Welcome to the June 26, 2009 edition of Bible in the News. This is Glenn Abel with you. In the shadow of the Iranian election drama, moves by Russia in the last few weeks have been underreported. This week, we are going to look at some of those moves.
Georgia Part II?
Ever since Russia invaded Georgia, less than a year ago, tensions have remained high in the region with claims and charges being tossed back and forth between the two countries.
Last week, however, the Russians increased their rhetoric, claiming the Georgians were rearming to recapture the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his desire for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to be removed. In his words, he is a “political corpse” who “no longer exists in our eyes”, and is “mentally unstable”. Putin said a few other things about Saakashvili, that are too crude for us to quote!
This week, the Times, a UK news source, reported that on Monday 8,500 Russian troops, 200 tanks, 450 armoured cars and 250 artillery pieces returned to the area for “military exercises.”
At the same time, Russia expelled the international military observers in Abkhazia, by vetoing the extension of their mission. The monitors from the UN Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been there for the past 16 years, but are now due to leave the area by next week.
The Times reported a comment from a local resident, Vivi Tseveteli: “They kicked out these observers because they could not do what they wanted and now we are afraid that something will start again. That is why they kicked out the observers. They are preparing for war”.
Echoing this sentiment was David Bakradze, who is the parliamentary Speaker of the government of Georgia: “Of course we are worried because this scheme is exactly the same as it was last year... Russians are increasing their military exercises, directly threatening Georgia, and they are making all the time statements that Georgians are concentrating forces and Georgians are beginning to start the war and we have to respond.”
While Russia continues to emphasize concerns about protecting the Russian speaking residents of the disputed regions, the Georgian President is convinced the motivation is the pipelines that run through Georgia, which moves oil and gas from Central Asia to Europe. We will continue to watch this area as it is a tinderbox, and already high tensions have been raised higher in the last few weeks.
Russia’s Future Destiny - Little Horn of the Goat
Why are Bible Students paying such close attention to the situation in Georgia? One reason, that we would like to focus on this week, is due to its proximity to Turkey, and an obvious way for Russia to gain access to Turkey.
For scriptures predict that the Russian power will invade Turkey, and in order to take its place as the latter day manifestation of the “little horn of the goat” (Daniel 8), will retake the former center of Roman power in the East, “Constantinople” (modern day Istanbul). From there, the Russians will consolidate their power in the West and “stamp” the “residue” (Daniel 7) in the East, before coming against Egypt and the land of Israel. Does that remind you of any one from history? How about the “notable horn” of the goat in Daniel 8 - Alexander the Great!
Bible students have been anticipating this for some time. In 1868, John Thomas wrote the following in his book titled: “Exposition of Daniel”, chapter 18: (note, it might be helpful to read Daniel 7 and 8 first)
“The Little Horn of the Goat is brother to the Little Horn of the fourth beast with its Eyes and Mouth. Their fraternity is consequent upon the Latin element entering into the constitution of them both. Old Rome is the throne of the Little Horn with Eyes and Mouth; while New Rome, or Constantinople, is the throne of the Little Horn of the Goat. The former power is the New Roman Empire of the West rounded by Charlemagne, which has never been as yet united to the Greek element of the kingdom of Babylon. It is styled “the Holy Roman” dominion, because their Holiness the Popes are its High Priests. Hence it is the Latin kingdom of heaven, beyond the pale of which, they say, there is no salvation! The Little Horn of the Goat represents the undivided power of the kingdom of Babylon from the annexation of the northern kingdom to Rome, B.C. 65, to the loss of Italy, and the West; and of the same power minus Italy and the West from the eighth century to the present time. But when the Autocrat gains Constantinople, and Russianizes Italy and the West; and having superseded the Ottoman regime [Turkey] in Asia, comes as Gog [Ezekiel 38] to invade the Holy Land and to besiege Jerusalem, the Little Horn of the Goat will again represent the power of the whole dominion briefly united under one chief, and he the proudest that ever exalted and magnified himself above all the rulers upon earth. In that near future the Little Horn of the Goat will be “exceeding great”, overshadowing all the sovereignties represented by the Two-Horned, and Ten-Horned, Beasts, and the Pseudoprophet of the Beast. But when it is “broken in pieces without help” it appears no more as a symbol upon the prophetic page. Its mission in the Holy Land and against Judah ends with its own Pharaoh-like destruction; and the East delivered, future events re-open in the West, where only a Beast, the False Prophet, and the Ten Horns, their Russian Constantinopolitan confederacy being dissolved, remain to be ground to powder, and destroyed by fire and sword.” - John Thomas, "Exposition of Daniel", 1868
Russia has also been making moves on the diplomatic front.
On June 16, they played host the the “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), summit on global economic policy, a group that would like to be able to combine forces and together be the dominant force on the global economic stage, a position currently held by the US and the EU.
Predictably, the summit ended without significant results, but we can see the pattern, where Russia is seeking every opportunity for influence throughout the world. Anyhow, Bible students know that India, as a scriptural “Tarshish” nation will not be part of the latter day confederacy headed up by Russia. Furthermore Brazil and China are not significant countries of the “latter day” prophecies.
For some time, Russia has also sought to be a player in the Middle East peace process. Not to be outdone by US President Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Cario, where he met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and gave a speech to the Arab League this past Tuesday.
In his speech, he announced that they had the full support of all parties for a Middle East peace conference in Moscow: A “Moscow conference on the Middle East should become an important stage in our actions... Today we have principal agreement from all parties.” Mubarak was quick to fawn on the idea: “we consider any Russian effort as the correct way to peace.”
Perhaps he should read Daniel 11:41-43, before saying “any” “Russian effort”! v42: “He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.” Despite Medvedev’s assertion that all parties have endorsed the summit, the US and Israel have been lukewarm to this in the past, and there has been no indication that their attitudes have shifted.
Russian diplomatic efforts in Africa were not limited to Egypt. A whole “armada” of Russian trade diplomats have joined Medvedev for visits to former Soviet allies Nambia, and Angolia, as well as with Nigeria, as they seek economic partnerships and energy co-operation. It is interesting to see that the same techniques used in Europe, to consolidate influence and control over energy resources are now being used in Africa.
The saints of the Most High God are known for their earnest question: “How Long?”.
In Daniel chapter 8, the question concerning the times of the Gentiles is put forth: “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days (evening-mornings, the Jewish day begins in evening - see Genesis 1); then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (or the holy be avenged)”.
Jesus himself gave the answer another way in Luke 21:24: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Bible students today have the powerful testimony of recent history - for Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles until 1967, when the city was recaptured in the six-day war. And subtracting our 2300 evening-mornings, giving a day for a year (2300 years), we reach the year 333 BC - the time of the “Battle of Issus”, where Alexander the Great broke the back of the Persian Empire, as prophesied in Daniel chapter 8, where the Grecian goat defeats the Persian ram!
Thus we are waiting for, in the words of Daniel 8, “the holy to be avenged”, in the breaking of the little horn of the goat “without hand”, by the Prince of princes. One might expect that to happen right away, upon the terminus of the 2300 year prophecy. But we have to remember that is not necessarily the case - just the end of one period, and the beginning of another period which will culminate with “the holy” being “avenged”.
John Thomas remarkably expected as much. In the 11th chapter of “Exposition of Daniel”, he wrote “Let it also be observed, that this does not teach that the avenging of the holy is to commence immediately... It only gives us to understand that when that period is passed, the next series of events in relation to the Holy Land shall be the manifestation of things necessary to wrest it from the Gentiles, and to avenge it in their overthrow.”
The long history of Israel’s evening-morning period has come to an end, and all that awaits is “the Sun of Righteousness to arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).
Well did the psalmist write:
Psalm 30:5: “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”.
Join us again next week, God willing, for another edition of Bible in the News.