Last year we were writing when Israel’s ‘Operation Strong Cliff ’ or ‘Protective Edge’ was taking place. Here we are, just over a year on, and we can observe so many more prophetic pieces being pushed and pulled into place by hidden angelic hands, as the nations are brought to their appointed positions. God uses the characteristics of individuals and nations to further His purpose as we see in so many examples throughout Scripture. Those same angels who were busy then, are just as active today; indeed it would appear even more so!

Surely there never has been an age that has witnessed so many things happening which we can relate to Bible Prophecy? Things are oper­ating on a global scale, whereas in time past it was a much more confined area of God’s angelic intervention.

We know too, these same angels have other work: that of preparing saints for God’s Kingdom. They have seen the lives they have helped to shape in the past, laid aside in the dust of the earth, awaiting the great day of anastasis, the process of standing up, that will end in those who were once mortal putting on immortality. Then can unfold God’s next phase, the Kingdom Age, bringing joy and hope to this troubled earth.

How wonderful and majestic the ways of our God. His glory is reflected in the wonders of His handiwork in nature, in its complexity, its inter­dependence, its variety and its ability to adapt to changes in circumstances. It is equally seen in the wonder of His Word of Life. It, too, is complex, multi-layered; each part dependent upon what would follow, giving those golden threads that make this book unique. It is a book that is relevant to every generation and their particular circum­stances. From its pages we look out in awe at the power of our God to foretell the future in such detail, which is our privilege to behold unfolding before our eyes.

Exciting changes

What is so exciting is to see that the whole picture is dramatically shaping up before our eyes.

  • The forming of the two feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, with its new east-west re-alignments.
  • Russia regaining her military might – the latter-day Dragon system, pushing back at Europe’s too far eastward expansion and at the same time building relationships with Iran and the Middle East.
  • Europe being driven towards greater political integration – the latter-day Beast
  • All these taking place at the same time as the new north-south divisions of the Middle East, after the pattern of the original Seleucid/ Ptolemy thighs of the Image.
  • Britain increasingly isolated and ready to spread her wings beyond the confines of Europe and into Israel, the Middle East and the Commonwealth and regaining her confidence as the merchants of Tarshish.
  • The realignment of Israel’s neighbours to a more open relationship with Israel, with the Palestinians losing out, as they no longer carry much weight in Middle East affairs. The problem the Arab nations face can no longer be blamed on Israel; indeed they are having to turn to Israel for her expertise in tackling the twin enemies of IS and Iran. This is being led by Saudi Arabia, (Dedan), Jordan and Egypt.
  • Yemen – ancient Sheba – returning to the influ­ence of Saudi Arabia and away from the clutches of Iran.
  • The Commonwealth countries – the young lions – increasingly aligning themselves with Israel and seeking trade in the Middle East.
  • The world ever-more troubled at the financial problems that threaten to destroy the equilib­rium of every-day life. Reports of the collapse of the pack-of-cards house which represents the banking systems of the world are more and more frequently being heard. Meanwhile Greece sinks under the burden of unrepayable debts.
  • Problems stalk the brotherhood. The faith of many is being undermined by humanistic and evolutionary thinking. Yet we live in an age where there is increasing evidence for an in­credible Designer who brought all things into being, who spoke and it happened, just like the miracles His Son performed.

If ever there was a generation that should be on their toes, living in anticipation of the Master’s call to leave all behind, to go to him, surely it is ours!

Guidance from Daniel

So let’s review the divinely-guided happenings of our world by mainly looking at Russia. Our basis is what we are told in Daniel chapter 2 concerning the dream that Nebuchadnezzar saw of a great Image with the appearance of a man, yet made up of four metals. Our long-established understanding is that this Image represents the Kingdoms of Men in op­position to God’s Kingdom. The four metal elements in their turn had control of God’s nation of Israel. It was under the final empire, Rome, that the Jewish nation was destroyed and the Jews scattered around the earth. There is one element of the Image that still remains to be formed – the feet and toes. And they could only be formed today, for two reasons.

(1) Daniel clearly told the king that the vision that he saw really belonged to the “latter-days”; the days of the return of the Master – our days:

“But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” (Dan 2:28).

The missing parts are its feet and toes. These need to be formed so that it can stand upright, in order for it to do its work (implied here and described by other prophets) of once again having short-lived control of God’s Land. The Image’s fate is to be pulverised into powder by the power of the stone of verses 34-35, which hits it. This is the returned Lord Jesus and his immortalised saints who assist in the work of saving Israel in their hour of trial, restoring the Kingdom to Israel and ultimately extending it to the whole earth.

(2) It is clear that for this to happen Israel has to be back in their land and to have control of it. This is why, since 1948, we have seen great changes affecting Europe and the Middle East, as the nations, under an angelic control unbeknown to them, fulfil God’s will as predicted in His scriptures of Truth.

The feet and toes have been shaping during most of our life-times. These are obviously extensions of the two legs, which existed in the past as the two­fold division of the Roman Empire, with a Western Empire, centred on Rome, and an Eastern Empire, centred on Constantinople: modern Istanbul.

Babylon and the band of brass and iron

So we are expecting – and seeing – the countries in the former territory of the old Roman Empire be divided into two camps – one group associated with Rome, the other associated with Constantinople. It is not a coincidence that these were the centres of what for centuries were the homes of two rival branches of religion. In the West, in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church still stands and in the East, in Constantinople, the Greek Orthodox Churches still stands. Linked to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel chapter 2, where the King was told that his kingdom would come to an end and be superseded by the silver of the Medo-Persian Empire, is another dream that the king had, many years later, recorded in chapter 4:

“Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it (Dan 4:12).

The descriptions of the Babylonian Empire are strikingly similar to chapter 2:

“Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold” (Dan 2:37-38).

We know what the king saw in this second dream. The Babylonish tree was cut down and preserved for a set time period. To aid the trunk’s preservation it was banded with a two-metal ring: “Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him” (Dan 4:23).

The Babylonish tree was not to rot away; its life would be preserved by an iron and brass band, until the completion of the seven times, when the Babylonish tree would flourish again. In the short term, Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity departed for seven times, a seven year period. There is a gap in the Babylonian chronicles, which presumably covers this period of absence. Clearly there is more to this prophecy! Like the other prophecies revealed to Daniel, they have long-term fulfilments. We understand that Nebuchadnezzar’s absence as king was for seven years or 7 x 360 days or 2520 days. We would expect to see the flourishing again of the Babylonian tree some 2,520 years (on a day repre­senting a year principle) after the fall of Babylon, which would take us to the 1980s: can we see an iron and brass band? With the clear links to chapter 2, this points us to Greece and Rome. How did the things of Babylon get preserved by Greece and Rome in their religions?

Zechariah, in the vision of the flying ephah of chapter 5, clearly showed that the things of Babylon would be moved to a new base, in Shinar, the enemy’s tooth. It was essentially religion-based and in defi­ance of the things of Israel as illustrated in Daniel chapter 1. Many of the false ideas of Babylon were blended with the Mosaic Law and became the Roman Catholic Church, as set up by Constantine in Rome. From this sprang the Greek Orthodox Church centred in Constantinople, known as the Second Rome. With the Fall of Constantinople, its centre moved to Moscow which is still called the Third Rome! Along with shooting out of the branches of Israel’s tree, replanted in their land, we have witnessed the re-flourishing of the Russian Orthodox Church following the fall of communism in 1991. A little earlier we saw the start of the revival of the Roman Catholic Church following the election of John Paul II in 1978. It continues to grow, especially under Pope Francis. A tree takes a while to regrow, even when the conditions are right. The progress in Russia, although starting later than that in Rome, has been very impressive; the coming together of Church and State can be clearly seen. Church representatives attend political gather­ings and political leaders, Putin especially, attends religious services. This is the glue that holds the vast Russian peoples together, evoking their sense of history and glory under the Tsars, supported by the Patriarchs. This is how Putin, in his end-of-year speech, justified his taking of Crimea back under Russian control:

“And then we saw the historical reunifica­tion of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia. It was an event of special significance for the country and the people, because Crimea is where our people live, and the peninsula is of strategic importance for Russia as the spiritual source of the Russian nation and a centralised Russian state. It was in Crimea, in the ancient city of Chersonesus or Korsun, as ancient Russian chroniclers called it, that Grand Prince Vladimir was baptised before bringing Christianity to Rus.

Christianity was a powerful spiritual unify­ing force that helped involve various tribes and tribal unions of the vast Eastern Slavic world in the creation of a Russian nation and Russian state. It was thanks to this spiritual unity that our forefathers for the first time and forevermore saw themselves as a united na­tion. All of this allows us to say that Crimea, the ancient Korsun or Chersonesus, and Sevastopol have invaluable civilisational and even sacral [sacred] importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism” (The Kremlin 04-Dec-14).

An interesting article in Forbes 27-May-15 had this to say:

“Amidst the geopolitical confrontation be­tween Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the US and its allies, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as a means of understanding Putin’s international actions. The role of religion has long tended to get short thrift in the study of statecraft (although it has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance of late), yet nowhere has it played a more prominent role – and perhaps nowhere has its importance been more unrecognized – than in its role in supporting the Russian state and Russia’s current place in world affairs.”

It is important that we also recognise the role of religion in the shaping of modern Europe. What we now call the European Union (EU) is basically the fulfilment of a long cherished dream by its Roman Catholic ‘fathers’ to restore religion back into the heart of Europe by means of uniting the people of Europe under one political entity headed by Germany with support from the Roman Catholic Church.

And so we see the forming of the feet of the Image. Two power blocs of nations, East and West, yet brought together to co-operate for one common aim, to restore their influence over Jerusalem! Hence the Pope’s sup­port of the Palestinians and his desire to see Jerusalem taken out of Jewish control and internationalised. This aim is also shared by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has extensive properties in Jerusalem and else­where in Israel. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is built on Russian Orthodox land! The recent statements of an Israeli “settler” caused a furore when he called for the destruction of the “idolatrous” churches that are prominent in Israel. This perhaps points to a growing conflict between Israel and Christendom, which will result in the ‘Christian’ countries rising up against Israel.

Time and again we see the role of religion in the changing allegiances within Europe and the former Soviet Empire. Orthodox countries, currently associat­ing with the Catholic West, are being pulled by their ties to the Orthodox East. Those of us old enough to witness the break-up of the Soviet Empire, remember that it was largely engineered by the influence of Pope John Paul II. However, because of Russia’s weakness at the time, Europe pushed eastwards beyond their natural boundaries. The past dividing line between the Eastern and Western branches of the old Roman Empire guides us to the possible future dividing line. Countries like Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey would seem to belong to the Eastern leg. So how interesting it is to see the current pressures, caused by the financial crisis in the eurozone, to push out members who really don’t belong and who are being pulled by Putin’s desire to regain their lost ‘Orthodox’ territories.

And so we have seen remarkable changes in Russia under Putin; a more assertive Russia, prepared to stand up to the West and rapidly rebuilding her armed forces so that she has the clout to follow this up. It has coincided with the West’s weariness for war, which Putin has found encouraging. In fact a recent article drew a parallel with events in Britain during the 1930s and today:

“In 1933, the Oxford Union overwhelmingly supported a motion that it would ‘in no cir­cumstances fight for its king and country’. The Nazis duly concluded that Britain was going to be a pushover. Vladimir Putin, visiting Italy yesterday to pursue his strategy of splitting Europe, will have been similarly encouraged by the findings of the Pew Research Center. Its survey paints a dismal statistical picture of NATO’s resolve: a majority of respondents in France, Italy and Germany said their country should not use military force to defend an ally from an attack by Russia. Only 38 percent of Germans are ready, it seems, to fight to protect NATO’s eastern flank.

From Moscow it seems as if the post-war Western order is fragmenting. Since NATO populations no longer have the stomach for combat, since West Europeans see no compelling reason to defend their allies farther east, Russia feels free to gnaw away at the credibility of Article Five” (The Times 11-Jun-15).

Article Five is NATO’s statement that, if one mem­ber is attacked, the other members will come to its aid. We saw that the West had no stomach to intervene in 2008 when Russia moved into two areas of Georgia and annexed them, neither with more recent events in Crimea last year and Eastern Ukraine this year.

With the build-up of bases and weapons in Crimea, Putin has taken a great leap forward towards Constantinople, Istanbul. He is still chip­ping away at Georgia and Eastern Ukraine.

Russia quietly encroaches on Georgia

“With Russia’s help, the disputed territory of South Ossetia is encroaching more deeply into Georgia, but the expansion is unlikely to esca­late into a major conflict. On July 10, Russian-backed South Ossetian forces unilaterally placed border markers close to the Georgian villages of Tsitelubani and Orchosani. The newly occupied area incorporated 1,605 meters (almost a mile) of the BP-operated Baku-Supsa pipeline. Though this symbolic show of power is important in its own right, it is part of a larger trend: The South Ossetians have slowly been pushing their boundaries southward into Georgian territory over the past several years. The drive is prompted by several factors, including Russia’s insecure military position in South Ossetia, which lacks geographic depth and is threatened by the West’s increased military activities in the Black Sea region” (Stratfor, 28-Jul-15).

Russia is not only consolidating her position but sending a signal to the West – we can disrupt your supplies of oil, if we wish.

There is currently an expectation that shortly Russia will make further moves in Eastern Ukraine. Kiev’s policies are not helping; by cutting off pay­ments of pensions to peoples living in the breakaway areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, there is little incen­tive for people living there not to turn to Russia for help.

Greece – how much longer?

Although the West has agreed to meet the demands for a further bail-out, this puts Greece in an impossible situation. Her debt is so great that there is no prospect of ever being able to repay it. She is essentially bankrupt, but has not been given the lifeline of a ‘haircut’ to her debts, to at least give them a glimmer of hope. New elections have been called for, to enable the voters to indicate whether they are prepared to live in virtual servitude to Germany and the IMF, or whether to quit before things get worse. An interesting time; and where Greece goes, Cyprus is sure to follow!

Waiting in the wings is Russia, looking to pick up the pieces at bargain basement prices! Greece has vast energy supplies off her coast, which she hasn’t the money to develop: Gazprom has!

Israel and her new found friends

The prophet Isaiah condemns Israel for her friendships that she puts her trust in, rather than trusting in God. In what is clearly a latter-day chapter, opening with a vision of the Kingdom, chapter 10 then turns to this position prior to the Kingdom:

“Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made” (Isa 2:6-8).

This is an apt description of Israel today; wealthy and well defended by her own resourcefulness and pointing to an Israel making friends with many na­tions. Young’s translates the end of verse 6 as “And with children of strangers strike hands”. The fathers of the Arabs living in nations around Israel would, in the main, have fought against Israel, but the rising genera­tion, many more widely educated, see the advantage of using Israel’s skills to fight their common enemies, IS and Iran. Both Israel and the southern Arab nations know their lives are seriously threatened by these two powers to the north. In spite of the US brokered talks with Iran, the Iranians openly declare that they are seeking the total destruction of Israel:

“Once the Supreme Leader orders all forces to start jihad, we can reduce Israel to dust within 24 hours. Our missiles have been eager to be launched for years” (Mohammad Ali Jafari, 25-Jul-15).

“The countdown to the annihilation of Israel has begun … Now, we wish to be in the front line of the fight for liberating Jerusalem” (Mohsen Rafighdoost, 31-Jan-15).

IS too has the same desire.

Israel has been quietly cooperating with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, in their drive to undo the damage that they see resulting in the US ‘agreement’ with Iran to curb her nuclear ambitions. Many see this as a betrayal on the part of America. If they can’t trust America to look after their interests, then they will have to rely on Israel. America is half a world removed from the threat of Iran. Israel and the Gulf states are within range of a multitude of rockets and missiles.

The latest Debka, 04-Sep-15, reveals the extent of this striking hands. Jordan has assembled a formidable ground and air force to push back IS. Israel had given Jordan some 16 Cobra helicopters which Israel had retired: they were overhauled by the US and passed on to Jordan to help combat the IS threat. This happened last year, but news was only revealed recently. According to Debka, Jordan’s army considerably outnumbers that of IS:

The first formidable Sunni army, set up quietly by Jordan in the past few months to spearhead a new effort to throw back the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, may face its first big test in eastern Syria. Control of the approaches to the Euphrates Valley and western Iraq will hang in the balance of that confrontation.

The creation of the 70,000-strong Hashemite Army – which outnumbers ISIS (30,000 fight­ing men) and the Syrian army (40,000) – is the outcome of the advancing Saudi-backed plan to expand the Hashemite kingdom’s borders into Iraq and Syria and provide the first real muscle for cutting ISIS down.

Those forces have been operating under the di­rection of the US Central Command-Forward­Jordan, to which American, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari and Israeli officers are attached.

The US is providing the Jordanian troops with intelligence, while the Israeli Air Force gives it air cover and Saudi Arabia supplies the financ­ing for special operations.

Significantly, on Army Day (this year 10 June), instead of flying the Jordanian flag, King Abdullah II ordered the 500 year old Hashemite flag to be flown. Army Day commemorates the “Great Arab Revolt”, when in 1916, on this day, the Arab nations united under this banner to overthrow their Ottoman rulers. The opening attack was on Medina and the revolt lasted two years to the end of WWI. This clearly seemed a call to his fellow Sunnis to rise up and redraw the Middle East map:

  • To appeal to the hearts and minds of the various tribes, the motto Jordanian intelligence officers are using in those areas is: “Remember the Great Arab Revolt!”
  • The Arab Revolt from 1916 to 1918 was fought to overthrow the Ottoman Empire and estab­lish a unified Arab state from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen under the Hashemite flag,

the 500-year-old emblem of the Hashemite dynasty.

The Hashemite Flag

  • On 9 June, the day before Jordan’s Army Day, King Abdullah II handed that flag to the Jordanian armed forces chiefs. This act transferred the 70,000 Sunnis fighting in Iraq and Syria under Jordanian commanders to the army of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan (ibid).

With Iran seemingly to be conceding Yemen to Saudi control, we are witnessing an interesting time when the Middle East may undergo a considerable change, so that a time of peace and prosperity in the region may yet be seen, with the southern nations working openly with Israel.

The crucial thing we each must be aware of is that we may not see this this side of our call to the Judgment Seat. There will be ample time between the call to judgment and the final standing of the Image on its impossibly weak feet and toes, for all the final steps to take place. There is nothing that has to happen before our Master’s return. We have been given these signs, not as an academic exercise, but as a motivational force in our lives:

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. ‘The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jeal­ousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:11-14 ESV).

Let us heed the warnings. Soon we will leave every­thing behind, so why spend our best times in building up what will be of no value. Let us seek to build up the treasure that is deposited in heaven and soon to be revealed on earth. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.