Russia Tightens its Grip
Russia, Ukraine and Bible Prophecy
Sunday, March 16, 2014
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When Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon had a dream of a great metallic image, he was so troubled that he threatened to have all of his magicians dissected if they were unable to reveal his dream and its interpretation. The prophet Daniel, however, revealed that the dream signified “what shall be in the latter days” (Dan 2v28).
Hello this is Nick Barnes, with this week’s Bible in the News.
Daniel explained that the interpretation ran chronologically from the Babylonian head of gold, through Medo-Persian breast and arms, Greek belly and thighs, Roman legs, and on to the feet and toes, in whose days “shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan 2v44)
The legs of iron, to which the feet were attached, signified the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, whose stamp is clearly seen in modern Europe. And the characteristics, of these two divergent powers, is developed in Daniel chapters 7 & 8.
Daniel 7 shows four beasts, again chronologically representing the four great empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Out of the fourth, and most terrible beast (the Roman Empire), grows a horn who makes “war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Dan 7:21-22)
This horn symbolised a political power, with a religious aspect (the eyes and mouth), which developed in the west. It was forged by a Germanic king (Charlemagne) of a Germanic Tribe (the Franks) and its seat was in a German city (Aachen). Yet it became known as the Holy Roman Empire and its king was entitled Roman Emperor and was styled Kaiser, or Caesar.
And this horn power continues beyond Charlemagne’s First Reich, through Bismarck’s Second Reich and Hitler’s Third Reich, right down to today, where we see a resurgent Germany, again increasingly dominating Western Europe.
And Western Europe shows its Latin ancestry, in its Roman “Christian” religion, its Latin alphabet, its history of Latin based education, and its many languages derived from Latin. This Latin aspect is signified by the fact that the horn grew out of the Roman beast.
However, if we want to learn how Russia fits into this story, we need to go to Daniel 8. Here Gabriel explicitly identifies the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire as the ram and goat respectively, in v20-21. Greek dominion will be established by a first and great king, we are told, and then be broken into four, lesser powers (v22), seen as four horns (v8).
To this point, the symbology and interpretation almost exactly parallels Daniel 7’s bear and leopard. However, when we look for the Roman Empire, in Dan 8, we find no equivalent beast to represent it. Instead we find only a little horn growing out of one of the goat’s four horns, which we are told is “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences” who stands up “in the latter time of their [the four horns’] kingdom”.
This horn, from a horn, from the goat, might initially seem unsatisfying and maybe inappropriate, as a symbol for the mighty Roman Dominion. However, it is not an omission, but is instead the key to understanding the chapter properly.
We are told that this little horn “waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (v9), but no mention is made of westerly expansion. This is the clue which explains the riddle. The little horn is not the Roman Empire per se; it is the Roman Empire as it develops in the East.
That is why Rome, in Dan 8, is symbolised as a power emerging from the Greek goat. The Roman Empire in the East, and later the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire developed a Greek character. Its language (as we know from the New Testament) was Greek, its education and its philosophy was Greek, its religion was Greek, and its alphabet was Greek – and down to today, Eastern Europe bears this mark, with Greek influenced languages and an alphabet derived from the Greek.
So while Dan 7 shows us how, in the latter days, the Roman Empire would develop a Latin aspect in the West, Dan 8 shows us how the Roman Empire would develop a Greek aspect in the East. And as the little horn of Dan 7 is to “prevail… until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan 7v21-22), so the little horn of Dan 8 is to “stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (Dan 8v25).
Who then is this power, still existing in our day, which is derived from the Graeco-Eastern Roman Empire? In 1453, the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire expired at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Its courtiers fled to Moscow, and Sophia Palaiologos, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI, married Ivan III of Moscow. He thus claimed to be successor to the emperor and inheritor of the imperial throne, and so took the title of Czar (or Caesar). And as Constantinople had been the 2nd capital of the Roman Empire and was known as the 2nd Rome, now Moscow became the 3rd Rome (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_III_of_Russia#Domestic_policy)
This king, Dan 8v23 tells us, will be “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences”; and v25 adds “he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand”.
This destruction “without hand”, connects back to the prophecy of Dan 2, where the great metallic image was destroyed by a stone “cut out without hands”. And in Dan 2 we find a clue pointing to a 2nd layer in the symbology. Not only does the chapter have a straightforward chronological interpretation, as mentioned earlier, it also reveals the great confederacy of nations that will combine to crush Israel.
Daniel 2v35 explicitly states that “the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, [were] broken to pieces together”. This must mean that, in some sense, the ancient empires will exist again in the latter days, so that they can be broken in pieces together. So when Christ and his saints advance to Jerusalem, to fight the battle of Armageddon, against them will stand a great confederacy, of all the nations represented in the metallic image.
This assembly will be made up of the nations on the territory of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires, but also the Germanic Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires and the Russian Empire. This host will involve nations from Lisbon to Vladivostok and from St Petersburg to Addis Ababa.
This is that “company” assembled by the “prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal” (Eze 38v2 NKJV), and forged from nations of both East and West Europe and also from North Africa and the Middle East, as listed in Eze 38v2, 5 & 6.
The writer John Thomas, in 1854 entitled his exposition of Daniel, “Russia Triumphant, Europe Chained”. Today we see Russia re-establishing its authority in Eastern and Central Europe, and also in the Caucasus and further east in Central Asia. Even in Western Europe, Russian exports of oil and gas, and imports of manufactured goods, have brought about close relationships, particularly with Germany. This is seen in the present crisis over the Ukraine, where continental Europeans are far more reserved in their condemnations and threats than is the US.
The reality is that Russian policy, in the Putin era, is successfully seeking to alienate the United States from its European allies. In the Cold War (less than thirty years ago) most western Europeans saw Russia as the enemy and the US as their bulwark against oppression. Today many Europeans feel closer and more sympathetic to Russian views and needs, than to the United States. And in former Warsaw Pact countries, Russia is teaching its recalcitrant neighbours that American promises count for nothing. We can easily see that, when Russia leads its host down to the mountains of Israel, there will be nothing more than an ineffectual protest “art thou come to take a spoil” (Eze 38v13).
As we consider the Ukrainian crisis, we see Russia gently flexing its muscles. As their foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says, Russia does not want war. What it wants is a restoration of its power at a low cost. It is calculating that within a year or two of its annexation of Crimea – and that now looks like a done deal – and maybe even the invasion of other parts of eastern Ukraine – and that is looking increasingly likely – it will be back to business as usual, as it was after Georgia, after Litvinenko and after Chechenya.
And while we may feel that the formation of the Gogian Host is still some way off, this is no reason to think that the return of the Lord Jesus is not imminent. We expect to see Russian resurgence continuing up to, and beyond, the return of Christ. Russian machinations will continue, maybe for years after that, while the saints, having been raised and gathered, are judged and prepared for the task ahead. And when Russia finally leads its forces into the pleasant land, Christ’s army will be ready to intervene at the very moment when the Children of Israel are ready to receive him. We read in Isa 30v18, 19
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you… he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. - Isa 30:18-19 KJV
Or as Jesus said in Mat 23v39
39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord. - Mat 23:39 KJV
The lesson applies to us too. God is gracious and God is merciful. However, we should not cry unto Him only when we have exhausted all other avenues, but seek him daily whilst we have opportunity.
The news we see in the World today, demonstrates that God’s hand is bringing His plan to fulfillment; is gathering the nations to “the battle of the great day of God Almighty”. These events in the Ukraine could indeed be the very last things we see before we are taken to judgment, and we pray that it may be so. But if not God’s will, we hope to see you again next week for another Bible in the News.
Printed: Sunday, March 16, 2014
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