Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 3.37.05 PM

There was a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on the Iran/Iraq border a few days ago, which was felt all the way in Israel as well. It’s a not-so-gentle reminder that what happens in other parts of the Middle East will eventually affect those of us in Israel as well. One person recently termed the changes that are happening in this region as a “tectonic shift” in the geopolitical realm, especially where it concerns Israel and the surrounding Arab countries.

News sources in America rarely seem to report on anything other than President Trump or some sort of tangential matter having to do with his administration. However, much of the most exciting and meaningful news is happening behind the scenes in this part of the world. It gets reported here, but none of the news outlets which deliver the news here make the connections between the historic “tectonic shifts” and what scripture says will occur. This is not to say that we are seeing biblical prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes, but recent events show how prophecy could be fulfilled in ways which were impossible just a few years ago.

For instance, a conference held in Rome, which just ended this past weekend, showed that leaders of Middle Eastern Arab countries were no longer consumed with wiping Israel off of the map; instead, Arab representatives were meeting with Israeli officials to discuss Israeli medicine, technology and water desalinization, in all of which the Israelis are experts. One official from Oman called on the Arab world to “come to terms with the reality that Israel is a fact of life in the region.” The leader of Chad made that country’s first official visit to Israel early this week as well. It would appear that the Arab ummah is setting the stage for a sweeping and comprehensive peace between Israel and the rest of the Arab world. The seemingly good news doesn’t end there.

A few days ago an agreement was secured for the world’s longest underwater pipeline, which will deliver Israeli natural gas to Cyprus, Greece and Italy, thereby circumventing Russia as the main supplier of natural gas to Europe. This will strengthen an already-strong Israeli economy and put Israel among the top energy exporters in the world. Not only that, but there has been extensive diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, especially as they pursue mutual interests against their common enemy Iran. It seems like everything is going great!

But these positive developments won’t fix the problems which are coming down the road.

Russia still holds Israel responsible for the downing of a Russian military plane in September (which everyone—even the Russians—agree that the reckless Syrian military caused), and is itching to teach Israel a lesson. Iran still wants Israel annihilated, with Iran’s president Rouhani calling Israel a “cancerous tumor.” One paper here wrote that “Iran’s leaders frequently condemn Israel and predict its demise, but Rouhani, a relative moderate, rarely employs such rhetoric.” I guess they’re still a little sore over losing all of those top secret nuclear bomb plans, which the Mossad absconded from under the Iranian’s noses back in the spring. On top of these serious issues, both Iran and Russia have placed troops on the Israeli/Syrian border just a few miles from our home. Just a week ago 151 countries voted that Israel must give the Golan Heights back to Syria, a nation that has killed nearly a million people in its long civil war, resulting in millions more being scattered around the world. Only the United States and Israel cast their votes against this resolution.

All of the things (other than Russia’s military plane and Iran’s top secret files) I have written above happened in just the past week! How is it possible that the part of the world—the Arab Middle East—that has sought Israel’s demise since the very first day of her inception is now turning to her for help in various ways, while other parts of the world—thought to be more enlightened—are turning against Israel even while they consume her energy and technology (just try to find a cell phone without Israeli technology—it’s impossible)? Ezekiel gives us a glimpse of a scenario just like this.

Ezekiel 38 tells us: “Thus says the Lord God: On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’ to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth. Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all its leaders will say to you, ‘Have you come to seize spoil? Have you assembled your hosts to carry off plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to seize great spoil?’”

I’m not going to debate who Gog is representing in the verses preceding our reference above, but Persia (Iran) is specifically mentioned as being a part of this evil coalition which is coming to “seize spoil.” Sheba and Dedan are biblical areas in and around Saudi Arabia, yet Ezekiel says not only are they not part of the invading force, but instead make a protest directed at Israel’s invaders. Tarshish can represent the far western portion of the Mediterranean, but can more specifically mean Cyprus and Greece. The route that Ezekiel’s invading horde will use must pass directly through Syria and continue through the Golan Heights.

Think about it this way: A number of countries (including Iran) invade Israel for the plunder. What could that “spoil” possibly be? Maybe one of the big items is the energy that Israel is piping to Europe via—get this—Tarshish, i.e. Cyprus and Greece.

If this new pipeline to Europe happens—and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t—Russia will be soon cut out of the energy loop. Why is this a problem? Because much of Russia’s income is derived directly from energy sales to Europe. Did you ever read Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy? The scenario I’m describing here is just the updated version of that thrilling (and scary) novel.

Why would Russia (along with the other nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38) be upset about this, besides the decrease in revenue? Actually, previous wars have started over much less. For instance, think of the war that America fought with Japan in WW2. Do you know how it all got started? The United States imposed an oil embargo on Japan in the summer of 1941 to stop its assault in Asia and to curb Japanese actions, such as their atrocities in Nanking, China. Basically, Japan declared war on America for disrupting its energy supply.

CNN Business reported in June 2018 that “Sixty-seven percent of Russia’s tax revenues comes from energy exports… Russia needs this trade even more that the European Union…” and “A number of EU countries, particularly those closest to Russia, are still almost completely dependent on Moscow for their gas.” What happens when this co-dependent relationship goes down the drain, to Israel’s and Europe’s advantage? Do you think that Russia will just take it on the chin? Look what they are doing in the Ukraine right now.

As much as Trump takes up the headlines in America, we as believers should be paying attention to events happening elsewhere. Let’s not be those who are caught unaware. Jesus said it best, “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”





A few nights ago we had a special set of emergency exercises in the moshav (neighborhood) where we live. For about 4 hours or so, first responders from the Golan went through four or five possible scenarios, two of which were a severe earthquake and a terrorist intrusion. SMS messages to residents’ phones were included in the exercise to reflect the kind of texts that would be sent in case of the real event. One message I received on my phone read in part, “…report of infiltration of terrorists…must remain in your homes with doors locked…” while an explosion—for greater realism—rocked the neighborhood. How did we prepare for the exercise? Meg went to Katzrin for an hour of exercise of the physical (and painful, sweaty) sort, and I decided to watch a movie on Netflix. All in all, a typical evening.

But all the action reminded me of the bigger picture and some questions. Why are we even having these exercises? The earthquake part I can understand since we had about a dozen small earthquakes in a two-week period earlier in the summer. But the terrorists? How would they even get to where we are? The fact that I’m even asking the question shows that there’s a lot more going on around us than we’re told in the news.

Conversations that we’ve had over the past week or so indicate that many believe a war is coming—and coming sooner rather than later. This includes conversations with both Israeli Jews and Golani Druze. What fascinates me about this is that each group is coming from very different political situations and news sources, yet they are all arriving at the same conclusions. Of course, the “next” war is always being discussed here, but people really seem concerned. And these are all people who have lived through numerous wars.

All of this talk about war contradicts what I currently see and hear around us. For instance, today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar. As of this writing, the country has literally been shut down for 24 hours already, with another few hours to go. Flights in and out of Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) stopped yesterday at about 1:30pm and won’t restart until about 9:30pm tonight. All public transportation stopped more than 24 hours ago. The roads are empty. The gates to our moshav (which sit on, and therefore closed, a main road) closed yesterday at 6:00pm and won’t reopen until 7:00pm this evening. All television channels are off the air. I cannot personally imagine such a scenario anywhere in the States outside of a catastrophe.

Other than the birds and our windchime, I can hear NO sounds outside. It’s exactly what Yom Kippur is supposed to feel like: a super-sized Shabbat, allowing the Jewish population an entire day to contemplate repentance and atonement. It was also exactly this kind of day 45 years ago when Israel was surprised by a multi-pronged attack by Syria and Egypt. Iraq soon joined in, and Jordan supported Syria in various ways. People here in our moshav told me about how they knew that a new war had just started when Syrian fighter jets flew over our moshav on that Day of Atonement in 1973.

It would be very surprising if a sudden war like that broke out today. There have been no real indications of anything happening soon, and that’s counting the nearly weekly Israeli bombings in Syria of weapons caches belonging to Iran and Hezbollah. They euphemistically call this kind of action, “mowing the grass,” which is a bit funny considering the fact that there are virtually no yards with real grass in Israel. Even with the unfortunate and somewhat ironic downing of a Russian plane by Russian anti-aircraft missiles—shot wildly by the Syrian army a couple of nights ago—everything is calm, at least on the surface.

Maybe that’s why we had the emergency exercises earlier this week. Although no one is expecting anything, they want everyone to be ready in case something does happen. How do you prepare for an earthquake that you can’t predict? You practice what to do in case it happens, so that your responses come automatically. It’s like a tornado or fire drill when we were in school. And here, they’re simply readiness exercises performed during times of quiet, and the reminders to make sure your bomb shelter is ready to go. You probably already know how we fared on that matter, but if you don’t know, you can find out here.

I wonder, are there areas in our lives that we should be “exercising,” things we need to be “practicing?” If the Lord came back suddenly, would we be ready? Are we sleepwalking through our lives—acting as if we are ready, but in reality, ill-prepared for things to come? What regrets would we have if the Lord took us home today? Where would that “home” be?

“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known in which watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. For this reason, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Matthew 24:43-44