Relevant Bible passages:

  • “Thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb,  and a byword” (Deuteronomy 28v37).
  • “Thy lovers will despise thee” (Jer 4:30).
  • “It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble … Th ere is  none to plead thy cause … All thy lovers have  forgotten thee … in the latter days ye shall  consider it” (Jer 30: 7, 13–14, 24).
  • Among all her lovers she hath none to comfort  her: all her friends have dealt treacherously  with her “ … when her people fell into the hand  of the enemy, and none did help herI called  for my lovers, but they deceived me” (Lam 1:2,  7, 19).

Commentary

In light of the above passages, the rising tide of anti- Semitism sweeping the globe ought not to surprise  us. Indeed, it is a fulfilment of Bible prophecy;  particularly the increasingly anti-Zionist rhetoric  emanating from Israel’s traditional allies (‘lovers’),  Australia being no exception.

Russia: When will they make their move?

Relevant Bible passages:

  • “And the king of the north shall come against  him (Turkey) like a whirlwind, with chariots,  and with horsemen, and with many ships; and  he (the king of the north) shall enter into the  countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He  shall enter also into the glorious land, and many  countries shall be overthrown: but these shall  escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab,  and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall  stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape … But  tidings out of the east and out of the north shall  trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with  great fury to destroy and utterly to make away  many. 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. And at that time shall Michael  stand up … and there shall be a time of trouble,  such as never was” (Dan 11:40–12:2).
  •  “Son of man, set thy face against Gog of the  land of Magog, Prince of Rosh, Meshech and  Tubal … a great company … all thy company that  are assembled unto thee … in the latter years  thou shalt come into the land that 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… thou shalt think an  evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to  the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them  that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them  dwelling without walls, and having neither bars  nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey …  In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth  safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt  come from thy place out of the north parts …  a great company … it shall be in the latter days  … And it shall come to pass at the same time  when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come  up in my face” (Ez 38).

Commentary

Putin:The would-be Tsar and the Eurasian  Economic Union (EEU)

A brief history of the EEU:

  • January 2010: The Eurasian Customs Union  was created by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
  •  November 2011: A joint commission to create the EEU by 1 January, 2015, was signed by  Russia, Belarus & Kazakhstan.
  •  October 2011: Kyrgyzstan announce they will  join the EEU.
  •  September 2012: Tajikistan announce the same.
  •  May 2013: Ukraine granted observer status.
  • September 2013: Armenia announce their decision  to join the ECU and, in turn, EEU.
  •  November 2013: Uzbekistan pledges to join  the EEU.

Putin has described the end of the Soviet Union  as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the  20th century.” He has repeatedly stated his goal  to enlarge the ECU to include all former Soviet  States. The ECU/EEU is unquestionably the  vehicle by which Putin is seeking to re-establish a Tsarist Russia. Hilary Clinton stated as much  back in December, 2012, when she declared that  Washington would openly oppose Russia’s attempts  to ‘re-sovietise’ the former Soviet countries into  a new USSR-type union: “It’s not going to be  called that (USSR). It’s going to be called customs  union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of  that. But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is.”

Why all the fuss about Ukraine? It is the fly in  Putin’s ointment!

A few facts on Ukraine:

  •  It is the second largest economy of the 15 former  republics of the USSR.
  •  It became independent when the USSR dissolved  in 1991.
  • Its membership was seen as the key to the success  of the EEU (and, as can be seen from the table  above, it had been in the frame).

Russian pressure on Ukraine to join the EEU  instead of the European Union (EU) led to  the Euromaidan protests, which ended Viktor  Yanukovych’s reign and led to the Crimean Crisis,  which has escalated into the crisis we now see in  Eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have been  pressured by the EU and EEU to join their unions.  All opted for the EU, signing Association  Agreements on 21 March, 2014. Breakaway regions  of Ukraine (Republic of Donetsk), Georgia  (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) and Moldova  (Transnistria) subsequently expressed their desire  to join the ECU and, in turn the EEU.

Flashbacks to WWII

Russia’s incursion in Ukraine is reminiscent  of Hitler’s vow to protect ethnic Germans in  Czechoslovakia, which led to annexation of the  Sudetenland, home to 3 million German-speaking  Czechoslovakians. A year later, Hitler invaded the  rest of Czechoslovakia. Will we see the same in Ukraine? Putin justified sending forces into Crimea  by saying he wanted to “protect ethnic Russians in  Ukraine.” As Hillary Clinton again observed on 4  March, 2014, “Now if this all sounds familiar, it’s  what Hitler did back in the ‘30s.”

A watch on the countries en route from  Moscow to Jerusalem20_6

A look at an atlas will show you that the most direct  land-based route from Russia to Israel is down  through Georgia, Turkey, Syria and into Israel. We  therefore watch these countries with keen interest.

Russia–Georgia

Russian troops have been advancing their positions,  erecting barbed wire fencing and digging trenches  to establish a new border between Georgia and  South Ossetia, annexing land under Georgian  control until 2008. The action commenced in 2009,  accelerated sharply in 2013 and peaked in 2014.  Why? First to pressure Georgia into joining the  ECU then as recrimination for Georgia signing  with the EU. Despite earlier reassurances, on 2  August, 2014 Russia suspended its Free Trade  Agreement signed with Georgia two decades ago  as a further act of aggression.

Russia–Turkey

Turkey first applied for EU membership in 1987.  Stalled progress on accession with the EU has seen  Turkey look for closer cooperation with the ECU.  For example, Russia’s Economic Development  Minister discussed the plan with Turkey’s Economic  Minister at the G20 meeting in Sydney in July,  2014: “We have discussed the possible forms of  cooperation, including the formation of a free trade zone between the Customs Union and Turkey. We  have agreed to create a working group and to begin  a more detailed discussion of these possibilities and  prospects in September.” Trade between Russia and  Turkey amounted to $32.7 billion in 2013, making  Russia Turkey’s second largest trade partner after  the EU, with Turkey experiencing an extraordinary  boon in exports to Russia following the retaliatory  trade sanctions Russia has imposed on the West.

Turkey is geographically very relevant given  Russia’s most direct sea-based route from Russia to Jerusalem is across the Black Sea, through  Turkey’s Bosporus Strait to the Sea of Marmara, down through Turkey’s Dardanelles Strait, into the  Mediterranean Sea and around the Turkish coast  to Israel.

Russia–Syria

On 29 June, 2014 Syria’s Deputy Minister of  Economy and Foreign Trade announced that Syria  had submitted an application to join the EEU.  Economic cooperation with Russia is growing increasingly  important to Syria due to the sanctions  imposed on the Assad regime by the EU and the  US. Like Turkey, Syria has experienced an economic  boon following the sanctions Russia has imposed on her Western trading partners.

Why is Syria so strategically important to  Russia? Syria helped the Soviet Navy out during  the Cold War in 1971 by leasing them the naval  facility in the port of Tartus, which currently gives Russia its only direct access to the Mediterranean, thereby saving the Russian navy the voyage across the Black Sea.

A holy war?

Relevant Bible passage:

 “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 Jehoshaphat,  and will plead with them there for my people  and for my heritage Israel, whom they have  scattered among the nations, and parted my  land… Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles;  Prepare (Hebrew: make holy) war… Assemble  yourselves… gather yourselves together round  about… come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat:  for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round  about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is  ripe… Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision…  The LORD also shall roar out of Zion,  and utter his voice from Jerusalem…” (Joel 3)

Commentary

Putin: resurrecting Russian Orthodox Church

After almost a century in the wilderness, the  Russian Orthodox Church has regained the power  and prestige it enjoyed under the Tsars. Many in  the Russian Orthodox Church credit that to Putin,  a man they believe is inspired. Putin has personally  overseen the reconstruction of some 23,000  Russian Orthodox churches and is certainly a rare  former KGB agent – he was baptised, in secret, as  a child. Indeed, when archives were opened at the  start of the 1990s, both the previous and present  Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church were  revealed to have been KGB agents.

90% of Russians self-identify as Russian  Orthodox. Putin is therefore using religion to  fuel nationalistic fervor. In 2012, Newsweek,  for example, referred to the Russian Orthodox  Church as Putin’s ‘God Squad’ while the New  Yorker observed in 2014, Putin’s “increasingly vivid  nationalist-conservative ideology” relies “on the  elevation of the Russian Orthodox Church, which  had been so brutally suppressed during most of the Soviet period, as a quasi-state religion supplying the  government with its moral force.”

Putin: uniting Roman Catholic & Russian  Orthodox Church

In November, 2013, Putin flew to Rome for his  first audience with Pope Francis. The Kremlin  announced that the visit would focus on “protection  of Christian minorities in the Middle East.”  The Vatican press office reported Putin and Pope  Francis discussed “the critical situation faced by  Christians in some regions of the world.” As we  are acutely aware, there have been violent attacks  on Christians in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Indeed,  Christians (10% of Syria’s population) are viewed  as supporters of Assad, fearing the Islamic ideology of rebels, as has been manifest by the Islamic State jihadists.

Could it be that Putin’s advance into the Middle  East is cloaked in the guise of seeking to protect his Christian brethren in the Middle East … a  move backed by the Roman Catholic and Russian  Orthodox Churches?

Tension has dominated relations between the  Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, which split in the Great Schism of 1054. There  has never been a meeting of the Pope and the  Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church since.  The relationship, however, is thawing – a trend we  watch with growing interest. On 12 November,  2013, Patriarch Kirill stated, “We live in an epoch  when many of our historic differences should  no longer play the negative role they have played  in relations between our churches.” On 14 April,  2014 Pope Francis wrote to Kirill, “I am ready to  meet at any place.”

Conclusion

We know from Zechariah 14:5 that when all nations  are gathered against Jerusalem to battle the  Lord Jesus “shall come, and all the saints with  [him].” The saints will be with the Lord when he  intervenes. Brethren and sisters, we may not therefore  see all the various stages of Armageddon before  our Lord returns to take us unto himself. Let us  therefore now, while we are privileged to see “these  things begin to come to pass… look up, and lift up  (our) heads; for (our) redemption draweth nigh.”