With the alleged “re-election” of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday, the country is in the news this week.

Guess who was the first to congratulate him?

If you guessed Russian President Vladimir Putin, you’re right.

Putin called Erdoğan his “dear friend.”

One of the next world leaders to congratulate Erdoğan was Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Should that trouble you?

You bet it should.

Most people – including most Evangelicals – aren’t paying Turkey or its corrupt leadership much attention.

But you ought to – here’s why.

First, Turkey is militarily important given that it has a population of 85 million and the biggest army in all of NATO.

Second, Turkey is geographically important, strategically positioned at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, just south of Russia and just north of Israel.

Third, Turkey – known in ancient times as “Asia Minor” – is biblically important, the place where the Apostle Paul used to preach the Gospel, plant churches, and write epistles in the first century.

Fourth, Turkey is prophetically important. The first several chapters of the Book of Revelation were written to people living in ancient Turkey and those prophecies came to pass. What’s more, Turkey plays a key role in another major biblical prophecy that will come to pass in the “last days” of history before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

More on that in a moment.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo before a meeting of leaders from the three guarantor states of the Astana process, designed to find a peace settlement in Syria crisis, in Tehran, Iran July 19, 2022. (Photo: President Website/WANA/Handout via REUTERS)

 

WHY IS ERDOGAN’S VICTORY SO DANGEROUS FOR TURKEY AND THE WORLD?

I’ve been there many times and while I’m no fan of Turkish coffee, I do love its people, land, geography, biblical history and archaeology.

But modern Turkey is in very, very serious trouble.

And President Erdoğan (pronounced “Air-do-wahn”) is the reason.

This is a dangerous man.

He has no idea how to lead a country in a healthy, democratic, and free direction.

And the people of Turkey are suffering.

Let’s start with Turkey’s economy – and contrast it to what’s happening in the United States.

Ever since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, Americans have become very worried about inflation – and rightly so.

Food prices have soared.

Gas prices have soared.

All prices have soared.

Inflation in the U.S. last year clocked in at a whopping 8.5% – the highest in 40 years.

That’s right – Americans haven’t experienced inflation this high since 1982.

But that’s nothing compared to what Turkey is going through.

Last year, Erdoğan’s policy caused inflation in Turkey to hit 85%.

That’s right – you heard me – 85%.

That’s ten times worse than in the U.S.

Throughout the recent campaign, Erdoğan has been saying, “Don’t worry! Things are getting better!”

After all, in April, prices in Turkey only went up by 50% – not 85%.

In May, the Turkish inflation rate was even better, clocking in around 45%, not 50%.

Wow – such progress!

But skyrocketing inflation is only part of the economic crisis rocking the Casbah.

Over the past five years, the value of the Turkish currency – known as the lira – has plunged by 77%.

And it just….keeps…..falling.

This week, the lira hit an all-time record low against the dollar.

Add to this the impact of Erdoğan sending Turkey’s military into northern Syria in hopes of slaughtering Kurdish rebels who hate Erdoğan as much as he hates them.

Add to all this economic suffering, the impact of the recent series of catastrophic earthquakes that left more than 50,000 people dead in Turkey and Syria combined, and hundreds of thousands more wounded and homeless.

 

People search through rubble following an earthquake in Adana, Turkey February 6, 2023. Ihlas News Agency (IHA) via REUTERS

 

Some say the earthquakes were the deadliest in Turkey in the past 100 years.

Others say the quakes were the deadliest in recorded Turkish history.

Either way, people are still reeling from the disaster, with little confidence that their government has done everything it can to help them.

Yet nothing seems to deter Erdoğan.

He just keeps bringing one disaster after another upon his people.

WHO IS RECEP ERDOGAN?

In my most recent non-fiction book, ENEMIES AND ALLIES, I spend several chapters documenting Recep Erdoğan’s political career, and his consistent moves to distance himself from the West and ally himself with Russia and Iran.

Let’s hit some of the highlights.

He’s already been in power for 20 years with absolutely no progress to show for it.

Erdoğan was first elected prime minister in 2003.

Eleven years later, he was elected president in 2014, taking office on Aug. 28, 2014.

Yet no matter how badly this guy does in office – no matter how much damage Erdoğan does to Turkey’s economy, culture, history, and brand – he just keeps getting “re-elected.”

Now, personally, I don’t think for one minute the Turkish people really want him in power.

Would you re-elect a guy presiding over an 85% inflation range?

And causing the value of your currency to plunge by 77%?

Of course not.

That’s why it seemed last month – for one fleeting moment – that the people of Turkey were going to rise up and drive Erdoğan out of office.

 

A supporter of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan holds the flowers that were on his motorcade during a rally, ahead of the May 28 presidential runoff vote, in Istanbul, Turkey May 26, 2023. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

 

Even with all the corruption, even with all the vote-rigging, Erdogan was not able to win 50% of the vote last month.

That forced him into a run-off with the head of Turkey’s opposition party.

For the last few weeks, pro-democracy forces inside and outside of Turkey have been hoping, praying, working to drive Erdoğan from office.

But when the results of the run-off were announced on Sunday, guess who had won another term?

Supposedly, allegedly, Erdogan won 52% of the vote, while the head of the opposition won only 48%.

Sure, and if you believe that….well, never mind, of course you don’t believe that – and neither do I.

Erdoğan has no intention of leaving office.

He had all the resources of a corrupt government at his disposal.

He most certainly used them.

In 2016, there was a coup in Turkey – people inside the government and the military rose up and tried to overthrow Erdoğan since they couldn’t seem to oust him through democratic means.

The coup failed – Erdoğan crushed the coup – arresting some 500,000 people, and dismissing another 150,000 government employees from their jobs, whom he accused of being disloyal and subversive.

What’s more, Erdoğan has thrown scores of journalists into prison, making Turkey the second worst country for journalistic freedom in the entire world in 2021 – just behind Communist China – according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

What’s crazy about this is that Turkey is a NATO ally.

That means it’s supposed to be not just a friend but a true and faithful and trustworthy ally of the United States and the rest of the NATO alliance in Western and Eastern Europe.

Yet under Erdoğan, Turkey keeps moving steadily – and increasingly rapidly – to the dark side.

Erdoğan is forging military and economic deals with Russia and Iran.

Why?

Because Erdoğan is not simply a Sunni Muslim.

It’s increasingly clear that he is a radical Islamist.

Not a democratically elected leader but a demagogic dictator.

A man who sees himself as the Sultan of a neo-Ottoman Empire.

This is a problem – a huge problem – not just for the U.S., NATO, and the Turkish people.

It’s also a huge problem for Israel.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran, on July 19, 2022.

 

COULD ERDOGAN’S WIN HAVE PROPHETIC IMPLICATIONS?

At the beginning of this column, I noted that the first several chapters of the Biblical book of Revelation are written to the people of Turkey.

Specifically, chapters two and three are prophecies written by the Apostle John to seven churches in “Asia Minor.”

Five were corrupt and told to “repent” or face judgment.

Tragically, they did not repent – and God did judge them.

Those churches are no more.

And today Turkey is one of the least Christian countries in all of Europe.

I also noted the Turkey plays are role in a major “End Times” prophecy.

In the book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39, the Hebrew prophet writes about a coming war in the “last days” that Bible scholars refer to as the “War of Gog and Magog.”

I explain the prophecy at length in my first non-fiction book, Epicenter: Why The Current Rumblings In The Middle East Will Change Your Future.  

I also write about the prophecy in ENEMIES AND ALLIES.

Here’s the short version.

After the sovereign State of Israel is reborn in the “last days” of history, a dictator (referred to by the mysterious title, “Gog”) will rise to power in Russia (known in ancient times as “Magog”).

Russia will then form a military and political alliance with Iran (referred to by Ezekiel as “Persia”) and a group of other Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Their goal: To surround, attack, and try to consume and destroy the State of Israel.

Tragically, Turkey – which was known as “Gomer” in ancient times – will be one of the countries that aligns itself with Russia and Iran and will attack Israel.

This is what makes Erdoğan’s brutal rise to power as an absolute dictator so dangerous.

It’s too early to say that the “War of Gog and Magog” is going to happen in our lifetime.

It’s too early to say that Vladimir Putin is “Gog” and that Erdoğan will ally himself with Moscow to attack Israel.

It’s not wise to jump to early and rash conclusions.

We simply don’t have enough information yet to know one way or the other.

Still, 75 years after the miraculous and prophetic rebirth of Israel (fulfilling the prophecies of Ezekiel 36 and 37), it certainly seems like the chess pieces are being strategically aligned for Ezekiel 38 and 39 to come to pass in the not too distant future.

Russia, Iran, and Turkey have never had such an alliance in the 2,500-plus years since Ezekiel wrote his prophecies.

But they certainly seem to be forming one now.

And even if most of the world dismisses such prophecies – or even ridicules them – we need to keep a close eye on how this alliance is shaping up, and where it will lead to next.

Most urgently for now, we need to be praying for the people of Turkey.

May God have mercy on them.

For Recep Erdoğan surely won’t.

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