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Scripture makes it clear that when the Lord Jesus returns it will be to Jerusalem at a time of terrible trouble. Among a large number of descriptions of that day is this one from the writings of the Prophet Zechariah…

Jerusalem

Zechariah 14:1-2

This is a horrifying description of total defeat for the Israeli nation, and the prophet Ezekiel tells us who will inflict this disaster…

Ezekiel 38:1-9 [NIV]

Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal [or the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal as the Hebrew actually says] was identified as a Russian leader by commentators and scholars many centuries ago. His allies are easy to name…

Persia was the official name of Iran until 1935
Cush is Sudan and Ethiopia
Put is Libya, and possibly Algeria and Tunisia
Gomer is Turkey
Beth-togarmah covers Armenia and the Central Asian nations

The little phrase ‘many peoples with you’ probably means people from the nations around Israel such as Lebanon and possibly Jordan; Bible history records that the northern invaders of Israel were always helped by Israel’s closest neighbours. But the names of three of the major powers around Israel are surely not missing by chance: Iraq, which in biblical terms was Babylon, Egypt and Syria.

Since any interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures has to be made with a clear understanding that these writings were based around real events in the history of Israel during, and following, the times of the twin kingdoms, it is interesting that the Persians, and their northern allies the Medes, completely destroyed the power of Babylon before they spread their tentacles over the whole of Babylon’s empire and became masters of Israel, so the current Iranian sponsorship of terror in Iraq, and their obvious desire to control that nation, is interesting.  If a great confederacy is to march out of the north and fall upon Israel, the US/British alliance which has always defended her must be rendered impotent. Will we see Iraq emptied of the western powers and returned to the ruined state foretold by the prophets?

Isaiah 13:19

Egypt was a spent force in the post-kingdom days, knowing its power was insufficient to challenge the northern powers after the disastrous defeat of Pharaoh Necho at Carchemis a couple of centuries earlier. Today she has a peace treaty with Israel because repeated defeats at Israel’s hands have convinced her of her own weakness.

As for Syria: Scripture contains one prophecy that has no analogue in ancient times…

Isaiah 17:1

Will this ruin be inflicted by the hand of Israel? As this article is being written Syrian forces are eyeing the Golan heights again, made confident by Israel’s apparent inability to deal with Hezbollah in Lebanon…

WASHINGTON (Reuters) May 2

Will Syria act in her new found confidence and attack southwards, and will a desperate Israeli military go far beyond their bombing of Beirut, so that the oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth is utterly destroyed?

These things are dreadful to contemplate, but there is no doubt that conditions that might bring Israel to her long foretold day of desolation, undefended by her former friends, are being brought about as we watch.

But Zechariah also promised…

Zechariah 14:3-9 [NIV]

And the Lord Jesus himself said on the Mount of Olives…

Luke 21:20

Jesus was foretelling the Roman siege of Jerusalem that destroyed the city in AD70, but all of these past terrors seem to be included in the sum of things to come before his return to sweep aside the wicked and institute a world-wide kingdom of peace and righteousness.

So we watch Israel and the Middle East because we can see that God’s promises through his prophets are coming true in our time. It is this that has convinced us of the importance of Jesus’ final promise from the mountain…

Luke 21:28
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.