I had been working on a post about Russia for some time – thinking about it and letting it gel. I felt a post was necessary because as I see it, Russia’s role in the end-times is greatly misunderstood. And then all of this controversy came about with Ukraine and Russia annexing Crimea, and so the timing seems right to finish this post.
The west seems to view Russia as a bully that cannot be trusted. While some of this feeling can be said to be well-founded what with the aggression of the Soviets taking control of the nation for 70 years, the Cold War, and the threat of nuclear war, Russia’s actions and motivations after the Soviet-era are basically the same as its actions and motivations prior to the Soviet era. The Soviet era included a dangerous ideology – collectivism in the form of communism – where a group of men thought they should control the world, but with that vanquished, Russia went back to the way it was before the Soviet era.
With Russia rebuilding its military, its actions with Ukraine, and other issues, there are fears voiced in the western media that the old Soviet Russia is re-emerging. However, from the standpoint of the Four Signposts, my view is actually quite the opposite. Russia is being made ready to deal with the Antichrist and his newly resurrected Islamic Empire. I view Russia as supporting a cause that the west should also be supporting – which is containing the spread of Islam.
Of all the nations outside of the Middle East, there may be no nation whose role in the end-times is more misunderstood than that of Russia, and I believe it is because the west misunderstands Russia in general. The popular theology teaching of a Roman Antichrist would have us all believe that Russia was going to be leading an invasion of the Middle East, accompanied by its Middle Eastern Muslim allies. This thought was consistent with a Soviet Russia.
But this role for Russia in the end-times is just fantasy. The greatest Biblical basis that this school of thought offers is a false definition of the word “rosh” in Ezekiel 38:2-3. Occurring 598 times in the Old Testament, it means “first”, “chief”, or “primary” in 596 cases. We are told that twice in Ezekiel 38:2-3 it means “Russia.”
We can come to the realization that “rosh” truly means “chief” where Ezekiel refers to Gog as the “chief prince” of Magog, but then by taking this stand, what of Russia in the end-times? But like so many other geo-political situations in the Middle East that are unclear, Russia’s role is made clearer in the light of the Four Signposts. The Four Signposts has clearly shown what the role of the United States is in the end-times. We know that the United States is indeed mentioned in end-time prophecy, not by name, but by actions. The nation most responsible for lifting the lion with wings upright in Daniel 7 so it is forced to stand like a man, and most responsible for letting the first horn of the ram in Daniel 8 be established, is the United States. We know why Egypt and Syria and Turkey are doing what they are doing. We know what the Iranian government has in mind and what the Bible says they will do.
The Four Signposts tell us that Russia may not have a major role to play during the time of the Signposts themselves, like that of the U.S. raising the lion with wings. However, at the end of the Fourth Signpost, when the Muslim Antichrist rising out of the region of what is today Syria or southeast Turkey, and assembles his ten-nation empire, that time will be the start of the seven-year Tribulation. The Antichrist’s new Empire will face a chaotic and troubled sub-Saharan Africa to the south, a spineless and multi-cultural Europe to the northwest, but a highly resistant India to the east, and a nuclear, resolute, energy-independent Russia to the north and northeast.
Russia will be forced to do in earnest during the Tribulation what it has done for the last one thousand years: resist and contain Islam. There will be some who will say that this is not realistic because the Bible says that the Antichrist will have authority over all nations and peoples. But this does not mean the Antichrist will rule the entire world. The Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar had authority over all the peoples in Daniel 2:37-38, 4:22, but did he rule the entire world? No. Besides, Daniel 9:26 says that war will continue to the end. If war continues to the end, doesn’t that mean that the Antichrist would be fighting some nations somewhere to gain control of a certain region? And of course this is consistent with Revelation 9:15-16 and 16:12-14 that tell us of a last great war where the armies of the Orient come to do battle with the Antichrist. So there will be nations and regions plagued by – but resistant to – the Antichrist and his Empire. Russia will be one of them.
Russia was founded in AD 882 by Kievan Rus when he united the various East Slavic tribes in the region of modern Kiev in what is today Ukraine. Prior to the Mongol invasions of the 1200s, the greatest ruler Russia had is considered to be Vladimir the Great, who ruled from AD 980-1015, roughly one-thousand years before the currently ruling Vladimir. East of the new state of Russia, was a nation that had just converted to Islam. Volga Bulgaria was a trade competitor. Its leaders attempted to convert Russia and Vladimir the Great to Islam. At the time, Russia was a pagan nation.
Vladimir the Great rejected Islam for one very simple reason – he and all Russians loved their drink too much. But Vladimir also realized his nation should have a state religion too. Having rejected Islam, he sent envoys to other nations in the region to see what was out there. He rejected Roman Catholicism as he felt it was too somber, and he rejected Judaism as he felt their God had rejected them since they lost Jerusalem. It was in the Orthodox church of the Eastern Roman Empire that he found a home. He was so impressed with that Empire’s culture that he had Russia’s new church copy the Byzantine rite, and even the Greek alphabet – hence Russian is written in Cyrillic, a Greek offshoot.
So thankfully for the cause of opposing Islam, Russia embraced the eastern orthodoxy of Christianity and Vladimir the Great was baptized, as shown in the painting by Vasnetsov. He was baptized in a town located, appropriately enough at the southern tip of the Crimean peninsula which at the time was under the control of the East Roman Empire.
If Russia had embraced Islam, with Russia’s nationalism, Christianity in Europe would have had another Muslim force to deal with, hemmed on three sides by Saracens in Spain, Ottomans offshore of Italy and at the gates of Vienna, and a Muslim Russia to the east. But it was all in God’s plan for Russia to be a Christian nation. And Russia has been a bulwark against Islam to the east of Europe. In a way, the baptism of Vladimir could be as significant historically as the Battle of Thermopylae, in terms of events that preserved western culture. And Crimea is where Russia got its identity.
To be continued….
Categories: The Signpost Perspective