Is the United States going to be involved in a war? ... That would touch the lives of many thousands of soldiers. Is Israel going to be involved in a war?..That would touch the lives of every man, woman and child living here in Israel.
If Israel is involved in a war, it would be the first one since the Independence War of 1947-48, that was fought in Israel proper, and would concern the whole civilian population.
When our family arrived back in Israel in the middle of August, we found the country embroiled in debate as to whether or not the government should pass out gas masks to civilians. Although, some cabinet ministers were loudly demanding distribution of the masks, it was finally decided not to do so at this time.
The reasons were not complicated. The government did not want to send signals to Saddam Hussein that we were preparing for war. In this sense it is a gamble: Can we more likely avoid war by lying low?
The second reason, was the fear that passing out masks would cause panic among the civilian population. And what about the tourists who would be receiving masks as they got off the plane?
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST ATTACK
However, extensive instructions were printed in the newspapers explaining how to prepare for a possible attack, especially a chemical attack.
Therefore, many companies began selling gas masks to the public. The price is anywhere from $250 to $500 which includes an entire outfit of rubber jacket and pants, shoes, gloves and head covering. he nerve gases and mustard gases must not be allowed to touch the body because of its ability to penetrate the skin.
Actually, all of the Israeli experts feel that there is little chance that Saddam will use chemical weapons. After all, Israelis are not the defenseless Kurds. And America is not Iran. Saddam must surely know that if he used chemical weapons against the U.S. or Israel, Iraq would be blown off the map.
SADDAM LACKS MATERIAL TO MAKE THE MOST LETHAL GASES
Also, U.S. experts in chemical weapons control believe that although Saddam "apparently does have a few chemical warheads for intermediate range ballistic missiles, he still cannot get a lot of persistent agent (which clings to the victim, such as nerve gas or mustard gas) there. So that leaves vapors (as chemical agents) and against them gas masks provide a very suitable defense (without the cumbersome body covering).l
In other words, Saddam is in short supply of the dreaded nerve gas or mustard gas that penetrates the skin and sticks to the skin and all other materials with its deadly venom.
Brad Roberts, a top U.S. chemical warfare expert,2 feels that Israel's vulnerability to a chemical attack by Iraq "has been overstated because a chemical weapons attack would allow the target (Israel or U.S. forces) to retaliate at maximum force levels."
And politically Saddam would isolate himself further from other states who may sooner or later fallout of the coalition arrayed against Baghdad.
LIKE BUYING SEAT BELTS
Still, if Saddam Hussein does not use chemical weapons today, he may use them tomorrow. Then there is also the ruthless regime of Syria which is closer to Israel than is Iraq, and whose chief aim in this world is to find a way to destroy Israel. In fact, Syria borders Israel, while Iraq is a whole 250 miles from our border. Jerusalem, as the crow flies, is less than 600 miles from Baghdad.
That is fewer miles than traveling from the southern border of California to the northern border. Or less than the distance from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta.
In the end, we did purchase gas masks for our family and two staff members who will be living with us. We also bought emergency food supplies such as rice and canned goods, suggested by the civil defense authorities.
We did not buy out of fear. We bought the protective gear and supplies in the same spirit that we buy seat belts when we purchase an automobile. Or when we buckle up our seat belts on an airplane. You take what safety measures you can.
And then you put all your trust in the Lord and believe that He will take care of the 99.99% left.
Basically, the conclusion that we have come to is that we are living in very serious and critical times. Not just because we live in Israel, but because it is the end of the Age. With Israel back in the land, we know that we are at the end. So it should not be surprising that things are beginning to line up with Scripture passages that we had always reserved for "later." '
WHO IS BABYLON?
In Scripture, a particular city or country may be used to describe other places and civilizations if their actions and spiritual significance are similar. For example, Revelation 11:8 calls Jerusalem, Sodom (a place of perversion) and Egypt (a place of persecution of God's people). Nevertheless, there is a definite original place called Sodom, Egypt, Babylon, etc.
No one would deny that Iraq is the spiritual and earthly heir of the Babylonian Empire, just as modern Italy is the descendant of the Roman Empire. As most everyone knows, Saddam Hussein sees himself as heir apparent to Nebuchadnezzar, and as such is even attempting to rebuild the ancient capitol city of Babylon.
According to the Jerusalem Post, "Saddam Hussein...self-described leader of the Arab world, has created for himself a regional personality cult unrivaled in the world of the 1990's."3
WHAT GOD PLANS FOR BABYLON
Sooner or later, there will be a major war involving the land of ancient Babylon. In a prophecy concerning the last days, Isaiah predicts that God will use many nations as an instrument of his anger against Babylon. He will even consecrate these nations to such a cause. (Isa. 13:3) He will then utterly destroy that land. Even though it would appear that the total fulfillment of these prophetic utterances will not come until the Day of the Lord, preliminary similarities of the present conflict are striking with even a superficial reading of Jeremiah 50-51 and Isaiah 13. For example:
1. Many nations will come together to ultimately destroy the whole land of Babylon.
A sound of the uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts is mustering the army for battle. They are coming from a far country...To destroy the whole land. Isa. 13:4-5
2. During this time of conflict, foreigners in the land will attempt to flee to their own countries, in mortal fear for their lives.
They will each turn to his own people. And each one flee to his own land. Isa. 13:14
3. The purpose of God in the whole scenario with all the nations is to "exterminate its sinners from it." Verse 9
4. Ultimately, Babylon will be as "Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation..."
Her fateful time also will soon come And her days will not be prolonged. Verse 22
AMERICA'S FRIEND, ISRAEL, WORRIES
There are some unexpected developments in the Gulf Crisis that are extremely worrisome to Israel. For example, at the recent summit meeting, President Bush intimated to Soviet leader Gorbachev that the U.S. no longer opposes the influence of the Soviet Union in the Middle East. Indeed, he seems to have suggested a possible international conference to be attended by the U.S., Russia, the Palestinians and various Arab nations, along with Israel.
Jerusalem has always refused to be apart of such a conference because, "it would circumvent one of the fundamental causes of the conflict: the refusal of Arab regimes to recognize Israel's existence and legitimacy as a sovereign state.
The cover of an international umbrella would absolve these regimes of the need to confront the reality of Israel, and would deny this country the right accorded every other sovereign nation: to conduct independent, direct negotiations with its adversaries. "4
When Iraq refused to negotiate with Iran under the auspices of an international conference in order to end the Iraq-Iran War, she was universally supported.
Israel would be totally isolated in such a conference if she refused to withdraw to pre-'67 lines and give up Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Furthermore, Israel's fear that just as the U.S. made a mistake in the past to build up a dictator like Iraq's Saddam Hussein, she may be sorry in the future for courting and making a new alliance-with all its benefits-with a ruthless and monstrously vicious regime like that in Syria.
Right now, Syria is able to oppose its natural enemy Iraq, and at the same time save up "credit" from the Americans for helping them out. In other words, Syria is happy to be able to stand against Iraq, and at the same time receive approval from the West for doing so.
And what favors will Syria be asking from the U.S. for the help she is rendering now? What else? That the U.S. will force Israel out of the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza-the very land that God swore would be Israel's inheritance.
WILL A UNITED U.N. GANG UP AGAINST ISRAEL?
Lastly, while everyone can be gratified that the U.N. has acted so universally and decisively to condemn Iraq, yet the gnawing questions is: What if the U.N. uses the force of its new found unity against Israel?
It must be recalled that with the Arab and Soviet and Third World vote, Israel has been continually denounced and condemned by an organization that is stocked with many Arab countries and her Third World oil friends.
HOW LONG CAN AMERICA HOLD OUT ECONOMICALLY?
Also of great concern to us personally, is how can the U.S. continue to police the world at its own expense, when many beneficiaries of a stable oil market could be much more to help-such as Europe and Japan? Yes, they are helping some. But the U.S. is already literally staggering under her financial debt.
Furthermore, forgiving Egypt's seven billion dollar debt may be admirable, but isn't that extravagant for a nation that is itself fighting fiercely to keep from drowning? For example, Germany is paying Russia seven billion dollars to help with the expenses of moving Russian troops OUT of East Germany!5
Make no mistake! Israel is eternally grateful that the American people have stood up to this Hitler-type spirit. President Bush is correct in recalling that the Allies did not stop Hitler when he made his first moves, to the Allies' eternal sorrow. But as a true ally to the United States, Israel worries for her friend.
Even considering the U.S.'s economic stress, we believe, because of what the Bible says, that the U.S. should back Israel financially. To put it simply, we want to be on the side that God is on. And how do we know what side He is on? From the
Word of God! No matter how unpopular, how old fashioned, how politically unsophisticated, we believe in the integrity of the Word of God.
If God says He will save us from our sins, we believe He will. If He says He will heal us from our diseases, we believe Him.
If He says He will redeem Israel from her backsliding and exile, and that He will bless those who help her, we KNOW it is true.
Believing His Word of course is not the path to popularity and respect in this world. Nevertheless, it is eternal-it is what counts!
PREPARING THE GROUND
As we are preparing the Fellowship Center in Tel Aviv for sale, in order to find property for the future Messianic Leadership Training Center, we are also beginning the long process of preparing materials in Hebrew for the school. Meanwhile, we are witnessing to our banker, gas man, insurance man, storekeepers, friends and acquaintances. The hunger is there. The emptiness is there. We must work quickly to prepare a place of Shelter for those who would run to Him.
As always, it is the Body working together. We cannot do it alone. You cannot do it alone. But together God will give us the anointing, the strategy and the strength to give the Israeli people the privilege of hearing the Good News in a way they can understand. We thank God for your help.
For the Salvation of Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko- Ram