In a previous column I mentioned the interaction between Putin and
Netanyahu. Putin informed the Israeli Prime Minister that this wasn't
500 BC. In other words - despite its rhetoric - Iran wasn't planning
another Jewish genocide.
Putin was brazenly protecting his assets.
Russia and Putin have come a long way. One analysis article recently called Vladimir Putin, the New Boss of the Middle East. His leadership presence suggests this to be the case. We can partly thank the Obama Administration for looking the other way and handing him the position.
At the time of writing, Russia's Foreign Ministry supposedly summoned the Israeli ambassador to Moscow "to explain an exchange of fire last week between Israeli jets and Syrian government forces." The exchange involved an alleged mission by Israel to destroy a weapons convoy en route to Iranian-proxy Hezbollah.
Note: Hezbollah means "Party of God." It is a Lebanese organization of Shiite militants which opposes Israel. It seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state modelled on Iran, in Lebanon. Hezbollah describes itself as an "Islamic struggle movement." It opposes the "Zionist occupation of Palestine" and any legitimacy for the existence of Israel.
It wouldn't be the first time Israel has struck at Hezbollah-bound convoys. Israel has learned (the hard way) that its survival largely depends on pre-emptive measures. In fact, even the very 500 BC Persian incident alluded to by Putin involved pre-emptive action to prevent Haman from realizing his genocidal plan.
But (at least according to Haaretz) the New Boss is now putting his Russian boot down:
Russia has sent a clear message to Israel that the rules of the game have changed in [ally] Syria and its freedom to act in Syrian skies is over, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Sunday night. (Emphasis mine)
Note that Israel has since denied that this is the case.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011 with no resolution yet in sight. The I AM SYRIA website reports that up to 470,000 civilians have died (including 55,000 children) to date. Some estimates are higher. Getty Images give some idea of the massive destruction in Syria. Be warned that some of these are graphic and disturbing.
A good summary on the state of affairs and complex nature of the Syrian conflict has been presented by USA Today's Foreign affairs reporter Oren Dorell. He ties in the main players: Russia, Iran, Syria; the ever-fluid position of Turkey, the Kurds, al Qaeda and ISIS.
Whether or not Putin warned Israel isn't the real issue, the last thing he wants is Israeli military presence in the Syrian mess he's trying to iron out. Neither does he want an Israeli strike against Iran. Unfortunately, Putin's allies aren't content to focus solely on solving regional conflict. Part of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah coalition's "multi-tasking effort" is - and always has been - to eradicate Zionist Israel.
To that end, could Russia's allies take advantage of Putin's regional ambitions and use them against Israel? They know he will ultimately back them. If the Obama administration facilitated Russian expansionism, Putin could be indirectly facilitating his allies' anti-Zionist goals.
For different reasons, Eastern Europe has expressed concerns as well.
Late last year Putin announced plans to "move nuclear-capable missiles closer to Europe in response to NATO's expansion in the Baltic states." Even traditionally neutral Sweden responded that they were "dusting off their own Cold War-era weapons to boost defenses on the Baltic coastline."
The Haaretz article linked to above also reports of moves to establish an Iranian port in the area of Tartus and Latakia in Syria, and the construction of plants in order to manufacture rockets for Hezbollah in Lebanon. This project helps circumvent Israeli strikes on Syrian truck convoys bound for Hezbollah. It also raises the ante.
Not only does this worry Israel, but the port alarms the European Union. Russia and Syria have entered into agreement to build up this Naval Base together. Considering the criticism often leveled at tiny Israel's pre-emptive measures to protect itself, there has to be some irony in Europe's concern over Russia and Iran.
As far as Bible prophecy is concerned, there continue to be a number of dynamics spinning around like jigsaw puzzle bits waiting to be placed on the board. How will Israel's oil and gas discoveries affect future scenarios involving Russia and company?
How will Islamic expansion into Europe and changing demographics play into all this? Will some leader emerge to save Europe from itself and Russia? How will Israel respond to future existential threats from Hezbollah, Syria and Iran? What will Putin do to defend Russia's interests?
Nearly every day brings something new and foreboding. No one has a solution to these compounding problems.
Regardless of how one views the Gog-Magog conflict, or end-time players' identities - the Big Picture appears (to me) to be rapidly taking shape. What we're seeing aligns with a literal prophetic understanding of a future conflict involving Israel, before Christ's Second Advent.
Could we be surging forward to that event?
For the moment, Putin seems to be calling the shots. However, he enjoys this position because God sovereignly allows it. The same is true of the other world leaders. Whatever political aspirations current leaders have in the region, there is only one true King. And He is coming.
Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16). All knees will eventually bow to Him, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth (Phil 2:10).
Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it; Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity. Psalm 98:6-9
Have we placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for the redemption of our sins (John 3:16-18)? How do we think we'll be judged when the King comes (or if we die first)?
Time is running out.