The above headline summarises the world situation today. Yet we see this as the fulfilment of God’s purpose in revealing Jesus Christ and the saints to save the world from destruction. The war in Iraq has caused a power vacuum to develop in the Middle East. The US invasion in 2003 was an event that is now having dramatic consequences for the whole region and the world. George W Bush thought that “regime change” would help to reduce the threat of terrorism. But it seems to have had the opposite effect:

DRAWING CLOSER TO A MIDDLE EAST DOOMSDAY The worst-case scenario for Israel and the West has already crystallised in Iraq—and is now fast taking shape in Gaza. The global jihad ideology that has taken root in Iraq is also flickering in northern Lebanon. Iran and Syria are widely suspected of being protagonists in Gaza, just as they are in the region’s two other hotspots. Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia have all warned of doomsday scenarios if global jihadi militants secure a trifecta.” (The Australian 14.06.07)

SYRIA ADVANCES MILITARY EXERCISE SCHEDULE Syria has advanced its military schedule in what could signal plans for war with Israel in 2007. ‘Syria is now in the middle of an unprecedented process of a huge military build-up,’ the Israeli Deputy Defence Minister said. ‘They have acquired state-of-the-art Russian weapons, huge quantities of long-range rockets and missiles.’ Officials said Syria was close to concluding negotiations to purchase advanced anti-aircraft systems from Russia.” (Mideastnewsline 13.05.07)

It is obvious that the burdensome stone of Jerusalem will soon be the cause of bringing the nations to Armageddon:

ISRAEL, JERUSALEM INSEPARABLE The EU and the US are putting a crimp in Israel’s celebration of 40 years since Jerusalem’s reunification by not sending representatives to Monday’s Knesset ceremony marking the occasion. The snub has infuriated Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who in an unusually harsh statement said, ‘Whoever does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel also does not recognize the State of Israel.’ Lupolianski added that Israel needed to send an unequivocal message to the world, and not to capitulate on the issue. Israel is the only country in the world that allows other countries to boycott its capital and not have their embassies in the city.” (Jerusalem Post 14.05.07)

Over twenty times in Zechariah 12–14 we read that Jerusalem is the focus of attention at Armageddon. No wonder Isaiah says that the crisis is called “the controversy of Zion” (34:8). Yahweh will “roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem” to intervene in world affairs and bring salvation to the Jewish people (Joel 3:16).

Preparing for War with Iran

The clock is also ticking for Iran. The point of no return is approaching on their nuclear program. The main exiled Iranian opposition group has claimed that Iran is building a new bomb-proof underground site for developing nuclear weapons, linked by tunnels to its complex at Natanz (Weekend Australian 29.09.07). Will President Bush act before he leaves office?

“DON’T LET IRAN GET THE BOMB, BUSH TOLD Norman Podhoretz, an intellectual guru of the neo-conservative movement who has joined the presidential campaign of Rudolph Giuliani as a senior foreign policy adviser (said), ‘I urged Bush to take action against the Iranian nuclear facilities and explained why I thought there was no alternative… I laid out the worst-case scenario—bombing Iran—versus the worstcase consequences of allowing the Iranians to get the bomb.’ He also told Bush: ‘You have the awesome responsibility to prevent another holocaust. You’re the only one with the guts to do it…’ George Bush will not leave office with Iran having acquired a nuclear weapon or having passed the point of no return.” (The Australian 1.10.07)

ASSAULT ON IRAN REGAINS SUPPORT IN WHITE HOUSE The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before the US President, George Bush, leaves office in 18 months. Although the Bush Administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. Almost half the US’s 277 warships are stationed close to Iran, including two aircraft carrier groups.” (Sydney Morning Herald 17.07.07)

Not only does the Iranian President believe Iran has a ‘divine’ role in bringing Israel to its end, but he is also acquiring the weapons to carry out his threat:

Tehran sees destruction of Israel as prophetical ‘Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will, the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards, and this is what God has promised and what all nations want,’ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the world at an international conference (recently). All Shia Muslims believed the Hidden Imam, a 9th century descendant of the prophet Mohammed, will return to earth at some time in the indefinite future. But Ahmadinejad is one of a radical minority who believe in the imminent return of the Hidden Imam. They see the destruction of Israel even if it leads to world war, as a fulfilment of prophecy and a means of hastening the Imam’s return.” (Financial Review 23.01.07)

ISRAEL’S END IS CLOSE: TEHRAN Iranian President Ahmadinejad said the world would witness the destruction of Israel soon… Ahmadinejad said last summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah showed for the first time that the ‘hegemony of the occupier regime (Israel) had collapsed, and the Lebanese nation pushed the button to begin counting the days until the destruction of the Zionist regime… God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier regime’.” (People’s Daily Online 4.06.07)

IRAN BUYS 250 LONG-DISTANCE FIGHTER BOMBERS, FROM RUSSArticles 6.1IA Tehran and the  Russian Rosoboronexport arms group are about  to sign a mammoth arms deal running into tens of  billions of dollars for the sale to Tehran of 250 Su-  30MKM warplanes  and 20 IL-78 MKI fuel  tankers. DEBKAfile’s  military sources report  Iran has stipulated  delivery of the first  aircraft before the  end of 2007. The  transaction, Russia’s largest arms deal in 30  years, will endow Iran with a long-range aerial  assault capability.” (Debakfile 27.07.07)

Russia’s Energy Empire

The changes in Russia over the last few years have been breathtaking for Bible students. The Russian Government is closely in league with the Orthodox Church and continues to prepare herself to fulfil the role of “the dragon” at Armageddon (Rev 16:13,16). Russia is now on the front foot and is gaining more confidence in dictating terms to the world:

SMOOTH AND RUTHLESS, VLADIMIR PUTIN IS USING OIL TO REBUILD RUSSIA’S POWER Putin has certainly re-established his country’s credibility as a great power. Since 2000 Putin has ruthlessly reasserted Kremlin control over the energy sector and the media. The economy has bounced back, with growth averaging 6.5% and inflation coming down to single digits. Putin’s most impressive achievement, however, has been to restore Russia’s global clout. While his predecessor acted the clown on the international stage, Putin has relished playing the tough guy. His Russia is an energy empire, sitting on more than a quarter of the world’s proven reserves of natural gas, 17% of its coal and 6% of its oil. Two fifths of Germany’s natural-gas imports come from Russia—as do all of Iran’s new nuclear reactors. The political implications of today’s expensive oil are worth pondering. Quite simply, Russia is the only major power that has an interest in high energy prices. It is therefore the only major power with no interest in Middle Eastern stability. That is why Russia poses America’s biggest problem when it comes to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons… It is the Russians who are building the Iranian nuclear plant at Bushehr and the Russians who have just won the contract to build an additional 6 such plants. For it is the destabilization of the Middle East that guarantees the high energy prices on which Russian power has come to depend. Putin may have led Russia out of its Time of Troubles. Could this be the start of a new Time of Troublemaking?” (Time 26.02.07)

We know that this “time of troublemaking” is foreseen by Daniel as resulting in “a time of trouble such as never was” for Israel (Daniel 12:1).

Late last year, Putin forced Royal Dutch Shell to cede control of the world’s biggest oil and gas project to the state-owned giant Gazprom for the relatively “small” price tag $7.45 billion. Gazprom’s value has soared from $9 billion in 2000 to $270 billion today. This has given Russia immense power to dictate terms for much of Europe. Other oil firms are also under pressure to hand over their resources:

“Under pressure from the Russian government, BP has agreed to sell one of the world’s largest natural gas fields to Gazprom, the state natural gas monopoly, for what analysts said was a price so low it bordered on nationalisation. The BP joint venture in Russia sold the field on Friday local time, the same day the Russian Natural Resources Ministry had scheduled a hearing on revoking the licence—which would have left the British company with nothing, in spite of years of investment in the remote site in eastern Siberia… Analysts say that BP was ‘fleeced’.” (Financial Review 25.06.07)

“Russia’s energy exports finance about 30% of the Government’s budget and have transformed a country that partially defaulted on its foreign debt in 1998 into a creditor nation… Russian foreign currency reserves have expanded sixfold in four years to $US303 billion.” (The Australian 23.01.07)

Russia’s Military Revival

Just how far Russia has come in recent years is seen in the events reported in the following article. Technology has allowed a whole new era of military hardware to be developed, and Russia is at the forefront of these changes:

PUTIN ANGLING TO RESTART THE ARMS RACE A little more than a week ago, Vladimir Putin tested a weapon deadlier than anything developed by the Soviet Union. A missile launched from a submarine in the White Sea entered the Stratosphere and returned precisely on target 6115km away in the Russian far east—the other side of the world. Such tests are meant to send messages. The target could just as easily have been Tehran, Los Angeles or London. It signalled that Russia means business. After a hiatus of two decades, the arms race is back. While the West has been fixated with the Middle East and Iraq, it has paid insufficient attention to the increasingly aggressive noises emanating from the Kremlin. Mr Putin’s explicit aim is to challenge, and then counter, the US’s world dominance.

As recently as six years ago, such an ambition would have been laughable. Then, Russia was an economic basket case. For a country that pumps out more oil than any on earth, save for Saudi Arabia, the consequences could scarcely have been more dramatic. Russia now has a huge surplus, has banked $58 billion in a ‘stabilisation fund’ and has the third-largest currency reserves in the world. Rather than invest this bounty in Russia’s crumbling infrastructure or its imploding health service, Mr Putin has gone on an arms spending spree. In 2001, the defence budget was 140 billion roubles ($6.3 billion); today it stands at 870 billion—the fastest increase in Russia’s peacetime history. Last year, he added six new intercontinental missiles to his arsenal, twelve launch vehicles, 31 battle tanks and seven Mi- 28N night attack helicopters. And this is but a small taste of what is to come.

The missile tested last week takes off so fast that no missile defence system could detect it in time. The new variant of the Topol-M missile will have multiple warheads, which splinter so they cannot be shot out of the sky. The US’s floundering missile defence system cannot hope to offer protection. Washington struggles to keep up. Two months ago, another interceptor missile fired off Alaska fell into the Pacific having failed to recognise, far less hit, its target. The US is losing the ballistic missile game. Meanwhile, Mr Putin has learnt to use energy as a weapon. Russia is sitting on the largest stretch of gas reserves in the world and Europe already depends on Russia for a quarter of its gas. The Kremlin knows energy security is intimately intertwined with national security… Germany is expected to rely on Russia for 80% of its gas within a decade.

Security, order and centralisation of power are Mr Putin’s key objectives, and the oil revenues have brought wealth. Mr Putin may be stepping down, but he is clearly trying to set Russia on a clear, aggressively military and nationalist trajectory. Six years ago, when George W Bush first hosted Mr Putin at his ranch in Texas, he famously claimed to have seen into his soul. At the time he phrased it slightly differently to an adviser, unaware that his microphone was still live and his remarks were being broadcast over the speaker system in the next room. ‘I’ve got him eating out of my hand,’ the President whispered. ‘You give these Russkies some cake and they’ll give you their souls.’ How things have changed. Mr Putin will smile—but rearm Russia as he smiles. And the new arms race continues apace.” (The Australian 16.07.07)

Vladimir Putin’s confidence has resulted in him teasing the US and Britain with Russia’s nuclear bombers. That makes us wonder what is really going on in his mind?

RUSSIA RESTARTS COLD WAR PATROLS Russia is resuming a Soviet-era practice of sending its bomber aircraft on long-range flights, Putin has said. Mr Putin said the move to resume the flights permanently after a 15-year suspension was in response to security threats posed by other military powers. He said 14 bombers had taken off from Russian airfields early on Friday. The move came a week after Russian bombers flew within a few hundred miles of the US Pacific island of Guam. A few days ago Moscow said its strategic bombers had begun exercises over the North Pole.” (BBC 17.08.07)

PUTIN’S BOMBERS CHALLENGE US RULE ‘The decision was taken many months ago and specially announced on that day and at that place,’ said a respected independent Russian military expert, referring to the site of joint Russian-Chinese military exercises where Mr Putin chose to announce the renewed patrols. ‘This, of course, is very dangerous. The planes will be flying carrying nuclear weapons and flying in positions from which they can strike the US’, he said.” (The Australian 20.08.07)

RAF JETS CHECK RUSSIAN BOMBERS Britain has scrambled its new Eurofighter Typhoon jets for the first time to intercept Russian nuclear bombers approaching British airspace, the Ministry of Defence in London said… With relations between Russia and Britain deteriorating, the number of incidents in which Russia’s submarines have been found close to British shores or in contact with Royal Navy warships has also risen.” (The Australian 23.08.07)

RUSSIA IN $250 BILLION PLAN TO RESTORE ITS MILITARY MIGHT The message to the West is clear: the days of being able to dismiss Russia as a spent force are over. Bolstered by the cash from sales of oil and gas and Mr Putin’s steely determination to re-establish the country on the world stage, the Russian military machine is back in business. Intelligence sources say Washington and London have been taken aback by just how seriously Russia has viewed the perceived slight of being overlooked as a world power. They admit that in concentrating so heavily on Iraq and al-Qaeda, they took their eye off the ball. A former White house staffer, who served both Ronald Reagan and George Bush said, ‘My great fear is that I wake up one day soon to discover that we lost the Cold War—or rather that, like everything else, we won the war and then lost the peace’.” (The Age 20.08.07)

We begin to wonder—Is this the last roll of the dice? The Moscow News (26.07.07) summed all this up by announcing in a recent headline, “US Reaps Whirlwind of Resurgent Russia.” And so the world is soon to witness the revival of the Eastern Roman Empire—the revival of the system which for centuries persecuted the Jews and the Saints. All that awaits is the spark to bring the jigsaw pieces into place.

After Claiming the Pole, Russia Looks South

Russia has been actively forging links with Syria to the north of Israel. In Daniel 11:40 we are told that the King of North comes south “with many ships”. It is therefore significant that Russian warships have recently been docking in Syrian ports. Russia has also been dredging a naval base in Syria which can be home to the Black Sea fleet:

AFTER CLAIMING THE POLE, RUSSIA LOOKS SOUTH Russia stirred memories of the Cold War yesterday when the country’s senior admiral called for the establishment of a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean for the first time since the Soviet era. Moscow’s renewed naval ambitions are likely to spread further unease in Nato capitals. ‘The Mediterranean Sea is very important strategically,’ he said.” (Daily Telegraph 4.08.07)

“PUTIN’S FLAG STARTS A NEW RACE FOR ENERGY The next cold war has started and this one will be frozen. At stake is not just patriotic pride, but access to what geologists believe are a quarter of the globe’s oil and gas reserves—in short, the solution to the crippling energy shortages that will begin throttling economies within the next two decades. Both European and US officials are concerned that the West may be forced into politically damaging dependence on Russian energy production if Moscow’s claim to 1.2 million square km of the Arctic is not challenged. At stake are 500 billion barrels of oil, incalculable volumes of natural gas and potential deposits of diamonds, platinum, nickel, tin and gold.” (The Australian 6.08.07)

Hey Buddy, You Can Spare a Few Billion?

An article to the above headline, written earlier this year by Peter Singer, Professor of Ethics at Princeton University, shows the horrendous inequality of our world.

Articles 6.2

The time is ripe for Jesus Christ to step in and  intervene in this world: “He shall judge the poor  of the people, he shall save the children of the  needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor”  (Psalm 72:4).

How blessed we are to have these things  revealed so clearly in God’s Word! How thankful we should be that we have witnessed all these things  before Christ’s return. It is only logical that we now strive to strengthen the things that remain by doing whatever we can to help one another towards God’s  glorious Kingdom. If we trust in Yahweh He will  help us and be with us in all we do: “The Lord is  my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one” (Psalm 28:7–8 niv).