The Middle East and Russia: The Editor's Column

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 11
The recent mission of the United Nations' Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold to the Middle East brought an easing of surface tensions between Israel and her Arab neighbors, but did little to relieve the underlying basic trouble. He secured new cease-fire agreements which are hedged with reservation clauses on the right of self-defense; they are not likely to be kept any better than such previous agreements. The old animosities remain unchanged, and the Arab world is growing stronger and bolder.
Colossians Gamal Abdel Nasser, dictator of Egypt, is evidently bent on developing an Arab empire, of which Egypt would be the head. He is raising trouble in North Africa by inciting the Arabs against the Western Powers, and has linked up with Saudi Arabia in an effort to force the British out of Aden at the mouth of the Red Sea. If he can accomplish this he will be in a position to blockade the Red Sea as he now does the Suez Canal.
This modern Pharaoh finds that it is quite popular with his people to raise a cry against the little nation of Israel. He combines Nationalism and Mohammedanism into an effective appeal to the masses, and this in turn tends to distract them from their own internal condition, for most of them live in abject poverty.
The Middle East is of great and fast-growing importance in world affairs; it has become the great focal point of world tension. And in the center is the nation of Israel, an island of people with Western culture and connections in the midst of an Eastern Islamic sea, cut off from economic contacts with her land neighbors, and limited to a sea and air lifeline with the West.
The great international struggle and intrigue revolving about the Middle East now is basically concerned with oil -that vital fluid of modern economy and warfare-for the Arabian and Persian Gulf areas contain 70 per cent of the free world's known reserves. Whichever side controls these will have the upper hand in diplomacy and warfare.
For generations Great Britain exercised dominant control in the whole Middle East, and it has been a vital link with her world-wide empire; but after having given up Egypt and the Suez, and being driven from Jordan, she now has but toe holds in the area, some of which are in danger at present.
After British withdrawal from strategic bases, Russia stepped into the vacuum. She has made great progress in wooing Arab leaders and is fast displacing Western influence in Egypt. The Soviet bloc has not only sent large quantities of arms to Egypt, but has sent technical and military advisers and economic missions. From henceforth Russian influence is to be reckoned with in the Middle East. All of this seems to augur ill for Israel, but God is working out His own designs. He has said, "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure." Isa. 46:9, 109Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isaiah 46:9‑10).
Leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia hopefully speak of an ultimate Moslem empire composed of 400 million people. The Moslem world is definitely coming into its own, but we know from Scripture the limitations to its power and leadership. Egypt expects to head up an Arab confederacy, but all that Scripture allows is that Egypt will be a strong power at the end, called "the king of the south'' (Dan. 11:4040And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. (Daniel 11:40)), which will make an incursion into Palestine against the antichrist (the apostate Jew who will lead the mass of the returned Jews and join hands with the beast of the Roman Empire) at the end of the time of "Jacob's trouble."
The greater power in the Arab world will be one lying north, rather than south, of Palestine. The Assyrian of old was the prototype of this future Northern enemy of Israel (see Isa. 30 and 31), and the leader of this confederacy is described in Dan. 8:23, 2423And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (Daniel 8:23‑24) as a "king of fierce countenance," who shall be mighty, "but not by his own power." This may indicate no more than the support of the surrounding Arab and Moslem peoples, but it may also refer to aid rendered by Russia. At any rate, Russia has shown her willingness to strengthen the Middle Eastern nations to the disadvantage of the Western Powers and of Israel, for Israel and the West will be in league during the period of the tribulation (Dan. 9:2727And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)).
Which of the Arab nations north of Palestine will assume dominance, or who the "king of fierce countenance" will be, does not yet appear, but he could appear quickly out of the present agitation. Only a few years ago no one could have foreseen the fast rise of Egypt to a place of international importance. Syria has long aspired to Arab league leadership and may easily be the future leader's home country. Psalm 83 gives a list of the confederate peoples of the Northern enemy of Israel.
Whoever the man is, his end is determined and his doom sure, for he, like the head of the Roman Empire, "shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand."
Dan. 8:2525And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:25). And though Russia may supply his implements of war, "he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." Dan. 11:4545And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:45). All the might of the Soviet bloc will avail him nothing when he opposes the "King of kings, and Lord of lords." Isa. 30:3333For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it. (Isaiah 30:33) should read, "For Tophet is prepared of old, for the king also it is prepared: He hath made it deep and large; its pile is fire and much wood; the breath of Jehovah, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." It is prepared for the "Assyrian," this king of "fierce countenance," this "king of the north," and also prepared for "the king," a title given to the antichrist -the apostate Jewish leader of that day. This gives us to see that the Northern confederacy head will actually oppose Christ and be cast into the lake of fire, as will the beast of the Roman Empire, and the Jewish king (Rev. 19:2020And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20)).
Some of our readers may wonder why we should take such notice of the heavings and tossings of the nations, but with the anointed eye we can discern these times. They are the sure forerunner of the days of trouble and of the coming of the Son of man to execute judgment on His enemies.
Everything is shaping fast for the end—Israel, Egypt, the Moslem world, the Western world, Russia and her satellites are all taking their places according to the prophetic word. Soon our Lord and Savior will call us home to be with Himself, and then the things below will ripen for the harvest almost over night.
We may well wonder why there is any delay when so many things are apparently ready for the end; but we see how God is allowing certain checks and balances to operate while He holds the reins and holds all back until the exact moment of His choosing. May we not only wait for Him, but be wide awake, actually expecting that He may come TODAY. Every moment brings us closer to the hour of our seeing the blessed One who loves us, who died for us, and who will delight to have us with Himself for all eternity. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev. 22:2020He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20).