While the threat of Russian aggression on Ukraine escalates, protests calling for freedom from COVID mandates have spread from Canada to other western democracies.
Last week, Matt Davies looked at The Nations Preparing for War in an effort to counter Russia’s movements on the boarders of Ukraine. A growing number of countries have now called for their citizens to leave the country and a Russian invasion is said to be imminent. Putin has reminded NATO of Russia's nuclear capability, pointing out that in such a scenario nobody wins.
After bringing another 30,000 troups into Belarus, on top of the 100,000 already on Ukraine's boarder, Russia has begun massive military exercises in Belarus, escalating tensions with Ukraine. Ukraine had given Russia 48 hours to respond under the “Vienna Document” to explain their troup build-up, and that time has now expired. As diplomatic efforts falter, we wait to see what will happen.
Meanwhile, “freedom convoys”, which started two weeks ago with thousands descending in protest on Canada’s capital Ottawa calling for an end to all COVID mandates, have spread not only across Canada, but also to other countries including Australia, New Zealand, and France.
In light of these things, we look to the Bible to understand the significance of these events. Can we expect freedom under human government? We wonder what Russia, or more correctly Putin, will do next? What will become of NATO? What will the impact on freedom in Ukraine and eastern Europe be?
Trucker Freedom Convoy
From Canada we watch the protesters, who say they are fighting for freedoms that were taken due to government’s effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, and wonder if this will have a longer-term impact on our religious freedom?
Many of the Canadian protesters are working class people from diverse backgrounds and many are also religious people. The protests, which have spread across the country and interrupted border crossings, have been marked by reports of prayer, the smell of cannabis, and signs and messages with foal language. The protests have drawn together a diverse group concerned about freedom.
Why are we considering this? Religious freedom has been put in danger by liberal governments. If the momentum continues, it may be that religious freedom will benefit from this movement, at least for a time. If so, we should use the opportunity wisely. This was one of the effects of the French Revolution. Likewise, these protests are driven by the voice of the people, a call for freedom, for liberty.
In contrast to what has been seen in Canada, ironically the recent freedom convoy in France seems to have been quickly squashed by thousands of well equipped police and tear gas. So much for freedom!
Dark days ahead for Europe?
Rich Outzen, retired US Colonel, geopolitical analyst and consultant joined a discussion with the Hudson Institute on Turkey's Role in the Ukraine Crisis (Feb. 11, 2022). He suggests that if the west does not raise costs high enough for Russia, in the event Russia takes a bite out of Ukraine, Turkey may turn from the US to Russia looking for pragmatic deals to protect her interests. Such results are "not a Europe that we want" he says (see the link to watch his full statement). This kind of outcome would see Russia emboldened, Turkey move further away from the West, and further question the relevance of NATO.
Bible prophecy forewarned that in the latter days Russia would be triumphant, in conjunction with Rome (i.e. Catholicism) at its height, and Europe chained:
"And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay" Daniel 2:40-43.
The fourth kingdom, in the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw, was the iron Roman power. The feet are described as a distinct and divided kingdom (v. 41), one which develops out of the Roman Empire. The strength of the feet is said to be in the Roman iron, and whereas the "iron is mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men" (v.43). The word for men here is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew word enosh, meaning "generally collective of the whole human race... a multitude, the common people..." (Gesenius). From verse 44, we understand this to be the state of things at the return of Jesus Christ since the prophet says that, "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed..." This describes what we see in modern Catholic Europe perfectly. A divided kingdom made of of a conglomeration of separate democratic clay like states (i.e. kings) held together by the strength of Roman Catholicism.
Turning to Revelation 16, we find in the sixth vial the modern world, and Europe in particular, perfectly described. A world that has been shaped by the "three unclean spirits like frogs" which came out of the French Revolution, liberty, equality, and fraternity (the brotherhood of man). In Revelation chapter 17 we are introduced to a "mother of harlots" bearing the name "Babylon the Great". This is a fitting description of the "Mother Church" found sitting on the seven hills of Rome, which tour guides will proudly show to you (Rev. 17:3-6). This is the system which is portrayed as the rider of the ten horned European beast. These ten kings are seen to "have one mind" and to give their power and authority to this beast (Rev. 17:12-13). This is the modern situation in Europe from God's perspective. The member states of Europe are increasingly forfeiting their sovereignty and freedom to the institutions and laws of Europe. In recent years this led Britain to exit Europe as we expected (prophetically Britain does not belong to this Roman alliance). As with Daniel 2, this is the state of things described at the time when the Lord Jesus Christ is back in the earth, for this system will "make war with the Lamb" (Rev. 17:14).
The original title page of An Exposition of Daniel by John Thomas.
Russia triumphant, Europe in chains
Graham Pearce, describes this state of things, to exist at the return of Christ, in the book World Events & the Coming of Zion’s King:
"We have described the coming Roman world as a Christian-socialist state, corresponding with the iron and clay feet of the Image, and with the current socialist development of society in Europe."
"Brother Thomas’ (*) description of this time of which we are now speaking is: 'Russia triumphant, Europe in chains.' This is a true reflection on what the prophets say. Europe is to come under cruel bondage, with freedom suppressed… So the lights are to go out in Europe, it is to be 'in chains.' This may not take place immediately Russia takes over Western Europe, but over some years, the chains will be found to be brutally there" Graham Pearce" (pp. 23,26).
* Anatolia, or Russia Triumphant and Europe Chained by John Thomas (later republished as An Exposition of Daniel).
Therefore, from prophecy we expect freedom to give way to despotism in Europe as the Papacy and Russia gain in power.
The Bible’s position on freedom is far different to what the world has to offer. Consider the words of Jesus in John 8:
"Jesus answered them, Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (vs. 34-36).
Therefore, without the Son (i.e. Jesus Christ), we are a slave of sin. True freedom is only available to those who find it through him. Paul says that in Christ we may "stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" (Gal. 5: 1). Paul explains this further in Romans 6:
"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vs. 20-23).
Therefore, the freedom we seek is to be free from sin and death. As such we become the "slaves of God" and are promised the gift of eternal life, free from sin and death, in the Kingdom of God. This is Biblical freedom. Further to this, Peter explains that freedom must be limited:
"Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well. For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloke of wickedness, but as bondservants of God" (c/p Acts 5:28-29, "We ought to obey God rather than men").
Therefore, we are called to obey the laws that governments place upon us provided they do not conflict with the commands of God. In such a case we are to obey God. The restrictions of COVID have at times raised this question.
People are calling for freedom. I do not know what kind of freedom they are looking for, but freedom for everyone to do whatever their fleshly heart desires without regard for what God desires is not the kind of freedom that the servants of God can support. This is the freedom of today.
The freedom we are looking for, is freedom not only to witness to Bible truth, but also freedom from sin and death. Human government cannot and will not give us true freedom. We therefore look for the return of Jesus Christ, who will establish a new order that will bring about freedom without sin and without death.
We pray that the Lord will soon return to grant all those who love his appearing true freedom, and to subdue the earth that it no longer be ruled by the Kingdom of Men in sin, but rather in righteousness and peace. This has been Daniel Billington with you this week as we continue to wait and to watch the Bible in the news.