Personal from the Editor (Herbert W. Armstrong)
Visiting a Nation Fraught With Impending Total Disaster
AS I WRITE, I gaze out the window in my hotel room on the mouth of the Bosporus. It is a scenic and tranquil panoramic view, today. Tomorrow it may be the site of a world-shaking event.
The Bosporus is a strait about 18 miles long, between Turkey in Europe and Turkey in Asia. It connects the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea to the north. Russia borders on the Black Sea. The Bosporus is Russia’s gateway to ocean commerce with the world. Istanbul, Turkey sits astride this gateway. It reeks with history. And it is fraught with ominous portent of total disaster to this country of Turkey.
It has been interesting, today, September 11, 1971, to spend a quiet and restful day refreshing my mind on the very beginning of this Turkish nation, its earliest history, a mental review of the general course of its history up to now, and, finally, the Biblical PROPHECIES for its almost immediate future. I will give you, here, the thrilling story.
We are en route to Indonesia, where the very first of the planned scientific expeditions jointly conducted between a Belgian Foundation headed by King Leopold III, and Ambassador College, is to get under way. Accompanying us are King Leopold and Professor Heinrich Harrer of Munich, who, later, will lecture at Ambassador College. He is a scientist with a rich experience in scientific expeditions. Another famous scientist is en route by commercial airline, to meet us at Djakarta. While the King and others of our party were out sightseeing today, I refreshed my mind with the intriguing story I give you now.
The very first beginning of this nation, significantly, was a struggle between unborn twins. It was emblematic of the final struggle that will involve Britain and the United States, and a prophesied total disaster to Turkey. Indeed, truth is often stranger than fiction!
But since the Turkish people are descended from Abraham, let us first get our bearings beginning from Abraham.
So notice first, Genesis 25:5-6: “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son.”
Abraham also was the father of Ishmael by Hagar, handmaid of his wife Sarah. But Ishmael, too, was rejected from the birthright.
Now pick up the story, beginning verse 20, same chapter: “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian … the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac intreated the ETERNAL for his wife, because she was barren: and the Eternal was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the ETERNAL. And the ETERNAL said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
“And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins within her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau” (verses 20-25).
Esau was the father of the Turkish nation. God said two nations were in Rebekah’s womb. The other, Jacob, was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Continue, verse 26: “And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob (meaning, Hebrew, supplanter, or one that takes by the heel): and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
“And Jacob sod pottage (red lentils): and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage (soup); for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom (meaning red). And Jacob said, Sell me this day (first of all) thy birthright” (verses 2 & 31).
The “Birthright” was a promise God had made to Abraham because of Abraham’s spirit of willing obedience, to be handed down to his descendants. Normally the Birthright was given to the eldest son, though on this occasion God allowed it to be sold to the younger. The Birthright was a promise of national greatness, power, and wealth — all material. It was a different promise than the Scepter Promise, which was spiritual, and involved the GIFT of eternal life by grace through Christ. The Birthright was a RIGHT by birth; the Scepter Promise one of grace, not a right. The Birthright was a promise of RACE, the Scepter of GRACE. The Birthright ultimately was fulfilled in the greatness, power, and wealth of the British and American people. It was of just that TREMENDOUS IMPORTANCE! This is explained in our free book “The U.S. and British Commonwealth in Prophecy”.
Continue the story: “And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swear unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (verses 32-34).
Next, Jacob, through the scheming of his mother, managed to deprive Esau of Isaac’s blessing. You will find this recorded in the 27th chapter of Genesis. It is too long to print the entire chapter here but I will give you a quick’ synopsis.
It occurred when Isaac was old, his eyes so dim with age he could not see. He called for Esau, and asked him to go out to the field and hunt a deer, and make him “savory meat” the way Isaac liked it prepared. Then Isaac would give him his blessing on the Birthright.
While Esau was gone hunting, Rebekah told Jacob to quickly bring in two good kids of the goats, and she would prepare them into the kind of “savory meat” of which Isaac was so fond. Rebekah brought to Jacob Esau’s clothes which he donned. She put the skins of the kids of the goats on Jacob’s hands and arms, and “the smooth of his neck,” so that when Isaac smelled of him and took hold of him, he would smell and feel like Esau. However, Isaac was suspicious, because of Jacob’s voice, and because the “venison” came so soon.
He said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy … so he blessed him. And he said, Art thou my very son Esau?”
Jacob lied, “I am.”
Isaac said, “God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness (fat places) of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.” That was the blessing of the materially rich Birthright to be handed down through many generations.
Jacob had scarcely gone from the presence of Isaac when Esau came in. He had returned and made “savory meat.”
“Who art thou?” asked Isaac.
“I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau,” he replied.
“And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, ‘Who? Where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it to me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed!’
“And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, even me also, O my father.'”
Isaac said, “Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing.”
Esau said, bitterly, “Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing …. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.”
“And Esau hated Jacob,” and threatened to slay him after their father’s death. But Rebekah warned Jacob to flee to her brother, Laban, at Haran.
Christians are admonished, in the New Testament “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears”(Heb. 12:14-17). God intended the Birthright to go to Jacob. But He did not intend Rebekah and Jacob to take it by deceit and lying. Had they been more honest, God would have brought about the transfer in an honorable way. As it was, Jacob had to struggle for years to overcome such ways contrary to the ways of God. But he finally did overcome, and his name was changed from the reproachful Jacob (Supplanter), to Israel, meaning “Overcomer,” or one who prevails with God.
Jacob heeded his mother’s warning, fled to the house of Laban. He fell in love with Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel. He worked for Laban seven years for her. At the wedding, foxy old Laban pulled a switch on Jacob. Apparently women wore veils at weddings which completely hid their faces in those days, and Jacob found old Laban had gotten rid of his elder and not-so-beautiful or marriageable daughter, Leah.
Jacob was forced to work another seven years for his beloved Rachel. By these two sisters, and the handmaids of each, Jacob had twelve sons. They became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob and his family later departed secretly from Laban.
Jacob finally repented, overcame, prevailed in wrestling with an angel, and his name was changed to Israel.
Meanwhile, Esau had grown rich. Finally, Israel and Esau met, and were reconciled (Genesis 33:1-4). Esau’s riches and descendants are recorded in Genesis 36:1-2, 8-9:
“Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom” (Gen. 36:1). And, “Thus dwelt Esau in Mount Seir: Esau is Edom” (verse 8). Mount Seir is in the area of Petra. One of Esau’s sons was named “Teman.” His descendants developed into the Turkish Empire, called the “Ottoman” Empire.
Through the centuries there developed more or less continuous rivalry between the descendants of Esau and of Israel. Also a rivalry developed between the descendants of Judah — one of the Twelve Tribes — and the Arabs, who are the descendants of Ishmael. That rivalry stemmed from the jealousy of two women — Sarah, Abraham’s wife, mother of Isaac, and Hagar, Sarah’s maid, mother of Ishmael, also son of Abraham.
All these ancient rivalries are playing crucial parts in the tense world conditions of TODAY!
The Turks grew to become a considerable Empire. Prior to World War I, the Ottoman Empire included European Turkey, Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Arabia, Yemen, and islands in the Aegean Sea. But they joined Germany in World War I, and their defeat resulted in loss of empire. Turkey was reduced to a small and unimportant nation.
Now look to the future from this point. See what is prophesied.
The book of Obadiah is devoted to Turkey. It is a short book, of only one chapter.
It begins: “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord Eternal concerning Edom … Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high …
“Shall I not in that day, saith the Eternal, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And thy mighty men, O Teman (Ottoman Empire??), shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
“For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.”
Now WHEN? Of what TIME is the prophecy speaking? Continue:
“In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them” (verses 10-11).
Compare this casting lots upon Jerusalem to Joel 3:3. The entire context of Joel from 2:28 through chapter 3 is speaking of a time very shortly future from now — just prior to the “Day of the Lord” — a time which will cut short the imminent “Great Tribulation” and immediately follow it — a time leading quickly into the coming of the Messiah to rule all nations. But continue in Obadiah:
“But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction ….” This, in past tense, may refer, typically, looking back, to the captivities and exiles of Israel, 721-718 B.C., and of Judah, 604-585 B.C., respectively — but merely as a type of captivities now imminent. The time of the prophecy is NOW — and the immediate future. Continue:
“Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity …” (verse 13) — speaking of the coming Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21-22, Dan. 12:1-2; Jer. 30:5-7) — greatest time of trouble of all history, the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” meaning U. S. and British nations — see free book, “United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy” — “… nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway (the Bosporus — Turkey stands astride it), to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress” (verses 13-14).
Now the TIME when this shall happen is made clear in the next verse:
“For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen …” (verse 15). The “Day of the Lord” is to follow immediately the Great Tribulation — compare Matthew 24:21-22, 29 with Joel 2:31. It is the time when God will first intervene supernaturally in this world’s affairs, to END the Great Tribulation, into which the world is now heading, and to punish the Gentile nations for having so frightfully punished Britain-U.S. and the Jewish people in World War III, and the imminent Tribulation. This “Day of the Lord” — that is, the first phase of it — will climax in Christ’s return to earth as the Messiah, as King of kings and Lord of lords (verse 30 of Matthew 24). Continue in Obadiah, verse 15:
“… As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee …. But upon Mount Zion (Jerusalem) shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness (at Christ’s coming); and the house of Jacob (U.S.- British, NOT Jews) shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph (U.S.-British) a flame, and the house of Esau (Turkey) for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Eternal hath spoken it.”
And the one-chapter book ends, “… and the kingdom shall be the Eternal’s.” The Kingdom of God set up at Christ’s coming — the world-ruling Kingdom to rule all nations, and to bring PEACE to the whole world!
There can be no mistaking the TIME of this prophecy. It is the near future — probably much nearer than you think!
Other prophecies, tying in with this are Jeremiah 49:7 and 25:21; and Ezekiel 25:13-14.