The leaders of Russia and Turkey are claiming “common vision on regional and international issues”. So when will the Turks be handing over Constantinople (Istanbul)?
Welcome to the May 14th, 2010 edition of Bible in the News. This is Glenn Abel with you.
On Wednesday, Turkey and Russia agreed on a $20 billion project where Russia will build and own a controlling stake in Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. Additionally, they spoke of greater cooperation on a number of fronts. Analysts noted that one motivator behind the deal is for the limitation of Turkey as an alternative source for European energy needs. Indeed, this fits the pattern of Russian energy moves across Europe and their providers.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Turkish president Abdullah Gul also professed their alignment on Middle East foreign policy. To quote Mr. Gul: “We were pleased to note common vision on regional and international issues”... “We have agreed to work together to solve regional problems through dialogue.” Medvedev, for his part called on all nations to increase their involvement in the Middle East process or risk even greater “catastrophe.”
The Turks may be feeling like they have a common vision when it comes to regional and international issues, but scripture and history tell us differently.
The Jewish Prophets and History in harmony concerning the “time-honoured aspirations of Russia”
The Jewish prophets Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied that the military power of the empire responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem, and the temple would manifest itself in the latter days to head up a confederacy against Israel. (Ezekiel 38, Daniel 8,11) History tells us that the empire in question was Rome. Tracing the history of that empire, we understand that the seat of military power was moved by Constantine the Great in AD 324 to Constantinople. Subsequently, this was referred to as Byzantium, and thought of as the 2nd Rome. The Greek Orthodox church also attached special significance to the city.
As the Byzantine empire waned, the Ottoman empire grew, and Constantinople fell to Mehmet II on May 29, 1453. The symbolism of Constantinople as the seat of power was not lost on Mehmet, who fancied himself the “Caesar of the Romans” or “Kayser-i Rum.”
In the East, the remnants of Byzantium militarily and ecclesiastically established Moscow as the “3rd Rome”. The Russian leader Ivan III married into the family of the last Byzantine emperor that he might rightly claim title and leadership. The Russian Orthodox church also got into the act to raise the prestige and ecclesiastical claims of Moscow. But there has always been the fascination if not obsession with a return to Constantinople.
Just one example of this obsession was evident during WW I, when the Russians, British, and French were discussing how the Ottoman Empire would be divvied up after the war. Here is an excerpt from a letter from the Russian Foreign Minister to the French and British ambassadors in 1915: “The course of recent events leads His Majesty Emperor Nicholas to think that the question of Constantinople and of the Straits must be definitely solved, according to the time-honoured aspirations of Russia... Every solution will be inadequate and precarious if the city of Constantinople, the western bank of the Bosphorus, of the Sea of Marmara and of the Dardanelles, as well as southern Thrace to the Enez-Midye line, should henceforth not be incorporated into the Russian Empire.”
As it happened, the 1917 revolution in Russia prevented the agreement from coming to fruition. Have these aspirations changed in less than 100 years? They have not, despite assurances of peace and “alignment”.
John Thomas on the regional and international aspirations of Russia
Over 60 years before WW I, John Thomas wrote (in Elpis Israel), speaking of Daniel11:11 “as it is written, ‘and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships;’ that is, the Russo-Assyrian autocrat shall attack Constantinople by sea and land, and with such whirlwind impetuosity that the Sultan’s dominion shall be swept away. The Russian fleet of forty ships in the Black Sea is in preparation for this event. The whirlwind-nature of the attack implies, I think, not only its overwhelming character, but that when it is made, the allies of the Sultan will be off their guard; that is, by the Autocrat’s assurances of peace and moderation for which they will give him credit, Constantinople will be left unprotected, and it will fall into his hands before they can come to the rescue. “
How did Thomas determine that the later-day king of the north would make his move under a cloak of peace? From the Jewish prophets - Daniel 8:25: “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...”
“By peace shall destroy many”. Or as the NASB renders it “he will destroy many while they are at ease.” They will be lulled into thinking they have a “common vision on regional and international issues.”
Anatolia: Russia Triumphant and Europe Chained
Set against the back-drop of the Crimean war in the 1850‘s (Between the Russian Empire and a European alliance of the Ottomans, the French, and the British), John Thomas wrote a booklet on Bible prophecy titled “Anatolia”. The extended title of this booklet was: “Anatolia; or, Russia Triumphant and Europe Chained: Being an exposition of prophecy, showing the inevitable fall of the French and Ottoman empires; the occupation of Egypt and the Holy Land by the British; The formation of a Russian Latino-Greek Confederacy; its invasion and conquest of Egypt, Palestine, and Jerusalem; its destruction on the mountains of Israel; the long-expected deliverance of the Jews by the messiah; his subjugation of the world through their agency, and consequent establishment of the Kingdom of Israel”.
The events of the Crimean war were particularly exciting to Bible students on a number of fronts, as they expected Russia at any time to make its move. They knew from the prophets that the first step would be the fall of Constantinople and thus the emergence of the latter day “little horn of the goat” from Daniel’s vision of chapter 8.
Thomas wrote to the Czar of Russia the following letter: “Emperor Nicholas - Sire: It has been truly said that “knowledge is power.” It imparts to him who is fortunate enough to possess it firmness of purpose in hall he undertakes. No enterprise needs more of this quality for its success than that in which your Majesty is involved. A necessity is laid upon you by Providence, which you cannot evade. God, however, works by means; and these, in your case, Sire, require that you should not fear your enemies, though all Europe be leagued against you. Being interested in the consummation, (which your Majesty, who doth proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ is on your side, would not believe were it stated to you). I wish to see you firm and fearless, - politically, a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, body and thighs of brass, and legs of iron, before the world. To assist in intensifying your courage against the hosts of your adversaries, I have taken the liberty of contributing to your Majesty’s library the copy of “Anatolia” which accompanies this. May it reach you (if it interfere not with the Divine purpose) with acceptance; and, Sire, so far enlighten your Majesty’s mind as that you may perceive what the mission is to which you are called, and execute it to the subjection of all the crazy and iniquitous governments of Continental Europe to your imperial will.
That your Majesty may reign and prosper till you have commingled the iron nations of the old Roman territory with the clay of your own hereditary dominions, is the unfeigned and earnest hope of your Majesty’s well-wisher. THE AUTHOR (John Thomas).”
The wise shall understand
As Daniel contemplated the visions he had been privy to, he was told: “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.  Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried, but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” Daniel 12:9-10:
The prophecies of Daniel once sealed, have been unsealed by the Lord Jesus Christ, the only one who is worthy to unseal the scroll. Revelation 5:2-5: “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll, and to loose the seals thereof?  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the scroll, neither to look thereon.  and I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the scroll, neither to look thereon.  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the scroll, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
Let us therefore prove ourselves wise by seeking to understand, and by chastening ourselves before God, after the manner of Daniel himself: Daniel 10:12: “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”
In light of events we see around us, confirming the “more sure word of prophecy”, may our words and way of life be a reflection of one who prays for the peace of Jerusalem, and yearns for the King of the north to make his bold move, setting in motion the events which will culminate in his destruction upon the mountains of Israel, and the subsequent establishment of the Kingdom of Israel in Zion.
Join us again next week, God willing, for another edition of Bible in the News.