Events over the last few months indicate that we stand at the threshold of an amazing new development in prophetic fulfilment. The brotherhood has been waiting intently for many years for the arrival of the king of the north and at last he has emerged to take his appointed place in the purpose of God.

The title “king of the north” is found in Daniel 11. The chapter unveils in great detail the conflict between two powers styled, “the king of the north” and “the king of the south”. These two powers were known to historians as the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucids in the Fertile Crescent. They owed their origin to the power base of two of Alexander’s generals and they occupied the regions north and south of Israel; hence their titles. Here is a map showing the areas dominated by these two kings:

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Daniel 11:4-35 describes the political and military actions of these two kings between BC 300 and the arrival of the Romans in BC 44. By AD 117 Rome had conquered the whole region and absorbed into its dominions the territories of the two kings.

As time progressed the empire became divided and Daniel 11:36-39 describes the dominance of the Roman Empire in the region with a hint of its support for priest craft to further its gains. It is styled ‘the king’ in v36 and is a reference to the king of fierce countenance mentioned in Daniel 8:23. The eastern part of the Roman Empire gave way to the Ottoman Empire which once again prevented the Biblical kings of the north and south any capacity to re-assert their influence.

So in actual fact we have three kingly powers in Daniel 11:4-39. They are the king of the north (a foreign power in occupation of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan), the king of the south (a foreign power in occupation of Egypt) and the king of fierce countenance (the ruler of the eastern portion of the Roman Empire).

The drama of the prophecy involves all three powers being present as identifiable entities at the time of the end. This is indicated by Daniel 11:40 – “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south (a foreign power occupying Egypt) push at him (the king of fierce countenance): and the king of the north (a foreign power occupying Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) shall come against him (the king of fierce countenance) 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.”

The Ottomans lost control of their empire in stages and one of the first countries to become independent was Egypt. This independence didn’t last long, however, because in 1882 the British an­nexed Egypt and for the first time in nearly 2,000 years the king of the south emerged. The following map illustrates this by showing the difference between 1829 and 1882:

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In 1917 Britain pushed the Turks out of Palestine, which allowed for the creation of independent Middle East countries (including Israel) and ushered into existence “the time of the end”. This is illustrated by the maps below:

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We have had to wait nearly another 100 years to see the next phase of development – the emergence of the king of the north; that is, a foreign power in occupation of the ancient Seleucid empire. Just as Rome entered the Middle East through Syria just before the time of Christ, so Russia now enters this region through its overt alliance with Syria just before the Lord’s second coming. To fulfil its prophetic role Russia will continue to expand its influence across the region until it occupies all the territory marked out by Daniel and stands as the fully-developed king of the north.

How privileged we are to see this development. We are indeed blessed to witness the final stages of God’s plan with the nations. The next step is for Russia to take ‘him’ (the Turkish power) and then invade Israel.

Look at the Headlines

Almost every week we see headlines pointing to a rapid growth of Russian military might in Syria. Here are just a few examples:

  • Russia Plans Syrian Port Expansion (Middle East News Line 29-Oct-15)
  • Russia’s Syria Force Grows to 4,000, US Officials say (Reuters 05-Nov-15)
  • France and Russia Focus on the Islamic State (Stratfor 18-Nov-15)
  • Vladimir Putin: from Pariah to Powerbroker in One Year (The Guardian 18-Nov-15)
  • The Russian Navy in the Mediterranean was Ordered by President Vladimir Putin to Treat the French Navy Forces as Allies (New Europe 18-Nov-15)
  • The Bear Awakens: 355 ISIS Targets Destroyed by Russian Air Force in Last 48 Hours (Russia Insider 20-Nov-15)
  • Russia to Move S-400 Missile Systems to Syria Base (UPI 25-Nov-15)
  • Russia Adding Second Airbase in Syria, Pursuing ‘Expansion’ in Military Campaign (Fox News.com 01-Dec-15)
  • Moscow Using Turco-Russian Tensions to Bolster Military Presence (Defense News 03­ Dec-15)

One of the most interesting statements came from The Washington Post (dated 19-Nov-15) under this heading – “Tsar Putin I is on a Roll”.

“I found it fascinating that Russian President Vladimir Putin masterfully manipulated his domes­tic audience by commanding Russian forces in the Middle East to communicate with and work with France as allies against the Islamic State. In one fell swoop, the chess master stroked Russian public opinion, drove a wedge into NATO, and pushed America further into the shadows of irrelevance.

Russia is now king in the Middle East. Vladimir Putin is leading the world against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). Barack Obama is angry at Republicans again and has succeeded in his goal to mortally weaken American power around the globe.

What you are seeing is nothing short of Mr Putin masterfully playing the Great Game. Regrettably, this will not end well for freedom-loving people. As he builds his following around the world, Mr Putin is turning Russia into a dark place.”

If only this correspondent had really understood the significance of his words. In a very real Scriptural sense Gog is king – the king of the north.

Russian Aggression in the Middle East

Putin is pursuing a long-term strategy in the Middle East and Syria will continue to play an important part of that plan. One commentator sug­gests that the Russians want to break Saudi Arabia’s dominance by forging new alliances with Iraq and Iran. According to the Russians, he argues, Saudi Arabia plays a destructive role, both economically and socially, through OPEC and its Wahhabi missionary activities and needs to be contained.

Currently, Russia carries out its air strikes from its base in northwestern Syria, in Latakia province. Reports are prevalent that a second air base is be­ing built southeast of Homs at the current Syrian military base of Shaayrat. This will allow a greater ability to strike deeper within the country.

Russia’s deployment of its advanced S-400 air defense missile systems at Syria’s Khmeimim airbase has effectively implemented a no-fly zone under Russian control over most of Syria, as well as Lebanon, Cyprus, half of Israel, western regions of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and a vast part of Turkey. By a strange twist Russia has allowed Israeli aircraft to operate in southern Lebanon against Hezbollah provided Israel overlooks any unintentional Russian overflights.

Why is it that Russia moved S-300 missiles into Iran immediately after sanctions were lifted? Why is it that Russia moved S-400 missiles into Syria as soon as it could? The accompanying map illustrates the range of this missile umbrella.

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It forms an effective deterrent against enemy intrusion and thereby helps fulfil Russia’s protective role marked out by God in Ezekiel 38:7 – “Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.”

Under the heading Russian Military Buildup Hints at Wider War in Syria, The Guardian reported that “the suspicion among western officials that the assembled force has not been designed for launching airstrikes alone has been heightened by the wider design of the unfolding Russian opera­tion in Syria”.

Russia and Turkey

We expect from Daniel 11:40 that Russia will invade Turkey and this perhaps suggests a certain

degree of antagonism between the two countries. This hostility has suddenly become evident in November 2015 when the Turks shot down a Russian fighter plane that they allege violated its air space.

The reaction from Russia has been swift. It has accused Turkey of providing a conduit into ISIS controlled territory allowing ISIS to re-arm and finance its terrorism. So Putin ordered a carpet-bombing blitz over northern Syria up to the Turkish border crossing point of Hatay. This effectively pushed Turkey out of the Syrian theatre. Ankara has remained silent about the attack as Moscow went about severing Turkey from its vital road connections with Syria. The danger of any further escalation against this NATO ally by Russia could provoke a response from the USA.

Furthermore by cutting off vital supply lines to the Syrian rebels fighting in and around Aleppo against Assad’s forces, Russia has been able to assist Assad and add substance to Western allegations that Putin’s military buildup in Syria focused more on ending the anti-Assad rebellion than on defeating ISIS.

On 23 November Putin visited Tehran and found a harmony of purpose with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They both seek military and political domination of Iraq and Syria. Tehran seeks to build Iraq into its land bridge to Syria and Lebanon whilst Moscow seeks Iraq as a bridge linking the Caspian and Mediterranean Seas.

The Russian Navy – The “Many Ships” of Daniel 11:40

Following the downing of the Russian jet in Turkey, the Russian General Staff has deployed one of its largest air defense ships at the foot of Turkish territorial waters in the Mediterranean. This is a strong indication of Russia’s intent to enforce its military presence with naval fire power.

In an article entitled Russian Navy Reads the Art of War issued by The Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 25 November, the writer said this about Russian naval power:

“The Russian Federation intends to restore pres­tige and territory lost with the fall of Soviet Union. The key military objectives associated with this geopolitical thrust are confronting the eastward ex­pansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) over the European continent and denying the United States free access and power projection in the global commons, specifically in the maritime domain. Vladimir Putin personally announced a new Russian maritime doctrine reflecting these objectives. In this process, the Russian Navy is showcasing characteristics reminiscent of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

By aggressively parading the navy and estab­lishing its sea denial construct, Russia is aiming to incapacitate the navies of the US and NATO from performing their fundamental roles of protecting trade, safeguarding global commons and power projection. The Russian naval threat has driven the logic of numbers and maritime strategy of the US Navy to ground, forcing an overhaul. Without the American naval support, the NATO forces would also experience serious constraints. Thus the navy is emerging as the spearhead of Russia’s re-emergence and offence against its adversaries by simply refer­ring to Sun Tzu.”

The Religious Dimension

The Russian Orthodox Church fully supports the Kremlin’s decision to intervene in Syria, both as a war on terrorism and to protect Middle Eastern Christians. For many in the West, the idea that a church would take an overtly hawkish stance in the conflict in Syria is an utterly foreign concept.

But it is not a foreign concept from a prophetic standpoint. In Daniel 8:25 the king who will mag­nify himself against the Prince of Princes is said to cause “craft to prosper in his hand”. The word mirmah means fraud or deceit. It is used in Jeremiah 9:6 to describe the deceit that robs people of their knowledge of God. It is describing the advancement of religious falsehood. This religious proclivity is expanded further in Daniel 11:36-39. As Brother Thomas expressed it in Exposition of Daniel (p64): “As the head of a confederacy of the adherents of the Greek and Latin churches, it will be his policy to cause their priesthoods to be respected as useful co-operators in the subjection of Europe to his will”.

One correspondent made this point: “Putin has used the church to wrap himself in the Orthodox religion, and this is another way to impact Russian emotions. In the Russian people’s eyes, the president is doing God’s work. He is making Russia into the Third Holy Roman Empire, a Christian stronghold opposing the Islamic forces of evil”.

How much Longer do we Have?

No one can answer this question with any degree of certainty. But we have reached the point in God’s timeline where there is very little now which remains to be fulfilled.

We see Britain ready to sever its ties with the European Union. We see Israel in alliance with the Gulf States and with Egypt. We see Iran assert itself in the Middle East and join in with the aspirations and ambitions of Russia. We see Europe and Russia trying to downplay sanctions over Ukraine but all the while continuing to build bridges of economic cooperation. We see the ever-increasing dominance of Roman Catholicism and witness a world wracked with violence and evil.

So the really important question is whether we are ready and waiting, lifting up our heads in fervent expectation, or whether we have lost our first love. Surely the Lord is at the door and we must be ready and eager to meet him when he arrives.