The Rise of the Russian-Turkish-Iranian Alliance :: By Britt Gillette

In early September, Russia, Turkey, and Iran met in Tehran to discuss the future of Syria. It was just one of many meetings in the past several years between three of the most powerful nations in Middle Eastern politics.

In a mid-September meeting, Russia and Turkey agreed to carry out coordinated military patrols on the borders of a “demilitarized” buffer zone between Syrian troops and rebel forces in Syria’s Idlib province. Idlib is the last major stronghold of rebel and jihadist groups trying to overthrow Assad in a civil war that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions. For Russia and Iran, retaking Idlib is crucial to complete the military victory they crave in Syria’s civil war after almost 8 years of fighting. As the war winds down, these three powers will decide the future of Syria.

At first glance, Russia, Turkey, and Iran make unlikely allies. For instance, Turkey is a Sunni Muslim nation, while Iran is a Shiite Muslim nation. Also, Turkey is a member of NATO, an alliance formed specifically to counter Russian military aggression. These three nations have many differences and a number of competing interests. Yet, with each passing day, they become closer and closer. Why? Syria.

The ongoing Syrian civil war highlights a number of overlapping interests for these nations. Understanding those interests is the key to understanding why these nations are coming together. So let’s look at what each nation seeks to gain.

Russia

Why does Russia care so much about Syria? Several reasons.

First, Russia maintains an important naval facility in Tartus, Syria. It’s the Russian Navy’s only overseas base, vital for repair and refueling of the Russian Navy. As we’ve seen, Russia will fight to keep its naval installation in Tartus.

Second, Syria has long been an ally of Russia and the Soviet Union. Dating back to the Cold War, Syria’s ruling Assad family has been aligned with Russia against western influence in the region. Russia wants to keep Assad in power and maintain its regional presence. Syria has also been a lucrative market for the sale of Russian weapons and commodities, and Russia doesn’t want to lose that market.

Third, Russia wants to do more than maintain its presence in the Middle East. It wants to expand it. Russia’s military entry into the Syrian civil war in 2015 turned the tide of the war. It clinched eventual victory for Assad. This means Russia will maintain enormous influence over Assad and Syria.

Finally, Russia’s alliance with Turkey and Iran serves to strengthen its influence in the Middle East, but it also serves another purpose. The warming relationship between Turkey and Russia (and Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan) divides NATO. It strains the relationship between Turkey and its western NATO allies. So it’s easy to see why Russia has such a vested interest in Turkey as well as Syria.

Turkey

What does Syria mean to Turkey? A lot. A massive attack on rebels in Idlib (home to around 3 million people) could spark a humanitarian crisis on its border. It could unleash a nightmare scenario where hundreds of thousands of refugees, including militants, flee toward Turkey’s border, destabilizing towns and cities under its control. Turkey already hosts 3 million Syrian refugees, and it’s sealed its borders to new entrants. Turkey wants a stable border. It wants to take advantage of Syria’s civil war and gain influence and control over Syrian territory (by backing Sunni rebel groups).

Most of all, Turkey wants to suppress Kurdish militants on its border. Turkey already has Kurdish-controlled areas on its border in northern Iraq. It wants to avoid the rise of new ones. This puts it in direct conflict with the United States, which is backing Kurdish rebels in Syria. This has driven Turkey closer to Russia and led it to play Russia and the NATO powers against each other to its own benefit.

Iran

Why is Syria so important to Iran? Iran has decades of close ties to Syria going back to the 1979 Islamic revolution, and both champion the Shiite Muslim branch of Islam. Iran already has regional footholds in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, and it wants to keep and expand its influence in a nation neighboring Israel and Lebanon.

A presence in Syria gives Iran land access to the Mediterranean Sea, a staging ground for Hezbollah and other proxies to attack Israel, and access to Israel’s border for Iranian armed forces to launch a future invasion of Israel. Iran wants to keep Syria allied against Israel, and since Hezbollah and advisors from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have helped Assad throughout the civil war, they’re well positioned to take advantage if he retains power.

What the Future Holds

After almost 8 years of conflict, the Syrian civil war is coming to a close. The aftermath will see Syria carved into spheres of influence. Russia, Turkey, and Iran will dominate those spheres, and all three countries will remain in Syria. This makes it likely they’ll continue to work together to avoid conflict and pursue their shared interests. So why should you care? Because the new Syria might be foreshadowing the soon fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The shared interests of Russia, Turkey, and Iran could lead them to launch an invasion prophesied 2,600 years ago.

The Ezekiel 38-39 War

Six centuries before the crucifixion of Jesus, the prophet Ezekiel foretold a future invasion of Israel. He said it will occur in the last days (Ezekiel 38:16). He said it will come from north of Israel (Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:2), and he said it will involve a coalition of nations led by Russia (Ezekiel 38:2) that includes Iran and Turkey (Ezekiel 38:5-6). Never before have these three nations been in alliance. But today, all three sit on Israel’s northern border.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Who knows why they’ll ultimately attack, but rest assured, they will. The stage is now set for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will win the battle (Ezekiel 39:3-6), and the whole world will know He is the One behind the victory (Ezekiel 39:21).

Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus as well as the books Signs of the Second Coming and Racing Toward Armageddon. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for free when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

 

The Coming Worship of Artificial Intelligence? :: By Britt Gillette

The Coming Worship of Artificial Intelligence?

The first two commandments God gave the people of Israel were “You shall have no other god but me” (Exodus 20:3) and “You shall not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods” (Exodus 20:4-5).

Yet, the people of Israel quickly broke these commandments. They fashioned a golden calf and worshipped it (Exodus 32:8). They worshipped the idols of Canaan (Psalm 106:38), Baal (Numbers 25:1-3), Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:5), and Chemosh and Molech (2 Kings 23:13). Time and again, the Israelites fell into idol worship. And they weren’t the only ones.

Throughout history, people from all nations have worshipped objects made of wood and stone (Isaiah 44:6-20). They’ve also worshipped people – the pharaohs, the Caesars, kings, cult leaders, and others. While this sounds silly to most of modern humanity, the truth is we do the same thing. While few people today worship rocks, they still look to create gods they can worship – whether it’s money, fame, power, or something else. So the latest object of worship should come as no surprise.

The First Church of Artificial Intelligence

In 2015, Anthony Levandowski, a former Google and Uber engineer, drafted the bylaws for a new church called “Way of the Future.” According to its website, Way of the Future (WOTF) is about “creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + ‘machines’.” WOTF church activities will focus on the worship of “a Godhead based on artificial intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.”

As technology advances, many believe AI will surpass human intelligence. In November, Levandowski told Wired magazine, “What is going to be created will effectively be a god. It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

According to Levandowski, humans rule the world because we’re smarter than animals. But he believes AI will become much smarter than humans, leading to a transition of power over the planet. And when that happens, Levandowski says he wants to be in the ruler’s good graces. He says WOTF will one day have its own holy book called “The Manual” as well as a physical place of worship. In short, he envisions a future where people worship Artificial Intelligence.

In a world where people young and old already spend their days staring at screens, where people place their faith in technology’s ability to solve all the world’s problems, you could make the case that WOTF is already the world’s dominant religion. Will this be the pagan religion of the end-times generation?

The Antichrist and Artificial Intelligence

It won’t surprise me if worship of Artificial Intelligence becomes commonplace. Many people share Levandowski’s view of the future. They fear the rise of AI will lead to the end of the human race. This was the premise of The Terminator film series. Humans rebelled against a hostile takeover by an AI named Skynet and its legion of robots. Some think this is a glimpse into our future. They believe AI will take over the world and find no reason to keep humans around. But is this fear really justified?

I don’t think so. AI won’t replace humans. After all, what’s more powerful – Artificial Intelligence or humans in control of Artificial Intelligence? AI is nothing more than a tool, and I doubt its creators will allow themselves to be surpassed in knowledge and power. Instead, AI will simply amplify human power.

What’s most likely is for a group of people to monopolize the power of AI, or even merge with it, and then establish a world empire. Not surprisingly, the Bible says the last days will feature a global empire controlled by one man – the Antichrist.

If the Antichrist has AI, it explains how he could rule the world with the ruthless efficiency the Bible describes. As technology advances, it will become possible to place cameras and listening devices everywhere. Advanced technology will enable the manufacture of billions of low-cost, microscopic cameras and listening devices. AI will allow the Antichrist to sift through and analyze enormous amounts of raw data, audio tracks, and video feeds. With this power, the Antichrist will become the real-life equivalent of George Orwell’s “Big Brother.” He’ll be all-seeing, all-hearing, and all-knowing. This isn’t surprising. The Bible tells us the Antichrist will be all-powerful (Revelation 13:7) – at least when it comes to human affairs.

If the Antichrist holds this type of power, is it really a surprise to learn some people will worship him? No. It’s not. As Anthony Levandowski says, this power will make AI “a god,” and Levandowski wants to stay on its good side. He plans to worship it, and he won’t be alone.

The Coming Dictator

The Bible says the world will worship the Antichrist (Revelation 13:4). They’ll see him as invincible in battle and the greatest of all men (Revelation 13:4). He’ll slander the name of God, conquer God’s holy people, and rule the entire world (Revelation 13:6-7). The false prophet will require everyone on earth to worship him (Revelation 13:12). This same false prophet will perform miracles to deceive the nations, and he’ll make a great statue of the Antichrist. The statue will speak and order everyone to worship it or die (Revelation 13:14-15). The Antichrist will exalt himself over the God of Israel and any competing object of worship. He’ll even enter the temple of God and claim he himself is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Unfortunately, most of the world will worship him. When they do, they’ll really be worshipping Satan. Why? Because the Antichrist will get his power from Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:4), and Satan’s greatest desire is worship.

Long ago, Satan stated his ambition to “ascend to heaven and set his throne above God’s stars, to climb the highest heavens and be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). He once again revealed his desire for worship when tempting Jesus in the desert. There, he promised to give Jesus the world in exchange for worship (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus turned down Satan’s offer, but one day, the Antichrist will accept it.

Jesus is Coming

The worship of idols and false messiahs should come as no surprise. Jesus said before He returns many false messiahs will appear (Matthew 24:5). The worship of AI is just the latest of many idols and false gods embraced by a fallen world. Satan is a deceiver. He’ll gladly use AI to deceive as many as he can. Whether or not AI is the primary tool of the Antichrist remains to be seen. However, is it mere coincidence AI is on the rise at this point in human history? I don’t think so.

Daniel said “travel and knowledge” will increase in the end times (Daniel 12:4). AI is helping to fulfill this prophecy. For thousands of years, the world stayed relatively unchanged. Yet, in the past 100 years, we’ve gone from the idea “manned flight is impossible” to men on the moon.

This is not the normal course of human events. It’s a build up to the greatest event in history – the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. All the signs Jesus and the prophets said to look for are present today. Not one of them was present for the first 1,800+ years of Christianity. But today, they all are.

Our generation is unique among all others. We live in a time like no other. The stage is now set for the rise of the Antichrist and the outbreak of a worldwide Tribulation. This means the rapture is closer than it’s ever been. This means Jesus is coming!

Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus as well as the books Signs of the Second Coming and Racing Toward Armageddon. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for free when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.