“The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers … For you are all children of light. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–7 ESV)

In Daniel 5 we are presented with a dramatic parable of the latter days. Belshazzar’s feast typifies the drunken revelry and blasphemy of our world In every aspect of Bible prophecy we have seen dramatic developments in 2012 and into 2013. Yet the world continues on, oblivious to what is coming. It is easy for us also to fall into a similar false sense of security. Just like the writing on the wall for Daniel, the prophetic Word remains clear to those who are awake and sober.

Power and strength to the Beast

In recent months there has been an increasing debate about a possible exit of Britain from the European Union. It appears these debates will continue to gather pace in 2013. Revelation 17 reveals the final phase of the European Beast, a united at the time of the end. This feast also typifies the rejoicing of the Papacy in her seemingly successful efforts to revive Papal power in the latter days (Rev 18:1–7). In Luke 21:24–36 Jesus Christ uses similar concepts found in Daniel 5. He warns of partying, \drunkenness and perplexity with men’s hearts failing for fear. Christ’s return will come like a snare, as it was on the black night of Babylon’s revelry (Isa 24:17–18; Jer 50:24). The drying up of the River Euphrates and the coming of Christ in Revelation 16 also have as their foundation the events of Daniel 5. Similarly the Apostle Paul makes a number of allusions to Belshazzar’s feast in his passionate warning in 1 Thessalonians 5.

19_6 watchman

European super-state. The nations of Europe continue to develop one mind and give their power and strength to the Beast (Rev 17:12–14). Individual nations are being forced to give up sovereignty to a centralised system of power and control in Brussels. This is happening politically and now financially:

ECB to take charge of Euro Banks: EU finance  ministers have agreed to put the European Central Bank in charge of all Eurozone banks in a deal that paves the way for the currency bloc’s stability fund to provide direct bailouts.  The EU Financial Services Commissioner said  the supervisor should be ready by March 2014, with about 200 banks automatically qualifying for direct ECB oversight. (Sydney Morning  Herald 14.12.12)

Revival of Russian power

Russia’s economic and military power is rapidly expanding, and is now reaching right into the Middle East. As we would expect from Daniel 11:40–45, Russia comes into the Middle East with “many ships”. This is exactly the situation that is emerging:

Vladimir Putin: the new global Shah of Oil: Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s number one oil producer. The title now belongs to Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company. Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by British oil firm BP and a group of Russian billionaires. Rosneft will be in charge of more than 4m barrels of oil production a day. And who is in charge of Rosneft? None other than Vladimir Putin, Russia’s resource-full president. Europe is reliant on Russia for oil and gas. To be in control of other nations’ necessary energy resources is to be in a very powerful position – one that Putin has been working toward for more than a decade. Gazprom in control of Europe’s gas, Rosneft in control of its oil. A red hand stretching out from Russia to strangle the supremacy of the West and pave the way for a new world order – one with Russia at the helm. (Marin Katusa, Chief Energy Investment Strategist, Casey Research 24.10.12)

Russia’s Putin is making his moves in Syria  and beyond: Make no mistake; Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent, is making his move now on multiple fronts. Earlier this month Putin announced at a military base in Southern Russia that he would build a new strategic bomber capable of “global reach.” In addition he announced that Russia would spend $13 billion over the next 8 years on its new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. (Fox News 27.06.12)

China and Russia seal power pact: China and Russia vowed to step up joint military exercises, raising fears of a regional arms race after Washington declared the US Navy was bolstering its presence in the Asia-Pacific. The deal grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan also weighed into the international tensions over the Syrian uprising and Iran’s nuclear program. Mr Putin welcomed the co-operation between Beijing and Moscow. “Recently joint navy exercises were held in the Yellow Sea, and they were the first of such exercises,” he said. (The Australian 8.06.12)

Russia, China, Iran plan manoeuvres in Syria: Middle East military tensions around Syria shot  up again with the news that a joint Russian- Chinese-Iranian exercise is to take place in Syria.  It was described as “the biggest of its kind ever staged in the Middle East” with 90,000 personnel,  400 air planes and 900 tanks taking part.  (Debkafile 18.06.12)

Russian warships in position opposite Israel: The Black Sea Fleet’s naval task force has received an order to remain in a designated area in the eastern Mediterranean ready to evacuate Russian citizens from the Gaza Strip should the Palestinian-Israeli conflict worsen. The Russian statement is in effect a cover story for the naval task force’s real mission, which is to stand by for coming developments in relation to the Syrian conflict. (Debkafile 23.11.12)

Russian warships gather in Mediterranean  for drills: About a dozen Russian warships are converging on the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden as part of a large-scale strategic exercise … “This part of the world’s oceans is very important from the point of view of Russia’s geopolitical interests, including the fact that the Russian Navy has a logistical base here [in Syria],” a Russian General said. (Global Security 25.12.12)

How better to sum up Russia’s recent moves in the Middle East than from a Russian Orthodox commentator, Nathanael Kapner, President of the Brother Nathanael Foundation. He says:

“There is no man feared more by international Jewry than Vladimir Putin. Putin remains unshaken in his defence of international law. Last November, Putin sent a signal to the Zionist lap dogs by dispatching the Russian Patriarch on a religious mission to Syria where he met with both the Syrian Antiochian patriarch and also Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The message was clear. Putin, who recently announced that, in the tradition of the Czars, his foreign policy will include protection of Orthodox Christians abroad, left no doubt that any attempt to oust Assad, who is protecting all minorities in Syria, will be opposed. Now with three Russian warships recently docked in Syria’s port of Tartus, Putin’s actions speak louder than his words. Bottom line – the Zionist plan for a greater Israel extending from Tel Aviv to Tehran, from the Nile to the Euphrates, by fragmenting Israel’s bordering nations into competing militias and warlords, Vladimir Putin remains firm and uncompromising. You can hear it all the way from Moscow to Tel Aviv, a clear and resounding “Nyet” flaming forth from the righteous lips of Vladimir Putin, the world’s foremost and only defender against Zionism’s warmongering, world destroying ugly designs.” (April 2012)

Kings of the North and South

Daniel 11:40–45 tells of a latter day re-emergence of the King of the North and King of the South. The revived Roman Empire (little horn of the goat) becomes the King of the North when Russia moves south through Turkey and into Egypt. Isaiah 19 describes the events preceding Russia’s move south: “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian – brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing … I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them, declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” (Isa 19:2–4 NIV) The fierce king here is Gog of Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 8:23–25. This is exactly the situation developing in Egypt now:

Mursi move splits Egypt: A decree by the Egyptian President, Mohammed Mursi, granting himself extensive new powers triggered demonstrations by both supporters and opponents. The atmosphere at each demonstration laid bare the divisions facing Egyptian society (Sydney Morning Herald 25.11.12)

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood is Sunni in doctrine with their leader Mohammed Mursi holding tenuously to power in Egypt since the revolution in 2011. We are seeing the development of a ‘Sunni crescent’ to the south of Israel, with a ‘Shiite crescent’ to the north. Many of the Sunni countries in the south are backed by Britain and the USA and are seriously concerned about the rise of a hostile Iran in the north, backed by Russia.

Britain could build up its military presence in the Gulf to counter Iran threat: Britain could build up its military presence in the Gulf to counter the growing threat from Iran. The news came as PM David Cameron, on a three day visit to the Gulf region to push sales of Typhoon jets, said the UK would do “everything to stop” Iran successfully developing nuclear weapons. Government sources said the plans which could see Britain’s presence in the UAE boosted. (UK Daily Telegraph 6.11.12)

Additionally we have an astonishing pronouncement by the Sunni’s spiritual leader that Russia is their greatest enemy. This man is considered to be one of the world’s most signifcant intellectuals and he is very influential. This may be laying the foundation for Russia’s invasion of Egypt as in Daniel 11:

Spiritual Sunni leader calls Russia ‘enemy number one’: “Brothers, Moscow has become the enemy of Islam and of Muslims these days. It has become the number one enemy of Islam and Muslims”. This was the astonishing statement made by leading Sunni scholar, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi. With this new theological ruling, he also blamed Moscow for the bloodshed in Syria. This latest attack on Russia, made on October 12 on television in Qatar, is far more significant than a simple emotional outburst. Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi is the Sunni world’s most respected theological authority. He is also the sole spiritual leader of the ‘Muslim brotherhood’ in Egypt, Syria, Libya and the rest of the world. When Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi declares that a certain country is the number one enemy, many of his followers are sure to act accordingly. Such a pronouncement of outright hostility is unprecedented.” (The Voice of Russia 18.10.12)

It appears that Russia’s support for the Syrian regime and Iran’s nuclear program may be behind this pronouncement. What is clear is that the scenario presented in Daniel 11 is coming together perfectly in the most amazing of ways.

Syrian crisis escalates

The Syrian war has resulted in Russia’s closer involvement in Middle Eastern affairs. Russia and Turkey now find themselves on opposite sides in the conflict, and relations between the two countries are becoming very tense. This is a serious powder keg just to the north of Israel. Russia already has a naval port in Syria.We expect Russia as the King of the North to eventually take control of Syria.

Turkey fires first salvo at Russians over Syrian arms supply: Syria’s crisis triggered new international tensions when the Turkish PM Erdogan, accused Russia of directly supplying munitions to Bashar al-Assad’s government, after Turkish jets intercepted a plane en route from Moscow to Damascus. The tension underlines the sharp and growing disagreements over the crisis – the bloodiest of the Arab Spring – which Syrian opposition activists say has resulted in the loss of 30,000 lives in the past 19 months. On a new and alarming front, Turkey and Syria have traded artillery _ re several times over their border in the past week. One Turkish commentator said: ‘ This is a signal to both Syria and third parties such as Russia and Iran.’ (Sydney Morning Herald 13.10.12)

Turkey Deploys 250 Tanks on Syrian Border:  Turkey bolstered military presence on the border with Syria by deploying 250 tanks and 55 jets of various models after a Syrian military helicopter bombed the Syrian border town of Azmarin. Armoured vehicles and heavy weapons have been stationed while artillery units were also sent to the region … Fighting along Turkey’s 910-km border with Syria has repeatedly spilled over into Turkish territory. (Xinhua 13.11.12)

Russia Arms Syria with Powerful Ballistic Missiles: Hours after NATO agreed on Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to Turkey because of the crisis in Syria, Russia delivered its first shipment of Iskander missiles to Syria. The superior Iskander can travel at hypersonic speed of over 1.3 miles per second (Mach 6–7) and has a range of over 280 miles with pinpoint accuracy of destroying targets with its 1,500 -pound warhead, a nightmare for any missile defence system. The Iskandar is a surface-to-surface missile that no missile defence system can trace or destroy. (Global Research 20.12.12)

Syria invasion would have ‘global consequences’,  Assad warns: President Bashar al-Assad said a Western invasion of Syria would have “global consequences” and warned that the cost of such action would be unbearable. (UK Daily Telegraph, 8.11.12)

Syria: Turkey missile plan is a ‘provocation’:  Syria condemned plans by Turkey to site Patriot missiles along its border as “a new act of provocation.” In a concerted effort, Syrian allies Iran and Russia warned that the move could spark a regional conflict. (UK Daily Telegraph 23.11.12)

Middle East on the Brink

In addition to the Syrian war, Israel and the city of Jerusalem are the focus of increasing controversy. Ultimately Armageddon will centre on the city of Jerusalem as described in Zechariah 12–14:

Iran dispatches warships to Sudan after Israeli airstrike on missile base: Iran risked Israeli military  retaliation with the dispatch of a naval task force to Sudan just days after a widely reported airstrike by the Jewish state against a missile base run by Tehran. Israel sees the increasingly close military links between Iran and Sudan as a credible threat. It fears Iran is building missiles to supply Hezbollah and the Syrian regime. Sudan has complained to the UN that Israel bombed the factory. (UK Daily Telegraph 30.10.12)

Israel hits back after Palestinian UN vote with 3000 new settler homes: Israel on Friday retaliated against the UN’s de facto recognition of Palestinian by approving the construction of 3000 new settler homes. The units will be built in the West Bank and east Jerusalem on land Palestinians hope will form part of a future state. Israel is also accelerating the processing of 1000 extra planning permissions.” (UK Daily Telegraph 30.11.12)

Moscow: Israel must end illegal settlement building: The Russian Foreign Ministry is concerned over Israeli

plans to build more homes in East Jerusalem as an impediment to resuming Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. “Israeli homes built on occupied lands, including in East Jerusalem, poison the atmosphere of the already complex relations between Palestinians and Israelis, and create additional impediments to resuming substantive negotiations,” says a report posted on the ministry website. Settlement construction on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem are illegal under international law…” (Russia Today 19.10.12)

What more could we ever want to see? The labour pains are getting stronger and closer together. So if we feel overburdened with the pressures of this life, let’s be encouraged that God is in control. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).