These astonishing words from Revelation 18:7 are significant given that they are pondered “in the heart” of the Roman harlot after the battle of Armageddon. It describes Rome’s position of power when Christ is reigning with the Saints in Jerusalem (Psalm 2). In 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 17–19 we read of a powerful and corrupt “Christian” apostasy which is a phenomenal world wide success. Not just through the Dark Ages, but at the very time that God brings her to judgement. She rises to power before Armageddon but really takes the reins upon Russia’s demise at the hands of Christ and the saints. And so today we continue to witness the phenomenal rise of world wide papal influence. Pope Francis drew a crowd of over 3 million for a mass in Brazil in July, 2013, one of the largest gatherings of human beings at any event in world history. He is taking the world by storm.

Mass

Prior to the pope’s election earlier in 2013, the following perceptive comments were made by Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of the Australian: “When 117 Cardinals elect the new pope they will be making a crucial decision for Western Civilization and for the globe. There is no other institution in the world like the papacy. The US president has more direct power, and a similar global audience. After that the UN secretarygeneral is a long, long way behind. Presidents and Prime Ministers run their nations, but no one has the Pope’s global voice. The 1.2 billion Catholics are only a part of the Pope’s constituency” (The Australian 22.02.13).

pope

“Pope Francis, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, the most popular man in the world, is going to disappoint a lot of people, especially liberal Catholics, and others looking for the church to change in essence. Since he became Pope in March, Francis has morphed into a global phenomenon, remarkably similar to what happened to John Paul II. We are left with the astonishing paradox that this fascinating Pope is preaching orthodox Catholic doctrine and receiving the plaudits of the world’s media. It’s enough to make you believe in the Holy Spirit” (Greg Sheridan, Editorial, Weekend Australian 21.12.13.

In Daniel 11:36–39 we read of the clever diplomacy the eastern Roman emperors engaged in to woo the bishop of Rome. This ancient craft continues to flourish with the current Russian leadership:

“POPE FRANCIS’ MEETING WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN FOCUSES ON MIDDLE EAST: Of particular interest to the Holy Father was the plight of Christians in the strife-torn region. Pope Francis gave the Russian leader a mosaic representing the Vatican Gardens, while Putin gave Pope Francis a classical icon, the ‘Madonna of Vladimir’” (National Catholic Register 27.11.13).

gift

In June, 2012, Mr Putin visited Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, saying, “All disputes in the Middle East ultimately come down to this place… and one of the most problematic matters in this discussion is who this place belongs to.” Russia’s greatest goal is control of the Middle East and particularly the holy sites of Jerusalem. Like the eastern emperors of old, the Russian leadership is making an allegiance “with a strange god” (the pope) whom he continues to “acknowledge and increase with glory” for personal gain (Dan 11:39).

Russia’s Middle East influence

A quick glance at some recent headlines shows the state of Russia’s involvement in the Middle East:

RUSSIA VOICES ALARM OVER US TROOPS IN JORDAN:  (Financial Times 24.06.13);

PUTIN ORDERS RUSSIAN TROOPS TO FULL COMBAT READINESS: (Voice of Russia 13.07.13);

ISRAEL NERVOUS ABOUT RESURGENT RUSSIA IN MIDDLE EAST: (Press TV 15.07.13);

PUTIN SAYS WAR GAMES SHOW RUSSIA’S MILITARY  POWER: (Associated Press 17.07.13);

RUSSIA NOT TO TOLERATE FURTHER ISRAELI ATTACKS  ON DAMASCUS: (Fars News Agency 7.05.13)

Russia will “by peace destroy many” and this will be accomplished through clever intrigue and religious fraud (Dan 8:23–25; 11:36–39). Russia’s move south is then described in Daniel 11:40–45 as it is in Ezekiel 38. Russia continues to carefully manoeuvre events through clever diplomacy. Mr Putin wrote a letter in the New York Times in September, 2013, to warn the Americans against taking action in Syria without UN support. A small extract is below:

“AMERICA IS NOT EXCEPTIONAL: If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues. I carefully studied (Mr Obama’s) address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the US’s policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal” (NY Times 12.09.13).

Daniel 11:40–45 tells of a latter day re-emergence of the King of the North and King of the South. Isaiah 19:1–4 describes events preceding this move south: “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian brother will fight against brother, neighbour against neighbour, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing… I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them” (v 2–4 NIV). This fierce king is Gog of Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 8:23–25. Look at what we witness now in Egypt:

“WE MUST NOT LET EGYPT SLIP BACK INTO RUSSIA’S ORBIT: President Obama has suspended most assistance to Egypt as a slap in the face to the Egyptian military for overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood. Russia is waiting in the wings to take our place. They have waited 40 years to find their way back into a leadership role in the Middle East, and know the best way to do that is by resuming their relationship with Egypt” (Reuters 6.10.13).

“RUSSIA, EGYPT VOW TO BOOST MILITARY TIES: Russia and Egypt agreed to start drafting documents to lay the foundation for close cooperation in the defence sector, the Russian Defence Minister said, including military ties, which have been in limbo for several decades. For Moscow, the renewal of military ties with Egypt could signify a return in force to the Middle East while US diplomacy is failing all over the region” (RIA Novosti, 24.11.13).

“RUSSIA SEEKS TO UP MIDDLE EAST INFLUENCE: Russia is launching a new front in its attempt to wrest power in the Middle East away from America, sending a high-level delegation to sell arms and influence in Egypt. Egypt is looking to buy military equipment following a partial withdrawal of support by its western allies, including the United States and Britain. The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, according to several reports has opened discussions over the possibility of establishing a Russian naval base in Egypt” (UK Daily Telegraph 13.11.13).

“RUSSIA IN THE MIDDLE EAST RETURN OF THE BEAR: Something strange is happening in the Middle East. Twenty-two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian clout in the Middle East is the highest it has been in a generation” (BBC 01.11.13).

Preparations for war

The Syrian war has resulted in over 100,000 deaths, with millions displaced. This tragedy has brought Russia’s renewed involvement in Middle Eastern affairs:

“WILL ISRAEL TAKE OUT THE RUSSIAN MISSILES IN SYRIA? Everything is about to blow up, diagonal red lines slash across the contested land from one end to the other, and the stench of gunpowder makes it difficult to breathe. This is a portrait of the Middle East today, in mid-2013. We have just found ourselves caught up in a regional, national, religious, ethnic and tribal conflict involving just about everyone, and we didn’t even notice it happening. In other words, is the Middle East teetering on the verge of a massive configuration?” (Al-Monitor 17 May 2013).

“RUSSIA AND IRAN EXPANDING MILITARY COOPERATION: The Iranian and Russian Air Force commanders met in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to exchange views on ways of expanding Tehran-Moscow cooperation in military and defence sectors” (Xinhua 21.10.13).

“IRAN LAUNCHES MASSIVE WAR DRILLS: Iranian military forces launched a series of “massive military drills” across 9 provinces following an order by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to state media reports. The drills, codenamed “Towards Jerusalem” will continue over the coming days and throughout the rest of the year” (Washington Free Beacon 21.11.13).

“RUSSIA, CHINA HOLD LARGE-SCALE WAR GAMES: Pentagon intelligence agencies are closely watching Russian and Chinese war games now taking place in Europe and Asia involving tens of thousands of troops. Some 13,000 Russian and Belarusian troops took part with over 60 aircraft and helicopters and up to 250 vehicles” (Fox News 26.09.13).

“ISRAELI NAVY ORDERS 3 NEW WARSHIPS TO PROTECT GAS FIELDS: The main function is to protect offshore natural gas fields from seaborne attack at a time when Beirut reportedly plans to award oil and gas exploration contracts to international companies in disputed waters bordering Lebanon. The new 90-foot craft will increase the navy’s feet of fast attack ships to 13” (UPI 1.10.13).

Israel’s security

Paradoxically, amongst these threats of war, Israel continues to be confident in its own strength. The exact situation of Israel dwelling “safely” or “confidently” in Ezekiel 38 is often one of debate and conjecture. What we do know is that the trends are showing the eventual arrival of the final scenario:

“AMID TURMOIL, FOUR REASONS WHY ISRAELIS FEEL SAFER: Israelis feel as secure and prosperous as they’ve ever been (the reasons being): 1. Israel has become the world’s second-richest technology hub; 2. Israel has transformed its collectivist kibbutzstyle traditions into a more enterprising and market based culture; 3. The security threat is not as dire as it has been; 4. Traditionally energy poor, Israel is set to become an energy exporter. Israel now is more likely to find common cause in the region with nervous Arab Kingdoms and Sunnis threated by Persian-Iranian nuclear domination. ‘Actually, our security situation is better now than at any other time in Israel’s modern existence’ (said an Israeli international affairs expert)” (Financial Review 20.11.13).

“ISRAEL, GULF IN ‘STRANGE ALLIANCE’ AGAINST IRAN:In one of the region’s oddest pairings, Israel and the Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia increasingly are finding common ground and a common political language on their mutual dismay over Iran’s history-making overtures to Washington and the prospect of a nuclear deal in Geneva that could curb Tehran’s atomic program but leave the main elements intact” (Associated Press 20.11.13).

A fragile world

Our world is extremely fragile and one event may see the dominoes fall and final jigsaw pieces fit into place. An example of this fragility is when US government ofices shut down in October, 2013, for over 2 weeks due to lack of funds. Total US debt has now ballooned to over $17.3 trillion. Republicans and Democrats continue to argue over the debt ceiling, with extra funds approved for a number of months to avoid default. The US Federal Reserve continues to print money at a rate of $75 billion per month to keep the system afloat, with it’s “quantitative easing” program now reaching over $3 trillion:

“US DEBT DEFAULT INEVITABLE IN THE LONG TERM:(The latest crisis) exposes what relatively few people have known, that the US government must not only borrow to pay excess current expenditure, but also it must borrow to pay the interest on its debt, and then borrow to pay interest on the interest on its debt. Debt will continue to compound just to pay the interest. With over $16 trillion in debt, this compounding interest is not a minor and normal issue. By 2020, this interest payment has been projected by the Congressional Budget Ofice to be $1 trillion a year. US federal government revenue is currently $3 trillion a year. Long before 2020 on the current trends, things will fall apart. Default looks inevitable” (Letter to Editor, Financial Review 18.10.13).

As a result we are seeing the US in retreat on the world stage. Israel will eventually find itself relying on its own strength rather than the power of the US and her allies, who will be overcome by the ferocity of the Northern Invasion. the whole purpose of this is to make Israel realise that they must rely on their God rather than the strength of their own human power.

How wonderful that believers can accurately discern the signs of the times. What to most people appears to be a world in chaos, is a crystal clear picture to those who can see God’s purpose unfolding exactly as planned. How blessed we are to still have time to respond to the current world situation: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt 13:44–46).