Written in 2014
Russia and EU – New Cold War?
The day Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Vladimir Putin told the West to get out of Russia’s back yard. He told the Russian parliament that he would not accept Western influence ‘next to our home and on our historic territories.’ His speech sent shock waves through the international community and appeared to put an end to two decades of diplomacy since the fall of the Soviet Union designed to embed Russia as a member of the international community. Fears have been expressed that Russia will seek to pursue an aggressive policy towards other parts of the former Soviet Union as it seeks to build up a Russian led customs union to rival the EU. At the time of writing western leaders are considering sanctions against Russia and the possibility of kicking Russia out of the G8 group of nations.
There are a number of items of interest prophetically in this situation.
After the end of the Cold War there was a hope that the nations would come together in a New World Order, which would bring peace and cooperation between the nations of the world. We also saw the rise of blocs of nations, in particular the EU. Mr Putin wanted to create a ‘Eurasia Union’ of the former countries of the Soviet Union. The current crisis arose when the EU offered Ukraine a partnership agreement in the EU, while Russia offered Ukraine to be part of its Customs Union. The Ukrainian revolution against Russia friendly President Yanukovitch meant Ukraine was moving towards the EU option, which in turn led to Russian counter action.
According to Daniel 2 the final phase of world history before the second coming of Christ is represented by ‘feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile which do not adhere to one another.’ The ten toes of iron and clay represent the nations coming together in the globalised economic and political system, but not holding together due to their differences. So the world system in the last days before the second coming of Christ will be one which comes together on one level, but remains divided on another level and does not stick together. Today we see features of it not holding together and being divided over Ukraine.
Russia will play an aggressive role in the last days of this age. In Ezekiel 38-9 it appears that Russia will emerge as a spoiling power opposing the western nations in the last days. According to this prophecy it will move into the Middle East with its allies against Israel: ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.’ There are good reasons to locate this prophecy with Russia and its actions in the last days of this age. It appears it will come against Israel with a group of allies including Iran (Persia), aiming to ‘take a spoil’. The western nations will protest but do nothing to stop this invasion, but God will destroy this army in the war of Gog and Magog.
Today Russia has interests in the Middle East with alliances with Iran (Persia) and Syria. It is also getting closer to Egypt. It has expressed interest in the huge gas fields found off the Mediterranean coast of Israel, Lebanon and Syria, which could be the ‘hook in the jaw’ which brings Russia down into the Middle East. The present crisis shows Mr Putin emerging as the strong leader of Russia, willing to take action which will dismay the western nations when it is in Russia’s interests to act this way.
The European Union will seek to expand to the east and to the south. Many commentators have seen the coming together of the European nations in the EU as a revival of the Roman Empire in fulfilment of Revelation 17.10: ‘There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is and the other has not yet come. And when he comes he must continue a short time.’ The one king who ‘is’ in this prophecy is the Roman Empire, which existed at the time John wrote the Revelation. The one who is yet to come is the end time empire out of which the beast or antichrist arises. The EU has arisen out of the area of the Roman Empire.
As already noted the EU is also seeking to extend its reach eastwards. In November 2013 the EU held its ‘Eastern Partnership’ conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, which was designed to improve trade and political relations with six former Soviet Republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It still has plans for Turkey to join, and the Balkan countries. It has offered Israel and the Palestinian Authority very favourable status terms for linking with the EU if they succeed in making a peace settlement in the current round of negotiations.
This could be very significant, if it is correct that the EU is the seat of power of the coming antichrist. Daniel 9.27 speaks of covenant made with Israel and the prince to come (the antichrist). Daniel’s prophecy connects this one to the people who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE (i.e. the Romans). Therefore there is a connection between the antichrist and the Roman Empire which will be revived in the form of the EU.
The expansion of the EU lines up with the prophecy in Daniel of the ‘little horn’ which expands south and east. ‘And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.’ See Daniel 8:9-12. The EU began as a union of the Benelux countries, France, West Germany and Italy. It has expanded in all directions with Britain and Ireland joining, as well as moving south and east, taking in the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe as well as Greece, Spain and Portugal. Ukraine is to the east of the EU as is Turkey. The countries of the Middle East and North Africa are also in its sights through the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement. Now, approximately 500 million people are under a new, single (though not completed united) government, called the European Union, headquartered in Brussels.
Eurasian Union launched
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have agreed to set up a Eurasian economic union, modelled on the EU, with a target date of 2015. The three countries already have a customs union but now aim to go further by removing trade barriers. The Union was officially agreed to on May 29, 2014 when Vladimir Putin met with his counterparts from Kazakhstan and Belarus in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to initiate the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Putin has long sought to form the bloc in hopes that it would provide a Eurasian counterweight to the EU and the US. ‘A new geo-economic reality of the 21st century is being born today,’ said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Missing from the Union is Ukraine, currently caught in the crossfire of pulls to the European Union in the west of the country and to Russia in the east. The Ukrainian conflict is causing a growing rift between Russia and the EU. Other former countries of the Soviet Union are lined up to join the Eurasian Union, including Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
The Eurasian block also wants to have cooperation with China (Eastasia). On May 21st Russia and China signed a 30-year, $400bn (£237bn) agreement to deliver Russian gas to China in a deal that underscores Russia’s shift towards Asia amid strained relations with the west. Russia and China would like to topple the dominance of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency and create a new system with a type of combined global reserve currency involving the Euro, the rouble and the yuan.
It is interesting that George Orwell’s fantasy of the future, ‘1984’, saw the world split into three power blocs, Oceania (the west), Eurasia and Eastasia who were either in conflict or alliance with each other. One interpretation of Bible prophecy sees the final phase of world history before the second coming of Christ being made up of blocs of nations coming together in an uneasy union which will not hold together. The image of Daniel 2, which represents the nations, has ‘feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile …. They will not adhere to one another just as iron does not mix with clay.’ (Daniel 2.41-2). Revelation 17 has 10 kings who give their power to the beast (Antichrist) at the end of days. In this scenario the ten toes of image and the ten kings represent blocs of nations coming together in a globalised economic and political system, but not holding together due to their differences. So the world system in the last days before the second coming of Christ will be one which comes together on one level, but remains divided on another level and does not hold together.
Jeremiah 50.41-42, Ezekiel 38-9 and Joel 2 speak of a hostile power to the north emerging in the last days. Daniel 11 speaks of a time when ‘news from the east and the north shall trouble him’ (the European dictator / antichrist). Revelation 16.12 speaks of the ‘kings of the east’ coming to Armageddon. Watch this space.