Syria Update

by George F Spall

Those of us who try to understand what is happening in the Middle East have long had reason to believe that Syria is to play a big part in the end-time events. In the days following the division of the Greek Empire into four areas, Syria became known as the Northern Kingdom. The "king of the north" , referred to in the writings of Daniel, seems to have reference to Syria. The expansionist aims of its President, therefore, are of more than a little interest.

Israel , too, must of necessity take notice of any moves that country makes also. Lebanon is certainly north of Israel, so Syria would qualify for that title.

It is still a matter of opinion as to whether Israel was right to invade Lebanon when she did in 1982. Many bereaved families who lost their men in that war can be forgiven if they feel it was a mistake. But we must not forget the discovery of tunnels, kilometres in length, that were stacked with weapons of war, bearing Russian markings and sufficient to arm more than a million men. Who knows what that discovery averted?

Neither can we be allowed to forget that the initial drive was to secure an area forty kilometres deep for a buffer zone the entire length of Israel's northern border to prevent enemies from firing rockets at her defenceless towns and villages. That her armies advanced further north, and the rights and wrongs of that move, must be left to future historians.

The saying: "There is a destiny that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will" has more than a little truth. After the generals put away their swords and show their medals to their grandchildren, it is often discovered that the Lord was in it after all. "He makes the wrath of man to praise Him" , and it is good to note what follows: "The remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10).

This will be found in the case when Lebanon is under discussion later on. The situation in that unhappy place is both confusing and heartbreaking. Israel, of course, will be blamed for what the various Moslem factions are doing to each other. We can foresee more bloodshed, more attacks on the southern Lebanese group that Israel is glad to see there so that it forms a zone of protection (of a sort) across her northern border. And it is to be expected that Israel will have to take on an active role there, because, slowly but surely, Syria will extend its 'peace-keeping' (sic) effort further south, so much further south that Israel will need to protect herself.

The fact remains that it is written in Obadiah verse 20 that the northern border sea coast town of Zarephat, which is about eight miles south of Sidon, will be included in Israel when the boundaries of the land are finally settled. Israel was compelled by international pressure to withdraw from much further north after her 1982 incursion, and it was thought by many Bible students that her troops should have held the territory above the Zaharini River at that time. Zarephat is just inside it. It was also thought that there would be more war because they were pulling back too far.

Moslem factions will fight each other; so-called Christians will battle it out; Syria will move down. But the wrath of man will be found to work out the purposes of God -- we will see this when it is all over!

It would be worthwhile to note what Obadiah says about the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) while we're about it (verse 19): "And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau: and they of the plain the Philistines, and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead."

In fact, when we put that Scripture into context, we read: "But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

"And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken it.

"And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau (east of the Jordan river), and they of the plain the Philistines (along the Mediterranean coast), and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim (northern parts of the land) and the fields of Samaria (the 'West Bank') and Benjamin shall possess Gilead (east and north of Israel -- the Golan Heights)."

Obadiah's prophecy may well have its fulfilment in the present-day situation "for the LORD has spoken it."

So Syria beware! And anyone else who defies God's powerful Word!