Russia is the latter dayDragon of Revelation described as working in concert with Europe and the Papacy in bringing the nations to Armageddon. It's activity is also described in the prophets who paint a picture of religious entity in the latter days. Bible students have looked for this for years, and now a religious revival is being witnessed in the news.
As the world recoils in horror at the spreading of ISIS’ influence, and the western nations are dragged back into their protectorate role in the Middle East, (as was discussed in last week’s Bible in the News), Russia is also being shaped and moulded to fit its role in the latter day.
Development of the Dragon
Russia is the successor to the pagan Roman dragon of the book of Revelation. The dragon is found in chapter 12 where a drama unfolds. In this chapter a picture is painted of a woman, a dragon and a manchild.
The woman who brings forth the manchild, is apostate Christendom. Paul had said that the body of believers was supposed to remain faithful to Christ:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)
In Revelation 12 the woman is not a chaste virgin, but found pregnant with child:
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” (Revelation 12:1–2)
The dragon appears on the scene and is was poised to destroy the man-child:
“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” (Revelation 12: 3)
This dragon is a further development of Daniel’s 4th beast, which equates with the Roman empire. The Roman Empire is not successful in destroying the development of political Christendom as the symbolic narrative describes:
“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:5)
Christendom became enthroned in the political heavens of the Roman Empire at the hands of Constantine the Great in 312 AD when adopting the Christian God and marshalling the forces of Christendom he defeated the Pagan emperor, casting Pagan Rome out of power:
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9)
However the dragon still existed as a military force who would go on to persecute remnants of Christendom which didn’t fall in line with Constantine’s religious views, nor submit to his authoritarian power:
“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” (Revelation 12:13)
And again in verse 17:
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17)
The dragon does not disappear, but rather becomes the military power behind the empire, lending its authority to the rise of the next empire. It is found in chapter 13 when the successor to Pagan Rome, the Christian Roman Empire arose. It began in AD 312 and would continue until finally replaced in AD 799 by the Holy Roman Empire. We read how it gave its power to this Christian Empire:
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” (Revelation 13:1–2)
Constantine split the empire into two halves in 330AD, creating a second capital in Constantinople where which would rule over the Eastern Empire, (eventually to become known as the Byzantine Empire lasting until 1453AD), while the Western Roman Empire, ruled from Rome, would last only a short time until 493AD.
The next phase of the Western half of the Christian Roman Empire was the Holy Roman Empire depicted by as a lamb-like beast with two horns. Again, the dragon’s influence is still found in this system:
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” (Revelation 13:11)
The Eastern Byzantine Empire would gradually diminish until it was snuffed out in 1453AD at the hands of Islam under the
Byzantine Emperor's Ivory Throne.
leadership of Mahomet II and the Ottoman Turks. The role of the Dragon power was transferred from Constantinople to Moscow when Zoe (or Sophia Paleologue) married Ivan III taking the title and role of emperor to Russia. Zoe’s grandson Ivan the Terrible would become Russia’s first Csar, (the slavonic contraction of Caesar). The ivory throne of the Byzantine emperors can found in Petersburg today.
Russia would continue as the “dragon power” and is found again during the 6th vial, working in concert with the beast, or Europe – the modern equivalent of the Western Roman Empire, and the False Prophet, or the Papacy. All three characters are found singing the frog symphony and calling the nations to the Battle of Armageddon:
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13–14)
This unholy trinity is comprised of Dragon (Russia), the Beast (Europe) and the False Prophet (the Papacy).
The Bible’s depiction of a Religious Russia in the Latter Days
So what does all this have to do with the Bible in the News and Russia today? Well, for almost a century, Russia was under the domination of ruthless atheistic communism. Yet the Bible painted the picture of a different role, of her singing in concert with Christian Europe and the Vatican. All of thee characters will be involved in the invasion of the land of Israel in the latter day:
“Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal:” (Ezekiel 38:2–3 ASV)
This is the Russian host or Rosh under the leadership of Rosh. He has with him Magog (Central Europe), Meshech or Moscow and Tubal or the Tobolsk-Siberia region. With them are Iran, Libya, Ethiopia and the European nations (called Gomer):
“Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.” (Ezekiel 38:5–6)
Note the language that is used to describe this conglomeration:
“Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.” (Ezekiel 38:7)
The word “assembled”, is the Hebrew word qahal and is defined by Strong’s, “to assemble for religious reasons”. The Septuagint uses the Greek word Synagogue. Combine this with the description of the goal of this confederacy – they want the holy mountain:
“And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” (Daniel 11:45)
This is their boast, and partly the reason for God’s response:
“Thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Because the enemy hath said against you, (Israel) Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:” (Ezekiel 36:2)
This is followed by a pronouncement of judgments upon these nations. They want the ancient “high places” in the land of Israel, what we would call the holy places today.
Bible Students Looking for Russia’s Religious Revival
Bible students put these pieces together and determined that the Russian host of the latter days would have to be a religious one. Writing around 150 years ago, John Thomas stated:
“…the time is not far off, when the Latin Bishop may have to seek again to the Constantinopolitan Imperial Autocracy for protection (meaning Russia). Daniel’s prophecy of “the king” required this; for he is to “cause to prosper till the indignation be accomplished”. The pope and one of the emperors sustained “by the power of the king” will place the Latino-Greek king “above all” the mighty who shall be his contemporaries in “the time of the end”.
But, for this manifestation to appear, the Ottoman dynasty must of course be driven out of Europe. The occupation of the Dragon’s throne by a non-catholic royalty is clearly exceptional. The Ottoman has never, as a matter of fact, “magnified himself above all”; nor has he honoured the Latin Bishop as a god in his dominion, or shown himself at all a gracious patron of his saints and their temples. The power causing falsehood, or False-Prophetism, to prosper, must hold Jerusalem at the crisis of the accomplishment of the indignation. By False-Prophetism, I mean, papalism. Hence, the Sultan must be ejected, that a dynasty patronizing a High Priest who forbids to marry, may come in. When, therefore, the Czar gets possession of Constantinople he will not be hostile to the pope. On the contrary, he will honour and acknowledge him, and be the enemy of the Holy Land.” (Exposition of Daniel).
Bible students, based on the prophecies, and reading books like this, looked for the end of the Ottoman empire (which happened in 1917), and for Russia to be in cahoots with Catholicism, in the time of the end, prior to the invasion of Israel. Graham Pearce, writing in 1970 during the height of the Cold War wrote:
“The idea is put forward by several that the papacy is soon to disappear and be replaced by an atheistic superpower is not true…. Socialists from the time of the French Revolution have been atheisits, as are the communist party in Russia today. But the Bible shows that a form of Christianity will hold sway in the end.” (Russia, The Vatican, and the Invasion of Israel, 1970).
Russia’s Revival in the News Today
This was certainly not the case during time period from 1917 through 1989. However, in 1989 when John Paul II worked with Ronald Reagan to bring down Catholicism the whole situation began to change. The pope has since worked with Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, Medvedevand now Putin again.
Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill
This past week Reuters published an article entitled, “How the Russian Orthodox Church answers Putin's prayers in Ukraine.” The article addresses how the Russian Orthodox Church has become intricately intertwined with Putin’s Russia:
The role (The Russian Orthodox Patriarch) Kirill's resurgent church played in the release of the monitors, who were from OSCE, sheds light on how a close cooperation between the state and the church in Russia is now playing out in Ukraine.
What the Russian Orthodox Church presents as its humanitarian mission in east Ukraine, Western diplomats see as a pattern of cooperation in which the church is acting as a "soft power" ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The article went on to state:
"Russia does not fully control the rebels but it does exercise influence over them," said a Western diplomat inMoscow closely following the crisis. "The Church is put in between the two to blur that link and avoid having any direct lines between them."
A European diplomat in eastern Ukraine said the ROC had acted as Moscow's "front organization. "
The Russian government and the Orthodox Catholic Church has never been closer since the Russian revolution:
The ROC says it is not the state church of Russia. But it has cooperated closely with the Kremlin under Putin, who helped it make a striking comeback from heavy oppression in the Soviet era.
The ROC and Kirill, who once famously likened Putin's long rule to "a miracle of God," are active in promoting Russia's culture abroad and strengthening ties with compatriots around the world, helping the Kremlin boost its leverage on the global stage.
Putin and Kirill share a vision of "the Russian world" based on common ideological values, a belief driving their mutually-beneficial cooperation and crusade against a common threat they see in the West.
Growth of the Russian Orthodox Church
Not only this but the Russian Orthodox Church has been growing at a significant rate:
With about 200 million members worldwide, the ROC is now the second-largest single church in Christianity after Roman Catholicism.
It’s ties to the Russian government have been growing. This isn’t just an observation of outsiders, but the a stated fact by the Foreign Minister:
The ROC's Department of External Church Relations has a working group with Russia's Foreign Ministry that meets regularly for what Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called "active and constructive" cooperation.
The article states that the relationship is symbiotic, benefitting both sides:
Under Putin, the ROC gets support from the state and powerful oligarchs allied to the Kremlin, while Moscow benefits from its public blessing. A recent poll showed 75 percent of Russians approve of the ROC and more than half value its close ties with the state.
The article reflects how Putin sees the benefit of a strong united church, to a strong Russian influence on the world stage:
At the 2007 Moscow ceremony marking the reunification, Putin called the merger "an event of truly nationwide, historic importance and great moral significance." He added: "The revival of the church unity is a crucial condition for revival of lost unity of the whole 'Russian world', which has always had the Orthodox faith as one of its foundations."
Russia Identified as "Rus"
What is also of great interest, is what the article has to state about the title of the Patriarch. In commenting on Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and the crisis in the Ukraine it stated the following:
When Russia sent its troops to Crimea, one of the justifications it used was an alleged threat to parishes there linked to Kirill's Moscow Patriarchate. Kirill's full title is "Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus," a reference to a medieval state in Kiev to which modern Russia traces its roots.
The use of the title Rus takes us right back to Ezekiel 38, where Gog is the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. Rus is the ancient and original name of the region especially around Kiev where it was first Christianized.
So right in the news today we see the preparation of Russia, or Rosh to take on the roll the scriptures have indicated so many years ago, and Bible students have looked for in anticipation. The day will soon be upon us when drama of Ezekiel 38 will play out, and the Lord Jesus Christ will return restoring the kingdom to Israel. When we look at the Middle East we see all of the pieces coming together.
For the Bible in the News this has been Jonathan Bowen.