Russia's President Vladimir Putin has stated his interest in expanding Russian influence into the Baltic States. The Russian Duma is looking to nullify Lithuania's independence, bringing it back under Russian hegemony.
The war in Ukraine continues 107 days since the invasion, with approximately fifteen million people displaced, and 46,000 dead, another 13,000 injured and many people missing.
This has not been the quick victory Russia had hoped for. Many western journalists have been predicting the collapse of the Russian army, a coup that takes out Putin, a victorious Ukraine, and other predictions boarding on the absurd to the ridiculous. The fact is, nobody knows what comes next. Well, almost nobody.
Consider how the Almighty challenges the wisdom of the world:
“Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, And the deaf that have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, And let the people be assembled: Who among them can declare this, And shew us former things? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: Or let them hear, and say, It is truth. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, And my servant whom I have chosen: That ye may know and believe me, And understand that I am he: Before me there was no God formed, Neither shall there be after me.” (Isaiah 43:8–10)
Man cannot know the end from the beginning. Reading the tealeaves of social media is no substitute for reading God’s word. Although the media might predict the demise of Russia and prognosticate its failure. God has a plan that is unbreakable as his challenge continues:
“Remember this, and shew yourselves men: Bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times the things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, The man that executeth my counsel from a far country: Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:8–11)
The fact remains that God has predicted the end game in relation to the nation of Russia, its destiny as the master of Europe, and its future designs to conquer the Middle East.
Prophecy has been given for the express reason to prove the existence of God and his hand at work amongst the nations in the latter days as he stated, “That ye may know and believe me,And understand that I am he.”
Prophecies of the Time of the End
The prophecies regarding Russia are focused on the time period of the end:
“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8)
This is our time period, for it has been during the lifetime of the Christadelphian community that the “land was brought back from the sword” and the nation of Israel was “gathered out of many people”. In fact, it could not be until after 1967, as Joel states:
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, When I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And will bring them down into the valley of ….” (Joel 3:1–2)
The territory of Judah and Jerusalem were captured in 1967, putting the prophecies of Ezekiel 38, Joel 3, Zechariah 14 and Daniel 11 into our lifetimes, a time called “the time of the end” (Daniel 11:40). This is why we watch with such interest the movements of Russia.
John Thomas, author of Elpis Israel stated 174 years ago:
“It is therefore, the mission of the Autocrat to form the feet and set up the image before the world in all its excellent brightens, and terribleness of form; that all men subject to the Kingdom of Babylon may worship the work of its creator’s power.”
For this reason we enthusiastically follow the “signs of the times,” not because John Thomas said these things, but because the scriptures of truth reveal them as he goes on to state:
The future movements of Russia are notable signs of the times, because they are predicted in the Scriptures of truth.
The purpose in following world events is to keep us spiritually alert, and prepared:
“When Russia makes its grand move for the building-up of its Image-empire then let the reader know that the end of all things, as at present constituted, is at hand. The long-expected, but stealthy, advent of the King of Israel will be on the eve of becoming a fact; and salvation will be to those who not only looked for it, but have trimmed their lamps by believing the gospel of the kingdom unto the obedience of faith, and the perfection thereof in “fruits meet for repentance”.
The Lord told us we could not know the “day or the hour” but that it was our duty to watch the signs of the times so that we are not found sleeping when he comes:
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:32–37)
The Challenge of Scoffers
There have been scoffers throughout all ages who ridicule the notion of watching the signs of the times. They were even existent in the first century and Peter warned about them:
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:1–4)
The word Scoffer, (Greek empaiktes, Strong’s #1703) is defined “a mocker” and Vines explains it “to play like a child, to sport at, or to jest at.”
The ESV renders part of this passage, “you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles”. This was the duty of the disciples to remember the predictions of the holy prophets, the Lord and the apostles. This we do in observing the signs of the times., as the Lord instructed:
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” (Luke 12:35–37)
This is the purpose of the prophetic word, that we would ‘stay dressed for action’ as the ESV renders this, and that we don’t allow the flesh to deceive us into letting down our guard, but rather are busy “doing the will of our Lord” when he comes (v43). The Lord cautions against the doubting and questioning mindset, (which Peter told us above originates from our fleshly lusts), stating:
“But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:45–48)
The challenge to us is to watch, and be ready for action, and “do our lord’s will” and not allow our flesh to get the better of us, deceiving us into enjoying the pleasure of sin for a season, or abusing our brethren whether verbally or physically. Jude warned of the same:
“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” (Jude 17–18)
We must be very cautions not to fall into a sceptical mindset subconsciously aroused by the lusts of the flesh.
Calling into Existence things that do not exist.
Abraham was commended for believing the impossible. His situation was beyond hope, but he believed:
“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:16–17)
God had “called into existence the things that did not exist” (ESV v17). Abraham believed it, even though in his current situation it did not seem possible:
“Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:18–21)
What was seemingly impossible he believed, as the ESV puts it, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
God’s promise to Abraham was a prophecy. All prophecy is God “calling into existence things that do not exist”. Consider God’s naming of Cyrus, 200 years before he was born:
“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, And shall perform all my pleasure: Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; And to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, Whose right hand I have holden, To subdue nations before him; And I will loose the loins of kings, To open before him the two leaved gates; And the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, And make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, And cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, And hidden riches of secret places, That thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” (Isaiah 44:28–45:4)
No doubt, the media of the day mocked Cyrus’ invasion of Babylon. Imagine the “tweets” and “mimes” that would have been flying around social media if there were such a thing in the day. The walls were impregnable, chariots could ride atop, a river surrounded it, over twenty years supply of food was held in the city. Yet he would march up the dry riverbed into the city who’s gates God would ‘open before him.’
Men can be delayed in bringing to pass the purpose of God, and the circumstances can require angelic intervention. Consider the “prince of Persia” Gabriel complains of:
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” (Daniel 10:13–14)
Following his visit with Daniel, the angel Gabriel would return to ensure the word of God was established:
“Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” (Daniel 10:20)
So, regardless of the ebb and flow of success for Russia, we watch with extreme interest, knowing that the “end of all things at present constituted is at hand.”
This was highlighted in a news article sent to us this past week, (June 9th) under the title “Vladimir Putin, in speech, hints at further territorial expansion for Russia”. The article quote Putin saying:
“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned (what was Russia’s)”
“When Peter founded the new capital, “no European country recognised it as Russia. Everybody recognised it as Sweden. What was [Peter] doing? Taking back and reinforcing.”
He went on to draw a comparison between Russia’s actions in the Ukraine and Peter the Great’s actions:
"Apparently, it also fell to us to return (what is Russia's) and strengthen (the country). And if we proceed from the fact that these basic values form the basis of our existence, we will certainly succeed in solving the tasks that we face."
This goes side by side with another article under the title, “Russian parliament questions Lithuania's independence with new bill”. The article goes on to describe how a member of Russia’s state “Duma” (or parliament), has submitted a bill to repeal the recognition of Lithuania’s independence by the USSR.
“The bill was submitted by Yevgeny Fyodorov, a deputy of the State Duma and a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. The law was sent by the chairman of the State Duma to the State Duma Committee on International Affairs on Thursday afternoon.”
Fyodorov went on to point out that Russia was the legal successor to the USSR. The purpose behind the move was stated in the article:
The Russian politician asserted that this would create a position in which Russia could negotiate with NATO and force the military alliance to withdraw to only the nations that were a part of it in 1999, which would exclude at least Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
Another Russian politician Vladimir Evseev, the head of the Caucasus Department of the Institute of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Countries, stated:
"We have a lot of claims against Lithuania, in particular, with regard to the rights of the Russian-speaking population. In addition, there is a scenario according to which we will have to enter its territory in order to provide a corridor to Kaliningrad…. In the event of a real military threat to the Kaliningrad region, the Russian Federation will be forced to create a land corridor to the region through the territory of Lithuania…. A complete redistribution of borders may begin, and not on our initiative...In the conditions of the lawlessness that is happening now, no one can guarantee anything."
Map showing the Batlic States which sit between Russia (in red) and Kaliningrad (also red)
The article concluded with another quote from the Russian RIA Novosti news site shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, stating:
"Russia is restoring its historical fullness, gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together — in its entirety of Great Russians, Belarusians and Little Russians (a term used before the 20th century to refer to what is now Ukrainian territory)."
So we can see the desire of Russia’s president and its parliament to re-establish Russian dominance over Europe. This is in accordance with Bible prophecy, and regardless of the hyped-up seatbacks, is its ultimate destiny.
We recall the principle mentioned of other nations in the book of Revelation of which it is said:
“God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will….” (Revelation 17:17)
So let us watch the signs of the times, drawing encouragement from them that what God has promised he will perform. Let us be motivated by watching to “look up and lift up our heads” knowing that “our redemption draweth nigh.”
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.