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May 2016 Prophetic Observer

For printable version, click here.


 

Turkish Paranoia

By Bob Glaze

The prophecies in either the Old or New Testaments are listed in a major outline only. The minor points are filled in at the time of the fulfillment. In the study of the end-time prophecies of Ezekiel 38–39 we have the major outline of the future invasion of Israel by Magog and a host of present-day Muslim countries. The one country that really stands out is modern-day Turkey. The list of supporting partners in this forecast invasion are all present today and this Muslim contingency is calling for the destruction of the Jew. It is apparent that Turkey will be the springboard for this invasion. One author believes it to be the “Beast nation” mentioned in prophetic texts. For more than 100 years, Turkey has been a secular nation with a constitution instead of a theocracy. However, what is Turkey today and are there signs of impending change?

One of the most interesting and enjoyable travels to the entire Middle East is the land of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. It sometimes is called “the Other Holy Land,” not because of the peoples that have and are living there today, but because of its rich Christian history. Much, if not most of the missions of the apostles John and Paul were carried out in it this current Muslim country. When touring Turkey, you will have the opportunity to visit the biblical sites of Cappadocia, Antioch, the seven city church sites of Revelation, Iconium, and the historical site of the ancient city of Troy. In Scripture, the apostles simply call it Asia.

Its history goes back to the Flood, as mentioned in Genesis after the waters were abated in 8:4: “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Ararat is a mountain range between Turkey, Russia, and Armenia. Today the area thought to be host to the ark is controlled by Turkey. It was here above these mountains that God created the rainbow to appear as a sign that He would never destroy the earth by water again. 

Noah lived and raised his family here for 350 years, as noted in Genesis 9:28: “And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.” Only after his death did his descendants begin to move, as noted in Genesis 11:2: “... and it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.” However, while living in the area now called Turkey, Noah’s family began to spread out, with Japheth settling in the area mainly south of the Black Sea (whose descendants are called Caucasians because of the Caucasus Mountain region). Magog settled in what is today southern Russia. Japheth had seven sons according to Genesis 10:2–5 who eventually settled the area from Turkey to southern Spain. These sons and grandsons are the peoples mentioned in Ezekiel 38–39. 

Noah lived after the flood for 350 years (Gen. 9:28), making him 950 years old when he died. Abraham died 193 years after the Flood (Gen. 25:7), making them contemporaries for 157 years, during which the period of the building of the tower of Babel took place (Gen. 25:7). At this point, the biblical narrative follows Abram, thus Japheth and Ham are now mentioned mainly by the names of their descendants. While the Bible follows this narrative arriving at the birth of the Saviour through God’s promise to Abram, Noah’s other sons were following a future course that will eventually lead to their destruction. 

Today, 4,000 years later, we see Turkey as a country that has changed hands many times through invasions and religious arrangements. The Turkish language is spoken by 15 different countries including Mongolia. Turkey and Mongolia are distant cousins going all the way back to the days of the ruling Khan dynasties. The transferring of influence and power lasted one and a half centuries with the decline of Christian influence and the rise of Islamic influence.  The once- Christian nation fell to the Ottoman Turks in early fourteenth century and changed the name of its capital from Constantinople to Istanbul in 1453. From that time until 1922, the Ottoman Empire formed a caliphate which ruled the Muslim world. 

During World War I, Turkey sided with Germany in its conquests of world domination. During this time, a young officer that fought for the Ottomans named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was beginning to make his mark. After the Ottoman defeat in World War I, Ataturk formed a provisional government in Ankara which defeated the Allied forces to gain independence for Turkey. His desire was to form a new government based upon secular principles. He knew that in order to become recognized by the world, Turkey had to conform to Western policies politically, economically, and socially. Many of Ataturk’s contemporary Muslim reform-minded leaders agreed with him that to progress meant that Islam had to be reformed. This reformation meant that the Ottoman caliphate and sultanate had to be removed, which resulted in the sultan being banished for life. A new constitution was instituted in 1924 and Turkey moved to become a more moderate and secular nation. However, is all of that about to change? Is there reason for paranoia?

Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952 and an associate member of the EU since 1963. They have been unable to become a full-fledged member of the EU mainly because of their position on Cyprus and the continued concerns of Germany. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoganOn August 28, 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdogan became president of Turkey after serving as prime minister from March 14, 2003, until assuming the office of president. He has brought a mixed bag of politics and religion to the office that has made some very uneasy. He is a member of the “Justice and Development Party” (AKA) which is portrayed as pro-Western and pro-American, and interested in pursuing entrance into the EU as a full-fledged member. While he remains to be seen as pro-Western and a democratic leader, his demeanor is beginning to change into the real Erdogan. He is being portrayed as the next Putin. He wants it all for himself, not sharing the power with anyone. He is being called the new sultan, explicitly defying the Turkish constitution. 

An article entitled, “Why Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be the next Putin” states, “Erdogan, who became prime minister in 2003 and president in 2014, has become the single most important force driving today’s Turkish foreign and domestic policy—the new sultan, as both his critics and admirers have dubbed him. He has emasculated the nation’s once-powerful military as a domestic political force: Starting in 2007, his government launched a massive investigation into an alleged several-year-old coup plot, accusing top generals and officers, opposition leaders, journalists, and academics of conspiracy and, by 2013, jailing nearly 300 of them. This helped cement his position as the most potent leader in modern Turkey’s history, with exception of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, its founder” (www.slate.com).

Turkey’s secular military has been the one stabilizing force since its inception of a democracy. Its job has been not only to fight their enemies on the outside but also those enemies of the state on the inside. Eliminating the opposition, especially the military has been necessary for any despot to take over a country as we have seen in our own country. However, military coups are not something new for Turkey. The 1960 and 1971 coups were designed by the military in allowing violate conflicts between right-wing and left-wing to get to a point that their intervention was applauded.  The 1971 coup resulted in 50 people being executed; 500,000 were arrested; and hundreds died in prison. The third coup, on September 12, 1980, was headed by Chief of the General Staff. The military ruled the country until the democracy was finally restored. 

Erdogan is again up for re-election, but will the election be representative of the people or a sham controlled by the prime minister? “There is a broad sense, election results notwithstanding, that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out of control. He is imprisoning opponents, seizing newspapers left and right and building palaces at the rate of a mad sultan or aspiring caliph. In recent weeks, he has once again threatened to dissolve the constitutional court” (www.newsweek.com).

Erdogan’s goal is to re-establish the Ottoman Empire and make himself the sultan. The goal of ISIS is also to re-establish the Ottoman Empire and elect a sultan. Can Erdogan and ISIS be in bed with each other? The answer is yes. In an article posted on December 15, 2015, “On Thursday, acting under secretary for Terrorism and Financial intelligence with the U.S. Treasure Adam Szubin stated that ISIS is selling ‘some ‘of its oil to Turkey” (www.breitbart.com). The main source of revenue to continue ISIS’s goal to re-establish the caliphate is oil. The article also states that Russia has accused that Erdogan and his family are involved in ISIS’s illegal oil trade and is personally profiting from it. If proven, he has already promised to resign. 

It is not only possible but probable that the Ottoman Empire will be established and Erdogan could be the sultan. 

“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him” (Ezekiel 38:2). The “chief prince” is a person noted as “him.” In Daniel 10:13 we read of another mention of a chief prince. While Daniel was praying and fasting for guidance he received an answer in an unusual vision: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” 

If Michael is one of the “chief princes,” then who are the others? It seems logical that associated scriptures point to the conclusion that the other chief princes are Lucifer and Gabriel. Therefore, it is logical that the “chief prince” could be none other than Lucifer, or Satan because of his hatred for Israel. It is also plausible that since the nations mentioned in the Muslim coalition of Ezekiel 38 are former members of the Ottoman Empire, it could be reformed and its leader could be the leader of Turkey, the mainstay of the Ottoman Empire. 

Therefore, the defeat of ISIS, as part of the empire will be complete with the destruction of the coalition. Why is ISIS not defeated by the free world? They number in the few thousands vs. million-man armies that should be able to smash them into oblivion. This will be a pre-Tribulation event that precedes the Rapture and onset of the seven-year period. The subpoints to the major outline of prophecy in Scripture are now being filled in.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). 

 


“... And Then Revival,” Part 1

by Larry Spargimino

Generalizations are a bad idea. Making blanket statements reveals a mind of  limited experience and exposure to reality. It doesn’t take a super intellect to realize that life is more nuanced than what can be stated in a generalization.

Those who make generalizations usually end up with egg in their face. No sooner have they said “ALL men are bad,” then someone says, “But what about…?” and names a well-respected individual. So, how about the statement, “ALL Muslims are bad”? 

There are a whole host of similar statements such as, “There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. They are all a violent crowd of people—warriors in the sand, camel jockeys beheading innocent people.” Recently, a reader sent me an e-mail claiming that since I use the “newly-invented, politically-correct  term ‘Muslim’ rather than ‘Moslem’” I have caved in to the politically correct crowd. The generalizations and snap judgments that fill the air with noxious  fumes are particularly numerous when we talk about Islam.  

People often wonder, “Aren’t there any Muslims in the world who abhor Islamic terrorism and radicalism and who are willing to oppose the jihadists?” Such a question is to be expected, following 9/11 and many other acts of terrorism connected with radical Islam. In his must-read book for anyone who wants to understand these issues, Inside The Revolution: How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson and Jesus Are Battling To Dominate the Middle East and Transform the World, Joel Rosenberg writes: 

The mainstream media has, frankly, done a terrible job examining the internal tensions and enormous diversity of beliefs and practices within the Muslim world. So here are the answers: “Yes, absolutely,” and “They’re out there, but they don’t get nearly enough attention or respect.”

My wife, Lynn, and I have met many Muslims who vehemently oppose the radicals and seek only peace and prosperity for their people and the community of nations. We have befriended such Muslims. We have had them to our home for dinner. We have traveled around the world to have dinner in their homes. We have interviewed them at length, and though we do not agree with them theologically, we have grown to love and admire them in many ways. (p. 215).

Though I have certainly not travelled as extensively as Joel Rosenberg, I have met Muslims in their own country who have been respectful, who appreciate the tuition-free Christian school we operate, and have thanked me for providing funds for those who have lost their homes either through terrorism or floods. I have also noticed that while the newspapers report that Muslims have attacked Christians, many times the attack is not religiously-motivated. Rather, the violence has occurred because of a robbery or some other crime that is being perpetrated. Some of my readers may remember the kidnapping of Gracia and Martin Burnham from a Philippine resort by the terror group Abu Sayaff while they were celebrating their eighteenth wedding anniversary. In a personal interview with Gracia Burnham, Gracia said some of the men who kidnapped them wanted ransom money for their weddings and for their future homes. For them it was part of their “career change.”  It was not an act of  violence inspired by Islam, but by their carnal desires to get some easy money.

“But,” someone asks, “can you find one American Muslim who loves the U.S. Constitution?” The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) has a mission: “To advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of the U.S. Constitution.” AIFD founder, M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, a practicing Muslim, served 11 years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy. He was the Medical Department Head aboard the U.S.S. El Paso, which deployed to  Somalia during  Operation Restore Hope, and Chief Resident at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Staff Internist for the office of the Attending Physicians to the U.S. Congress. Jasser is a respected physician currently in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona, and is past president of the Arizona Medical Association. 

Winds of Change

In a remarkable sign of change in the Arab world, Kuwaiti media mogul Yousuf ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Zinkawi called on Arab and Muslim nations to recognize Israel openly and without delay, and stop calling Israel “The Zionist Entity,” and stop speaking of the “Israeli occupation,” “terms which,” according to Zinkawi, “undermine Israel’s legitimacy.”  

In January of 2016 Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs director-general Dore Gold revealed that Israel maintains covert ties with almost all Arab countries “as long as it then does not make it to the front page of the daily newspapers,” and said there is “the willingness in the Arab world for ties with Israel under the table.” Gold said this is “a dramatic change.”

In February of 2016, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a change in the way countries that have ties with Israel display and express those ties publicly. “Major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel … they don’t see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam,” he said (unitedwithisrael.org).

In another remarkable development, Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi  told imams on New Year’s Day 2015 at prestigious al-Azhar University in Cairo, “We are in need of a religious revolution.” Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East expert and reporter, commented on al-Sisi’s remarks. “One must appreciate how refreshing it is for a top political leader in the heart of the Islamic world to make such candid admissions that his Western counterparts dare not even think let alone speak.” “Since coming  to power, el-Sisi has cracked down hard on Islamist extremists. Meanwhile he has signaled support to the country’s beleaguered Coptic Christian community, attending Christmas services at Cairo’s Abbasiya Cathedral and declaring that Egyptians should not view each other as Christians or Muslims but as Egyptians” (Newsmax).

Shariah Takes a Hit in Malaysia…

In a landmark ruling made in March of 2016 a Malaysian court upheld the rights of a Christian to convert from Islam. The decision establishes a precedent in a country where  religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy. The significance of this must not be missed. The decision reaffirms the supremacy of the federal constitution over traditional Islamic law. Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution defends every Malaysian citizen’s right to freedom of religion.

The plaintiff, Rooney Rebit, was asking judicial authorities to declare that his belief in Jesus Christ was a fundamental human right. The judge, Yew Ken Jie, agreed and said, “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion and he chose Christianity.” Rebit announced Christianity as his faith in 2009 and was baptized.

Cases of conversion in Malaysia have been highly controversial. There has been unrest in the courts and charges of apostasy by Muslim clerics challenging verdicts by secular courts in sharia tribunals. The most prominent case prior to this one involved Lina Joy who converted from Islam to Christianity in 1998 at the age of 26. Her application to have her conversion legally recognized by Malaysian courts was rejected in 2007 after a six-year legal battle (worldwatchmonitor.org).

And Is Imperiled in Bangladesh

While nations with majority Muslim populations have Islam as their state religion, some, such as Bangladesh, are challenging that. The highest court in Bangladesh has begun to hear arguments which challenge Islam’s status as the official state religion. This development comes after a series of attacks against people of other religions—Hindus, Christians, and Muslim minorities, such as Shi’ites.

When Bangladesh was  formed in 1971 after the nation split from Pakistan, it was declared a secular country. However, in 1988 the country‘s constitution was amended with Islam being declared the state religion. This is now being challenged in the latest court battle, and is being supported by religious minority leaders (dailymail.co.uk).

Nations are pushing back, as well as individuals. The  Clarion Project, Honor Diaries, sponsored a writing contest. The winner is a letter written by a Muslim woman, Evan Darraji, to her father. She opens her  letter in the following way: “I am calling you ‘my not dear father’ because, to me, you are nothing more than the biological causation of my existence in this world.” Ms. Darraji writes that her culture  only cares  about “binding women to a slave role; a cook, a laundry woman, a maid. … It was a society that looked at me like a sick person, a lowly being, a whore, an infidel, that must be severely punished.”  Contrary to Muslim practice, she writes, “I am now living alone, despite being a woman.  My house hasn’t become a house of harlotry, of men that just want to sleep with me, as you and your friends think. …”

King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein and Queen Rania of Jordan

Under the reign of King Abdullah II, and during the tensions of the Arab Spring, sweeping reforms and the advancement of civil and religious liberties have become institutionalized (fully one-third of the constitution has been amended). Abdullah has spearheaded two ground-breaking documents for Christian-Muslim engagement, The Amman Message and A Common Word (themuslim500.com). Queen Rania, likewise, has expressed her belief that ISIS does not represent Islam: “For the sake of each one of us … for Islam and the Arab world … for the future of our young people, we must create a new narrative and broadcast it to the world. Because if we don’t decide what our identity is and what our legacy will be, the extremists will do it for us” (patheos.com).

The non-jihadist Muslims are, according to Rosenberg, a “welcome breath of fresh air in a region being suffocated by the Radicals, and they deserve not only to be acknowledged by the free people of the West but to be appreciated, encouraged and supported, for in many ways they represent our front line of defense in stopping the worst-case scenarios being planned by the Radicals” (Inside The Revolution, p. 216).

What will Christians do with these open doors? Will we remain carnally at ease in Zion, or will we be people of prayer and witness, loving Muslims, and others, and moving forward with a renewed zeal to see the name of Jesus Christ lifted up all over the earth. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9).

God still hears the prayers of His people for the lost. He sent His Son to shed—not spill—His blood for the sins of the world. In the words of the old hymn,  “Rise up, O church of God! Have done with lesser things; Give heart and mind and soul and strength  to serve the King of kings.”