Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Burden against Damascus

 “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap.
The cities of Aroer are forsaken;
They will be for flocks
Which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.

Isaiah 17:1-2

It is my belief that the next event in the prophetic calendar is the Psalm 83 War.  The nations that immediately surround Israel will form a confederation  (verse 5) with the purpose to “cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (verse 4).  The news have been confirming that such a war may indeed take place before long.

The piece that didn’t seem to fit the puzzle was Isaiah’s prophecy of the total annihilation of Damascus.  Make no mistake, that prophecy has not been fulfilled yet.  Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  It has been conquered, torn, rebuilt… but never destroyed to the point that human beings would not be able to live there.  Well, I thought, it must be part of the collateral damage from the Psalm 83 War.  I just couldn’t place the destruction of Damascus in the timeline for that war.  Not that it matter, the Lord has said that Damascus would be destroyed, and so it will.  But I couldn’t help wondering about the when and how.

The events of the last few days have brought some light to this matter.  Just yesterday Syria announced that, if attacked by the US, it will retaliate by attacking Israel.   Well, I don’t expect  the US, or any Western nation for that matter, to nuke Damascus.  I mean, that is not how we wage war, do we?  We follow the rules of engagement, the Geneva convention… We have forgotten how to wage a war with the intention of winning it.  But what about Israel?  For that tiny country, an attack from Syria would be an existential threat, they would strike back hard.  And if Syria dares to use chemical weapons on Israel, I don’t have any doubt that PM Netanyahu will use all means available to him to defend his people, even if that means using nuclear weapons.  The world won’t like it… big deal!  Has the world ever sided with Israel in its struggle for survival?

Let me suggest an scenario for the upcoming war.  The US, UK and maybe France attack the Assad regime and he retaliates against Israel.  So will countries that have followed Syria’s lead in the past: Lebanon, Jordan… maybe Egypt.  There you have it, the Psalm 83 War.  If in addition Syria uses WMDs on Israel, the response will be swift and hard.  Nuking Damascus would put an end to the Assad regime, and serve the other countries notice not to mess with Israel.  The war will be over, and Isaiah’s prophecy will be fulfilled.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


                At the beginning of the Lybia campaign, I told a friend of mine “Syria is next”.  He laughed.  The Arab Spring was spreading through North Africa and, to a lesser extent, popping up here and there in the Arabian Peninsula. But, Syria?  Really?  It was not like Bashar Assad did not have experience putting down dissent.  One could say that it was in his genes.  All I could do was to mention the prophecy of Isaiah 17:1, Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.

Where do we stand today?  It is pretty much generally accepted that Assad’s days are numbered and that we are watching the closing scenes of this play.  Back in mid December, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. President Barack Obama  indicated that Syria would be crossing a line if it used chemical weapons and that foreign intervention in the civil war may follow.   Very soon after this statement, activists started posting videos purportedly showing that  Assad was indeed using chemical weapons on his own people.  On Christmas Eve, Al Jazeera reported that seven people had died in Homs, and scores of others had been affected,  after they inhaled an unidentified  "poisonous gas" used by government forces.  PM Netanyahu has stated that Israel is closely monitoring the developments in Syria.   And this morning, Israel National News has reported that  a MiG-21 aircraft, flown by  Syrian pilot col. Hassan Hamada who defected to Jordan in June, had been upgraded to carry chemical weapons and to fly without a pilot.  US experts believe that Russian engineers helped convert the plane and that additional Syrian aircraft have undergone the same transformation.

Syria has become the focus of interest for Moscow.    Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced a couple of days ago that Russia was helping Syria keep control of its chemical and biological weapons arsenals.  That statement was probably meant as a deterrent for Israeli  or NATO  military action to seize control of those wmd’s.   It was also a warning to the West not to intervene in the removal of Assad, either by direct action or by helping the rebels.   At the same time, Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria's more sophisticated air defenses.   Russia has delivered Buk-M2 and Pantsyr-S1 mobile missile launch and radar systems to Syria, while the delivery of modern long-range S-300 has not been confirmed.  And, while Syria’s air defense command comprises two divisions and an estimated 50,000 troops – twice the size Gaddafi's force –, sources familiar with the Moscow-Damascus defense relationship confirmed the presence of Russian air-defense crews inside Syria.  This may help explain why a US-led intervention – predicted as imminent for more than a year- has failed to materialize.

But Moscow is not the only one interested in the events unfolding in Syria.  Teheran is actively working to continue the Syrian war while maintaining its grip on the country.  Debkafiles has recently reported that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameinei has issued directives to the commander of Iran’s external intelligence and terrorist arm, for perpetuating the Syrian conflict by means of a terrorist network spread across the country, operating in conjunction with local militias.  That is the tactic that has been used in Afghanistan, where President Karzai resides in a fortified palace, and Iraq with PM Nouri hiding in Baghdad’s Green Zone. 

What is likely to happen in Syria?  Saudi intelligence worries that Bashar Assad will pretty soon give the order to launch chemical and biological weapons against the insurgency and some of Syria’s neighbors.  At this point all bets will be off.  Israel will act, and so will the US in spite of the present Commander-in Chief.   In this  context, it is easy to see the prophecy of Isaiah 17 being fulfilled and Damascus becoming a ruinous heap.  It is worth noticing that Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.  Though it has been attacked and conquered, it has never been completely destroyed.   It has never been left uninhabited, but there is one more prophecy regarding Damascus.  In the Judgment on Damascus, we read therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” says the Lord of hosts.  “I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad”  (Jer. 49:26-27). 

Damascus, and all of Syria indeed, is in the cross hairs of prophecy!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Why not December?

            While we cannot be sure, it seems unlikely that Jesus was born in late December.  Shepherds are just not out with their flocks during the winter in the Judean hills.  The normal practice was to keep the flocks in the fields from spring to fall.  Also, it seems like winter would be a specially hard time for a very pregnant Mary to travel the about 70 mi from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  We are often told that we “don’t know what time of the year Jesus was born”.  Actually, a careful study of the information found in the gospel of Luke, plus the knowledge passed on to us by the Jewish historian Josephus, can shed light on the time of Jesus’ birth.

The Jewish Priesthood

            At the time when king David was on the throne, there were 24,000 priests.  He organized them into 24 divisions (1 Chro 28:11-13, 19), with each division serving for a week (1 Chro 9:25), from Sabbath to Sabbath, twice a year, non-consecutive weeks.  Also, all priests were required to serve 3 extra weeks during the year (Deu 16:16): Passover Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  That added up to 51 weeks, the number of weeks in the Hebrew calendar

John the Baptist

            According to Luke 1:5, Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah.  That means that he would have served during the week that ran from the 27th of the Jewish month of Iyar to the 4th of Sivan.  Following that week was the week-long celebration of Pentecost, so Zacharias would have stayed in the Temple and served that week also.  When his duties at the temple were finished, he returned home and Elizabeth conceived shortly after his return home.  This sets the date for John’s conception at about the third week of Sivan.

            Exactly 41 weeks from that date is the beginning of the Passover/Unleavened Bread Feast.  This very strongly suggests that John could have been born the first day of Passover and circumcised on the last day of the Holiday.  Jews have expected Elijah to come at Passover to announce the coming of Messiah, thus they set a chair and a cup of wine for Elijah at the Seder, and the door is left ajar for the prophet.  John’s birth during Passover would fulfill both the prophecy in Malachi 4:5 and the Jewish expectations.


            After announcing to her that she would give birth to Messiah, Gabriel told her about Elizabeth’s being 6 months pregnant already (Luke 1:36).  Mary left Nazareth immediately (with haste according to verse 39).  When Mary arrived to Elizabeth’s home she was already pregnant, since John still in the womb recognized the unborn Jesus (verse 44).  That sets the conception of Jesus at about the end of the month of Kislev, during the Feast of Lights, Hannukah.


            We need to let go of some of the traditions we associate with Christmas.  First, we think of Joseph and Mary rushing to Bethlehem to register as soon as the decree from Caesar Augustus was issued.  But, actually, they had a whole year during which to register.  There was no reason for people to flock to Bethlehem all at once, of for Joseph to bring Mary all the way from Nazareth when her pregnancy was so far along.

            There were 3 major Holy Days when Jews were expected to make every reasonable effort to come to Jerusalem (Ex 23:14): Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  During these days Josephus claims that the population of the “greater: Jerusalem would swell from about 120,000 to over 2 million.  Every home in the area was open to guests, inns were full, and during the Feast of Tabernacles families would allow out-of-town visitors to spend the night in their sukkah (booth), even going to the effort of leaving some food on a “food shelf”  attached to the inside wall of the sukkah.  If Jesus was conceived during Hannukah, his due date would have fallen within the week of Tabernacles (late September to October, in the Gregorian calendar).  It is more likely that Joseph and Mary came to Jerusalem to fulfill their obligation and decided, while they were there, they would go over to Bethlehem to register for the census.  It is then very likely that they were offered someone’s sukkah to spend the night, and that it was there that Jesus was born.  And when the Baby was born, they would have laid Him on the “food shelf” to keep Him off the damp ground.

            Well, you may be asking, what happened to the stable, the manger, the animals…?  The translators of the King James Bible were Greek and Hebrew scholars, but Gentiles, unaware of ancient Hebrew customs.  It is a fact that the Hebrew word sukkah can be translated as temporary shelter, booth, barn…  Did I just say barn?  It is easy to see how the “food shelf” would become a food trough, and how cattle and sheep would be added to the “manger scene”.

            Since the first and last day of Tabernacles were High Sabbaths, and no travelling was allowed, it is easy to imagine Joseph making an effort to reach Bethlehem before sundown on the eve of the first day of Tabernacles.  That would have Jesus born that night, on the 15th of Tishrei.  And He would have been circumcised on the day after the last day of Tabernacles, the most joyous day of Simchat Torah when Jews rejoice in the Torah (the Word of God).

What about us, Christians?

            It seems to me like we ought to celebrate Hannukah, as the time when the Light of the World was incarnated.  It was also during Hannukah that Jesus said I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).  Actually, this year I have lit a menorah, although a virtual one, on my Face Book page.

            As far as His birth during Tabernacles, John 1:14 tells us that Jesus was made flesh and dwelt among us”.  One of the translations of the Greek word for dwell is to tabernacle. And somehow, the idea of the Bread of Life (John 6:33-51) being placed on the “food shelf” seems very appropriate.  So, should we celebrate Tabernacles?  Zechariah 14:16-17 tells us that one day all nations will be required to honor this day.  What greater reason could it be than because it is the birthday of the King of Kings?


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reminiscing of Yom Kippur 1973

                The world watches the war of words between Israel and Iran.  President Ahmadinejad’s call for the annihilation of the Zionist regime has lost its edge because of overuse.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reply that Israel has the right to defend itself is as expected as the sun rising in the morning.  However, tensions rose to a new high last week with the comment by Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi that “of course this confrontation has always continued; however, since we are in the era of The Coming, this war will be a significant war” (Mashregh news).  He was referring to Imam Mahdi, the Shi’ites’ 12th Imam who they believe will reappear to kill all infidels and establish a global Muslim caliphate .  This is the first official confirmation that the mullahs think we are living in the end-times, that the Mahdi’s return is imminent and that they can hasten it by bringing on destruction and mayhem in a scale never seen before.  Can you say “nuclear weapons”?

                Simultaneously, the Jewish people are celebrating their High Holy Days.  Rosh Hashanah was celebrated between sunset of September 16 and nightfall of September 18.  Yom Kippur will take place between sunset September 25 and nightfall of September 26.  This brings memories of 1973 and the Yom Kippur War, when the combined armies of Egypt and Syria attacked the Jewish State on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.  It was nothing short of a miracle that Israel survived the attack.  Later on the Israeli government appointed the Agranat Commission to examine the failures leading up to and during the early stages of the war.  It called for the resignation of four senior officers, including the commander of military intelligence Maj. Gen. Eli Zeira, while clearing Prime Minister Golda Meir from responsibility.

                According to the Times of Israel, newly released documents reveal that the Mossad knew a week in advance that Egypt was planning to launch a surprise attack on Yom Kippur but, in the Times’ words, “did not pass the information on in an orderly and explicit way to Prime Minister Golda Meir’s office”.  Yes, Israel won the war, but the failure to launch a pre-emptive strike almost led to the destruction of the Jewish State.

                Fast forward to 2012.  Yom Kippur will be next Wednesday.  And once again, Israel is being threatened with utter destruction.  What would you do, if you were the Prime Minister of Israel?  Pre-emptive strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities?  Wait?  I know that PM Netanyahu holds a Bible study in his office.  He is well aware of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He also knows that in the Old Testament the Lord has fought WITH Israel, not INSTEAD OF.  I am not privy to the intelligence available to PM Netanyahu, but I am convinced that he will strike Iran.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blaming the Movie


     Our embassies are being attacked all over the Middle East: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen… The US ambassador to Libya and 3 other Americans were killed during the attack to the US consulate in Benghazi.  US flags have been burned, torn and replaced with black flags sporting the Shahada: “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”.  Al Qaeda in Yemen is urging Muslims to kill American diplomats. 

     Never mind that the attacks took place on the 11th anniversary of September 11, or that the crowds in Cairo were shouting  Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas! Or that the day before, Al Qaeda’s own al-Zawiri had called for attacks on the US in retribution to the killing of his second in command last June by a US drone in Pakistan.  Don’t let facts get in the way.  The official reason for the uprisings has been the screening of the anti-Islam movie “Innocence of the Muslims”, a trailer of which could still be found on You Tube as of this morning, on jihadist television.

     It didn’t take long for the name of the person responsible for making the movie to be made public: Sam Bacile.  Just as fast, the MSM declared him to be an Israeli Jew.  After all, who would dislike Muhammad more than an Israeli Jew?  As for Israel’s declaration that they did not have a record of a citizen with that name, well… what could you expect from the Zionist entity?  After all, the Qur’an calls Jews “sons of apes and pigs”, doesn’t it?

     It turned out that Sam Bacile’s real name is Morris Sadek and that he is not an Israeli Jew but an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian.  Oh, my!  It is not like the Egyptian Copts were not scared enough at the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Now they can expect some of the anger aimed at the US to spill over to them.  A number of them have been demonstrating in solidarity with their Muslim neighbors, hoping to appease them. 

     On July 12, I quoted Isaiah 27:13, saying “They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt”.  The current events only seal my conviction that, very soon, Christians will be outcasts in the land of Egypt.  And that’s good news, because at that time “the great trumpet will be blown”, Jesus is coming back!

     Just a final thought, at sunset Monday the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah begins.  This holiday is best known by Christians as the Feast of Trumpets.   Are you ready?




Saturday, August 18, 2012

                                                                                                         And the Reason Is...

     Most people agree that in the battle of Gog and Magog a confederacy of Islamic nations will attack Israel.  There are some arguments about it, but again the majority of scholars seem to believe that this confederacy will be led by Russia.  My question was, why would Russia want to attack Israel?  Why would it ally itself with Islam?  It just didn’t make much sense to me.

     In 2009 the Tamar natural gas field was discovered some 50 miles off Haifa’s coast, well within Israeli waters.  With an estimated 250 billion cubic meters, it is large enough to meet all of Israel’s natural gas requirements for the next 20 to 30 years.  Which is especially significant when we consider how many times the Sinai natural gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan has been sabotaged since the fall of Mubarak, disrupting the delivery of natural gas to Israel in bold opposition to the 2005 agreement that was an outgrowth of the 1979 peace treaty.  The Tamar field is expected to be fully operational by 2013.

     The following year, another natural gas field was discovered 30 miles to the west of Tamar.  It was named Leviathan because of its size.  It is estimated to contain around 470 billion cubic meters of gas.  It is scheduled to be operational 4 years after Tamar does.  A smaller field, Tanin, with an estimated 33.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas, was discovered earlier this year.  And the exploration continues.

     Israel’s newly found riches will have a three-fold effect that could lead to the war described in Ezekiel 38.

     First, Lebanon which is still formally in a state of war with Israel, has declared a maritime border that would include a large part of the gas fields.  The lack of a stable land border between Israel and Lebanon is the reason given for the disputed maritime border.  In August 2010, Lebanon submitted to the UN its official view regarding the maritime border, indicating that it considered the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields to be outside Lebanese territory.  But Hezbollah hasn’t said the last word yet.

     Next, natural gas abundance will have multiple repercussions in the Israeli economy.  Not only will Israel able to reduce its dependence on coal to produce electricity, but natural gas could replace oil as a transportation fuel.  And, because it is a key feedstock in the petrochemical business, it will spur new industry.  Israel’s economy will boom, maybe to the levels predicted by Ezekiel.

     Finally, Israel will go from being an energy-scarce nation, to exporting natural gas.  There‘s already talk of establishing a pipeline to Greece to start selling natural gas to Europe.  Russia is currently one of the major suppliers of natural gas to Europe.  The original pipeline networks for exporting (then Soviet) natural gas to Europe date back to the 1970s.  In November of last year a759 mile-long pipeline from Karelia, a federal subject to Russia, to Germany was inaugurated.  A second pipeline is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of this year.  Both pipelines will be transporting 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year to Europe.

     What will Russia’s reaction be to Israel’s becoming a natural gas exporter to Europe?  Will the Hezbollah-infiltrated Lebanese government give up its claims to Tamar and Leviathan?  I think the stage is getting set for the premier of the Ezekiel 38 War.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Isaiah 27

So it shall be in that day:
The great trumpet will be blown;
They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria,
And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt,
And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

(Isaiah 27:13)

     A couple of days ago a friend mentioned to me Isa. 27:13 as one more piece of evidence that we are living in the End Times.  It caught me by surprise. “ Isaiah 27?  You mean Isaiah 17, don’t you?” “ No”, my friend answered, “go read Isaiah 27:13.”  I did, and it amazed me.  Who are those who are about to perish in Assyria, who are outcasts in Egypt.  Obviously they must be believers, since they are coming to worship the Lord.
     On May 30, a report from the Gatestone Institute showed then-presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi declaring that he will achieve the Islamic conquest of Egypt and make all Christians convert to Islam or pay the jizya.  When questioned about the Christian Copts, he reportedly answered that "they need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate."  So those are the choices, convert or leave the country.  Last Tuesday, Egypt Daily News reported that "lawyers who specialize in working with Coptic Egyptians... say that in the past few weekd they have received hundreds of calls from Copts wanting to leave Egypt."
     In early June, some mosques inthe Syrian city of Qusayr announced from the minarets that "Christians must leave Qusayr within six days."  A week later the Christian population of Qusayr, about 9,000 men women and children, had fled.  In the city of Homs, the third largest in Syria, almost the entire Christian population of 50,000 to 60,000 has also fled for safety.  And bombs have exploded in the Christian quarters of Damascus and Aleppo.
     Now, persecution of Christians is not a new trend.  The early church was persecuted and, like the Voice of the Martyrs likes to say, persecution did not end at the Roman Colosseum.  Persecution today is particularly strong in Muslim countries, especially for those Muslims who convert to Christianity.  But Christians in Egypt and Syria had enjoyed a modicum of peace.  Now suddenly the tables are turning and Christians are running for their lives.  Just like Isaiah foretold.  And he said it would happen at the time of the restoration of Israel.