UPDATED: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today began an historic Middle East tour. He is meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. Then he will meet with King Abdullah and other Jordanian leaders in Amman. While he canceled his scheduled visit to Israel, Medvedev did speak by phone with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday. The two are taking steps to deepen the alliance between their two countries and coordinate their Mideast policies. “Russia is ready for all cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Medvedev.
Prior to the trip, Israeli officials were reportedly particularly concerned that Russian leaders might unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, as a series of Latin American countries have recently done. CNN reports: “Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called Medvedev’s trip a ‘historic state visit’ adding that ‘the message to the world is that the Palestinians are ready for statehood and independence.’” Their fears were confirmed on Tuesday. “Russia recognized an independent Palestinian state in 1988 and they would continue to do so today, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday,” reported Haaretz. “‘We made our decision then and we have not changed it today,’ Medvedev said during a press conference after meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Jericho….One [Israeli foreign] ministry official said that Russian recognition of a Palestinian state would be a severe blow to Israel that would cause a domino effect of other states following Russia’s lead, including China.”
Momentum for the Palestinians to unilaterally declare a state, or for the world to recognize the Palestinian state inside the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital even without a negotiated treaty with Israel, has been growing for the past year or so, as I explained a blog column in December. At the time, summer 2011 seemed to be the target. Now the September opening of the U.N. General Assembly may be the new target. According to veteran Israeli columnist Aluf Benn, “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are apparently planning to act in September, before the United States begins its presidential election year. At that time they will convene the United Nations General Assembly and pass ‘the recognition resolution.’ General Assembly resolutions are not binding, but Israel will find itself internationally isolated. The territories will be transformed from a bargaining chip into a burden.” In a different column, Benn also notes that “Abbas has been telling the world he has presented Netanyahu with detailed positions on all of the core issues and Netanyahu has not answered him, or has agreed to discuss only other matters. This is the Palestinian version of ‘there is no partner.’ The world believes him.” Enormous pressure is building on Netanyahu to divide the Land and divide Jerusalem. It would be a terrible mistake, but Israel’s enemies are trying to lure Netanyahu and his Cabinet into a honey trap, as it were, while the world isolates and delegitimizes Israel more and more.
What’s particularly noteworthy about all of these trends is the central role Russia is playing, and the close relationship Moscow is developing with Iran and the Palestinians.
Are recent trendlines — including the latest news reports out of Moscow and Tehran — consistent with the Bible prophecies found in Ezekiel 36-39 and the coming “War of Gog and Magog”? We will examine this question in detail at the 2011 Epicenter Conference and during The Joshua Fund Prayer & Vision tour of Israel in May. Please come with us and study these prophecies and current events for yourself. For now, consider the following:
- According to the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel, writing more than 2,500 years ago, Israel will be reborn as a country in “the last days.” Jews will return to the Holy Land after centuries of exile, and the Jews will rebuild the “ancient ruins” and make the deserts bloom. This, of course, has already happened, beginning in the late 19th century, accelerating on May 14, 1948, and continuing to the present.
- The prophecy then indicates that Israel will become prosperous in the last days, before the “War of Gog and Magog.” Interestingly, in 2010, Israel’s economy grew 4.5% and is the fastest growing economy in the industrialized world at the moment. What’s more, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is at record heights. Now massive amounts of natural gas have been discovered, potentially making Israel even more prosperous over the next few years.
- The prophecy also indicates that Israelis will be “living securely in the land,” even as new, existential threats rise over the horizon. Last November, Israel’s outgoing military intelligence chief, Major General Amos Yadlin, indicated that Israel was more secure than at any other time in its modern history. “The recent security calm is unprecedented,” Yadlin told a parliamentary committee. Despite emerging and serious threats from Iran and her Radical Islamic allies, for the moment Israel is enjoying a period of remarkable calm in light of the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, almost no terrorism emanating out of the West Bank, relative calm in Gaza in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, relatively calm borders for the last four years with Lebanon and Syria, and a regime change in Iraq that led to a nascent but improving democracy. “Israel’s deterrence is very strong but the lull [in regional violence] shouldn’t mislead anyone, the opposite is true. Our enemies are strengthening and arming,” Yadlin added.
- Then the prophecy says a dictator (described in the prophecy as “Gog”) will rise in Russia (described in the prophecy as “Magog”) in the “last days” and will form an alliance Iran (“Persia”). This Russian-Iranian alliance will then form alliances with Turkey (“Gomer”), Libya (“Put”), Sudan (“Cush”) and a group of other Middle Eastern countries to attack and takeover Israel. That’s what makes today’s reports particularly interesting. “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed to boost ties between their countries, in a a telephone conversation, state media reported on Monday,” according to Agence France Presse. “The call came after Russia snubbed Iran’s invitation to visit two atomic sites in the Islamic republic that were thrown open to a group of foreign diplomats on Saturday and Sunday. Iran and Russia must always be “friends and colleagues,” state television quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Medvedev. ‘The Islamic republic of Iran welcomes an increase of ties in all areas between the two countries.’ Its website said Medvedev echoed the Iranian hardliner’s views….”
- As the Russian-Iranian-led alliance comes against Israel, the Jewish State will find herself internationally isolated. The prophecy indicates that not a single country will come to Israel’s defense. Sadly, this is precisely where the trend lines are now heading. U.S.-Israeli relations are at their weakest point in 62 years. Meanwhile, most of the nations of the world are turning against Israel, or at least showing little interest. There are notable exceptions, of course. Canada and Greece are particularly warm allies of Israel right now. But consider these facts from an article in the Jerusalem Post this morning: “80 percent of all 2010 General Assembly resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights violations were directed at the Jewish state. Only six of the remaining 191 UN member states faced human rights criticism at all, one of which was the US. And now half of the country-specific condemnatory resolutions and decisions ever adopted by the UN Human Rights Council target Israel.”
- Ezekiel indicates that at the last moment, when it seems all hope is lost, the God of Israel will supernaturally intervene and rescue Israel. A terrible judgment will come upon Israel’s enemies at that time. Fire will fall from heaven. A giant earthquake and terrible diseases will also ravage Israel’s enemies. The Lord says that He will then pour out His Spirit on the house of Israel and not hide His face from His people or the world any longer. In other words, not only will Israel be physically rescued but spiritually blessed beyond measure as well. The eyes of many in the epicenter will be supernaturally opened to the Lord’s love, His grace, His mercy, His power, and many will enter a personal relationship with Him.
We cannot say definitively that the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 are coming to fulfillment right away, or even that the “War of Gog and Magog” will happen in our lifetime. But there is no question that events and trends in the Middle East are strikingly consistent with the prophecies, and suggest that it is possible that these events could be closer at hand than most people realize. This week’s developments certainly underscore that assessment.
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