflict” (Sputnik 3.11.15).

RUSSIAN JETS DESTROYED 2000 TERRORIST TARGETS SINCE SEPT 30: Russian Aerospace Forces have carried out 1631 sorties and destroyed 2084 ISIL and Nusra Front targets in Syria since the start of the anti-terrorist air campaign in the country (Sputnik 3.11.15).

RUSSIA’S ANTI-ISIL AIRSTRIKES IN SYRIA MAY END WAR – WALESA: Russia’s military operation against the Islamic State (ISIL) jihadist group in Syria may help to resolve the four-year civil war in the country, former Polish President Lech Walesa said. “Now that Russia has joined in the resolution of the conflict in Syria, I think that the situation will calm down. I know that if the Russians have joined, the situation will be resolved,”Walesa told RIA Novosti in an interview. Also Walesa stated that restoring order in Syria must include the avoidance of past mistakes made by US-led intervention and regime change in the Arab world (Sputnik 9.11.15).

Additional Middle East Flashpoints

Syria and Iraq are not the only Middle Eastern countries where Russia is involved. Russia’s alliance with Iran is troubling the world, considering that there are now multiple conflict zones in the Middle East:

PUTIN’S CYPRUS DEAL GIVES RUSSIA A FOOTHOLD IN THE EU: Russia has gained a military foothold in Europe after Vladimir Putin signed a controversial deal with Cyprus to dock warships there. British MPs said Nicosia’s decision to let the Russian navy, including heavily armed frigates, use its ports for counter-terrorism and anti-piracy was “worrying and disappointing”. The Cypriot President hinted Russian warplanes could also be allowed to use a military airbase on the south-west coast of the island. A senior British Army officer said: “This will be watched closely by London.We know Russia has long coveted a naval base in Cyprus” (UK Daily Telegraph 27.02.15).

SAUDI–IRAN RIVALRY OVER YEMEN DEEPENS: Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics, and its regional rival’s theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam. The toxic rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran is playing out on the battle fields of Yemen and Syria, and in the dysfunctional politics of Iraq and Lebanon, with each side resorting to sectarian rhetoric. Iran and its allies refer to all of their opponents as terrorists and extremists, while Saudi Arabian clerics speak of a regional Persian menace (Associated Press 16.04.15).

RUSSIA AND IRAN SIGN LONG – AWAITED S-300 CONTRACT: Russia and Iran have penned a long-awaited contract for the delivery of Moscow’s advanced S-300 air-defence missile systems (Moscow Times 9.11.15).

PUTIN TARGETS LIBYA AND YEMEN NEXT TO PROTECT RUSSIAN INTERESTS: Vladimir Putin has issued his strongest warning yet of fresh military interventions in the Middle East, with lawless Libya and war-torn Yemen in the Kremlin’s crosshairs. The Russian president said his priority was to protect citizens living abroad, regardless of where they were. That could include action to safeguard Russians living in the North African state of Libya, which has been ravaged by violent Islamic extremism since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi . Speaking at the fifth World Congress of Compatriots in Moscow, Mr Putin said: “People who are not in Russia due to various reasons should be firmly sure: we will always protect your interests, moreover, in difficult and crisis situations, such as in Libya, Syria or Yemen” (UK Daily express 7.11.15).

Libya is identified in both Daniel 11:43 and Ezekiel 38:5 as being with Gog when he moves into Israel for Armageddon. The frog spirit revolution in Libya has prepared a power vacuum in that country so it will fall easily into Gog’s grasp.

The Precious Things of Egypt (and Israel)

From a military point of view, Egypt is in a strategically important location for Russia. However, in Daniel 11:42-43 we read what has been a most puzzling Scripture: “the land of Egypt shall not escape. He (the King of the North) shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt.” This has long baffled Bible students as we struggled to observe any such “precious things” for Gog to desire. But no longer. A few years ago it was revealed that vast amounts of gold lie beneath the Sinai Peninsula. And now this:

NATURAL GAS DISCOVERY COULD BE LARGEST EVER: In what could be the largest natural gas discovery in history, Italian energy company Eni says it has unearthed a “supergiant” gas field in the Mediterranean Sea covering about 40 square miles. The gas field could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Eni says that’s the energy equivalent of about 5.5 billion barrels of oil. Found in the deep waters off the northern coast of Egypt, Eni claims the gas field to be the largest ever in the Mediterranean and possibly the world. After Eni explores and begins to develop the field, the company estimates that it will be able to satisfy Egypt’s natural gas demand for “decades.” “This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt,” said Eni CEO. With a large presence already established in Egypt, Eni said it expects to be able to quickly take advantage of its find (CNN 30.08.15).

Also, two weeks after Russia’s move into Syria, a very significant discovery has been made in what Russia calls “disputed territory” in Israel:

HUGE OIL DISCOVERY IN GOLAN HEIGHTS CAN MAKE ISRAEL ENERGY SELF SUFFICIENT: A huge oil discovery in the Golan Heights has the potential to make Israel energy self-sufficient for decades to come (JewishPress. com 7.10.15).

BLACK GOLD UNDER THE GOLAN: A rig carrying out exploratory drilling is hardly a rare sight in the Middle East; but this is no ordinary place. Israeli flags fly on it, though no other country in the world recognises Israel’s sovereignty over the area. A few miles to the east, jihadist rebel groups are fighting a bloody war. And few people ever expected that significant amounts of oil might lie there at all, under a dormant volcanic field. Welcome to the Golan Heights. Israeli and American oilmen believe they have discovered a bonanza in this most inconvenient of sites. After three test-drillings, Yuval Bartov, the chief geologist of Genie Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of American-based Genie Energy, says his company thinks it has found an oil reservoir “with the potential of billions of barrels” (The Economist 7.11.15).

The Economist 7.11.15

We are now witnessing preparations for Israel’s salvation and God’s Kingdom unfolding before our very eyes. How thankful we should be to our God, and how much should we long for the time when Israel and Judah will again be restored. Continue to pray that this might be soon:

“Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph 3:14-17).