We live in a time of great drama. The signs show that the time of the Lord’s return could be at any time now.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 we are told that the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly like (v2) a “thief in the night” and at the end, it will come very swiftly (v3) “as travail upon a woman with child”. We should however not be (v4) “in darkness” since we are (v5) “the children of light”. We should therefore (v6) “not sleep”, but “watch”.

Watching means that we are alert and it is critical that we watch, because this will encourage us to be focused on the Truth and motivated to follow the example of the Lord as we walk Zionwards. How important it is to do this in these difficult and challenging days!

We expect the image described in Daniel 2 to be standing before the stone power smites it upon its feet (2:35, 45). This means that we will be taken for judgment well before Armageddon so that we are in a position to accompany our Lord when he unleashes his judgments upon the world.

Following the campaigns of Armageddon and the seizing of Jerusalem by Christ and his saints, the mid-heaven proclamation will be issued to the world (Rev 14:7). It will warn everyone that “the hour of his judgment” will be coming. This hour of judgment, in Apocalyptic symbology, is 30 years. At the same time this mid-heaven proclamation is made, Elijah will be sent forth to bring the dispersed of Israel home—a work that will take 40 years to achieve. As Brother Thomas wrote in The Mystery of The Covenant page 24: “Elijah will proclaim the same gospel—subsequent to the battle of Armageddon and before the passing of Israel through the refiner’s fire in the wilderness of the people”. When Israel are all gathered back the Temple will be opened and the kingdom will be ushered in.

What a wonderful hope we have been called to! May this exciting work urge us on to look forward to the day of our Lord’s return. The message for us though, is that time could be short and the Lord may return at any time. With this thought in mind, let us look at the events that occurred last year.

Events of 2021

  • Russia completed its control of Belarus. In 2020, protests occurred against President Alexander Lukashenko but now Belarus seems to have fallen under Putin’s control.
  • In June 2021, a massive naval manoeuvre was launched by 32 countries in the Black Sea (Australia was involved) called the “Sea Breeze”. Its aim was to call on Russia not to occupy Ukraine and to show that these countries could act against Russia in that event. Russia’s response was to send, a week later, 20 naval warships to within 3 miles of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Russian bombers were then flown over the islands reminding them of the events of Pearl Harbour which triggered the US involvement in WW2. The implied message was delivered:- we could take out Hawaii if you attempt to stop us taking Ukraine.
  • In early July 2021, the American forces pulled out of Afghanistan. Immediately the Taliban rulers contacted the Russians and allied themselves with them. In this swift change, all the remaining eastern territory of the Medo-Persian silver and Grecian bronze empires have allied themselves to Russia and become part of Daniel’s image.
  • Back in Europe, from 10–15 September, Russia launched their “largest military exercise in Europe in 40 years”. This was a regular action called the Zapad 2021 exercise. This activity is taken by Russia every 4 years. This time they sent a huge force of 200,000 troops, 290 tanks and 240 artillery pieces through Belarus to the borders of Europe. Those troops have not gone home and remain on Europe’s eastern borders.
  • Now we are hearing of large numbers of Russian troops building up on the borders of Ukraine. Initially there were 100,000 troops, but now huge bases are being built inland from Ukraine and it is claimed that there are now 175,000 troops on Ukraine’s border along with large numbers of tanks and planes etc.
  • While this was occurring, protests occurred in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is a large, rich country to the south of eastern Russia. It has large oil and uranium deposits. The people were peacefully protesting against high fuel prices. This prompted their president, Kassyn-Jamart Tokayev, to call on Russia for help. Russian allied forces were swiftly flown in to apparently “stabilize the situation”. Some 2000 troops were sent in and brutally brought the protests to an end, imprisoning over 1000 people. This showed how Russia could quickly control this neighbouring country, even though the soldiers were sent home. In a short time, troops could be flown in again.
  • Now the drama is escalating in Ukraine. Clearly Putin wishes to control Ukraine and Eastern Europe. In the three sets of negotiations held in early January 2022, Russia has demanded that USA and NATO do not send troops or weapons into Ukraine or Eastern Europe, and in fact required that they remove missiles etc. from these countries. Now TheGuardian paper states: “the drum beat of war is sounding loud” and “Europe is closer to war now than at any point in the last 30 years”.

Concerned by these warnings, the USA has ordered all her ambassadors in Moscow to return home by the end of January 2022. Russia has decided to do the same. Does this herald a time when Russia moves on Ukraine and Europe? Could this also be the time when China attacks Taiwan, tying down the USA? We do not know, but the scene looks ominous.

A possible scenario

The rise of the image power in Daniel 2 requires that Europe (the 10 toes of iron and clay) be united with the Russian/Gogian territories (the gold, silver and brass). Newspapers are suggesting that Russia’s aggressive stance is a parallel situation to the Cuban crisis of 1962, when Russia built missiles in Cuba and threatened the USA with nuclear war. During 2021, America suddenly pulled its troops from Afghanistan, and later many of its troops from Saudi Arabia, with the aim of increasing the number of available troops in case Taiwan is attacked by China with its huge army and navy.

On 1 May 2021, the cover page of The Economist magazine had a map of Taiwan off the coast of China and the heading “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth”. America could so easily be distracted from supporting Europe (and Israel) at this time. Europe, no doubt, recognises that with Russia’s increasing belligerence and the focus of the USA turning away from Europe, they can no longer rely on the support of America, and may desire instead to ally themselves with Russia.

The energy threat

Today almost every source of oil and gas going into Europe is controlled by Russia. When Putin was re-elected in 2020 to rule Russia until 2036, he immediately sent soldiers to Armenia. Armenia was in conflict with Azerbaijan. Through these two countries flow a number of oil pipelines from the Caspian oil fields to Greece, Italy and Israel. Control of Armenia would allow Putin to cut these oil supplies if he required it.

Russia also now controls Syria and has a strong influence in Libya and the Sudan, making them a significant player in this region—a region which is becoming increasingly more important as gas and oil are rapidly coming on-stream.

This year Russia has again closed the Yamal gas pipeline from Russia through Poland and has now significantly reduced the amount of oil and gas passing through Ukraine. Lastly Russia has refused to open the Nord 2 pipeline completed in October 2021. Europe is therefore in a very difficult position, with the price of oil and gas rising as winter worsens. The gas price has escalated by 420% to 600%, and for a short time in one area by 800%. America has been attempting to alleviate Europe’s problem and has been sending ship loads of LPG across the Atlantic, but they are only able to supply a relatively small percentage of what Europe needs. The situation in Europe is becoming desperate.

Russia’s threatening attitude

Throughout 2021, Russia has continued to employ intimidatory tactics with Europe. American Secretary of State Blinken has called Russia’s actions “reckless and adversarial”. He stated that Moscow has “built up forces, large scale exercises and acts of intimidation in the Baltic and Black Sea”. These tactics have included flying Russian military aircraft over some of the countries of Eastern Europe, causing them to maintain continuous vigilance. NATO fighter jets are reported to have been scrambled hundreds of times in 2021 to intercept unauthorised aircraft, most of which have been Russian warplanes.

In addition, Russia has increased its belligerent rhetoric against the West. As an example, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, is quoted as saying: “Russia may be forced to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe”, supposedly in response to NATO’s refusal to stop new countries joining their alliance. All these aggressive tactics by Russia are no doubt having the desired effect of unsettling an already weakened Europe and may pave the way for Europe to eventually move into Russia’s camp.

Turkey and drying up of the Euphrates

One country which is clearly moving towards Russia is Turkey. In September, President Joe Biden refused Turkey’s request for a special one-on-one meeting. Disappointed and angry, President Erdogan turned instead to Russia, meeting with Vladimir Putin. On arriving home after private discussions with Putin, a large number of aircraft from Russia landed, loaded with Russian missiles etc. NATO was horrified and warned Erdogan that these weapons could not be trusted. Erdogan was furious with their opposition and threatened to send home the NATO ambassadors.

As 2021 came to a close, Turkey found itself in further trouble with the economy dramatically being weakened. Her inflation rate reached 36% this year—the highest in 20 years. Skyrocketing prices are causing misery among the poor and have been impoverishing the middle class.

In a recent article in Foreign Policy (“Turkey Could Lose Big in the Russia-Ukraine Standoff – Conflict could topple Ankara’s delicate balancing act between NATO and Russia.”) Jeffrey Mankoff wrote that Erdogan has been meddling in the Ukraine to the extent that “Russian officials perceive Ankara’s military-technical relationship with Kyiv and its involvement with the Crimean Tatar community as provocative gestures”. In other words, Moscow can point to the Turkish/NATO support for Ukraine and Kyiv as a reason for future military action. As he expressed it: “Russian officials have hinted they regard Ankara’s support for the Crimean Tatars as a threat to Russian territorial integrity – insofar as Moscow regards Crimea as Russian territory – and the use of Turkish drones in Donbass has been cited as a catalyst for the current build-up of Russian forces along Ukraine’s border”.

The author went on to comment: “Yet the broader consequences of a Russian offensive against Ukraine are likely to be negative, such as the further consolidation of Russian military/naval superiority in the Black Sea, the weakening of Turkey and Ukraine’s partnership, further damage to the Turkish economy, and the potential for refugee flows and attacks against Turkish interests in Syria and elsewhere.

Escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine would be a tragedy for much of Europe. For Turkey, it could spell the end of the long-running balancing act between NATO and Russia – along with ending the ambition for regional influence that has defined Erdogan’s time in office”.

Although Erdogan is seeking to re-establish the old Ottoman Empire, the hand of God is ensuring that Turkey remains “dried up”.

The days are quickly flying

The days that remain to us appear to be very short, so let us, brothers and sisters, focus our lives on understanding and living the Truth so that when our Lord returns we may inherit that wonderful time of joy and gladness in His Kingdom.