At the time of writing, the world was still reeling from one of the worst natural disasters in living memory. The death toll is now over 280,000. So much has been written about the event, but a reflective article by William Rees-Mogg in The Australian included the following observations:

“Mankind has built a fragile home for itself, with the growth of the world’s population, the exploitation of natural resources, the spread of diseases from overcrowding and modern transport, the dependence on modern technologies, some of which are very vulnerable to upheaval, and the tall buildings which are open to terrorism. That fragility is the real danger of the modern world. Even since September 11 the great cities of the world have continued to build symbolic skyscrapers almost as vulnerable as the twin towers in New York. The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel was the blueprint for modern cities.

The tsunami mocks this pride. Perhaps our modern skyscrapers would withstand, as some tall hotels have withstood, the rush of the water. But our global system has an arrogance that challenges the forces of nature. It is as though mankind had decided to tweak nature by the nose to show who is the boss. The tsunami has demonstrated that nature, and not mankind, is still the real master.”

There are many chapters which speak of great earthquakes occurring at Armageddon (eg Ezek 38:20; Joel 3:16; Zech 14:1–11; Hag 2:6; Zeph 3:6–8; Rev 16:18). The tragic words of Jeremiah 25:33 have now become very real in our minds as Yahweh intervenes in world affairs.

Prosperity in Australia

So many of the prophecies of the last days indicate that while the world is in crisis, there are many who are living in ease and comfort, completely oblivious to 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 riches and prosperity (eg Luke 17:26–32 and Rev 16:15). In fact this is exactly the scenario we are presented with here in Australia:

“… By general consensus life doesn’t get much better. ‘Almost never before in the history of the world has there been a happier country than contemporary Australia,’ Tony Abbott said this week. The Health Minister made important qualifications about ‘all sorts of human agony’ that persist in modern Australia. ‘Notwithstanding the problems we have, we are an extraordinarily successful and happy society.’ If it’s impossible to gauge human happiness, those things we can measure lend weight to the contention most Australians have never had it so good. Treasurer Peter Costello spent much of the year boasting of Australia’s economic miracle, a cocktail of historically low interest rates, low unemployment, low inflation, record company profits and sky-high stock prices… Bureaucrats can’t conceal their astonishment at Australia’s good fortune” (The Weekend Australian 18.12.04).

 Africa and World Poverty

We will now consider the other side of the story—an incredible contrast:

“Africa’s Descent into Nightmare—The entire African continent is sliding into oblivion… Millions are already plagued by terrible violence—One in five Africans now live in a state that is being torn apart by war. The World Health Organisation warned that up to 10,000 people, many of them children, were dying each month from disease and violence… (In Congo) the war that began in 1998 and cost the lives of at least 300,000 people as a result of direct fighting and violence and another 2.7 million through disease and starvation, has never really ended… Yet the rest of the world has kept its distance from Africa’s troubles… Africa is all but ignored by the West” (The Australian 20.9.04).

“Half of the World’s Children are Living in Poverty—One billion children—half the world’s population of children—suffer from poverty, conflict and the scourge of AIDS, the UN Children’s Fund revealed in its annual report yesterday. In a separate report released yesterday, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that hunger and malnutrition were killing more than 5 million children a year, mostly in Africa. The FAO said it was regrettable so little was being done to fight hunger even though the resources needed to tackle the social disaster were ‘miniscule’ compared with the potential benefits. The FAO report, the State of Food Insecurity in the World, shows about 852 million people suffer from malnutrition” (The Australian 10.12.04).

The key points identified in the UNICEF report were:

  • 2.2 million children die each year through lack of routine immunization

  • 1.4 million children die each year due to lack of access to safe water or sanitation

  • 1.2 million children are trafficked each year

  • 1.6 million have been killed in wars since 1990

  • 2 million children have been drawn into the sex industry

  • 10.6 million children died in 2003 before the age of five

  • 2.1 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS

  • Estimated annual cost of meeting the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015:

$US40–70 billion ($A51–90 billion)

  • World military spending in 2003: $US956 billion ($A1.24 trillion).

This unimaginable evil cannot be blamed on a supernatural devil. It is man himself that is to blame. Human leaders and governments (many of whom claim to be ‘Christian’) cannot shrink from the responsibility of this wickedness. Only the return of Jesus Christ can solve the problems of this world, as outlined in prophecies such as Psalm 72 and Isaiah 35.

War in Iraq

The United States continues to suffer setbacks in its attempt to bring Iraq under control. Americans are becoming weary of seeing this endless carnage and the death of US troops. It has been reported that “latest opinion polls show a slump in support for the war among Americans, with 56% saying it is not worth fighting” (The Australian 22.12.04). How much longer can the US afford to keep going with this seemingly endless war? The US is currently spending $1billion/day on the war in Iraq (The Australian 22.01.05). What happens if the US economy crashes and the money dries up, especially if there was a large scale terrorist attack in the US? The following confirms what many commentators have been saying for a long time:

“I’llSend USBroke: Bin Laden—Osama Bin Laden vowed to bleed America to the point of bankruptcy, according to the full transcript of unaired portions of a videotape released yesterday by Arabic TV network Al-Jazeera… ‘As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record, astronomical numbers’, Bin Laden said, estimating the deficit at more than $US1 trillion. In reality, spending on the war against terror and other factors have resulted in an expected $US377 billion shortfall for 2003—the highest deficit since WW2, accounting for inflation. The total US national debt is near the $US7.4 trillion statutory limit… Bin Laden noted reports that Al-Qa’ida spent $US500,000 ‘on the event’—the September 11 attacks—while the US had lost more than $US500 billion ‘in the incident and its aftermath’” (The Australian 3.11.04).

So what is the meaning of all this? We know from many prophecies that at the time of the end, the Roman Empire will stretch from east to west. It will incorporate Iran and Iraq into its territory and it will be hostile to Israel. Daniel 8 and 11 require that the latter-day Roman power (described as “the little horn of the goat”—Dan 8:9–12, 23–25; 11:36–39) merges with the King of the North (11:40–45). For this to occur, Russia and Europe must occupy the ancient King of the North territory. A power vacuum appears to be developing in Iraq, which will in some way be filled at a later date by Russian and European forces. How that occurs, we will just have to wait and see. As for Iran, a crisis seems to also be impending:

“Iran Threatens Pre-emptive Strikes—Iran has hit back at hawkish US comments over its nuclear program, warning it reserves the right to launch a pre-emptive strike against US forces in the Middle East to prevent any attack on its atomic facilities. [Iran] also warned Israel it would be responsible for the ‘terrifying consequences’ of any attempt to knock out the facilities…” (The Australian 20.8.04).

Anti-Semitism in Russia and Europe

At the time of Armageddon and its aftermath, Israel will not only be in distress in the land itself (Zech 13:8), but Jews elsewhere will be subject to great persecution. This will be particularly apparent in Russia and Europe, lands where for hundreds of years Jews have suffered brutally:

“Sharon Ruffles French Feathers—France’s relations with Israel plummeted and Ariel Sharon was told he was not welcome in the European nation after he urged all French Jews to move to Israel ‘immediately’ to escape rising Anti-Semitic violence. France’s foreign ministry was this week waiting for an explanation from the Israeli Prime Minister for his ‘unacceptable’ weekend comments that moving to Israel was ‘a must’ for France’s 600,000 Jews. ‘We see the spread of the wildest anti-Semitism’ in France, Sharon told a meeting of the American Jewish Association in Jerusalem…” (The Weekend Australian 24.7.04).

“From RussiaWith Hate—Inspired by the example of Al-Qaeda, Russian Neo-Nazis say they are organizing themselves into a network of autonomous terror cells—and that the time of their jihad has come. [This is] a part of a new wave of nationalism that’s sweeping through Russian society… The country’s latent xenophobia has morphed into a radical, virulent form—and more and more young people are coming under the sway of Neo-Nazi ideology as a way to reassert lost national pride…” (Time 9.08.04).

Christendom Reborn?

Ten more nations joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Planning is also underway for Romania and Bulgaria to join the EU in 2007. The day before the ten nations joined the EU, the front page of the Catholic Herald asked the question, “Christendom Reborn?” The Catholic Church knows the historical importance of re-uniting Europe—to restore the Holy Roman Empire!!

“Fighting for the Soulof Europe—“With the Pope’s long-cherished vision of a Europe ‘breathing with both lungs’ now largely realised, the effects are likely to go well beyond mere lyrical appeals to empathy and community” (Catholic Herald 30.4.04).

“Rome, Not Brussels, is the Heart of Europe—Catholics can recognise the European Union’s lofty aspirations. We are conscious of our bishops nudging us into closer involvement. We know the Pope is one of its strongest advocates, seeing the EU as an instrument for the reclamation of Christian Europe…” (Catholic Herald 4.4.04).

“Europe is aChristian Culture, Prelate Insists—The growth of the EU represents a ‘return’ to an underlying reality, after may years of separation, according to Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran” (Catholic World News 14.6.04).

“EU United on Military Move—The EU yesterday trumpeted the launch of a squadron of new rapid-response ‘battle groups’ able to scramble to crises zones worldwide, a move aimed at boosting the bloc’s military muscle on the world stage. EU defence ministers said the long-heralded forces—thirteen of which will be up and running by 2007—were a major step for Europe’s ambitions to match its economic and growing political strength with military muscle” (The Australian 24.11.04).

Daniel 7 and Revelation 17–19 show that the Roman Beast is in existence in the last days. It is Daniel’s fourth beast which is destroyed by Christ when he comes. These prophecies also reveal that the Beast and apostate Christendom will be in a position of great power and confidence at the time of the end. So behind the scenes, the Papacy is also continuing to work diligently at restoring her alliances with the Russian and other Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Return of the Big Bad Bear

The following comments to the above title were written in The Australian (9.12.04) by Paul Dibb, a former Australian deputy defence secretary. He is presently chairman of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra. A few extracts of this article follow:

“Moscow’s interference in the Ukrainian election, the announcement that Russia will deploy a new type of strategic nuclear missile ‘that other nuclear states do not have’, and President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly anti-democratic attitude all point to a reversion to bad old habits.

We are now seeing an attempt by Putin to re-establish Russia as a great power.

Russia’s strong economic growth is enabling it to spend more on defence and increase its military presence in what it calls ‘the near abroad’. Russia’s real defence expenditure was $US65.2 billion ($86.1 billion) in 2003—an increase of more than 40 per cent from 2001. This makes Russia the second-largest defence spender in the world after the US, and ahead of China and Japan… And Russia under Putin is re-establishing a military presence in neighbouring countries.”

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 is a key part of Apostate Christianity in the last days. ‘Holy’ Russia is also responsible for the scattering and persecution of Jews through the centuries (Joel 3:2) and is therefore ripe for judgment. It is an historical fact that over 1 million Jews returned to Israel from “the land of the north” (Jer 3:18; 16:15) during the 1990s. It is this region that was predetermined by God to play a leadership role at the time of the end, as expressed in Ezekiel 38, Daniel 8 and 11 and Revelation 16.

The time is clearly short. God’s longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, and we wonder how much longer it can last today. The Lord Jesus Christ will soon remove the Kingdoms of this world (Rev 11:15) and replace them with an age of peace and prosperity where there will be food for all (Amos 9:13). Isn’t this what we all long for?