Last year we looked at Israel striving to make friends both with Russia and the Vatican, friendships that will end in disaster as scrip­ture has foretold. Those Israel is beginning to put her trust in will prove to be treacherous friends, who far from supporting her in her time of trouble, will turn out to be her chief antagonists.

This year, as we write, Israel is pouring her military might upon Hamas’ leaders, rocket factories and stores in an effort to stop the barrage of rockets that bring terror to those living near the Gaza Strip. Even Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are being hit as Hamas’ rockets grow in sophistication and range. There seems at the moment little backing for Hamas; many would be happy to see them disappear. Her traditional friends have deserted her. At the present, Egypt is continuing her measures to prevent aid and replenishments from flowing in. Israel faces a huge dilemma. If she eradicates the Hamas structure in Gaza, what will replace it? Already the IS (Islamic State, formally ISIS or ISIL) followers are present in Gaza; their distinctive black flag is flying from some buildings. This organisation would be more troublesome than Hamas. So what should Israel do? Cripple Hamas, but not too far, so the rockets cease, but Hamas is still there? Or remove Hamas and take their chance with what follows? This is of course human reasoning. Israel’s God has His plans for dealing with the situation which will ultimately bring Him glory, when a humbled Israel accepts their Messiah and the nations are brought to recognise Israel’s God as the true and ever-living God of all the earth. This is the day the Watchmen on Zion’s walls, long and pray for.

So in this article we want to look at other pic­tures, as, at the time of writing, the situation in Israel is only just unfolding. We will look at this newly declared Islamic State and see where it possibly fits in with the words of a very ancient prophecy and helps to explain the future movements of Gog and his confederates.

We then want to look at rapid developments in Europe as we watch a probable break-up of the existing EU alliance, such that Britain finds herself outside the shackles of the EU and free to chart the course set out millennia before in Scripture and much written about by Bible students, both within and outside our community. As we have headed this article – the British Lion is getting restless. Why be caged in Europe when there is a whole wide world to prowl!

The newly formed Islamic caliphate

We had just got our heads round the acronym ISIS: “the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” or “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham”. (Sham = ancient name for Syria). It was also known as ISIL “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”. The Levant is the geographical term for the land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, covering Syria down to Israel, Jordan and Iraq. Sometimes it is enlarged to include Turkey and Egypt.

On 29th June, which was the first day of Ramadan, the Moslem month of fasting, they an­nounced a name change to IS – the “Islamic State”. It has declared itself a caliphate and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the caliph, or successor to Mohammed, to the whole Muslim world!

The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has changed its name, but otherwise the militant group remains the same. Over the past weekend, a spokesman for the group announced that it had established a caliphate stretching from Diyala province, Iraq, to Aleppo, Syria. The caliphate is a political institution that the Islamic State claims will govern the global Muslim community. “Iraq” and “Levant” have been dropped from the organization’s name to reflect its new status.

Caliphate is derived from the Arabic word for “successor,” a designation for those who would govern the Muslim community after the Prophet Mohammed died (Stratfor 01-Jul-14).

In reality, it is only an Emirate. Neither does it have wide acceptance in the Muslim world. Never-the-less it is making waves in the existing order within the Middle East and erasing borders established by the British and French 100 years ago. The speed at which it took territory was amazing, conjuring pictures of apocalyptic horsemen con­quering in a similar way to the original Muslim power under the 5th Trumpet.

Is it here to stay? We will have to wait and see! Who would have thought 18 months ago that the well-established Muslim Brotherhood would be eclipsed in such a short period of time? Or, for older memories, that the Soviet Empire would collapse so rapidly in 1991?

What do we know about IS? We need to under­stand that it is a Sunni Muslim entity, so this puts it a loggerheads with Iran (90% Shia) and Iraq (63% Shia). Theoretically it puts it in favour with Saudi Arabia (95% Sunni); Jordan (92% Sunni) and Egypt (90% Sunni): but that is far from the case. Although sharing the same religious outlook, the rest of the Sunni Arab world looks in horror at the brutal methods employed by IS to distil fear in those Shi’tes who would oppose them. Prisoners of war are shot in cold blood; executions, hangings, and beheadings ensure that their enemies flee in terror lest they should fall into their hands. Their fellow religionists regard their brutal methods as unacceptable. Indeed IS regards other Sunni rulers as lax and just as liable to be overthrown. Their aim is to take over the Middle East, including Jordan and Israel. Scripturally, we know that is not their role. Through their looting of banks, selling of archaeological treasures and revenue from captured oilfields in Syria and Iraq, they have become very wealthy. The organisation was only set up 11 years ago following the West’s intervention in Iraq, as al-Qaeda’s support arm for Saddam Hussein, the former leader of Iraq. He too was a Sunni and maintained his control of this Shi’ite country through brutal tactics.

At the moment, it is not clear what location they are going to regard as their centre. The present indicators are that this could be Mosel. This is Iraq’s 2nd largest city with a modern network of ring roads and flyovers encompassing it.

What is exciting to Bible students is what lies at the heart of this seemingly modern city. The city sits on either bank of the Tigris River. Zoom in to Google maps and one sees a large block of ancient ruins. It is labelled “Nineveh Ruins”! Yes, this is the site of Nineveh the capital of the Assyrian Empire! We read of its origins in Genesis 10:11: “Out of that land [Babylon] went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah.” Young’s Literal Translation and many others put it this way: “From that land [Babylon] he [Nimrod] hath gone out to Asshur, and buildeth Nineveh, even the broad places of the city, and Calah.”

So we see a newly formed power on the territory of the old Assyrian Empire!

IS declares war on Rome!

It is interesting that there are numerous Christians in the region, fearful for their lives as one of the avowed aims of IS is that it will grow strong enough to march on Rome!

The self-declared caliph, Al-Baghdadi, issued a Ramadan message calling upon his followers to rally to the new state and promised the Islamic State’s support to the faithful: “Stand up and rise. For the time has come for you to free yourself from the shackles of weakness, and stand in the face of tyranny, against the treacherous rulers – the agents of the crusaders and the atheists, and the guards of the Jews.” Al-Baghdadi concluded: “This is my advice to you; if you hold to it, you will conquer Rome and own the world…” (Memri 01-Jul-14).

Iraq’s Christians see Putin as saviourWhere are the Christian’s turning for help? They feel it is futile to look to the West for help, so they have turned to Putin to help them.

“Russia proved through history that it’s the only defender of Christians,” said Ashur Giwargis, who heads the Assyrian Patriotic Movement (APM), which for two years has energetically lobbied the Kremlin to support an independent Assyrian Christian state in northern Iraq.

Until recently, the Beirut-based exile and his colleagues, who are scattered among the global Iraqi diaspora, had little to show for their efforts, but in January, as Western-Russian tensions escalated over Ukraine, Giwargis was summoned to Moscow to meet government officials.

ISIS’s rampage through the historically Christian Nineveh province, its gutting of the Holy Spirit Church, and its use of the ancient Mar Behnam monastery as a base for militant operations threatens to trigger an additional exodus. “They assured their support for the Assyrian cause, but we’re looking for a serious Russian stand in the international arena,” Giwargis said in TheDailyBeast, 29-Jun-14.

Will Putin come to their aid? Probably not at this time; he has enough problems to contend with, but what of the future? There seems to be a prophecy that pulls matters together.

The word Asshur is normally translated Assyria. Now one of the oldest Bible prophecies, spoken by Balaam, reaching forwards 3500 years or so, speaks of the latter day Asshur or Assyria: “And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever… And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever” (Num 24:20, 23–24).

We know Scripture uses Amalek as a type of those nations who seek Israel’s destruction, for this is what Amalek tried to do when Israel came out of Egypt while on the way to Sinai. Their leader had the title of Agag, which the Septuagint translates as Gog! It is clear that Balaam’s prophecy will be ful­filled when Gog and his confederates invade Israel and Egypt as described in Ezekiel 38 and the closing verses of Daniel chapter 11. Balaam’s words describe a power that is hostile to Chittim, Asshur and Eber. Chittim is Cyprus, a strategic island in the eastern Mediterranean and home to the British bases at Dhekelia and Akrotiri. These are Sovereign areas under direct UK control and home to army, navy and air force units. It is understandable that this would need to be captured by the Gogian forces as they sweep down with their many ships from their Black Sea bases in Crimea. Who is Eber? These are the Hebrews! Abraham was a descendant of Eber. Eber means the region on the other side. Abraham became the one who crossed over to the other side of the river in travelling from Haran to the Promised Land. Israel is the ultimate destination of the Gogian forces, having secured Egypt (Dan 11:42–43). So why the need to take Assur or Assyria? We know that Persia – today’s Iran – is a companion of Gog (Ezek 38:5). It would appear that there is a power in the region of Assyria that is not friendly to Gog or his companions. Could that power be today’s Islamic State, currently situated on much of the territory of ancient Assyria? It seems significant that it has emerged as a power just at this time when the Middle East is shaping into a northern grouping friendly to Iran and a southern grouping friendly with Saudi Arabia. Do we see the shaping of the latter-day King of the North and King of the South and that the fly in the ointment, as it were, for Iran’s ambitions, is this new power of IS?

The lion gets restless

It is now 41 years since Britain joined the EEC as the EU was then known. Long years, whilst Bible believers have waited for this period of bondage to end and Britain regain her traditional position of looking to the wide-world as her territory. As it became increasingly apparent that political union was intended to follow on from monetary union (this indeed was the founding father’s dream) so Britain became more and more uncomfortable at the shackles placed on her to restrict her freedom. It has become quite clear that Britain doesn’t fit in. Her entrepreneurial spirit rubs her continental cousins up the wrong way! They are used to the discipline laid down by Charlemagne at the start of the Holy Roman Empire. Every jot and tittle was laid out with procedures to follow. Every aspect of life was encompassed with appropriate regula­tions. Not the freedom of thought, the risk taking of the British, for mainland Europeans. Month by month new regulations are enforced on all the EU members. Many turn a blind eye. It seems only the conscientious British do as they are asked and for good measure add a few more items! The cost of all these regulations is a heavy burden for Britain. Out-manoeuvred and out-voted, she is second only to Germany, at present the biggest EU country, in the amount she pays into the bottomless EU coffers. She sees the eye-watering salaries paid to the myriad of unelected leaders who control the running of the EU and feels that this is all money down the drain.

Matters came to a head following the EU par­liamentary elections in May, which brought many euro-sceptic parties to power in the 751 seats that were being contested, with all 28 member countries sending Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The number that each country can send varies from Germany, as the biggest country, with 96 seats, down to the small countries like Cyprus, who each send 6. Traditionally the EU leaders choose who is going to take the plum jobs of being the Parliamentary leader and the leader of the European Commission. The latter is the executive body of the EU and its president exercises great power. It con­sists of 28 members, one per EU member country and their task is to put forward proposed legislation, ensure that the EU rules are obeyed and look after the day-to-day running of the EU. Traditionally the EU leaders choose the representative of the party that wins the biggest number of seats in the EU parliamentary elections, to be the president of the European Commission. However, this year an obscure rule in the Lisbon Treaty was invoked to say that it wasn’t up to the EU leaders to say who gets the job, but it was for the voters who had elected the biggest party. It was therefore an automatic choice. Jean-Claude Juncker, although not actually voted for in the elections (he is not an MEP) was de­clared the choice by the largest party, the European People’s Party (EPP). Interestingly, it was to this federalist group that the British MEP’s were aligned until David Cameron instructed them to join the European Conservative and Reform Party follow­ing the 2009 election. The problem is that it has made the European Parliament appear to be more powerful than the European Council, the elected leaders of the 28 EU countries. Mr Cameron was seeking for sweeping reforms in the running of the EU, but Juncker is an ardent federalist, who openly seeks greater political union, an anathema to David Cameron. Many EU leaders, too, were doubtful as to his leadership qualities; there are many points that would disqualify him for the job. Initially Angela Merkel also agreed with David Cameron, but her party was strongly in favour of choosing Juncker. In the end, David Cameron called for the 28 leaders to vote on the matter and only the UK and Hungary opposed the appointment, emphasising the isola­tion of Britain. Shortly afterwards, the leadership of the European Parliament was decided behind closed doors; in return for the European Socialist Party’s support for Mr Junker’s new position it was agreed that the Socialist leader, Martin Schultz, another ardent federalist, would continue as the European Parliament’s President. The main parties have thus gone a long way to negate the growing representation of Eurosceptic parties. The British press described it as a big “stitch-up”.

First UK poll after Juncker battle shows rising support for EU exit

This was the headline to a Reuters article of 29-Jun- 14. It revealed that there had been a sudden rise in scepticism about the EU in the UK. The article reads: “Public support for Britain to leave the EU is growing again after falling to a multi-year low, according to the first survey published since EU leaders nominated Jean-Claude Juncker to become the next president of the European Commission. British Prime Minister David Cameron…warned at the time that choosing Juncker, an old-style EU federalist, would make it harder to keep Britain in the European Union.”

The poll showed 47% in favour of leaving and 39% in favour of remaining in the EU. David Cameron has promised that if re-elected in the UK elections next year, he will call a referendum on whether the British people want to stay in or leave the EU. There would be joy from many on the continent if Britain did leave.

“UK should get out of the EU”, says former French PM

The Daily Telegraph reports: “Britain should leave the EU and the British elite are the only thing holding the people back from doing so, says for­mer French prime minister. ‘Britain should leave Europe because it is killing the European Union dream … Britain is a great country that has always refused to allow Europe to interfere in its affairs. It has blocked any further integration,’ he told Trombinoscope, a French parliamentary magazine. ‘If they go, it becomes possible to respond to the needs of governing in Europe. Even Germany realises this and demands it. I hope for it a lot because they have prevented it from developing; they killed it’” (Daily Telegraph, 30-Apr-14).

In Britain, the population is rising sharply. She is a popular destination for younger immigrants, but also British birth rates are higher than in France and Germany. So much so that, with little immigra­tion, Germany’s population is expected to fall sharply, leaving Britain to overtake both France and Germany by 2050. These are of course only human predictions and take no account of God’s plans. It is merely interesting in view of previous generations writing off any role for Britain in the purpose of God. She was a bankrupt country and a hopeless case. Oh ye of little faith! The transformation here is quite remarkable. The austerity plans seem to be working. British labour costs are the lowest in Europe, manufacturing is returning from the Far East back to Britain. Her motor industry is now the envy of the world: that is an amazing turn-around. Her GDP has overtaken that of France. She continues to be the main choice for inward investments. The pound is rising as it is seen as a safe haven. Her economy is growing whilst that of Europe is shrinking; even the mighty Germany is in trouble.   Britain’s policy under the present government of seeking to build links to India and China and the emerging economies of Asia and South America is paying dividends, as are her growing links with Israel. Britain is Israel’s biggest export market apart from the US. Both countries are putting strong ef­forts into greatly increasing bilateral trade.

Scoxit could lead to Brexit

This heading in EurActiv, 19-May-14, needs some interpretation! “Scoxit” is the possibility of Scotland breaking away from the UK and becoming inde­pendent. The Scots are holding a referendum on this on September 18th. Few south of the border expect this to be carried, in spite of the apparent enthu­siasm for it in Scotland. Polls still indicate a NO vote, but the two sides are not far apart in the polls. Should they decided to leave the United Kingdom, it would actually make it easier for the remainder of Britain to take their own step of “Brexit”: Britain’s exit from Europe. The Scots are more pro-European than the English and as they would no longer send MPs to Westminster, the Labour Party, which is more pro-Europe than the Conservatives, would lose 59 seats to the Conservative’s one Scottish seat. This would greatly alter the balance of power and also enthusiasm for Europe in Westminster. So the events long anticipated may soon become a reality and Britain commences that work of preparation for her role, with her Commonwealth friends, of serving the returned and victorious King of Israel, in bringing his sons from far and rebuilding Zion’s walls. These are matters which we long to see and in God’s mercy may we be there on the Lord’s side, helping in this exciting work which will usher in the Kingdom of God once again upon the earth. This time all nations will come and worship at Zion and God’s Name be held in honour and praise.