An article with the above headline was  recently reported in the Jerusalem Post. Ironically, many latter days prophecies indicate that whilst war approaches, many are  living in ease and comfort, deliberately ignorant  of what is coming. In fact, many ecclesias will be living in an environment like this. This is why  there are so many warnings in the New Testament about prosperity and the cares of this life, eg. Luke  17:26–30: “As it was in the days of Noah… As it  was in the days of Lot; they ate, drank, bought, sold,  planted, builded; But the same day Lot went out of  Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven,  and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Consider  the following warning:

“THE COMING MIDDLE EAST WAR—The  warning signs are everywhere, yet no one wishes to  see them. Israel’s foes are gearing up for war, and  it’s time that we opened our eyes to the danger that  confronts us. The conflict may be just weeks or even months away or perhaps a bit longer. How it will  start is anyone’s guess, but make no mistake, a major  outbreak of hostilities is almost certainly around the  corner. If this sounds like scare-mongering or even an  advanced case of paranoia to you, just take a glance  at the newspapers from the past few weeks. If you  read them with a discerning eye, you will see exactly  what I mean. For whichever direction one chooses to  look, be it north, south or east of us, trouble—major  trouble—is brewing” (Jerusalem Post 17.10.06).

As we head towards Christmas, we once again  start seeing newspaper headlines such as “Greed  is all we need”, and comments like, “Shop to your  heart’s content: no one cares anymore” (Sydney  Morning Herald). What tragic irony as prophecies  such as Matthew 24, Luke 21 and 2 Timothy 3 come  clearly into focus. We are also told that today’s  churches need to “offer a God of contemporary  relevance to worship”. In an article entitled  “Modern youth worship new gods”, we are told,  “many young people worship the complex world  of electronics – the telephones, the computers,  the music machines and those mysterious devices  which produce moving pictures from mid-air. They  worship alcohol and the social structure built  around it. Others… see a form of divinity in harder,  illegal drugs. …” (Adelaide Advertiser 17.6.06)  This is the situation we are faced with on the eve  of Christ’s return.

Iranian Crisis

The previous Jerusalem Post article is seen to be  realistic when we consider the situation in Iran:

“The shock waves from North Korea’s testing  of a nuclear device reached Israel yesterday  where the government expressed concern  that Iran would benefit from Pyongyang’s  technology and accelerate development of its  own nuclear weapon. Israeli officials called for  more diplomatic pressure, including sanctions,  on Teheran…. ‘Now that North Korea has proven  its nuclear capabilities, it risks collaborating with  Iran and accelerating its nuclear programme,’  said Danny Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the  United States. ‘In this context, sanctions [on Iran]  become more and more critical.’” (UK Daily  Telegraph 14.10.06)

“Iran flexed its military muscle yesterday by testfiring  missiles capable of hitting Israel and local  US bases in manoeuvres the hard-line regime  code-named ‘Great Prophet’. In what was taken  as a clear warning to America, the commanderin-  chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards said  the tests were intended to display his country’s  military strength. ‘We want to show our deterrent  and defensive power to trans-regional enemies,  and we hope they will understand the message  of the manoeuvres.’ Iranian state TV reported the  missiles were fired from mobile launching pads in  the country’s central desert region at the opening  of 10 days of military operations. The test is the  first use of the nuclear-capable version of the  Shahab–3.” (UK Daily Telegraph 3.11.06)

“RUSSIA KEY TO IRAN’S COCKINESS—Iran  scored one clear success yesterday in the long running wrangle over its nuclear ambitions when  Russia made clear that the US and Britain would  struggle to get its support for sanctions, even it  Teheran continued to offend. At the same time,  a new report from Chatham House, a leading  London think tank, argues that the strength and  complexity of Iran’s links with Russia and its  neighbours underpins its new confidence. Russia  and China are allies of expediency, the authors  say…” (The Australian 25.8.06).

Russia has made the threat more real. It sold  the nuclear power plant at Bushehr to Iran and  contracted to sell even more to bring cash into  its nuclear industry. As one American diplomat  put it, this business is a “giant hook in Russia’s  jaw” (USNEWS.com 9.02.06).

We see the words of Ezekiel 38 coming to pass  as Russia becomes a “guard” to ancient Persia, with  hooks in her jaws ready to establish herself as latterday  King of the North. This is indeed a crisis:

“ENDGAME FOR IRAN—Iran’s theocratic  despots are hell-bent on acquiring atomic weapons  with which to threaten Israel and control events in  the Middle East and beyond, and large swaths of  the world appear prepared to let them have their  wish. With every day that ticks by, Teheran comes  that much closer to being able to build either a  dirty bomb or a full-scale atomic fission weapon.  The repeated insistence by the Iranian regime’s  mouthpieces that the country’s nuclear program  is being developed for peaceful purposes is a lie  of the first order. As one of the world’s biggest  oil producers, with several centuries’ supply of  liquefied natural gas, energy security is not an  issue for Teheran. The fact is that a nuclear-armed  Iran would be a disaster for the world, not just  Israel and the West. A hegemonic Iran in the  Middle East would be hugely destabilising to the  Sunni Arab world as well…

The current climate feels reminiscent of the  late 1930’s, when many in the West supported  Germany’s right to rearm… Most chillingly, Mr  Ahmadinejad’s speeches are peppered not only  with threats to eliminate Israel and Judaism but  also millenarian Shia rhetoric about the 12th, or  ‘hidden’, Imam whose reappearance will herald  the end of the world. Some analysts believe  Mr Ahmadinejad feels he is the 12th Imam.  Under such circumstances, diplomatic threats  and sanctions could have the perverse effect of  emboldening Mr Ahmadinejad. If so, the world’s  only option is military, though the window of  opportunity for strikes against Iran’s nuclear  program is rapidly closing as the regime plays  for time and hardens its facilities. US President  Bush and Israeli PM Ehud Olmer may have no  choice but to act, since no one else in the world  seems prepared to. Anyone who cares about the  future of humanity should be concerned that  nuclear weapons do not fall into Iranian hands.”  (Editorial, The Australian 4.09.06).

Some light is shed on Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic  visions in the following article earlier in the year:

“RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY PUTS IRAN ON APOCALYPTIC PATH—Ahmadinejad’s ‘vision’  at the UN could be dismissed as political posturing  if it weren’t for a string of similar statements and  actions that suggest he believes he is destined  to bring about the ‘End Times’—the end of the  world—by paving the way for the return of the  Shia Muslim messiah. This is a man who recently  pledged to use Iran’s new-found powers to ‘wipe  Israel off the map’ and to ‘destroy America’…

The new President said the main mission of his  Government was to ‘pave the path for the glorious  reappearance of Imam Mahdi (may God hasten  his appearance)’. The mystical 12th Imam of Shia  Islam disappeared as a child in 941AD, and Shia  Muslims have awaited his reappearance ever  since, believing that when he returns, he will  reign on earth for 7 years, before bringing about  the Last Judgment and the end of the world.” (The  Australian 16.01.06)

Russia’s New World Order

Bible prophecy clearly has a role for Russia in the  last days. The Russian Orthodox Church is the  largest and most powerful church in Eastern Europe  today and she continues to prepare herself to fulfill  the role of “the dragon” at the time of the end (Rev  16:15). Russia is responsible for the scattering and  persecution of Jews through the centuries (Joel  3:2), and she is therefore ripe for judgment. It is  a historical fact that over 1 million Jews returned  to Israel from “the land of the north” during the  1990’s (Jer 3:18; 16:15). It is this region that was  predetermined by God to play a leadership role at  Armageddon, as expressed in Ezekiel 38, Daniel  2, 8 and 11. Russia’s power is rapidly re-emerging  as we would expect:

“ASCENDANT AT THE SUMMIT—Russia  is ascendant and its president, Vladimir Putin,  is the equal of his powerful guests… (Russia)  has moved from nervous debtor to confident  creditor, from potential energy giant to actual  energy superpower. In the background… (one  said) ‘was an emerging reality in which Russia’s  fellow G8 members are increasingly dependent  on Russia’s vast supply of ever-more-expensive  oil and gas’” (G8 Summit report—Weekend  Australian 22.07.06).

“RUSSIA’S NEW WORLD ORDER—Buoyed  by expensive energy and a booming economy,  the Kremlin is once again flexing its muscles  abroad—but very carefully. Russia has reemerged  as an energy superpower. Last year it  was the world’s second largest oil producer after  Saudi Arabia. In gas, it is the undisputed world  leader, with proven reserves almost double those  of second place Iran. …Vladimir Putin doesn’t  hide his ultimate goal: Russia ‘must aspire to  claim world leadership in the realm of energy’”  (Time 10.07.06).

In 2001, the six nations of Russia, China,  Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan  signed an economic and military alliance known as  the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. In 2006,  Iran was given observer status. The leaders of these  countries met in Shanghai in June 2006 and this  time Iran’s extremist leader was also invited. These  countries are already conducting joint military  exercises:

“RUSSIA AND CENTRAL ASIAN ALLIES  CONDUCT WAR GAMES IN RESPONSE TO  US THREATS—Barely acknowledged by the  Western media, military exercises organized by  Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan  under the Collective Security Treaty Organisation,  (CSTO) were launched on the 24th of August. These  war games, officially tagged as part of a counter  terrorism program, are in direct response to US  military threats in the region including the planned  attacks against Iran. The Rubezh-2006 exercise is  scheduled to take place from August 24–29 near  the Kazak port city of Aktau. Press reports from  the region describe these war games as a response  to US military presence and ambitions in Central  Asia…” (Global Research 24.9.06).

Russia’s influence also appears to be reappearing  in the Middle East as she gains a foothold in Syria  to the north of Israel. We expect from Daniel  11:36–45 that Russia will assume the mantle of  “King of the North” before the invasion of Israel  at Armageddon.

“Russia has started dredging at a Syrian port  where it maintains a logistical supply point with a  possible eye to turning it into a full-fledged naval  base… Tartus, the second most important Syrian  port on the Mediterranean, could be transformed  into a base for Black Sea Fleet warships. The  Defence Ministry source (said) that a Russian  naval base in the Mediterranean would not only  help Moscow strengthen its position in the Middle  East—where it is currently also involved in  negotiations on the Iranian nuclear crisis and the  Israel/Palestinian issue—but also ensure Syria’s  security” (United Press 2.06.06).

Russian-German Alliance

I  The re-emergence of Russia’s power is linked with  German gas and oil interests. A Russian-German  alliance is emerging, one which eventually will  result in the leadership of all Europe:

“Russia and Germany agreed in the final days of  Gerhard Schroeder’s Chancellorship to build a  pipeline bypassing Poland. Germany—which is  Russia’s biggest West European customer—seems  to be pushing toward greater reliance on Russian  sources. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder  has taken a job as head of a supervisory board  of a joint venture between Gazprom and two  German firms that is building an underwater gas  pipeline linking Russia and Germany. German  dependence on Russian energy supplies will  increase, in part because of a growing belief that  Russia is the best alternative to the Middle East”  (Time 10.07.06).

“Vladimir Putin hailed Germany as Russia’s  strategic ally in Europe after promising to double  the amount of gas pumped to German businesses  each year via a new pipeline. ‘I am sure that  Bavaria will contribute to the development of  Russian-German co-operation’, the Russian  president said after being greeted at the Residenz  palace in Munich. The visit followed Mr Putin’s  announcement in Dresden late on Tuesday that  Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom natural gas firm would use gas from the Shtokman field under  the Barents Sea to send 55 billion cubic metres  a year to Germany, in addition to the 40 billion  it already receives. ‘Germany will not only be  able to completely cover its gas needs, it will  itself become a great distribution centre of gas  in Europe,’ Mr Putin said.” (UK Daily Telegraph  12.10.06)

“GERMAN WARSHIPS SET SAIL FOR  LEBANON—Germany began its biggest naval  operation since World War II on Thursday as eight  warships set sail for the eastern Mediterranean to  help the UN keep the peace in Lebanon.” (UK  Daily Telegraph 12.09.06)

Poverty and Prosperity

of the world we  live in. Much has been discussed in the media of  late about climate change:

“The scientific evidence is now overwhelming:  climate change is a serious global threat, and it  demands an urgent global response…. If no action  is taken to reduce emissions, the concentration  of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could  reach double its pre-industrial levels as early as  2035, virtually committing us to a global average  temperature rise of over 2oC.

In the longer term, there would be more than  a 50% chance that the temperature rise would  exceed 5oC. This rise would be very dangerous  indeed; it is equivalent to the change in average  temperatures from the last ice age to today”  (www.hm-treasurey.gov.uk/index.cfm).

Also consider the tragedy of planet earth right  here in 2006:

“Jacques Diouf, the African-born chief of the  UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, was  in no mood to mince words. A decade after  world leaders pledged to halve the number of  malnourished, nothing has changed: 854 million  people still go to bed hungry, half of them  children. ‘There are more hungry people in the  developing countries today than in 1916,’ Diouf  told an FAO summit in Rome this week. ‘Far  from decreasing the number of hungry people in  the world, it is increasing at the rate of 4 million  a year…. Unacceptable, intolerable and, I would  add, shameful.’

Yet, despite $US709billion ($916 billion) in  foreign aid and healthy economic growth across  much of the developing world during the past 10  years, one person in six does not have enough to  eat. A child starves to death every three seconds.  ‘Globally we have produced enough food to feed  everybody on the earth,’ Diouf remarked. Of the  thirty-nine countries experiencing serious food  emergencies, twenty-five are in conflict. Australia  will give $2.9 billion in government foreign  aid this financial year (up 15%). But even then  public foreign aid as a share of national wealth  is estimated to reach only 0.38%. In comparison,  Australia spends $3.7 billion a year treating  obesity, according to a recent Access Economics  study. Australians spend five times more on beer  ($14.5 billion a year) than they do on aid.” (The  Weekend Australian 4.11.06)

Meanwhile God sits in the heavens and He  watches all this. Despite all of man’s grand  inventions, the world refuses to confront the  problem of poverty and disease. Billions of dollars  spent on weapons, but how much on food? Poverty  in the world could be eradicated if nations all agreed  to stop military spending. God’s longsuffering  waited in the days of Noah, and we wonder how  much longer it can last today. The Kingdoms of this  world will soon be replaced with an age of peace  and prosperity where there will be food for all.  This prosperity will come about through the only  way possible: the establishment of Jesus Christ as  king in Zion:

“He shall judge thy people with righteousness,  and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall  bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by  righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the  people, he shall save the children of the needy,  and shall break in pieces the oppressor. He shall  have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the  river unto the ends of the earth. Yea, all kings shall  fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.  For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the  poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall  spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls  of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from  deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood  be in his sight.” (Psalm 72:2–4,8,11–14)