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com Russia’s imperialist march through Georgia this week accelerates the pace of prophetic events!
JERUSALEM—Each time I visit Yad Vashem—Jerusalem’s Holocaust Museum— something different stands out. This time, it was what led up to the Second World War— Mein Kampf becoming a bestseller in Germany years before the emergence of Nazism, Hitler’s rise to power by democratic means, the dizzying transformation of Germany into a totalitarian state in less than one year, Nazism’s foremost dependence on propaganda, the establishment of the first concentration camp in 1933, Christianity’s anti-Semitic alliance with fascism, the news media’s blind complacency, Germany’s conquest of Austria without having to fire a shot, the Anschluss, appeasement in Munich, Kristallnacht, Hitler’s vow to annihilate “the Jewish race in Europe,” the secretive Molotov-Ribbentrop alliance and then, finally, Germany’s invasion of Poland. As familiar as we might be with these alarm bells now, at the time, most people still wouldn’t have imagined these events culminating in the destruction of 50 million people. Yet, within a few short years of Nazism’s attack on Poland, that is exactly what happened. In this end time, Jesus Christ prophesied, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). God says there has never been anything like what mankind is about to experience. By comparison, it will make the emotionally charged history that Yad Vashem retells seem like a children’s story. “And except those days should be shortened,” Jesus continued, “there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (verse 22). Without God’s intervention, mankind would cease to exist! That’s where we are headed. In moving from one display to the next at the museum on Tuesday—all of them organized chronologically—I wondered, where are we right now in the sweeping progression of events leading up to the prophesied Great Tribulation? Kings of the East Our most recent prophetic barometer is Russia’s invasion of Georgia last weekend. What a perfect measure of how fast prophetic events are accelerating! Only a few years ago, Moscow’s once mighty Soviet-era military force had disintegrated to a point where only a shell had been left of its formerly awesome power. At the outset of Vladimir Putin’s reign in 2000, with Russia’s armed forces strapped for cash and
saddled with insufficient and outdated equipment, an audacious strike against one of its ex-Soviet states, in outright defiance against Europe and the United States, would have been unthinkable. But not today! Imperial Russia has returned with a vengeance. “Russia’s victory in Georgia is payback for years of geopolitical irrelevance,” Eugene Rumer wrote in Wednesday’s Washington Post, for Moscow’s retreat from Eastern Europe and from the Soviet Union, for Western finger-wagging at Russian transgressions at home and abroad. Russia is back: Its gross domestic product has increased from $200 billion in 1999 to $1.2 trillion in 2007. Moscow has more money from oil and gas exports than it knows what to do with. With a booming economy that now ranks as the world’s tenth largest, Russia is well on its way to becoming a world superpower—especially when its military might and economic prosperity combine with Asia’s gargantuan population, as Bible prophecy says it will. Last week, Russia ordered its Georgia campaign to start on the same day as the Olympic Games, which happens to be showcasing another Asian nation’s vault toward superpower status. China’s economic and military ascendency has run parallel to Russia’s dramatic rise. Next year, Chinese manufacturing output will exceed that of the United States, amounting to 17 percent of the world’s manufacturing value. At the beginning of this millennium, just eight years ago, China’s share of the manufacturing pie was a much slimmer 7 percent. As for its military power, in April, National Public Radio reported that China was in the midst of rapidly expanding its development of missiles, submarines and satellites. The report quoted Kurt Campbell, a former Defense Department official, who said, “There is no doubt that China is a rising military power. No country has risen to a status of great power as rapidly as China has … over the last 20 years.” Tidings That Trouble the Beast We have often referred to the coming clash between the Iranian-led king of the south and the European-led king of the north, spoken of in Daniel 11. Prophecy says radical Islam will aggressively “push” at Catholic Europe, resulting in Europe’s furious blitzkrieg attack against Iran and its allies. Not long after this, during the Great Tribulation, notice what Bible prophecy says will happen: “But tidings out of the east [the Orient] and out of the north [Russia] shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many” (verse 44). The European beast will be “troubled” by the awesome might of a great Asian confederacy! Fearing an attack by Asiatic hordes, the European beast power
will unleash a preemptive strike against them—the same strategy it employs to take out the king of the south. Now understand why the events of this past week reveal so much about where we now are in prophecy! If the European beast is so troubled by the Asian conglomerate during the Tribulation, what must it be thinking, planning and preparing for now even as the kings of the east are making their grand entrance on the world’s stage? In his column on Wednesday about the “miracle” of China’s rapid rise in power, Joel Hilliker concluded, “[W]e must view China’s rise as being a likely provocation for this empire [the European beast power] to rise up and strike! You can be sure it is watching intently what China is doing today, and, behind closed doors, plotting its retaliation.” The next day, in his Thursday column, Brad Macdonald explained the significance of Russia’s latest power-flex in relation to events in Europe. “Crises like Russia’s invasion of Georgia might expose Europe as a timid behemoth weighed down by bureaucracy and conflicting motives and ideologies,” Macdonald wrote. But they also expose Europe’s dire need for strong leadership. They motivate the European people and leaders toward fulfilling that need. A resurrected imperialistic Russia will serve as a prod toward the fulfillment of a prophecy Herbert Armstrong and now Gerald Flurry have been warning about for decades: the resurrection of an imperialistic, German-led, Catholic European empire! Those who think we are wrong about Europe need to open their eyes to what’s happening in the rest of the world and understand how these events are driving Europe toward militaristic unity! We know the European Union is an incongruous mix of different nationalities with divergent interests. Bible prophecy actually said it would be that way. Daniel describes the final resurrection of the “Holy” Roman Empire as being an unsteady mixture of iron and clay that only holds together for a short time under the totalitarian rule of a ruthless dictator. The iron and clay are already there—loosely federated under the aegis of the European Union. All it needs is its imperial head. Where Is the United States? The other stunning development this week was the conspicuous absence of strong support for the fledgling democracy of Georgia, which is so enthusiastically pro-American that it has a street in its capital name after George W. Bush. “In recent years,” wrote the New York Times, “Mr. Bush has lavished praise on Georgia—and the so-called Rose Revolution that brought Mikheil Saakashvili to power—as a model of democracybuilding. The feeling was mutual: When Mr. Bush visited Tbilisi in 2005, the authorities estimated that 150,000 people showed up to see him.”
The events of this past week presumably left many from that same crowd bitterly disillusioned. “We killed as many of them as we could,” one Georgian soldier told the New York Times. “But where are our friends?” President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rice all condemned Russia’s invasion in the strongest of terms, but none of the denunciations included any kind of retaliatory threats. In fact, President Bush’s statement that Russia’s response to Georgia’s internal division was “disproportionate” implies that Russia was justified—at least in a “proportionate” way—in invading Georgia. During his 2005 visit to Georgia, President Bush told its people, “As you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you.” What a difference three years make. With its hands full in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is in no position to provide meaningful military assistance to Georgia. Russia understands that there are limits to America’s military power. Putin also knows he has Washington over the barrel of a gun regarding any future deal with Iran. “The reason the Americans are not being tougher is that they need the Russians in whatever scenario they plan to pursue on Iran and the rest of the [Middle East] region,” Stratfor wrote yesterday. “The Americans want to put this behind them as quickly as possible so they can get on with Iran. They cannot afford to alienate the Russians.” But besides its preoccupation with other hot spots and its lack of leverage with Russia, it is America’s broken will that best explains its weakening position geopolitically. “President Bush once had the fortitude to deal with this sort of crisis, but seems to have lost it,” John Hinderaker wrote at Power Line. This too is prophesied! Heeding God’s Warning God tells us where all these events are leading. So too, does history. As Max Boot wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The world failed in the 1930s to rally to the defense of small states such as Ethiopia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Finland when they were menaced by larger predators. The statesman of the time calculated that the cost of action was too high. What we learned in retrospect was that the cost of inaction was far higher. That is a lesson we should heed today” (August 12). Once again, the warning signs are all around us. Just like a visit to Yad Vashem, we are moving step by treacherous step toward worldwide cataclysm! But most people—now used to war, indifferent to evil and drugged by the unprecedented prosperity of our day— will simply refuse to believe that anything this catastrophic could happen, even as earthshaking alliances form, as small states are overrun by predators, as hatred and racism is institutionalized, as defenders of democracy retreat and place their faith in diplomacy and appeasement, and as our perverse evils multiply.
Soon, though, catastrophe will explode in our faces, which is why Christ warned: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34). Yes—take heed to yourself! God will not prevent the Great Tribulation from happening. He will only intervene at the last minute to save mankind from extinction. But He will intervene in your individual life now if you heed His warning. This is why Christ said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (verse 36). • Stephen Flurry’s column appears every Friday. To e-mail Stephen Flurry, click here. Please note that, unless you request otherwise, your comment may appear on our feedback page. To read more articles by this author, click here.
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