This is The Bible in the News, and this is Paul Billington commenting on it again this week—the first edition in 2006. Well, it has been a very eventful week since we last talked, and the stand-off between Russia and the Ukraine over gas supply has been dominating the international news. As Russia turned off some of its taps, all Western Europe realized their dependence upon Russia for the supply of energy. It became clear just how vulnerable the whole of Europe has become to Russia’s whim. The fact is that as things stand, Russia is in a position to virtually strangle Europe into submission to her will, through energy supply. The outcry from Europe earlier this week may have resulted in Russia restoring supplies—but the point has been well made—and it won’t be lost on European leaders, though just what they can do about it is an open question.
This whole situation was commented upon 25 years ago by Graham Pearce in his Milestones 1981 "review of world events in the light of Bible prophecy." On page 14 of that booklet, the writer stated that: "This year was dominated by the vast pipeline project to bring natural gas some 3,000 miles from Siberia to Western Europe. The overall cost is estimated at over 20,000 million pounds. Germany and France will be the main recipients, with Italy, Austria, Holland and Belgium taking supplies and branch lines will connect Sweden, Finland, Greece, Rumania and Czechoslovakia (D.T. 21.11.81).
What a vast network creating vital energy dependence on the Soviet! West Germany will become dependent on Russia for 30% of her total energy requirements. The U.S. has strenuously opposed the scheme, seeing the obvious implication that Western Europe would be under great pressure to submit to the Soviet if it threatened to cut off the supply and stop the various industrial activities using this source of energy. A determined and minute attempt was made by America to stop the deal by sending a delegation including the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs on November 11th. But the deal was signed on November 21st when President Brezhnev visited Chancellor Schmidt in West Germany. The Daily Telegraph expressed the American-British concern in an Editorial: "THE SIBERIAN GAS TRAP." So students of Bible prophecy were alerted to the likelihood of such a crisis 25 years ago! That is because they understood the prophecies which foretold of a time when Russia would overpower Europe, and build the colossal alliance of nations described in Ezekiel 38, and also in symbolic terms in Daniel chapter 2.
In fact, this expectation goes back at least a century and a half. It was in the year 1854 that the author John Thomas published an exposition of Daniel's prophecy entitled Anatolia. The full title of this book is reproduced on our print version of this broadcast this week. It reads as follows: "ANATOLIA: or RUSSIA TRIUMPHANT, and EUROPE CHAINED!!! being an exposition of Daniel; showing the inevitable fall of the FRENCH AND OTTOMAN EMPIRES, the formation of a Russian Latino-Greek confederacy, its occupation of Jerusalem and its Holy Shrines, and subsequent destruction on the mountains of Israel."
What an incredible catalogue of events that were then still all in the future. And that is just the title on the front cover of the book! Just look at how that has been, and still is being fulfilled.
- Both the French and Ottoman Empires no longer exist. They have fallen—long ago!
- A "Latino-Greek" confederacy now exists with the 25 member countries of the European Union. Some from the Latin (west) of Europe, and some from the Greek (eastern) part of Europe.
- As the Russian -European Gas crisis has made clear, Russia is moving into a position that will allow her to dominate Europe. In effect, Europe will be enslaved, or chained.
- The religious power and mainspring of European activity is the Vatican, working through the Roman Catholic Church. A news headline this week shows us that the Vatican is now ready to abandon the Palestinians and turn to her other allies in order to gain control over Jerusalem. The title page of Anatolia looked for a Russian Latino-Greek confederacy to occupy "Jerusalem and the holy shrines"—and now, over 150 years later a news headline appears saying "VATICAN SAYS JERUSALEM ISSUE IS TOO IMPORTANT TO LEAVE TO ISRAEL, P.A." (Jan. 3rd).
Well, as we pointed out in an article in The Bible Magazine last October (vol. 18 no. 4; pages 20-21) I quote: "Rome has thus found it to be in her interests to exploit the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in the hope that Israel might be dislodged from the Biblical heartlands in the West Bank, and from Jerusalem in particular. "This Vatican support of the Palestinian cause has continued for several years—and so far it has only achieved an Israeli pull-out from Gaza, which is of minimal interest. The initial signs are that the Palestinians are incapable of managing to hold together a responsible government of their own in Gaza, and this must raise questions as to whether they could fare much better in the West Bank. The Vatican will expect to see some payback for its support. They cannot afford to back a loser indefinitely.... If the Palestinians prove to be ineffective as a means of forcing Israel out of the Biblical heartlands—then some other means must be found of accomplishing it. This may well mean turning towards Russia, Europe and a handful of Islamic nations, such as is described in Ezekiel chapter 38. Should the Vatican decide that it cannot achieve its objective through the Palestinian Arab route alone, then we could expect that to translate into a changed situation." So now we read that neither Israel NOR the Palestinians can be trusted to safeguard these holy sites in Jerusalem. This is what the Vatican"s legal advisor in Israel, David Jaeger, has stated. The report reads as follows: "Speaking during an international conference at a Haifa University conference Tuesday, Jaeger said Jerusalem is an important city the fate of which should not be left in the hands of Israel and the Palestinians. Any solution to the status of Jerusalem needs the approval of the international community, said Jaeger, adding that the Palestinian Authority has also failed in keeping with international conventions on preserving holy sites."
So...in view of the chaos currently seen in Gaza, and as the Palestinians prove themselves to be incapable of responsible government—their Vatican friends are giving up on them, and turning towards (what they call) the international community.
Now the Scriptures teach that there is to come a time when ALL NATIONS (that is the international community) will come against Jerusalem. We have Joel 3:2: " I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land."
We also have Zech. 14:2: " For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle."
And of course, Rev. 16:14 and verse 16: "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty... And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Now however you look at it, current events make this entirely possible. That political forces at work today will unite Europe under the guard and protectorate of Russia. That Vatican influence will incite the nations to take Israel out of Jerusalem, and the West Bank. It is this anti-Zionist act of aggression against the Jews, that will—according to Scripture—bring Divine intervention and the long-expected deliverance of the Jews by the Messiah, and the subsequent establishment of the Kingdom of Israel. And news just in as we make this broadcast—Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has suffered a massive stroke and is on a respirator. The report speaks of massive cerebral bleeding. Analysts are reported as saying that his life could be in danger.
Sharon is now head of the new Kadima party—but the party’s strength is centered on Sharon himself, and if anything happens to him it will turn the Israeli political scene into turmoil. We will doubtless return to this story next week. And so we see that the news is fulfilling Bible prophecy. Join us again next week and we will talk some more about it all, God willing.