The unending conflict in Syria just keeps on giving. It seems that one nightmarish event is topped by yet another, and this week has provided the specter of civilians (again) being killed with poisonous gas. The Assad government’s brutality is well documented, and one wonders how someone like this manages to stay in power. Bashar al-Assad took over Syria in July, 2000, and he retains his power these many years later. But it is not because he possesses great leadership skills or because he can charm the socks off everyone in the region. He retains power because of the support of Russia and Iran.
The Russians supply him with military aid and private Russian contractors are regularly airlifted from Moscow to Damascus to support and aid Assad. Without the Russians, Assad’s rule would have ended long ago. Then there is Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps who are deployed by the thousands at military bases all over Syria. Iranian commanders are often involved in the battles that rage throughout this land. Iran is gaining more influence and a greater presence in the region because of this civil war.
Israel knows that Bashar al-Assad is not the main problem, but it is Iran and Russia together that form a terrible threat to their existence. Israel keeps a watchful eye on their northern border and periodically targets convoys, military bases and other situations that they cannot allow to exist. But while Israel had indeed experienced some notable successes, Israel will not be able to do this forever and time is definitely not on their side.
The Scriptures tells us that the God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, which means He will not be caught off guard by Israel’s enemies. Long ago a prophecy was given to Ezekiel which has become well-known in these days. It states that after Israel has geographically returned to the land given to Abraham, there will be an invasion of Israel that is led by Russia and will include Iran. The massive invading army will be crushed unilaterally by the Lord God. So great will be this intervention by God that Israel will begin turning in faith to their God (which is the primary purpose for this event). Ezekiel 39:21-22 informs us that the nations of the world will sit up and take notice, but more importantly, Israel will become a believing nation (something that they are not presently). The text reads:
“And I shall set my glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. And the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward.”
We, of course, must not get caught setting dates for the fulfillment of biblical prophecies. We simply don’t know when God will do what He says He will do. But neither can we ignore what is evolving in our world today, assuming that there is no relevance to current events. Jesus said that we are to discern, as best we can, the “signs of the times” (Matt. 16:2). At just the right moment, God (whose timing is impeccable) will tell these enemies that “it is time for you to invade Israel” (see Ezekiel 38:8 and 39:2), and He will compel them to attack Israel. (Note that Russia, Iran, et.al are not going to determine when these events will take place). It is hard not to believe that what we are observing in Syria is somehow preparatory for those events long foretold by Israel’s prophet.