Most of the following worries in the Middle East center around a number of factors: 1) Israel’s impatience with threats from its enemies; 2) Iran’s bellicose posturing in threatening to use its missiles; 3) the Syrian regime’s feared ability to wage biological and chemical warfare; and 4) (of particular concern for many Bible prophecy students) the so-called Psalms 83 war.
I term it “so-called” because I remain unconvinced that the Scriptures involved indicate a prophesied war–for reasons I will address in due course. Other factors just mentioned dominate news coming out of the region where Armageddon is foretold to bring the world together for the final and most horrific war of the age.
Israel has good reasons to be short of temper and of patience, although the leadership has shown remarkable restraint to this point. The Jewish state has been threatened with annihilation by all leaders of the Arab League at one point or the other. With the record of that leadership’s predecessors attacking viciously in the relatively recent past, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu can hardly disregard current Arab League semi-encirclement, the ring of hatred having tightened rapidly with the Muslim Brotherhood-spawned Arab Spring uprisings and now the tremendous growth of ISIS.
The Persian branch of Islamist rage has superseded the Arab rage to the point that Iran now threatens to produce weapons that can indeed do what Arabs from Nasser to Sadat and beyond could not. There remains concern that Bashar Al Assad has weapons of mass destruction in the form of biological and chemical agents that his Syrian regime might rain down on Israel’s citizenry, should the dictator begin to lose in his effort to stay in power. He has shown he can and will wage such warfare upon his own people.
The Iranian leadership, as well as Russia, and to some extent, China, continues to back Al Assad. The Russians and China do so for the most part by refusing to allow U.N. action against the Assad regime in the Security Council, where each holds veto power. Russia has given somewhat stronger backing by moving some naval military assets into the waters nearby.
Iran, on the other hand, backs Assad with threats of military action, all the while displaying a growing missile arsenal–even demonstrably proving it now has an intercontinental ballistic missile that is capable of reaching the U.S. homeland. Iran’s apparent determination to stand by the Al Assad regime’s refusal to give up power is doubly troubling. Reports of weapons of mass destruction hidden away in Syria’s military arsenal, if more than rumors, make the threat of a Middle East conflict of major magnitude a real possibility. Iran apparently possesses the technological knowledge and hardware to assist Assad in raining terror upon Israel in order to divert attention from his own possible overthrow. He might choose all-out war if he is about to go the way of Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, and Gaddafi.
Enter one more worry voiced by many emailers of late: the Isaiah 17:1 prophecy, which follows: “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1). The Syrian capital city is, like so many other prophetic indicators today, front and center in the news headlines. The question is: Will we soon witness the complete destruction of Damascus as given in the Isaiah 17 prophecy?
Further: Might an attack on Israel on that city bring about the Psalms 83 war, bringing all of Israel’s enemies into coalition that will declare that war on the Jewish state? As stated many times in this column, most every major Islamist terrorist organization is headquartered in this, the longest continuously inhabited city in world history. A single strike of a relatively low yield nuclear weapon could do the job in a single flight of an Israeli fighter-bomber. The heads of the terrorists’ hydra-headed serpent could be lopped off in that single blow.
My belief is that the Psalms 83 matter is a prayer for God’s protection, and that it will be answered when the “many people with thee” of the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog war will be destroyed, except for one-sixth of those forces. My assessment is that whether the Psalms 83 Scripture indicates an actual war or is an imprecatory prayer for God to vanquish Israel’s surrounding enemies, the attack on Damascus–if the destruction does come from an Israeli attack—and such a war won’t happen until after the Rapture of the church.
Such an event would take the world out of the time of “business as usual,” as Jesus prophesied in Luke 17:26-30 and Matthew 24:36-42, 44, in my opinion.
Such an attack and a war would be catastrophic to the world’s economy, and in other ways that are almost incalculable. Sudden destruction comes, according to Jesus’ words in those passages, similarly to the situation in the cases of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah–that is, after Noah and Lot were safely out of range of harm at the time judgment fell. It fell immediately after they were safely in the ark and in the city of Zoar.
He said that as it was at that time, so will it be at the time He intervenes again into the affairs of men in a catastrophic way. Again, Luke 21: 28 are applicable. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”