Matthew 24:7-8 (NASB) “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
The contractions are getting stronger. The frequency quicker. The cycle of birth pang and respite, birth pang and respite, seems almost predictable. How long before labor pains bear fruit in “delivery” is a matter of opinion. For purposes of Bible prophecy, delivery is the dawning of the new age, the Millennium, whereby God’s intended plan as revealed in the Garden of Eden will be near-fulfillment; at least, to the nearest point prior to New Jerusalem “coming down from heaven” (Revelation 21:2 NASB). There are two matters of particular importance on my mind these days in interpreting the “signs of the times” and Matthew 24:7-8. The first has to do with the sheer number, intensity and character of the specific end-time events. The other has to do with the specific aligning of sides against Israel. When we see the lines drawn as they were drawn by the prophet, Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38:5-6 NASB), the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7 KJV) is upon us and so will be the tribulation of those days.
Here are some of the recent events that comprise the birth-cycle we are in (actually, as I checked the current headlines this morning I could have listed an entirely expanded list both comprising some of the items before, and their intensification, plus entirely new items:
- No survivors of Air Algerie plane crash in Mali, 118 killed, extreme weather suspected (Read more)
- 298 passengers and crew killed over Ukraine – separatist rebels suspected (Read more)
- Ukraine fighting prevents crash site visit despite international deal (Read more)
- United States authorities scramble two F-16s in response to Canada air flight bomb threat to Panama (Read more)
- Israel extends Gaza truce for 24 hours, Gaza rejects the extension. (Read more)
- Gaza War Rages Despite Hamas, Israel Truce Pledges (Read more)
- American Embassy in Libya evacuated over “free-wheeling militia” violence and potential threats to Embassy personnel. (Read more)
- More than 50 killed in Benghazi, Tripoli clashes (Read more)
- Russia angrily responds to new EU sanctions and blames U.S. for alignment with Kiev government. (Read more)
Another factor I think makes the current events even more revealing are the names of the countries in the headlines of world news. Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Israel. Absent, to my surprise, have been those Arab countries comprises the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Saudi Arabia is the key leader. It is not as if these countries are not in the headlines, but they are not predominant among those the world seems to be watching. My evidence is not scientific, but based on personal observation. In my view, Iraq is the most frequent because of the Islamic State in its backyard and its encroachment upon Baghdad. Gaza is next because of the escalating conflict with [tippy title=”HAMAS”] HAMAS is the Arabic acronym translated the “Islamic Resistance Movement,” a Sunni Palestinian Islamist organization located primarily in the Gaza Strip. HAMAS is considered a terror organization by the United States and many other Western countries. In 2007, HAMAS became the primary political party in Gaza following its defeat of FATAH in elections. HAMAS is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1987. The Charter of HAMAS calls for the obliteration or dissolution of the Jewish state.[/tippy] and Israel. Other countries are present mostly because of their reaction to Israel’s response to the Gaza offensive or their reaction to the progress of the Islamic State in Iraq.
It is popular these days to personify Israel as the war-monger and HAMAS as the victim, in spite of the fact that HAMAS continues to strike first and often regardless of cease fires. Witness the fact that Israel is now being referred to by many in the Muslim world as the new “Nazis.” (by West Bank leader, Mahmoud Abbas, by Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and an Iranian legislature leader who stated, “Israel’s crimes are reminiscent of the actions taken by the German Nazis during the first and second world wars.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, referred to Israel as a “rabid dog” and called on all Muslims to unite against Israel, including supplying HAMAS with military arms. Similarly [tippy title=”Hezbollah”] Hezbollah (literally, “Party of Allah”) is a Shia Islamist organization that began in 1982 in Lebanon following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The group was formed with 1,500 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (Iran is Twelver Shia) and has now grown to a point that many consider it stronger than the Lebanese army. Hezbollah is also a political party in Lebanon. Hezbollah is a supporter of Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria. Most of the group’s funding has come from Iran which is reported as providing $200 million annually to the organization. It is reported that Hezbollah was the first Islamist group to use suicide bombers against Israel. Hezbollah is also known as “Islamic Jihad Organization.”[/tippy] leader, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, promised on Friday to give “all means of support” to HAMAS in its conflict with Israel, The Daily Star reported. The significance of this is that Iran and Hezbollah are Shia and HAMAS is Sunni, yet Shia groups are offering support. Agreed, both groups have received financial support from Iran (Twelver Shia) but beginning with the Syria Revolution the two groups found themselves on opposite sides. Hezbollah was supporting President Bashar al-Assad, and HAMAS was not. The recent statement on the part of Nazrallah of Hezbollah to support HAMAS is significant because it shows a unifying of Islam, a putting aside of sectarian divides, for a cause considered greater, that is, the annihilation of Israel.
If you look at the short list I have just given you, Iran (Persia) and Turkey (Gomer) are specifically named in Ezekiel 38:5-6 NASB. HAMAS in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank are likely included in the “many peoples” of Ezekiel 38:6. Hezbollah (Lebanon) is an Iranian outpost which will follow its parent, Iran, and therefore, must be included because Iran is included. Most importantly, international pressure is increasing against Russia through broadening of economic sanctions due to its support of the rebels in the Ukraine. If you hold to the view that Russia is the “Gog” and “Magog” of Ezekiel 38:2 NASB, located in the “remote parts of the north” (Ezekiel 38:15 NASB) of Israel (which I do), the list of Ezekiel 38 is nearly complete. And I do not think Russia will be intimidated by economic sanctions, but rather, emboldened by them, United States notwithstanding.
The gist of this is that the countries not actively and publicly supporting HAMAS in its offensive against Israel are the Arab states comprising the GCC, namely, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman; add Egypt to this group and this is the same group that is not included in the end-times onslaught against Israel in Ezekiel 38!
We can see this same alignment in current events through Iran and Saudi Arabia’s enmity, one against the other, for many reasons, chief of which would be Shiism vs Sunnism. It also shouldn’t surprise us that the Saudis are not supporting HAMAS against Israel because HAMAS’ aspirations are to make Jerusalem the capital of Palestine and the “capital” of Islam, something the Royals will never support because of the economic (and spiritual) impact on Mecca, the wellspring of Islam and the location of its holiest places, requiring annual pilgrimage by Muslims around the world. That would be as likely as the Catholics no longer gathering at Vatican City in Rome. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon and I don’t think the Saudis are going to allow “Mecca” to be moved to Jerusalem either!
To sum it up: the current headlines of war, crisis, and chaos around the world are significant in and of themselves; yet, they are even more important because they are joined by the alignment of sides moving towards a precise fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and an end-time conflict with Israel and the world. Perhaps the birth pangs will reach their peak sooner than we might expect!
Jesus come quickly.