Last week Syria dominated the news agenda with the UK and USA deciding whether they should intervene in the civil war currently raging in that country. What many people may not realise is that this (and other events in the region) are all part of God’s “end game” before his son, Jesus Christ, returns to the earth to establish his Kingdom. The Bible gives us clues to events just prior to this return, but because they were written thousands of years ago they do not mention modern day countries. They do however use symbols and imagery that we can quite easily understand and relate to our world today.
There are many books of the Bible that contain prophecies or predictions about events that would happen in the future. Some of these prophecies came true shortly after they were given. Others have yet to be fulfilled. In this article we are just looking at prophesies about what will happen before the return of Christ.
Now the thing about trying to understand prophecies is that even though they are given by God, mere men interpret them. So whilst we may think that we understand them, we can never be 100% sure that we have them exactly right. Saying that, when you look at some Bible prophecies and world events, they do seem to tally remarkably well. We should also say that to get a better feeling for prophecy you should read the Bible for yourself and we as Christadelphians would encourage you to do that. (If you struggle with understanding the Bible then click on the resources menu to access some free materials to help you to understand it better). This article is merely a rough guide to prophecy to help you make sense of what at times appears to be a completely senseless situation in the Middle East.
Kings, Bears and Lions
Various prophesies in the Bible talk about how prior to the return of Jesus there will be a huge war in the Middle East focused around Israel. This shouldn’t come as a surprise at all to us, as attacks on Israel are frequently reported in the news; but this battle will be the biggest one in the nation’s history. The two main protagonists in this war will be the King of the North and the King of the South who will meet in Israel.
And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
The King of the North – This presumably refers to the nations North of Israel. These include Syria, Russia and Iran.
The King of the South – This is slightly less obvious. To the south of Israel there is Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. When we look at other prophecies it would appear that the King of the South is Israel ally. Interestingly enough, since the Gulf War in the 1990’s there has been a military presence south of Israel from the UK, US and other countries, all allies with Israel.
Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
It is generally considered that Tarshish is the UK, as at the time the prophecy was written Tarshish was a
trading nation from outside of the Mediterranean area. It also talks about its young lions. For many years the emblem of Britain has been the lion and can still be seen in sport. Think of the GB Rugby team (The Lions) or the mascot of Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games (Pride, the Lion). So its young lions could refer to countries from the old Empire, the colonies, or English speaking countries e.g. Canada, Australia, India and the USA.
So in summary, it would appear that whatever happens in the Middle East ultimately will involve Israel being invaded from the North, probably by Russia, Iran and it’s allies. The allies of Israel including Britain and the USA will come to defend her. You don’t have to look hard to see that this is all very plausible with the tensions between Russia and the USA and Iran and Israel. The only place in the world where both groups’ military presence rub shoulders is in the Middle East and so it would make sense that this is where any conflict will take place.
The Syrian Crisis
The current crisis in Syria has seen some atrocious attacks and you can understand why the UN and world nations want
to intervene. Since 2011 the country has been gripped by civil war with much of the fighting taking place in Damascus. Damascus also features in a Bible prophecy
See, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. Her towns will be deserted forever; they will be places for flocks, which will lie down, and no one will make them afraid. The fortress will disappear from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus;
Isaiah 17:1-3 (NRSV)
It would appear then that ultimately Damascus will be destroyed. Whether this is by airstrikes, invasion or occupation we don’t know, but the future for Damascus is not good.
- More unrest in Syria with the destruction of Damascus
- The enemies of Israel to the North attacking Israel
- The allies of Israel moving in to protect her
We cannot predict the exact timeframe when this will happen; but according to the Bible it will happen. And then? Well, again according to the Bible, Jesus Christ will return to the earth to set up his father’s Kingdom.
Some people will think this all sounds far fetched; but as we pointed out earlier, the Bible has an exceptionally good track record of prophesying events that have ultimately come true. (Read Deuteronomy for predictions about the Jews and the land of Israel or Daniel 2 for a prophecy about world events past, present and future.) World events seem to be indicating that these prophecies are also coming true right before our eyes. So, are you ready to meet Jesus?