Bible prophecy is designed to interest and excite us. It will enthuse us to the reality that Yahweh is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). Amos declared, “surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret (NIV—“plan”) to His servants the prophets” (3:7). This gives us great confidence to know that much important prophetic information is contained in Scripture, and that it is our responsibility to search it out.

Brother Thomas, in Elpis Israel, page 323, commenting on the words of Amos, wrote “This revelation is made that His people’s faith may be confirmed and enlarged, and that in every generation they may know the times and seasons to which they stand related. Knowing the signs, they are enabled to discern the times; and while consternation and dismay cause men’s hearts to fail they are courageous, and rejoice in perceiving the approach of the Kingdom of God”.

 In this article we wish to consider events that must happen in the Middle East and suggest the signs that we should look for in fulfilment of these events.

There are two important rules that must be followed in the interpretation of Bible prophecy. The first is that nations contemporary with Israel and Judah did not completely fulfil the “burden” judgments pronounced against them. The second is that at the “time of the end” nations would arise occupying the area of these ancient nations.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia

 Jordan and Saudi Arabia presently occupy the area of the ancient dominions of Edom, Moab and Ammon. Moab was a proud and arrogant nation, always hostile against Israel, for ever rejoicing and skipping “for joy” at Israel’s reverses (Jer 48:27). Accordingly God caused judgments to be proclaimed against them. Zephaniah 2:9 says they would become as “Sodom… even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation”. Jeremiah declared, “Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives” (Jer 48:46). These prophecies were fulfilled during the period of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions.

But this was not the limit of the prophecies! A number of Scriptures spoke of the revival of Moab in the latter days, their subsequent help towards Israel, their escape from the northern invader and their final submission to Israel. Consider the following quotes:

  • “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come” (Jer 48:47—NIV)
  • “Let mine outcasts (Israel) dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler” (Isa 16:4)
  • “Edom and Moab, and the children of Ammon” will escape out of the hand of the king of the north (Dan 11:41)
  • “The remnant of my people (Israel) shall possess them” (Zeph 2:9).
  • “They (Israel) shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab” (Isa 11:14)

History proves that Israel has never been in control of Moab. The question arises therefore, which power best fulfils the latter day position of Moab? Is it modern day Jordan or some other power in the region either friendly or hostile to Jordan?

In Isaiah 16:4 the prophet describes a time when Moab will be a “covert… from the face of the spoiler”. We know from verse 5 that this event takes place just prior to the establishment of David’s throne by Christ. Hence the latter-day Moab has sufficient power to protect Israel from the ravages of Gog. This same strength is alluded to in Daniel 11:41 where Gog is described as being unable to invade the area of ancient Moab. When we couple this idea with Ezekiel 38:13 (where Tarshish and her allies say, “Art thou come to take a spoil”) and Isaiah 18:1–7 (where a maritime power of the latter days is described as protecting Israel from the invasion of many river-nations) we can infer that a greater power than modern day Jordan will occupy the region of ancient Moab.

Brother Thomas wrote in Elpis Israel: “But Moab’s population is vanished, and the country a mere wilderness, whose solitude is only disturbed by the howl of beasts, or the occasional tramp of the Bedouins. For Moab, therefore, to respond to the prophetic exhortation, a power must take possession of the country capable of outstretching its wings for the defence of a people ‘whose land the rivers have spoiled’, and that power, I believe, is Britain’s, the Moab of the latter days” (pp 444,445).

 It is significant to note that Britain’s influence has increased in the area since World War 1. The prophecies demand that she be well entrenched in the area prior to Armageddon. We should constantly monitor the influence of Britain in the area of Jordan.

We know too from Ezekiel 38:13 that Sheba and Dedan (modern day Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Gulf States) will resist Gog’s penetration of the region and hence we can expect a growing pro-western attitude from these areas before the invasion.

Turkey, Iran and Iraq to be Claimed by the Bear

 In Daniel 7:11–12 the prophet saw the destruction of the Roman beast and in doing so noted that the first three beasts out-lived the fourth. The lion, bear and leopard therefore become representative of latter day powers occupying the ancient territories of Assyria, Persia and Greece.

In Elpis Israel, Brother Thomas wrote: “the power which shall possess Persia in the latter days will be the Bear, and consequently answer to the breast of silver. We have already in the heraldry of nations an intimation of the Power destined to act the part of the Bear, when the Four Beasts have “their dominion taken away”. This power is the Russian, whose symbol is the Bear. This is so well-known that the phrase “the Russian Bear” is as familiar as household words. Russia, which already comprehends some of the Persian territory in its bounds, is destined to conquer Persia, and to possess it from India to Ethiopia” (p 332).

There are four main features advanced by Bible prophecy in relation to Persia (Elam):

1   Its latter day revival as a nation (Jer 49:39)

2   To be conquered by Russia through military conquest (Dan 7:7,19)

3   It will cause the fourth Beast (latter day Russia) to have feet like a Bear

4   Persia will become part of the Russian military machine (Ezek 38:5).

Let us consider these four points with a view to establishing what events we should be looking for in the region of Persia, the ancient equivalent of modern Iran and Iraq.

Jeremiah, after prophesying judgments on Elam (ancient Persia), declares, Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come declares Yahweh(49:39—NIV). During the past one hundred years Iran and Iraq have experienced a chequered history. The two things they have in common, however, are their fierce anti-American and anti-Semitic posturing. We can expect this trend to continue because we note that Ezekiel 38:5 includes Persia (Iran and Iraq) amongst its allies.

We know from Daniel 11:40 that Russia must eventually control Constantinople. Daniel wrote, “at the time of the end… the King of the north shall come against him”. The “king of the north” is the Russian Gog (the one from the north parts mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2,15), whilst the “him” refers to the “king” of Daniel 11:36, that is the “little horn” of Daniel 8:9 and the “king of fierce countenance” of Daniel 8:23, namely the power in control of Constantinople.

Whether this move into Turkey takes place before or after the return of our Lord, time alone will tell. It nevertheless does behove us to be watching for signs of movement by Russia against the power of Turkey.

When Russia moves into Turkey it will cause the image to stand upon its feet. Iran and Iraq will need to beware, because this fourth beast will finish its mission upon Persia and “stamp the residue with his feet” (Dan 7:7,19). The ancient Roman power never completely conquered Persia, but when it is resuscitated under Russian control it will fulfil its mission. A stamping with the feetindicates an aggressive stance, as though she comes forth in anger to grasp the prize of territory and resources.

In Revelation 13:2 the Roman Beast is described as having “the feet of a bear”, whilst in Daniel 7:19 it has “nails” or claws “of brass”. This suggests that only when Russia takes Turkey and Greece will it manifest bear-like feet that will enhance its military manifestation. Having established her power in Turkey, she may delay before her attack on the Middle East countries like Iran and Iraq. It may be that she gives assurances to the West that this is as far as she will go, thereby lulling them into a sense of false security, an attitude of peace and safety. But sudden destruction will come as Russia comes against them like a whirlwind. The West’s bleating consternation, “Art thou come to take a spoil?” will be swept out of the way as she continues her onslaught into the Middle East.

It is significant that the three nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38:5 “Persia and Ethiopia and Libya”, have all moved from a western alliance towards Russian circles of influences in the last few decades.

Whilst Russia may today appear to have lost its past aggression, be financially bankrupt, and personally decadent, let us take heed to the facts of Scripture and be keen watchmen, ready when it makes its grand move for world domination. “Let the Russian treasury be as empty as it is said to be, and its expenditure exceed its revenue by double the alleged deficit, it will only operate as a pressure from within, causing the Autocrat to ‘enter into the countries and to overflow and pass over’, and to enrich himself with the spoil of those he is destined to subdue” (Elpis Israel, page 367).

Is Peace Possible?

 The peace initiatives in Israel have stalled on a number of occasions since the signing of the Palestinian- Israeli peace accord on 13 September 1993. It seems an impossibility to achieve peace because the obstacles appear to be too great. Yet time and again Israel is forced back to the negotiating table.

Ezekiel insists that a measure of peace must be achieved prior to Gog’s move into the Middle East. He speaks of Israel dwelling “safely” and “at rest” (Ezek 38:8,11,14). This peace is based upon Israel’s own negotiating skill with the other powers involved, rather than through the overshadowing guidance of Yahweh. He allows it, but is not happy with their moves. Why is this? Ezekiel explains: “Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel… after that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid” (Ezek 39:25–26). The statement implies that Israel will continue in their trespasses whilst they are at peace.

The reason for Yahweh’s displeasure is the same as that in the days of Hezekiah, when the nation wanted to go to Egypt for help. They “go down into Egypt and have not asked at my mouth… to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt. Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion” (Isa 30:2–3). This prophecy has a latter day application as indicated by the rest of the chapter.

Bible prophecy would suggest the following order of events:

1   Israel dwelling in peace, even though it may be fragile.

2   Russia takes Turkey

3   World wide peace (1 Thess 5:3) possibly through agreement between the Russian/European confederacy and the Western alliance. They may agree on accepted areas of world control with the West supervising the Middle East.

4   Sudden destruction as the Autocrat moves into the Middle East to the utter dismay of the West.

Jeremiah 30:2–3 speaks of a time when God will regather them and place them in the land. But all of a sudden, the peace is shattered and there is heard “the voice of trembling, of fear … every man (Heb “geber”—“a warrior”) with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail” (v5,6). This describes Armageddon; a time when the Israel Defence Forces are in total disarray and fear. It is likely that “All thy lovers have forgotten thee” (v14) will find fulfilment at the time of the invasion when the Western powers have become totally absorbed in their own problems and are incapable of offering any substantial help.

What should we look for? an escalation of the peace process which will include the Arab states, the Palestinians and Egypt. Whilst today America is the broker, we could well see Britain become more heavily involved as they move into Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

For us though, the exhortation of our Lord is very clear: “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).