Recent events have brought fear and anxiety to men and women throughout the world, but have increased the
anticipation of the sons and daughters of the living God of the coming of the Son of Man. In the past three months
missiles have reigned upon Afghanistan, Russia came close to political collapse, and world currency chaos has
affected virtually every man on the street across the globe. It has become increasingly obvious that world leaders
do not have the answers to the problems that are gripping the world—answers that will only be realised when the
Lord is King of the Earth.

Islam’s War Against America

 From the safety of the international waters, American warships launched their missiles of terror upon unsuspecting targets deep inside Sudan and Afghanistan. The US alleges that the targets were sites used to develop capabilities for Islamic fundamentalists to sustain their war of hatred against anything remotely American (Time, 31 August).

However, we should appreciate that this is not a parochial spat between ideological enemies. “They are among the new heroes of the Islamic world. They stood up to America. Now many young Muslims want to follow them”, an expert on militant Islamic groups was reported as saying. Over the last 10 years some 14,000 of these young men have been trained in secret military camps in Afghanistan (USA, Today, 3 September).

Brother Thomas in Elpis Israel comments that Russian territorial possessions will extend from India, thus covering Afghanistan, to ancient Ethiopia which included large parts of Sudan (Ezek 29:10 RSV), and it is this hatred of the US which will form the basis of forging this unlikely allegiance.

Whilst in more recent times Russia has been outwardly more friendly towards the US and the West in general, the underlying sentiment is antipathetic. Fear of US domination of territory and the natural resources which go with the territory that they have traditionally controlled runs very strongly in Russia. The hatred of the Islamic nations which will send young zealots to their death to attack American targets is only an open expression of the simmering and long held mistrust of the US in non-Islamic nations such as Russia and her satellites.

Attacks by the US using either their military or economic muscle only serve to reinforce the prevailing anti-America attitudes in the Region and lays the basis for the expected collective action by the Gogian host against the West as described in Ezekiel 38.

The alliance between fundamentalist Islamic nations such as Afghanistan, atheistic Russia and tribal Ethiopia is slowly being crafted by the angelic ministers of Yahweh, and events such as the retaliatory attacks by the US are yet another of the occurrences which we can expect to increase as the angels bring the nations into position for the “great and dreadful day of the Lord”.

Financial Markets Shaken

 Since July many of the major trading nations have experienced unprecedented financial and economic troubles. Currencies have come under immense pressure, and Governments have taken unprecedented actions to stave off complete collapse.

Headline after headline confirmed the parlous state of world financial markets and eroded the confidence of many who believed that therein lay the key to their future prosperity. As days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months the headlines and reports have become more ominous: “Dow Tumbles on Global Fears—Market falls 4.2%, worst in 10 months” and “Armageddon continues today as Nikkei dives” (USA Today, 28 August). “The worst week for the American stock market in nine years” (New York Times, 29 August). “Such numbers [ie sharp drops] have burst the confidence of some investors… ” (USA Today, 28 August). “Fear on Wall Street: Dow Falls 513 points”, and “‘I’m numb’, says… a car dealer consultant from Atlanta. ‘We [he and his wife] lost $22 000 in the past month. I don’t know what to do” (USA Today, 1 September). “Grab the antacid. The Wall St roller coaster is showing no signs of letting up as the Dow industrials take investors on a stomach-turning ride” (USA Today, 4 September). “Some analysts believe the carnage in bank stocks is an even greater indication of a looming economic slowdown than the 18% drop in the Dow” (USA Today, 6 September). “The Moskovy Komsomolets newspaper highlighted the popular disgust with the banks by printing an anecdote about a man who enters a Russian bank: ‘I want to open an account on your bank, whom should I speak to?’ asks the man. ‘A psychologist’, is the teller’s reply” (The Boston Globe, 7 September).

The US seemed for so long not to be able to put a foot wrong when it came to economic performance. However, “what started out as an Asian headache has turned into a global nightmare that threatens to destroy one of the greatest bull markets in US history. Panicked investors bailed out of US stocks… ” (USA Today, 28 August).

These events indicate the unreliable nature of the institutions that man has created to ensure his continuing economic well-being. The aftermath of similar conditions gave rise to beginnings of the last World War. Fresh from the difficulties of the Great Depression and reeling from the reparations imposed under the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler was able to easily seize power with promises to make Germany great again. Lenin was also able to use the excesses of the Czars to seduce the people with promises of prosperity for all in a classless society, to become the first Communist despot.

As world financial markets teeter on the brink of collapse, the victims may well once again become susceptible to a leader who rises up and promises relief and greater certainty. In Russia, these conditions may well provide fertile ground for the Communists to return to power, or at the very least a leader able to command the respect of the Russian people, who are reeling from the demise of the poor performance of their national economy.

One thing is for sure—US and European banks will not increase their exposure to Russia, and without Western capital Russia will find it almost impossible to restructure and privatise their dreadfully inefficient State-owned industries. This in turn will retard the economic re-engineering of the Russian economy and drag out the time it takes for any tangible benefits to be realised for the Russian people. It is highly likely that they will begin to seriously question the wisdom of the whole process of opening up the Russian economy, and we will see a new era in Russian politics emerge.

The genesis of many a military dispute has been the fear created by economic uncertainty. Recent events have created scenes not witnessed since the Depression and World War II. Queues of people to obtain employment or food, or their depreciated savings from the bank. These are the conditions in which a dictator with the vision of Gog, who can forge the alliance with Europe and take them to war into the Middle East, will arise. Surely the time is almost upon us!

Enter Gog

 The Watchman pages of The Lampstand have followed very closely the ups and downs of Boris Yeltsin. It is interesting to reread the February– March, June–July and August–September 1996 issues which all raise the fact that Yeltsin does not fit the profile of Gog and that we should expect to see a new stronger leader emerge.

It was amazing to see how close Yeltsin came to fall on his sword in recent months. Buoyed by the economic crisis in Russia, the Communists seized the opportunity to not approve Yelstin’s nomination for Prime Minister, after he had sacked (for the second time this year) his entire Government.

This was a major rebuff for Yeltsin, who at first refused to return from a five week Black Sea holiday when the Russian economy went into a major tailspin. So serious was the threat of a Communist resurgence, Yeltsin has had to relinquish some of his powers to other officials in the Government.

The newly appointed Prime Minister, Mr Primakov, who has now been approved by the Communist dominated Duma (parliament), is a former KGB Chief and “has opposed tough US policies toward Iraq and Iran… re-established Russian contacts with the maverick regimes in Libya and Cuba… ” (USA Today, 11 September). In fact the same newspaper reported that he “used his role as foreign minister to re-assert Russian influence throughout the world, even if that meant clashing with Russia’s new post Cold War ally, the United States”.

It is not likely that he will be the leader to take the Gogian confederacy on its ill-fated military excursion to the mountains of Israel, as it is reported he does not plan to run for the presidency in 2000. So if he remains true to his word we can anticipate some more conciliatory concessions to the Communists and another to take the role of Gog. The Communists have had a taste of the power that they once enjoyed through forcing Yeltsin to back down on his choice of Prime Minister. Human nature being what it is, they will not stop there. Those concessions increase the possibility of a more pro- Communist candidate coming to the fore in the rôle of President—recreating the chasm between West and East. The conditions for a leader akin to the Gogian dictator are becoming increasingly evident in the rapidly changing political landscape of Russia.

A Form of Godliness

 In the light of the foregoing discussion of how world events continue to show the hand of God in its affairs, we are served a timely reminder to review our priorities. With all these remarkable events affirming that God’s purpose will not be thwarted, are we living as if our Lord will return on the morrow or within the hour?

The form of godliness warned against by Paul is perhaps one of the biggest traps in our godless entertainment motivated society. Two recent issues of the USA Today newspaper demonstrated how that contemporary religion is making a mockery of God and serves to illustrate what happens when men and women relax their commitment to serving God. Religion becomes an option or a casual encounter, and a very low priority in life.

The 28 August edition published a story about how to attract church goers to Sunday baseball matches—they will receive discounted tickets. Non-church goers have alleged discrimination and asked the local baseball club to drop the scheme. This has incensed the parishioners, who have been led by their pastors to raise money for the baseball club to fight a legal battle on the issue. One pastor complained by saying that “I see their protest as an act of anger against God and people of faith”.

In another issue, 3 September, it was reported that increasing numbers of people attend church in holiday areas during the long summer holiday break in North America. Initially this might seem as an encouraging sign, but some of the comments in the article show it is a generally transparent gesture. One parishioner said: “At home, if I had a headache, I might skip church, saying I don’t feel up to it. Here, if I miss church, I really miss it”. One pastor said: “If you want to sing, you can come on out for the 10:00 am practice, and they throw a robe on you and you can sing”. Another pastor said: “I think they like me because I believe that worship must be fun. The Lord loved a party. You come to church in your shorts and sneakers, no socks”. And yet another said: “God’s message is always the same—Love your neighbour. Be yourself. Try to stay connected”.

How lost is this poor misguided group of pastors and their parishioners? Blind leaders of the blind. The Truth is a serious business. It cannot be watered down. It demands of us our very best and the highest standards. If that means making some tough personal, family and, at times, ecclesial decisions, so be it. Let us not flinch in the face of popularism and humanism, which only result, over time, in the degradation of the Truth of the Living God into a convenient commodity. In these outcomes there is no glory to God or His Son, which is evident in the form of godliness manifested in the statements above.

Let us remain steadfast through the strength of God as we see through the events that are unfolding that His Son and our Master will soon be here to establish the Kingdom which we all await with great anticipation.