Welcome to another edition of our weekly audio programme and print update--and again this week we have witnessed another important development as Russia's Vladimir Putin has pressed forward with a campaign through which he intends to penetrate the Middle East.
His visit to several Middle East countries during the week, follows a belligerent speech delivered in Munich, Germany. USA TODAY reported that Putin "delivered an in-your-face speech accusing the United States of being an arrogant, dangerous super power, and of provoking a new nuclear arms race and instability in the Middle East. 'Nobody feels secure any more' he said."
The report continued:
"Russia is resurgent, largely because it is flush with oil and gas money. It has paid off its debts, and, freed from the constraints of international financial organizations, it is now flexing atrophied muscles. Putin is tightening controls at home, bullying neighbors and acting almost reflexively antagonistic to U.S. interests around the world."
Another headline in USA TODAY read: "RUSSIA INTENSIFIES EFFORTS TO REBUILD ITS MILITARY MACHINE." The paper reported: "Last week Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov unveiled a $189 billion rearmament program that will replace about half of Russia's current military equipment by 2015."
Radio Free Europe on February 13th reported on a Russian programme (Mayak Radio) which had quoted the American Defense Secretary Robert Gates as telling Congress that "Americans should get ready not only to fight terrorism, but also to conduct large-scale military operations with mass regular armies like Chinese or Russian ones." So the possibility of such a conflict is on the horizon.
There can be no doubt that Russia has found her feet and is making a large-scale come-back on the world's stage. In terms of Bible prophecy it seems that her "turning back" period (it has lasted for about 17 years) indicated in Ezekiel 38:4 is now over. In a tour of several Middle East countries this week Putin has made it clear that he is challenging the United States and its dominant influence. He has visited Saudi Arabia, the Gulf (including Qatar) as well as Jordan. These are traditionally allies of the United States and Putin is clearly confronting that position.
The Russian news service INTERFAX ran a headline that read: "RUSSIA WANTS TO COOPERATE WITH ARAB, ISLAMIC STATES--PUTIN." The report read:
"Russia wants to develop cooperation with Arab countries, promote the dialogue between civilizations and to see a fairer world order, President Vladimir Putin said at a business forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.
"'Russia is a multinational country, a common home to Christians, Muslims and people of other religions who have lived side by side in concord and amity for centuries,' he said.
"'It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is our main national treasure and we cherish it,' he said.
"'We wish to develop dialogue between civilizations due to our unique experience in the mutual enrichment of cultures and traditions,' he said.
"'We would like to see a fairer world order, which would be based on the principles of equality and respect for all people, regardless their religion,' Putin said.
"'Russia adheres to this policy in every area, including in the Gulf. Time has shown that our views are supported in Arab and other Islamic countries,'" he said.
"Putin reaffirmed the wish to develop interaction at the organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and thanked King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for assisting Russia to receive observer status at the organization."
All this points in the direction of that alliance of nations described in Ezekiel chapter 38. They are (in today’s world) Christians and Muslims--and we can see that Russia's policy will work to establish cooperation with nations like Iran, Ethiopia and Libya (that is, North Africa). It also points towards a clash of interests over the Middle East between Russia and the United States of America. This is now clearly on the agenda--that north-south conflict that we have mentioned on this programme before.
Ezekiel tells us that the Russian leadership (the prince of Rosh) will "think an evil thought" (verse 10). In fact, it would appear that "things" are already coming into his mind. The marginal note in many Bibles renders the phrase in Ezekiel 38:10 as "conceive a mischievous purpose." This is based on the Hebrew. The word translated as "think" means to devise, meditate, work out, plan or scheme. And the word translated THOUGHT, means device, cunning work like weaved cloth--hence an intricately woven plan. Perhaps one that involves dividing the Land (as we read in Daniel 11:39 and Joel 3:2).
The intentions of the Leader of Rosh is outlined for us in Ezekiel 38:11 and 12.
"And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land."
The main target here is the people who now dwell in the midst of the land. The idea is to dispossess them of their lands and of their wealth. Clearly, by the time the Russian made plan is put into effect, there will have been some developments that we do not yet see. There will have been some kind of stability, some kind of security come into place, and this would allow wealth to develop--so constituting a "spoil" and a "prey" for the Russo-European beast to set his desire on.
But the powers mentioned in verse 13 are to protest the plan. This is what can be expected from the United States of America, and from those countries that have historical connections to the English-speaking world. But as the two human super-powers contend together over the Middle East and the Holy Land, Christ and his immortal followers will come--and in the symbolism of Zechariah chapter 6--as four chariots between the two mountains of brass. We spoke about the two mountains of brass recently--a power of the north and a power of the south (verse 6).
The four chariots are vehicles--vehicles of God's will. Elsewhere in the Bible they are called cherubim, as for example in 1 Chronicles 28:18 where we read of "the chariot of the cherubim" (or as the Revised Version renders it: "the chariot, even the cherubim"). These cherubim are "the living creatures" (see Ezekiel 1:5; and chapter 10:15), those who manifest the glory of the Lord.
While we watch the news and consider these things, we know that Christ will return as was promised in Acts 1:11, and also in passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
The Bible is true, and all these things are on the threshold. What condition will the Lord find us in? Shall we be among those who manifest the truth, the character and the glory of the Lord?
Join us here again next week, God willing, on www.bibleinthenews.com or www.biblemagazine.com Let us see what another week may reveal!