RUSSIA MAY SEND GROUND TROOPS TO MIDEAST
* Gingrich says this is the start of WWIII
* Is a 2,500 year old Bible prophecy beginning to come true?
(DENVER, COLORADO, July 17, 2006) — The crisis in the Middle East continued to worsen overnight.
Israeli ground troops briefly raided enemy bases in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah rockets continued to pound Israeli towns, killing eight Israeli civilians in Haifa and striking as far south as Tiberias, along the Sea of Galilee. The IDF is concerned that Iran will soon authorize Hezbollah to fire longer-range missiles that could reach as far as Tel Aviv.
Casualties are mounting. Israel is warning Syria and Iran to reign in their radical Islamic terrorist network or face "far-reaching consequences." Iran is warning Israel not to touch Syria or risk triggering Tehran‘s new defense pact with Damascus. A growing number of Middle East analysts believe the worst is yet to come. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the IDF won’t stop until Israel‘s soldiers are returned and Hezbollah is disarmed. Few see that scenario happening anytime soon.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says we are watching "the early stages" of World War III.
And now there is talk that Russia may send military forces into the region, perhaps as part of an international force to stop the Israeli push into Lebanon.
"I don’t think the situation has gotten out of control, but I don’t have the certainty that the return of the soldiers will stop the conflict," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg.
The introduction of Russian ground troops into the region would be a dangerous development. Russia is an increasingly close ally of Iran and Syria. Moscow recently sold Tehran $1 billion of new missiles and conventional weaponry. Moscow is selling new missiles to Damascus. The Kremlin has long had designs on taking over the Middle East, and U.S. foreign policy for the second half of the 20th century was aimed at keeping Russian forces out of the region, for good reason. What’s more, Moscow is currently running interference for Iran at the U.N., preventing the international community from taking tougher steps to prevent Iran from going nuclear.
Bible prophecy, however, tells us that a Russian incursion into the region is inevitable. The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel, writing some 2,500 years ago, wrote in chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel that a dictator will emerge in Russia and that Russia and the Central Asian republics will form an alliance with Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and other Islamic countries in the Middle East to attack Israel in the "last days" before the return of the Messiah. It was this prophecy that formed the basis of my novel, The Ezekiel Option.
I’ve been getting a lot of emails in recent days asking whether the current crisis in the Middle East are the early stages of Ezekiel 38-39 coming true. In two back-to-back sermons I delivered yesterday at Greenwood Community Church in Denver, Colorado, I explained the prophecy and addressed that question.
The truth is it’s too soon to say for sure that this is the beginning of what Bible scholars call the "War of Gog and Magog." More pieces would need to fall into place to know for certain. Remarkably, however, it is not out of the realm of possibility. As difficult as it is for some to believe we could be living through the fulfillment of major end times Bible prophecies, the prophecies found in Ezekiel 36 and 37 have already largely come true in our lifetime. These chapters involve the rebirth of the State of Israel, the regathering of Jews to the Holy Land after centuries of exile around the world, the rebuilding of the ancient ruins in Israel, and the blooming of the deserts. This process began in the early 1900s, accelerated in 1948 and 1967 and have continued up to this present moment. Meanwhile, Israel has become a very prosperous country, as the prophecy requires, and Russia and Iran have begun to form a military alliance for this first time in human history.
What would have to happen next if Ezekiel 38 and 39 are coming true? Here is what to be watching for:
* Does Russia take the lead in building a coalition to destroy Israel? Ezekiel is clear that the Russian dictator referred to as "Gog" takes the lead is developing and executing his "evil scheme."
* Do all the countries cited by Ezekiel join Russia‘s coalition? See below.
* Does the whole world abandon Israel, including the United States? Currently the U.S. is standing with Israel, as is Canada. Even the G8 issued a statement defending Israel‘s right to exist. But the Scriptures are clear, Israel will be totally alone when Russia and Iran attack.
According to Ezekiel, the anti-Israel coalition will include:
* Russia and former Soviet states (what Ezekiel called Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal)
* Iran (Persia)
* Sudan and Ethiopia (Cush)
* Libya, Tunisia and Algeria (Put)
* Turkey (Gomer)
* Syria, Lebanon, possibly Jordan ("many peoples with you" including those along the "mountains of Israel")
* Central Asian Islamic republics (Beth Togarmah)
Notably absent from Ezekiel’s coalition are Egypt and Iraq. Interestingly enough, Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Iraq is currently bogged down with its own troubles and would be in no position to participate in a war against Israel for many years to come.
[** PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meeting recently in Shanghai, China. The meeting including leaders from four former Soviet republics in Islamic Central Asia.]
To track the latest developments in the Middle East crisis on Joel’s weblog — and to read a sneak preview of the first chapter of THE COPPER SCROLL — please click here
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