If you ask many Americans what they think about Turkey, most will answer, “I like it with dressing.”
We don’t know much about geography or geopolitics, or even what geopolitics means.
Yet the events in Turkey this past week show just how fragile the world is—even if Turkey’s Erdogan in some way “planned” the attack in order to consolidate power.
For the longest, Turkey has been a stalwart ally of America, as both a secular Muslim state and member of NATO. It has been since Recep Erdogan came to power in 2014 as President. Previous to that, he served since 2003 as prime minister and before that, mayor of Istanbul.
Today, it was reported that Erdogan is demanding the resignations of all university deans across the country. Besides a military purge, he is going after the intelligentsia—the hallmark of an outright dictator.
For several years, Erdogan has also signaled that he intends to bring Turkey into the community of Islamic dictatorships. The brutal civil war in Syria has slowed his plans the past five years, as he struggles to cope with mass waves of refugees on Turkey’s southern borders.
Turkey is much like Iran, pre-revolution, and Iraq before Saddam: a nation of smart, innovative people. But again, just as Lenin proved in Russia, cracking down on educators and innovators helps ensure a total control of the masses.
Beyond all this, Turkey plays a role in end-times Bible prophecy. In Ezekiel 38-39 (a favorite section for prophecy teachers and students), Turkey appears to be part of a massive coalition that invades Israel. Some teachers have identified Turkey with Gomer (Ezekiel 38:6).
In recent years, Erdogan has clashed sharply with Israel, particularly Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Turkey’s relations with Israel have been torn and frayed. Just before the military coup in Turkey, attempts were being made to repair the Turkish-Israel relationship.
Erdogan has also followed another script from Middle East dictators: blame Israel for ludicrous crimes, such as undermining the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aksa Mosque. Israel doesn’t do those things and Western leaders should forcefully reinforce that fact.
One serious mistake that prophecy teachers and students often make is to jump on the latest news item and claim that this event is “triggering” some cataclysmic end-times event.
The truth is, no one knows if this latest flair-up will trigger the famed Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39.
We just know it will happen.
Elie Wiesel died last Saturday, at the age of 87.
The iconic Holocaust survivor (he was at Auschwitz and Buchenwald) waited until 10 years after the war to write about his experiences; a friend, the French Resistance fighter (and Christian) Francois Mauriac, urged him to write.
One outcome of that endeavor for the Romanian-born moral voice was Night, a memoir of his time in the camps. I won’t even try to use many words to describe it, because that would be impossible. Suffice to say, the images will stay with you.
(I’ve long felt that a serious writer and reader should read the Bible, Mark Twain, and Night. Not necessarily in that order.)
My friend, Kenneth Bialkin (chairman of the America-Israel Friendship League), wrote a moving tribute to him this week, saying in part:
“His message was one of memory and was very personal. The memory he kept alive was shared with whoever would read or listen. He never claimed or searched or sought power or position, he simply said what he thought. His writing and commentary make out a guide for thinking, and acting, and believing for anyone who took the opportunity to read or listen or hear. It is as if a star that we were used to seeing when we looked toward Heaven is no longer there.”
What a perfect description of this wonderful human being. It reminds me much of Herman Wouk’s description of the Entebbe hero, Jonathan Netanyahu; he was, Wouk said, “an ember of sacred fire.”
I’ve visited both the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, several times, and the sacred fire is there. In particular, when one exits Yad Vashem, one can see across the valley countless homes where Jews live.
It is a thrilling site, one that I believe is eternal.
So, too, is the memory of Elie Wiesel.
Forty years ago this summer (this week marks 40 years), an airline hijacking played-out before the world.
PLO and German terrorists took control of Air France Flight 139, after a refueling stop in Athens. What they decided to do next made history.
Rather than land at a nearby airport and make a list of demands, the hijackers ordered the plane flown to a remote airport in Uganda, at a place called Entebbe.
The terrorists kept 105 Jewish hostages and demanded that more than 50 other terrorists held in prison be released. They meant business, claiming that they would kill all the hostages if the demands weren’t met.
Israel’s dilemma was the fact that events were unfolding so far away. It was one thing to foil a hijacking at Lod; it was quite another to launch a rescue so far from home.
Joshua Shani, in a terrific interview with Israel Hayom, flew the lead Hercules that carried the actual rescue force—30 members of Israel’s elite counter-terrorism unit, Sayeret Matkal. Shani describes the enormity of the undertaking:
“I believed we would escape by the skin of our teeth and have more casualties, but I also believed that our sheer audacity — flying 180 soldiers, aboard four aircraft, 4,000 kilometers [2,485 miles], when no one else in the world had ever attempted anything that crazy — that alone meant that in all likelihood, it would be a total surprise. Thwarting this operation would have been so easy without the element of surprise. All they had to do is place some trucks on the runway and that’s it, no more rescue operation. Either I would see them and avoid landing, or I wouldn’t see them and would crash.”
They didn’t crash, of course, and on the morning of July 4, 1976, the IDF stormed the terminal building at Entebbe and eliminated the terrorists in quick fashion. They then loaded the stunned passengers onto planes for the long ride to freedom.
The Entebbe operation, later named “Operation Jonathan” to commemorate the fallen commander of Sayeret Matkal, Jonathan Netanyahu, is the most famous hostage rescue in history.
The men who planned and executed that mission deserve our respect and admiration.
Think about them Monday, as America celebrates another Fourth of July.
In the latest issue of Relevant magazine, Jesse Carey interviews the writer Chuck Klosterman.
In the interview, the pop culture author seems pretty sure that he has a handle on truth, at least in the way individuals view their truth.
At one point, he makes an interesting statement regarding faith:
“The central component of faith is the belief and the acceptance of something that inherently can’t be proven. It would obviously be very easy to be a religious person if it was easy to physically see God. Faith demands that there is an element of irrationality that you’re believing something that can’t be proven.”
Actually, some of the apostles saw Jesus with their own eyes and did not believe. So even Klosterman’s dogma is not entirely…true.
Yet his contention that God or, say, the Bible can’t be proven is not true, either. I’ve heard this many times over the years, but in fact, you can prove the existence of God.
I mean, the God of the Bible.
The great fly in the ointment for thinkers like Klosterman is the Bible’s predictive prophecy.
Take a remarkable prophecy from Genesis 49:10—
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
Shiloh, another name for Messiah, refers to Jesus Christ. And this specific prophecy was fulfilled in astonishing detail.
Judah, a son of Jacob, was designated as the one through whom the Messiah’s lineage would run. A succession of great leaders—Moses, Joshua, Samuel and others—were from various other tribes.
Yet 600 years after the prophecy, David, from the tribe of Judah, emerged and it was through his line that Jesus came much later.
The Bible is filled with many such examples of predictive prophecy.
But, you say, an anonymous scribe could have manipulated that language, or some other method might have been used to make it appear as a prophecy when in fact it was not. I’ve heard this, too.
Explain, then, the hundreds of prophecies looking ahead to a final ingathering of Jewish exiles into their homeland. Take any of them, from Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, etc., and explain the appearance of Jewish immigrants to Palestine, beginning in the 19th century? Today we have a sovereign nation, Israel, which fulfills those prophecies.
Chuck Klosterman and others like him are not always wrong. But they are always wrong when claiming that the existence of the Creator God cannot be proven.
Seeing prophecy fulfilled is seeing God physically.