Syria and Bible Prophecy

_69573631_obamacamLast 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.

Prophesy Principles

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.

 Daniel 11:40

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?

Ezekiel 38:13

It is generally considered that Tarshish is the UK, as at the time the prophecy was written Tarshish was a

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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

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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.

Conclusion 

world-in-handAs we said earlier, interpreting prophecy is a complicated affair; but don’t be surprised if in the future we see:

  • 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?

“I Have a Dream”

Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_Washington“I have a dream”

On August 28th 1963 Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jnr gave his most famous and moving speech which contained the following section:

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Half a century later, some of these things have happened to varying degrees, but not all of them. Many people don’t realise that Martin Luther King was probably drawing on the Bible for inspiration for this speech as these elements feature in proph- ecies about a future world. Martin Luther King’s dream may not have come to fruition, but the Bible is full of dreams which have.

 

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Another King who had a dream was King Nebuchadnezzar who was King of Babylon (modern day Iraq) in the 6th century BC. We can read the account in the Bible in the Old Testament book of Daniel chapter 2.

He dreamt of an image shaped like a man, made out of different metals, which were ground to dust by a rock. Daniel, a Hebrew who along with the rest of hs people was being held captive by the king, was told by God what this dream meant. The metals represented the Babylonian and subsequent Kingdoms on the earth.

Head of gold = Babylonian Empire

Chest & arms of silver = Medo Persian Empire

Thighs of brass = Greek empire

Leg of iron = Roman Empire

Feet of clay & iron = Strong and weak nations ( Today)

If we look at history, we can see how all these King- doms have come and gone. The rock represents the Kingdom of God which will replace all these Kingdoms. We now live in the time represented

by the feet of iron and clay, meaning that the next Kingdom will be the Kingdom of God. But what is that, and when will it come?

 

“A dream come true…”

VIIRS_4Jan2012_708x432In the prophecy books of the Bible we read various accounts of what this Kingdom will be like. It is here we see parallels with Martin Luther King Jnr’s speech.

But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid;

Micah 4:4

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing.

Isaiah 35:1-2

But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

Isaiah 11:4

The judge and King of this Kingdom will be Jesus. The earth will be transformed into one with no death, no poverty and no injustice. Unlike Martin Luther King’s dream, one day soon these Biblical dreams WILL come true. To find out how you can live in this perfect Kingdom, open your Bible and read it. The truth is in there.

Peace in the Middle East

Israel and the Palestinians are at it again.  The world watches nervously, because this is not just a local skirmish – Israel is sending a strong message to its enemy Iran.  What might Israel do next? If Iran has nuclear weapons, will it use them?  What will the US or Russia do?’ If you’re willing to listen the Bible has all the answers.Peace-in-the-Middle-East-Button

Israel and the Middle East seem to constantly dominate our news agenda.  Recent events between Israel and the Palestinians are among others in numerous skirmishes between the 2 sides.  Many consider the situation to be impossible to resolve. Others try, but have so far failed to produce any lasting peace.

But how has the situation become so bad? Why did the fighting start in the first place and will it ever be resolved?  The Bible tells us that God’s plan is centred on the nation of Israel, and we have the chance to be part of it, if we want to be. If we go back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we meet a man called Abraham.  God made a promise to him:

Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 12:1-3

Abraham had 2 sons; Ishmael (from whom some of the Arab people descended) and Isaac (from whom the Jews came from). Isaac’s son was Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. Jesus was also a descendent of Israel.  So 3 faiths; Islam, Judaism and Christianity all look at this prophecy and say “this seed is referring to us”.  But who is correct?

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children, but he did father a son, Ishmael, with her maid.  Traditionally it was the eldest son whom the line passed through (a tradition that still exists in parts of our monarchy even to this day).   So you can see why Ishmael’s descendants think the prophecy is about them.

But in Genesis Chapter 17 God renewed the promise with Abraham and he said that the prophecy would be fulfilled through the decendents of Sarah’s son.  But if Sarah was barren, how could that be?  Even Abraham found it hard to believe!

“Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”  And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”
 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.  And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”
Genesis 17:17-21

Ishmael’s descendants have been richly blessed and are some of the richest nations on the earth at the moment.  But it would appear from this (and other incidents in the Bible) that it was Jesus, born through the Jewish line, this prophecy was talking about.

Whose Land is it?

Today one of the big questions to be resolved in the Middle East is that of territory and land ownership.  The question is the same for Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the entire land known as Israel.  Everybody is arguing about ownership and rights of occupation.
Palestinians maintain that the land is their’s as they have occupied it for 2000 years and that gives them absolute title.  They say they have been ousted from their land by force.  But the Israelis point out that they were there first – from about 1400 BC until they were displaced in 70 and 135 AD.

The situation has been further complicated by various wars.  In 1947, the UN voted to partition the land between the Jews and the Arabs.  However, the Palestinians refused to recognise the state of Israel and Israel began claiming back Palestinian occupied parts of the land as their own.  What we are left with today is a complicated and dangerous position of stale-mate with neither side willing to compromise

On top of this there is the problem of Jerusalem.  The Palestinians want to make this their capital, but the city is sacred to three religions – the Jews, Christians and Muslims.

In any political settlement that might be reached, one important consideration is likely to be overlooked, All land belongs to God: He formed it, and he alone owns it.  As the Psalmist observed:

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
Psalm 24:1

And as the apostle Paul once said, God has given the nations a right for occupation, but not forever:

God, who made the world and everything in it… He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, 
Acts 17:24-27

So neither side actually owns the land.  There is a time coming – and all indications are that it will come quite quickly – when God will call all nations to account for the way they have occupied His earth.  We are told He will “destroy those who destroy His earth” when He sends his King to reign here.  Then this wonderful forecast will come true:

 The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
Rev 11:15

There will be peace in the Middle East, but only when Jesus returns to set up God’s Kingdom. Jesus wants us all to have a place in that Kingdom with him.  Then there will be no more war, no more death and no more suffering.  There will be everlasting, perfect peace.  To find out more about this plan, pick up your Bible and read it.

If you would like help reading the Bible, or would like to receive a DVD “Peace in the Middle East” which looks at this subject in more detail, then please visit our websitewww.TheChristadelphians.org.uk or drop us a line at FREEPOST, THE CHRISTADELPHIANS.