Watchmen have been keeping their eyes peeled in watching the events unfold in Syria this last year. The uprising by insurgents/rebels has been going on since at least April 2011 and is getting more violent every day. They are trying to topple “President” Bashar al Assad, who has been in rule there since his father died in 2000. [I put “president” in scare quotes because Assad ran unopposed both times]. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. (Left, President Assad, Wiki commons photo)
In the last few weeks the rebels have pitched their battles more pointedly and more violently. Largely over the last year, Damascenes have felt safe from the fighting that until then had been contained in the outlying governates. But last week the rebels brought the battle straight to the residential areas of the city, to the courthouses and interior halls of power. The rebels call this latest push against the regime, “Operation Damascus Volcano.”
The reality of violence in Syria – car bombing in Damascus. Photo by AP
photo published in Israeli Daily, Haaretz
Now the battle is in Damascus too. Just last week in Damascus, three members of Assad’s inner circle were killed, tanks rolled, rockets flared, refugees fled, and the rebels gained unprecedented ground. Turkey closed its border to Syria (to commerce, not refugees). Jordan tightened its border with Syria. Israel expects trouble with Syria. Trouble of the chemical kind, that is.
|Israelis lining up to get gas masks, source|
One of the main concerns as the battle rages in Damascus, not only that it is in unprecedented geographical territory and is taking place in the capital city itself, is that some of Syria’s chemical and bio-weapon labs are located there. Knowing this, Israel’s distribution of gas masks is going through the roof.
I’ve mentioned a remarkable article/interview in the New English Review with Dr. Jill Dekker, conducted in December 2007. I discovered it in 2009. The interview was conducted to gather “answers and professional views on how extensive the Syrian bio-warfare threat is, we turned to Dr. Jill Dekker, a consultant to the NATO Defense Establishment in bio-warfare and counter terrorism. Dr. Dekker is also a member of the board of advisors of the Intelligence Summit.”
I had noted several times over the years from having learned in the New English Review article, that the chemical and bio-weaponry labs in Damascus are sophisticated and that Syrian top level officials have already determined that they will use them as conventional weapons. That is one of the main points Dr Dekker wanted to make. The Syrians know they do not have the money or capability to maintain parity with the West on conventional weapon production, so in 2007 they decided to load bio and chemicals onto the weapons they do have and use them instead, and concentrate on producing viruses and anthrax instead of thousands of missiles. She noted this was an important psychological turning point in the arms race between the West and the terrorist regimes behind Syria (such as Iran and Hezbollah). She said then that the West should be very, very concerned.
Why? “The Syrians work on most Category A pathogens: anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin, camelpox… Syria has extensive expertise in the industrial cultivation of germs and viruses for the civilian production of anthrax. Their pharmaceutical infrastructure is fully integrated with their defense structure. (Dekker, source). Frighteningly,
“1 gram of crystalline Botulinium is estimated to kill about a million people if it were evenly dispersed.” Dekker
Since then, with North Korea, Russia and Iran’s help, Syria has diligently worked in their labs in Damascus to produce bio-weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, last week, they stated their willingness to use them if their nation is invaded in any kind of humanitarian attempt to stop the interior carnage.
Here is something interesting: in that New English Review interview, Dr Dekker said, “There have been a number of accidents with their biological weapons programs that have killed civilians in the past in cities like Homs and Aleppo. Some of those programs were ended and it appears that casualties from former bio-programs were related to ventilation problems. This latest accident appears to have occurred while they were mounting a warhead. Syria is known to have a stockpile of chemical weapons and accidents happen. It is interesting to note that Iranian scientists were involved in that activity.”
In July 2010 I wrote “Plague hitting Syrian Army?” where the rumor emerging out of the Middle East was that the Syrian army had been hit by a plague. At that time, “The International Society for Infectious Diseases posted a report on Monday alleging that the Syrian military has been hit by a plague. According to the report, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the military to stop all its exercises until the source of the epidemic could be pinpointed.”
For all prophecy watchers, Damascus squarely in prophetic cross-hairs now. Isaiah 17:1 states that Damascus will be a heap of ruins. We know the other prophecies about wars in the Middle East in and around Jerusalem is that there will be many battles and wars (i.e. Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39, etc).
As for today’s news, I want to bring attention to something that also relates to the prophtic implications for Isaiah 17:1 in Syria. Dr Dekker said in the New English Review article of the chemical and bio-weaponry labs, “They also have a number of programs running in Aleppo.”
CNN reports this morning
Syrian rebels amass as battles for Aleppo, Damascus intensify
|click to enlarge|
Why is Aleppo so important to the Syrian rebels? Damascus is the capital, therefore claiming the capital incites an important psychological victory. However, Aleppo is the largest and most populated city in Syria. It is also the commercial center, as stated in this video from CNN explaining the city’s strategic importance. Aleppo was at the end of the Silk Road, is just across the border from Turkey, and note this- 20% of Aleppo’s population is Christian.
With battles raging in Damascus and Aleppo, we know both cities are of strategic military importance to the rebels. The two cities are ALSO home to the two bio and chemical weaponry labs. Now you can understand how the ancient prophetic is playing out before our eyes.
Please pray for the Christians in Aleppo. Pray for the lost. Pray for the times. On that last one, I am conflicted.
I know my brother in Christ Joel C. Rosenberg, a wise and mature man of our faith, has been saying with all biblical fervency to anyone who will listen that we need to pray for a ‘Third Great Awakening’ or else there is nothing that will stop the implosion of America. I agree that we do need one, and I agree that it is important to pray. Nineveh was saved due their their national repentance. However, America is not the only nation that needs an awakening and sometimes I think we Christians tend to get a little biblically insular about the US. Every nation has Christians living in them and they all need prayer. Every nation has the lost living in them, therefore every nation needs fervent prayer to prevent the hand of God moving to crush them in judgment when that lost nation rebels, as all 195 nations are currently doing.
However, I am conflicted because in my heart of hearts, I truly believe we are enduring the Wrath of God’s abandonment and He has given us over. I truly believe we are on the final path away from God and that we have crossed the point of no return.
John MacArthur explains the five kinds of God’s wrath: Eschatological wrath, eternal wrath, cataclysmic wrath, sowing and reaping wrath, and there’s the wrath of abandonment. And this last one is another category of God’s wrath. Separate from the others. The wrath of abandonment follows the progression in Romans 1. That is when an individual is so hardened to the truth, He gives them over to their sin, with no turning back. The same goes for nations. When nations at the ordinance, legal, governmental levels hardens itself so deeply by becoming the predominant voice of sin in the land, He gives the nation over to their sin.
When does He judge? First He warns, then He disciplines. If repentance is absent or if the nation worsens their actions in spite of His obvious discipline, then at a certain point after long-suffering compassion, He deems their sins “incurable” and He judges. “There is no relief for your breakdown, Your wound is incurable.” (Nahum 3:19)
That’s why I always cringe when I hear people say, “well, after a lifetime of rebellion/atheism/sin, I think he converted on his deathbed. There is a good chance that my grandpa/dad/brother is in heaven.” I’m not so sure. If a person has rejected God’s common grace for a lifetime, and had rejected His reproving, warnings, Gospel, and witnessing for all of a lifetime, there is a greater chance that the person had been given over to their reprobate mind and ended up in hell, than they suddenly saw the light and ended up in heaven. However, various cases exist, so once again, Only God knows. That’s why it is important not to take a chance and keep on rejecting Him, though, whether at the individual or national level.
On March 23, 2010 I asked the question, Has America’s point of no return been reached? I felt back then that perhaps it had. I felt then and I still do that God’s final decision had been reached and the line had been crossed into permanent judgment territory with no going back. I am not saying that there is no more time for individuals to come to the Lord! No! People are being saved every day! But America as a nation? Or Australia? Britain? Iran? China? Mongolia? I think it is too late for most of them. Certainly, I feel that for us here in America.
Of course, I have no inside track, no supernatural view, no prophetic word that makes me feel this. It is my opinion only. I believe it only through what I read in the bible and see happening today. There is every chance I could be wrong. So despite not agreeing with those who say there is still time for the nation to repent and the judgment to be stayed, I agree that prayer is always the answer. Please continue to pray for individuals that you know who are not saved. The Lord is putting them on your heart for a reason. Pray for America, but pray for other nations too. Christians live everywhere. America is nothing special in the eyes of the Lord, any more or less than Tonga or Switzerland. He loves all His people, whatever nation they are in.
So keep praying, keep watching Syria, add Aleppo to the list, and keep looking up!