Daniel 11:40-41 “At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he 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.”

Daniel’s prophecy and the end times

The well-known prophecies of Daniel 2 and 7 teach that the Roman Empire is the prominent military power at Christ’s return. From these prophecies we expect to see a re-establishment of the Roman Empire across east and west just prior to Armageddon. Daniel saw the fourth beast destroyed at Christ’s return (Dan 7:7-11). Not only will there be a Roman Empire in the West (seen today in the European Union), but also the East. It is Russia’s prophetic role, with the Orthodox Church, to re-establish the empire in the East.

Daniel 8 and 11 however, add another dimension to the story. Daniel 8 emphasises the impact Rome had on the Jews and the eastern part of the empire. The Roman Empire is described as a “little horn” arising out of one portion of the Greek Empire that becomes “exceeding great”. The chapter describes the destruction of the Jewish state and city of Jerusalem in AD70 and also the “casting down of the truth to the ground” (8:9-12). Daniel 8:23-25 describes the character of this Roman power. Daniel 8:25 says Rome “shall cause craft to prosper” meaning deceit or fraud. As the latter day Roman military power, Russia “by peace shall destroy many”—accomplished through clever intrigue and religious fraud. Consistent with Daniel 2 and 7, Rome is destroyed by Christ (“the Prince of princes”) at the end.

Daniel 11:40-45 tells of a latter day re-emergence of the King of the North. Russia assumes this title when it takes control of the territory of the ancient Seleucid Empire across Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. She will then re-establish the military capital of the empire by conquering Constantinople. At that point, the King of the North and little horn of the goat become one and the same power. The fourth beast will “stamp the residue” of the other three empires with its clawed feet like brass (Dan 7:7,19).

Events over the past six years make that scenario entirely plausible. Russia began a military incursion into Syria in September 2015 and continues to consolidate its grip on Syria which forms just one part of this King of the North territory. We have been looking for increasing Russian presence, alliance, co-operation and military dominance in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. This is exactly what we are seeing. The previous Lampstand ‘Watchman’ (July/August 2021) outlines the impact of Russia’s recent moves into North Africa. We will now consider Russia’s designs on consolidating its power in Lebanon.

Lebanon on the brink of collapse

On 4 August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Lebanon’s capital Beirut exploded, causing at least 207 deaths, 7500 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, whilst leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. This substance had been stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for the previous six years, after having been confiscated by Lebanese authorities from an abandoned ship. This devastating disaster became symbolic of the tragic state of the country which faces crisis after crisis. It is a country on the brink of collapse:

Lebanon is dying a slow death: Lebanon is currently in the grip of the worst economic crisis in its history. There are daily shortages of fuel and electricity, a chronic lack of medical supplies, and an absence of essential medicines in hospitals. Some 77% of Lebanese households are unable to purchase sufficient food. The Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value over the last two years. Lebanese citizens, meanwhile, are prevented from withdrawing more than $100 per week, as foreign currency reserves grow thin. The situation is reaching a point of no return, with the real possibility of widespread hunger. Lebanon is, today, by all measures a failed and collapsing state (Jerusalem Post 15.06.21).

Lebanon faces ‘dark fate’ as country implodes: Hassan Diab, the Acting Prime Minister, told foreign diplomats: “Lebanon is a few days away from social explosion.” He appealed for aid but their governments will not give more without political and economic reform. Lebanon is caught on a geopolitical fault line: its Shia population is in the camp of Iran and Syria, especially through the dominance of Hezbollah; its Sunnis are historically supported by Saudi Arabia and more recently by Western powers; its Christians, torn between East and West (The Australian 18.07.21).

Will anyone come to Lebanon’s rescue? And if they come, what will they want in return?

Russia makes its move with Chinese support

In the midst of this crisis, Russia continues to exert its influence in Lebanon—as it has been doing across the whole Middle East. The following comments show Russia’s plans for this territory north of Israel:

Russia expands ties in Lebanon’s oil, gas sector: Russia has gotten a huge head start on the United States in gaining access to Lebanon’s oil and gas sector, allowing Moscow to continue to strengthen its economic position across the Middle East (Al Monitor 5.04.19).

Russia’s Lebanese Matryoshka Doll: Russia sends clear messages to Iran, Israel, and the United States that it is the only country capable of securing stability on the shores of the Mediterranean (Politics Today 19.05.21).

The Russian bear in Lebanon: The entry of the Russians and the Chinese into the Lebanese field of commerce has international implications. It is a sign that the Americans are actually losing their grip on Lebanon. In cooperating with two superpowers, Lebanon and Syria can form an economic bloc on the Mediterranean shores (Tehran Times 7.07.21).

Russia’s Interests in Lebanon: Fulfilling a Middle Eastern Dream: Russia, which does not border the Mediterranean Sea but has a naval military base in Tartus (Syria), is exerting its influence around nearby countries, including Lebanon. Russia perceives Lebanon as part of the Syrian track, so Moscow will strive to continue playing in this field to capitalize on its influence after intervening in the Syrian conflict. One of Russia’s main goals in the Middle East is to expand its influence in the region and control the energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Russia has been playing an active role in Lebanon and views it as an extension of its regional policy towards Syria. At a time when minorities have suffered throughout the Middle East, leaders of some Christian communities in Lebanon, having felt the abandonment of the West, regard Russia as a potential “protector” (The Armenian Weekly 2.06.21).

The principle of Russia being a protector to the various countries in its confederacy was foreseen in Ezekiel 38:7 where it says Russia is “a guard unto them.” A guard is one who protects, controls and oversees territory. Similarly, Joel 3:10 states “let the weak say I am strong.” This indicates many countries weak in themselves, become strong because of Russia’s protection. Meanwhile China is assisting Russia:

China woos Assad to gain foothold in Middle East: From its beginning in 2011 the Syrian crisis became a test of a new partnership between Russia and China… The new relationship has developed into a full-blooded anti-western alliance with both Moscow and Beijing offering backing to “pariah states” that are the object of Western venom. Syria hopes to benefit economically as it already has diplomatically and—with Russia’s air force rescuing Assad in Aleppo and elsewhere—militarily (The Australian 20.07.21).

Whilst China is not a country of importance as far as prophecy is concerned, this does not mean she is not involved in some way to assist Russia’s invasion. China is not one of the four empires of Daniel’s prophecy or a country of apostate Christianity, yet her alliance with Russia is certainly bolstering Russia’s confidence in resisting the USA and Great Britain in the Middle East. China is also proving to be a significant distraction for the USA in the East whilst Russia plans its grand move against Israel.

Britain versus Russia in the east Mediterranean

Whilst all this is happening, Great Britain is preparing for its ill-fated clash with Russia at the battle of Armageddon. It is clear from Daniel 11:40-45 that the King of North versus King of the South scenario re-emerges right at the end. Russia continues to establish herself militarily in the King of the North territory whilst Britain is inserting herself into the Middle Eastern theatre in contest with Russia:

Royal Navy set for Middle-East clash as Russia deploys warships to Mediterranean: Russia is ‘testing’ the UK’s resolve… Large-scale exercises began in the eastern Med where aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and her warships are located to hit ISIS and back US operations in the Middle East. The heavily armed Russian fleet includes the missile cruiser Moskva, and Moscow boasts its ships will be joined by improved Kilo-class subs Stary Oskol and Rostov-on-Don (Mirror.co.uk 25.06.21).

Russia launches Mediterranean drills amid rift with Britain: The Russian military launched sweeping manoeuvres in the Mediterranean Sea featuring warplanes armed with state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles, a show of force amid a surge in tensions following an incident with a British destroyer in the Black Sea. Moscow said one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the path of British destroyer, Defender, to force her out of an area near Crimea that Russia claims as its territorial waters (Lebanon Express 25.06.21).

Russia warns Britain: Sail near Crimea again and your sailors will get hurt: A senior Russian security official warned Britain on Wednesday not to sail its warships near Russian-annexed Crimea again unless it wanted its sailors to get hurt. The warning, issued by Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, follows an incident last month when British warship HMS Defender exercised what London said were internationally recognised freedom of navigation rules in Ukrainian territorial waters near Crimea (Reuters 18.07.21).

Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments

Meanwhile the world is completely distracted with the pandemic—with media coverage at saturation point. There is also an increase in violent uprisings across the globe. Much of the Western world continues to be preoccupied with prosperity as Belshazzar’s Babylon was just prior to the fall of Babylon. Ironically, much of this prosperity is entirely based on borrowed money. The following headline sums up this last days’ situation exactly—but consider the subject!

Russia and Turkey just escalated a war while you weren’t watching: The two are battling over power and influence in the middle east, with the Syrians and Libyans caught in the crossfire. Russia and Turkey just escalated their two-front war over which country will be the big dog in the Middle East. The two rivals have been at this game for a couple of centuries, but it just got a lot more serious this week when Russia introduced jet fighters into the Libyan civil war (Washington Monthly 31.05.20).

We are now witnessing preparations for Israel’s salvation and God’s kingdom unfold before our very eyes. How thankful should we be to our God, and how much should we long for the time when Israel and Judah will again be restored? Russia is not only making her move, but openly preparing the world for the inevitable conflict:

“The End of our Civilization”: Putin raises prospect of global conflict: Russian President Putin says the world risks spiralling into “all against all” conflict… Speaking to the World Economic Forum, Putin warned the coronavirus pandemic and widening economic inequality had created parallels to the 1930s and said a failure to deal with those tensions helped spark World War II. “Nowadays such a heated conflict is not possible. I hope it is not possible in principle because it would mean the end of our civilisation,” Putin said. “However the situation might develop unpredictably and uncontrollably if we sit on our hands doing nothing to avoid it (Sydney Morning Herald 28.01.21).

The final words of Revelation 16:15 indicate that watching is a crucial character attribute for believers just prior to Christ’s return. It also indicates that Christ comes unawares to many: Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Watching involves being alert to the influences of the world and awake to what really is important in life. This also involves constant prayer (Matt 26:41; Mark 14:38). The culture of our world is changing at a dramatic pace, and at a level which has a real impact on our families and ecclesias.

To be “blessed” means to be happy. Why? Because we know that God is in control, and He has a wonderful future planned for those who love Him. But also because we have forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ whose life has given us forgiveness and salvation. The love of Jesus Christ is the greatest blessing in the world. How thankful we should be that God has shown us these wonderful truths that make the future clear. Even so, come Lord Jesus!