Apr 17, 2017

Shifting Sands in the Middle East

One thing Christian Zionists have learned in the last few years (along with everyone else, of course) is that political winds can change direction on a dime.

Global alliances and networks are in a constant state of fluidity, and many of the old orders are now completely changed.

A generation or more ago, who could have imagined close (surface) cooperation between the U.S. and Russia? Who could have imagined Saudi Arabia coordinating militarily with Israel over a common foe (Iran)? For pity’s sake, within Evangelicalism, Protestants are joining forces with Rome on a variety of issues.

Nowhere however is the change more pronounced than in the Middle East.

It was announced this week that India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi (it’s a dude) will make a state visit to Israel in early July, on his way to the G-20 summit in Germany. It is the first such visit by an Indian premier, and marks just the latest in a string of astonishing networking attempts between the Jewish state and global leaders.

Decades ago, Ariel Sharon and the Israelis developed what they called the “Strategy of the Periphery,” meaning, if Israel’s enemies were the Arab states that encircled them, Israel would go outside that belt to the next one: the states encircling the Arab world. Such efforts yielded tremendous successes, especially in Africa, as various nations developed warm relations with Israel.

Today, the effort is much more global in scale. Bible prophecy students should always keep in mind that we cannot fit fluid modern events into a tight prophetic grid, simply because tomorrow it might change. This is not a perfect example, but in years gone by, we were told that the “Soviets” would invade Israel one day and fulfill Ezekiel 38-39. Today, the Soviet Empire is long gone. Of course, Russia can still be the fulfillment, but we must be cautious about pigeon-holing certain actors on the stage.

We are living in a most astonishing time. One in which competing realities vie for prominence. What I mean is, we are clearly moving toward a fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecies that the entire world will one day attack Israel. I believe that more than I believe I’m writing this at this moment.

However, the lead-up to that fulfillment will be marked by weird turns and blind alleys.

It is likely and even logical that one day, India will be a leader in the final attempt to destroy Israel. They are close by and are one of a handful of nuclear powers in the world. A valuable friend and dangerous foe.

But this summer, Modi will be welcomed with open arms. Remember, Anwar Sadat’s thunderous state visit to Israel in 1977 was literally miraculous. “Pharaoh” had come in peace.

Visits like the one by Modi are important to Israel, since she still has lethal enemies all around. As we’ve discussed in this space recently, a new relationship has developed between Donald Trump and Israel, and that is obviously a good thing.

India’s defense minister will visit his counterparts in Israel in April, ahead of Modi’s visit. Perhaps even more amazing, Modi will not visit the Palestinian Authority, and this snub of the criminal gang in Ramallah is a breath of fresh air. And, according to the Hindustan Times:

“Though Israel is among the top four military hardware suppliers to India, with more than $1 billion in annual sales to New Delhi, the Modi government is keen to ensure that this visit is not focused on defense ties alone, but encompasses long-term economic and technological cooperation, resulting in a free-trade agreement.”

Modi is also keen on developing closer cooperation agriculturally, in order to help India’s farmers produce better crops.

This is all wonderful news and we should embrace it. As I head to the Mid-America Prophecy Conference next week in Tulsa, I hope at least some of the speakers will discuss this positive development.

We all should.