When Jesus began to teach His disciples about the end times, one of the more well known illustrations He used was of a woman in labor. While I know that not all who read this blog may have personally experienced the ups and downs of a pregnancy, all are probably familiar with the process and how it works. Most should realize too, that labor pains don't begin until it's time for the birth to occur. So when Jesus tells His disciples to watch for the labor pains, He basically is saying that if you see the pains, the time is very very near.
Many have written of the "birth pains" the world is experiencing even now, and making the point that we are living in the end times that Jesus described. Obviously I have done that as well, but I always am watching for another sign as I have no idea how many pains, or how long the labor will last until the church is delivered. That brings me to what I want to share with you today. I did, in fact, have another blog ready for today but this news came across the wires just this morning, so bear with me as I try to explain what I see here on short notice, and without a lot of polish.
If you have followed the news at all in Europe, you may be familiar with the troubles between the former Soviet Union, Ukraine, and the European Union in regards to the transport of natural gas. The major pipeline to Europe goes through the Ukraine, and the relationship between Russia and it's former state is tenuous at best. For many reasons, mostly political but described as economic, Russia is refusing to sell natural gas to the Ukraine. This means as that the gas which would pass through the pipeline and on to Europe is stopped as well. So far this winter there are reports of numerous deaths in Europe due to the shortage of natural gas for heating, and this has naturally produced outrage by the European Union towards Russia. They did in fact threaten unspecified sanctions against Russia and the Ukraine if the gas did not begin to flow tomorrow, (January 19). This is not the first time Russia has shut off the gas to the Ukraine and Europe, so one must wonder if there is an ulterior motive behind the actions of Russia.
It is estimated that Russia holds 38% of the natural gas reserves in the world. They also are the worlds second leading exporter of crude oil with approximately 25% of the worlds market. Their economy is heavily dependent on the sales and export of both natural gas and oil. As such, why then would they play games with what they are so deeply dependent on? If you consider that the European states must import at least 30% of their natural gas needs, the possibility arises that Russia is using their natural gas exports as a tool to remind the European Union that they need what Russia has, and Russia has the power to shut it off. At this point in time there is nowhere else Europe can turn to get the natural gas it needs. Here is where we begin to see what Russia may be up to.
The Middle East is the next largest supplier of natural gas, with approximately 35% of the world's reserves. They are also the worlds largest supplier of crude oil providing approximately 45% of the world's consumption. So why is this relevant to the birth pains we have been talking about? If you consider the degree to which Russia has been cultivating their political agreements with countries in the Middle East over the past few years, and add up the combined percentage of oil and gas exports between these countries, you see that in effect the alliance between Russia and the Middle East results in control of 3/4 of the worlds oil and natural gas. Now ask yourself how much power over the rest of the world Russia and it's allies in the Middle East would have if they so chose? Consider then that the war of Ezekiel 38 mentions that Russia and these countries are allied to invade Israel. This obviously is more than coincidence, but the question remains, why invade Israel? Maybe that question can be answered by the news from Israel today.
According to the Jerusalem Post in an article posted today, January 18, a natural gas reservoir was discovered off the Israel coast that was described as being of "historic proportions". Though still too early to know the extent of the reserves, it goes without saying that this is a very strategic asset that changes the landscape of Israels' natural resources. This fact, however, may be a sign of the approaching apocalypse many have looked for. If you read the account of the attempted invasion that is soon to occur in Ezekiel 38, you find an interesting detail God gives us in verse 13. In that verse the countries which choose not to participate ask a question of those who do, led by Russia and Iran. That question is; "do you come to capture spoil"? It seems to say that the invasion will not necessarily be political, but a simple robbery of Israels natural resources. If that is the case, has this news from Israel today given Russia and Iran the excuse they have been looking for? Look as well at verses 10 through 13 where God says that "thoughts" will come to their minds to "devise an evil plan".
I can't help but feel that this discovery, though great for Israel, may in fact be the "spoil" Russia and Iran will be interested in. It may also prove to be another "labor pain" pointing to the imminent delivery we have been expecting.