ASK Commentary
April 22, 2002 

Recent Events In The Middle East

Several events in the Middle East, Israel, Palestine and particularly Jerusalem warrant comment at this time. While making no moral judgments or taking sides, a description of the current situation in the Middle East is in order: 

The Current Situation  

* The Israeli invasion of Palestinian territory for the stated purpose of halting terrorism has inflamed the Middle East to a pitch not seen since the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, announced that Israel was in a state of war. This public announcement was a warning and a declaration of intent to achieve the stated purpose. 

* Arab and Muslim government policies do not appear to be popular with their peoples, who expect them to take a stronger role against perceived Israeli oppression. 

* Israel is a nuclear power with both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. These weapons will not be used unless the survival of the State of Israel is directly threatened. Israel will not allow either the Arabs or the Palestinians to “push Israel into the sea.” 

* Israel is a strategic vassal of the United States. This means that Israel is dependent upon the continued support of the United States for the weapons, funding and trade to continue its survival as a political state. The United States is slowly withdrawing from this relationship because of Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. 

* Lebanon is a strategic vassal of Syria, and could be a major battlefield in any future war. 

* Jordan is an economic vassal of Iraq, its major trading neighbor. Iraq uses its monetary power from the sales of oil to buy economic goods from Jordan. 

* Saudi Arabia, a major oil-trading partner with the United States and Europe, is changing its relationship with the United States. Saudi Arabia asked (ordered) the United States to withdraw several important military installations. While there is an economic relationship of equality between the two nations, Saudi Arabia views itself currently as a military vassal and dependent upon U.S. military. Recent Saudi Arabian political actions are designed to separate itself from military dependence while maintaining the lucrative economic oil trade. 

* Afghanistan is now a military vassal of the United States. The invasion by U.S. and coalition forces was felt necessary because the prior regime was a threatening base of operations for terrorist attacks. 

* Kuwait is a military and strategic vassal of the United States. 

* The United States is building-up ground forces for the purpose of invading Iraq in the future, probably toward the end of the year 2002 or early 2003, unless internal revolution takes place. The strategic purpose for the United States would be to oust the current Iraqi regime, emplace a government favorable to the United States and create an economic vassal as a substitute to supply Saudi Arabian oil. The movement of the Headquarters of the U.S. 3rd Army from the United States into Kuwait is a significant strategic move that indicates such an invasion is likely. Large-scale strategic assets are not moved unless there is serious intent for them to be used or to be in place for a long period of time. As of this date large numbers of ground troops have not moved into Kuwait. The eventual invasion force, allying itself with native Iraqi dissidents, will be smaller than U.S. forces used in 1991 to free Kuwait from Iraqi invasion. The combat power of the U.S. military has increased dramatically since that time, while that of the Iraqi armed forces is less than in 1991. 

* Remember that there is only one superpower in the world—the United States. While there are economic limitations to its ability to project its power, at the present the training, equipment and combat effectiveness of its forces are so totally superior to those of other nations, that resistance against the U.S. military is as nothing. The military forces of the United States are the “mighty men” of the world at present. This will change (as all things do), but no single event will change this. These are the circumstances as I understand them from public news sources. I have no secret, privileged or insider information. However, certain historical factors should be understood that relate directly to events occurring in the last few months. 

Recent Events 

1. The United States, through President Bush, demanded that Israel withdraw its military forces from Palestinian territory. This is an explicit recognition that the Palestinian people have rights to territory. The exact borders and boundaries of that territory will be negotiated. This is an important step to nationhood. (See the ASK article, “Israel Should Cease it's Military Conquests Post Haste!”) 

2. Israel has publicly stated that Palestine can achieve nationhood. This is unprecedented, although expected. (See the ASK article, “The Prophesied State of Palestine”) 

3. A summit of Arab Nations in Lebanon in March 2002 publicly stated that Israel had a right to exist as a nation. This is unprecedented. (See the ASK article “How Israel will Conquer the Middle East”) 

4. Saudi Arabia’s order for the United States to remove certain U.S. military and strategic assets from its country signals a change of relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Economic ties are strong, but political and military relationships will weaken. (See the ASK article, “How Israel will Conquer the Middle East”) 

5. Syria will increase its influence and power in the region. This is especially so as Iraq, for the short-term, is diminished. (See the ASK article, “The Damascus Phase of End-Time Prophecy”) 

6. The United States military is wrapping-up its invasion of Afghanistan. Hopefully, the United States will withdraw after its strategic purposes and goals have been served. (See the ASK article, “Afghanistan (Gog and Magog)”) 

7. The religious sites of Jerusalem, particularly the Moslem controlled Haram esh-Sharif (the so-called “Temple Mount”), the Wailing Wall and other places of significance have not been involved in combat or battle. That situation is so explosive that all parties to the various conflicts are wary of inflaming the situation in Jerusalem. However, desperation can bring further disaster before God opens the eyes of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the world. (See the ASK article, “The Greatest Revolution in Human History”) 

8. Scandals involving the Catholic Church in the United States and the current Pope’s ill health have diminished the political influence of the Vatican in Middle East politics. The Catholic Church’s very survival is threatened with the unexpected withholding of funds from Catholics in the United States. Suddenly, a major player in international politics has become less powerful. (See the ASK article, “The Coming Collapse of Traditional Religious Foundations”) 

9. Israel will survive even without military, political and material support of the United States. Israel will be “weaned,” whether gently or harshly, from the dependence on the United States. This will force them to depend upon God for their physical salvation. The nation that was to come out of Abraham (not all his descendants, but the particular nation that came through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob) had a blessing and a curse relating to other nations' actions toward it,

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples of the earth shall be blessed through you."

• Genesis 12:2

God will strictly recompense those who do evil to the children of Abraham through Jacob in the future,

“Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured, and all thy adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity, and they that spoil you shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon you will I give for a prey.”

• Jeremiah 30:18

“‘And I will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them,’ says the Lord thy God.”

• Genesis 12:2

10. European support for Israel (public and governmental) has diminished considerably and public opinion is hostile to Israel. Public and private sympathy for Israel and Judaism will continue to diminish. Europe will increase its influence in the Middle East. (See the ASK article, “Prophetic Geography and the Time of the End”)

11. We know that wide-ranging “peace” settlements will be achieved at a future time. This can be known because when the final Man of Sin assembles his army at Armageddon, the prophet Ezekiel has him saying:

"I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, and dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates."

• Ezekiel 38:11

There are no military strongholds in Israel at that future time. At that end-time event Israel will be invaded when “unwalled cities” exist in the land of Israel and surrounding areas. That is certainly not the case currently or in the near future. In fact just the opposite is true. The land surrounding Israel is the most heavily fortified and militarily equipped area in the world. (See the ASK articles “The Land of Israel in Prophecy” and “Coming: The New World Order”) The purpose of the ASK website in general, and this Breaking News in particular, is not to provide political analysis of the news. It is to give information concerning biblical matters to everyone. But such information should be handled with caution. 

Cautions about Prophecy  

One problem with prophetic understanding is the tendency to suggest that significant current events somehow fit or fulfill or initiate particular biblical prophecies. For example, the September 11, 2001 suicide bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City have some people wondering whether that event signaled a beginning of the “time of the end.” There is no biblical indication to believe that this would be the case. One of the cardinal rules for properly interpreting the Scriptures is to let the teachings in other sections of the Bible (which use the same terms or principles in other contexts) be the guide to understanding the more obscure sections. You should review what happened in New Testament times when the Jews expected the Messiah to come. Many seemingly definite prophetic trends came together around the year 63 C.E. (See Dr. Martin’s classic—and still relevant—1979 article, “The Expectation of Christ's Second Coming in Apostolic Times” as well as Chapter 14, “The Prophetic Environment of the First Century” in Dr. Martin’s Restoring the Original Bible [ASK, 1994]) Additional trends and events that will occur in the future because biblical prophecies say they will happen. See a partial list of some of those events such as understood by Dr. Ernest L. Martin in his article from 1992, “Surprising Events for the Near Future.” Rest assured that events will continue to be exciting. In fact world events will become so intense that hearts will fail from worry and distress over world conditions, and especially over the city of Jerusalem. Recall Jesus’ predictions of deception, false Christ’s and wars and rumors of wars, indicate that “the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6) and nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and famines and pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places are merely “the beginning of sorrows” (verses 7–8). He then proceeds to the rest of the Olivet Prophecy. It is noteworthy that Dr. Martin did not compile his extensive number of articles, tape transcripts and publications on prophecy into books of like subjects. This is a task that needs to be done, and God willing, shall be done in the near future.

David Sielaff

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