We live in extraordinary times. This week we have seen the world reacting hour by hour and minute by minute to the challenge of Covid-19 coronavirus. Stock markets have been plummeting, schools closing, events being cancelled, cities isolated, transport ground to a halt.
Coronavirus panic hits global markets.
Panic buying has seen supermarket shelves decimated as the world’s wealthy stock up.
People have become hooked to the news - fearful and troubled by the scale of the situation unfolding before them.
Yet, this is exactly the situation the Lord Jesus told his disciples that the world would see just before his return to the earth. The gospel writer Luke records the prophecy of the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Olives, just a few days before he was crucified, explaining to his disciples a future time when men’s hearts would be:
“failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:26)
Sadly, in times of crisis, all too often we see mankind look for ways to make even the most fearful circumstances work for themselves.
The Washington Post ran an article just last week examining how Russia is using the coronavirus hysteria for their own gain:
“A top State Department official said Thursday that Russia is behind “swarms of online, false personas” that sought to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media sites, stressing the “entire ecosystem of Russian disinformation is at play.”
Russia blamed for a wave of coronavirus information.
The latest warning came from Lea Gabrielle, the coordinator of the government’s Global Engagement Center, in testimony to Congress. Her remarks follow days after an unpublished agency report, unearthed by The Washington Post on Saturday, revealed nearly 2 million tweets over a three-week period pushed coronavirus-related conspiracy theories abroad.
Gabrielle did not link that report with her broader conclusions about Russian interference online. But she said actors tied to the country — through “state proxy websites,” official state-owned media and fake accounts online — were part of an effort to “take advantage of a health crisis, where people are terrified worldwide, to try to advance their priorities.”
None of this should be of any surprise to Bible students. One of the key characteristics of the King of the North – modern Russia -is its willingness to deceive. The Bible makes this very clear:
“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” (Daniel 8:25)
The word craft, means deceive. This ruler will cause deceit to prosper and by peace he will destroy many. Only a deceitful person would use peace to destroy!
So, we look at the policies of Russia today to see how they may be deceitfully developing their national interests.
2019 paper on how Russia and China use the art of deceit.
On every level this is plain to see. The whole world is struggling to counter the use of lies and deceit by Russia whether on social media, through news outlets or government channels. In December 2019 a paper was published entitled “The art of deceit: How China and Russia use sharp power to subvert the west.”
The paper asks: “Why, ultimately, is the Kremlin willing to invest millions into spreading disinformation? And to what end?”
It goes onto explain, that “Exploitation of information is one of the cheapest and most effective ways for the Kremlin to manipulate public opinion, influence policymakers, and legitimise its aggressive policies. The target groups lie both in the EU and in Russia itself. Information operations against Europe help ensure that other countries are preoccupied with their own problems, including the decrease of trust in democratic institutions, instead of paying enough attention to what is happening in Eastern Europe and inside Russia.” (https://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/HJS-Sharp-Power-Report-FINAL.pdf)
This fits into a pattern that the western world is only relatively recently waking up to. Last summer the prestigious UK institution, The LSE (London School of Economics), commissioned a research paper entitled: The Weaponisation of Postmodernism, Russia’s New War with Europe.
The research explains how Russia is deceptively manipulating the minds of so many by taking advantage of a postmodern western world. “Applied postmodernism as it is practiced by Russia has two features:
• An attempt to promote a sense of epistemic insecurity amongst targeted populations by undermining existing bonds of trust between them and the sources of information on which they rely.
• The promotion of ‘alternative’ or ‘antihegemonic’ perspectives or narratives, especially those in line with Russia’s foreign policy objectives.
Where traditional propaganda aims to promote the truth of one side in particular, applied postmodernism aims to promote a view of the world in which truth is itself relative.”
Russia's new war with Europe.
This is a remarkable explanation for the way in which Russia deceives the nations of the world. The prophet Isaiah describes the ‘treachery’ of this latter day super power. How apt that in these last days, the king of the North has become known for his treacherous and deceitful dealings with the world.
Further to this, the paper talks of the current relationship between Russia and the EU:
“The annexation of Crimea in 2014 brought into focus a conflict between Russia and the EU that had been boiling beneath the surface of European public consciousness for some time in what Richard Sakwa calls a ‘cold peace’ (Sakwa 2013). The term ‘cold peace’ refers to a situation in which the underlying tensions and conflicts characteristic of a cold war are present, but where these conditions, and the strategies that go along with them, are concealed under the rhetoric of peace”
This language is astonishing! It is the language of Daniel 8:25. The crafty or deceitful King, would by ‘peace destroy many.’
The LSE have identified that there are currently many tensions and conflicts between Russia and Europe – yet they are concealed ‘under the rhetoric of peace’!
Although the relationship between Russia and Europe is itself a sign of the times, ultimately as Bible students our minds are drawn to the land of Israel. It is to this people and land that we look and it is their relationship with Israel which is so critical come the time of the end.
The prophet Ezekiel talks of a time when Russia will invade Israel, yet he says that “they shall dwell safely all of them” (Ezekiel 38:8) and that the northern invader will say “I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” (Ezekiel 38:11)
Putin to receive 'Friends of Zion' award!
There is little doubt that the current foreign policy position of Russia in purposefully deceiving the world will allow it to give Israel the presumption that they are at peace - safe and secure. The nation will be deceived into thinking that Russia is their friend. Extraordinarily we see these very conditions developing currently. At the end of January Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, was honoured in Jerusalem with the ‘Friends of Zion Award’ for Russia’s role in saving ‘scores of Jewish people during WW2’.
The irony is of course not lost on those of us watching current events unfolding. Sadly, so many are currently blind to the deceit of the King of the North.
It seems wise to finish with the words of the Lord Jesus, back on the mount of Olives. Having told the disciples of the time when men’s hearts would be failing them for fear, Jesus went on to say, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
Let’s have our heads lifted up – looking at the events which surely tell us, the time is soon to come when the King of the world will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed.
This has been Peter Owen joining you, for the Bible in the News.