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Based on the prophecies throughout the scripture, Bible students have been anticipating this move for 100’s of years. The Orthodox and Catholic churches are destined by prophecy to be reunited and work together. The declaration points to a crusade in the Middle East, and according to news reports, “Pope Francis Sees Putin as ‘Only Man’ to Defend Christians Around the World.”
Ending a 1,000 year standoff between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, Pope Francis met with Patriarch Kirill to sign a joint declaration on Friday, February 12th. The words of the declaration speak for themselves,
“We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history. It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face,” from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.
The significance of this meeting, both historically and prophetically cannot be underscored enough. Based on the prophecies throughout the scripture, Bible students have been anticipating this move for 100’s of years. The Orthodox and Catholic churches are destined by prophecy to be reunited and work together. The picture of Daniel 2 sees the image with both its Eastern and Western legs united and standing on the mountains of Israel:
“Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:31–35)
The image stands complete on the mountains of Israel together, where it is destroyed. This required the recombining of all the composite elements in to one unified body of flesh. East and West, though divided for 1000 years must reunite.
This is the picture of Daniel 11 when the King of the North, headed by Rosh or Russia of Ezekiel 38 comes down like a whirlwind:
“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown….” (Daniel 11:40–41)
He ends up establishing himself upon mount Zion:
“And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” (Daniel 11:45)
This prophecy is echoed in the words of Isaiah 14 where a proverb is taken up against the King of Babylon, (Remember the head of Gold was Babylon):
“Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: The worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;” (Isaiah 14:11–16)
Russia’s desire to “ascend to the heavens” is to be short lived, for “he shall come to his end and none shall help him.” However, he isn’t alone in this ambition, the joint image includes both the Eastern or Russian, and the Western or Roman elements. Isaiah asks, “is this the man that made the earth to tremble?” The Apostle Paul picks up on these prophecies when he comments in 2 Thessalonians of the same “man”:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4)
The man of sin is the ‘falling away’ or the Christian apostasy enthroned in Rome who has the same ambition to sit in the temple of God in Jerusalem. His fate is the same:
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
It is for this reason the events of the past week are so significant. The Eastern and Western religious elements have been divided, perpetuating the political division between the legs of the image. The meeting of pope and patriarch herald the coming together of the composite parts. Out of their meeting came came a declaration, or “great voice” which focused on the need to be involved militarily in the Middle East.
The Joint Declaration
What brought Pope and Patriarch together after 1000 years of division? The declaration clearly spells out the common cause. The Pope and Patriarch jointly stated:
Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.
This goal of the declaration wasn’t just to draw attention to the problem, but to call for international action in the Middle East:
We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.
Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.
This is nothing short of a call for a Holy Crusade to the holy land to save Christianity. The words are pretty clear:
…the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the amount of times the word “action” was used. A united, joint, coordinated action is being requested by both pope and patriarch in the Middle East.
A Champion for the Crusade
Who would lead such an enterprise to save Christianity from the infidels in the Middle East? Well, the joint declaration points to Russia as an example of moral strength, stating:
In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side….
So according to pope and patriarch, Russia is a model country going through a religious revival.
The newspaper Sputnik put carried the headline, “Pope Francis Sees Putin as ‘Only Man’ to Defend Christians Around the World.”
The article, published on February 9th stated:
In an attempt to defend Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world where they’re being persecuted, Pope Francis wants to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin for help.
According to Pope Francis, Putin is “the only one with whom the Catholic Church can unite to defend Christians in the East.”
“It’s important to join efforts [with Russia] to save Christianity in all regions [of the world] where it’s oppressed,” Pope Francis said, as cited by Le Journal Du Dimanche.
Amazing, Russia is identified by Pope and Patriarch as the model country undergoing a religious revival, and it’s leader Vladimir Putin is seen as the champion of Christianity.
Putin the modern Justinian – “defender of the faith”
Not since the days of the Czars has a Russian leader interested himself so much in the Orthodox Church. Putin has recombined church and state as a propaganda tool for his own use.
Putin, was secretly baptized as a child by his devout Eastern Orthodox mother. In an interview outside the Church of the
Holy Martyrs Aleksandr and Antonia of Rome Putin spoke about the event:
This Cathedral is special for me – I was baptised here, about a month and a half after I was born, and my family lived near here. My mother told me that when she and a neighbor brought me here to be baptised – the did it in secret from my father who was a member of the Communist Party and a loyal and uncompromising man…. When I was brought to the church, the priest who baptised me said that it was the day of Archangel Michael, and by the way, he added, my name is also Mikhail, so you could give this name to the child if he hasn’t been named yet, but my mother said that they had already registered me as Vladimir, in honour of my Father. He said, “Well, that’s good, it’s an ancient Russian name.” He pointed out the icon of St. Vladimir in the cathedral and said, “This will be your icon.”
In a later interview, he stated,
“As regard to wearing a cross, earlier I never had it – once my mother gave it to me when I visited Israel. I was there two times. First on an official invitation of the minister of foreign affairs of that country. The second time, I liked the country, and I traveled there with my family as a tourist. So my mother gave it to me to have a blessing there at the Tomb of the Lord. I did so and now it is with me always.
This gives insight into Putin’s personal religious fervor.
Putin visibly re-united Church and state, resurrecting the Orthodox Church in Russia to a position of power and prestige. The Russian Orthodox church publically endorsed Putin’s leadership with televised blessings following his inauguration at the Kremlin Cathedral reminiscent of the ascension of the Czars to the throne. Putin has been deliberately televised celebrating Christmas and Easter Mass at the Kremlin Cathedral, participating in services, lighting candles, kissing icons, and crossing himself after manner of the Orthodox fashion.
The parallels between Putin and the Emperor Justinian are striking. Writing in Elpis Israel, John Thomas noted,
“Justinian”, says Gibbon, “sympathized with his subjects in their superstitious reverence for living and departed saints; his code, more especially his novels, confirm and enlarge the privileges of the clergy; and in every dispute between the monk and the layman, the partial judge was inclined to pronounce, that truth and innocence are always on the side of the church. In his public and private devotions, he was assiduous and exemplary; his prayers, vigils, and fasts displayed the austere penance of a monk; his fancy was amused by the hope, or belief, of personal inspiration; he had secured the patronage of the Virgin, and St. Michael the archangel; and his recovery from a dangerous disease was ascribed to the miraculous succour of the holy martyrs, Cosmas and Damian.
Among the titles of imperial greatness, the name of Pious was most pleasing to his ear; to promote the temporal and spiritual interest of the (Greco-Roman) church was the serious business of his life; and the duty of father of his country was often sacrificed to that of defender of the faith …”
It is also interesting to see Justinian’s role as champion of the church. John Thomas noted:
“Never prince did meddle so much with what concerns the affairs of the church, nor make so many constitutions and laws upon this subject. He was persuaded that it was the duty of an emperor, and for the good of the State, to have a particular care of the church, to defend its faith, to regulate external discipline, and to employ the civil laws and the temporal power to preserve it in order and peace.” (Elpis Israel p364)
Now consider Putin’s growing role as the defender of Christianity. The Catholic Herald published an article in December of 2015 under the title, “Vladimir Putin’s holy war” which stated:
Russian documentaries extol Putin as the man who resuscitated Russian spirituality. Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has described his leadership as a “miracle from God”.
Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian state has carefully nurtured its relationship with the Church. Putin especially is not only a powerful political actor but – like the Tsars – a religious one. In his speeches he presents himself as defender of Christian values abandoned by the degenerate West….
More recently the president has presented himself in a new role – as the potential saviour of Middle Eastern Christians. And even his critics wonder whether he may, in fact, have a point.
Putin is perhaps the most visibly ‘Christian’ leader in the world. In an article in the Russian Insider from October 2014,
The Kremlin is both the political and historic center not just of Moscow but of Russia. By calling for the restoration of these Christian buildings Putin repudiates the Soviet legacy with its atheist ideology and its record of anti-Christianity and reaffirms Orthodoxy as the heart of Russian culture. In his own words
“Here is the idea … to restore the historic appearance of the place with two monasteries and a church, but giving them, considering today’s realities, an exclusively cultural character.”
The great granddaughter of Soviet leader Nikita Kruschchev reflected in an article this past Friday,
Relations between Russia and the Holy See took on new significance after Putin became President. Unlike the officially atheist Soviets, Putin works closely with the Orthodox Church, championing conservative social values at home and seeking to expand Russian influence abroad….
After all, Putin and Kirill have presided over rising anti-Western animosity and turned the Russian Orthodox Church toward conservatism, nationalism, and intolerance. The Patriarch (rumored to have served in the KGB himself) has called the war in Syria “a holy struggle,” adding that, “today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world to combat [it].”
This is of great significance.
A Latter Day Crusade to the Holy Land
Years ago, Christadelphian Bible students anticipated the events we see going on today by a careful reading of the Bible. Writing in the Exposition of Daniel, (1860’s), John Thomas stated,
“This far the vision of the Ram and Goat was for the purpose of introducing the Roman power in its relation to Judah and the Holy land to special notice. By the absorption of the northern kingdom into the Roman empire, a union was formed between the Greco-Babylonian power of the Selucidae; so that as these were heirs of Alexander’s kingdom of Babylon, the Romans inherited it from them. Hence the power peculiar to this territory, styled “the whole earth,” may very properly be called the Romano-Greek Babylonian; or the Latino-Greek Babylonian. This name is descriptive of it in its relation to the Holy Land, in all its future phases until its utter destruction by Messiah the Prince and his holy ones….
The development of the image empire, through its phases would bring Babylonian, Greco, and Roman powers together under Russia:
…when the Latins and Greeks come to form a confederacy under Russia as the fragile medium of combination, the Latino-Greek Babylonian power will be in full “blossom,” when the sour grape is ripening for the vintage. (p24-25)
All the imagery is united for the invasion:
“In the vision of the Ram and Goat the Babylonian power in its Roman manifestation is represented by the Little Horn of the Goat, which is not to be confounded with the Little Horn with Eyes and Mouth. At the time of the end, the powers signified by these are confederated with the Goat’s Little Horn, and with it as their chief invade the Holy Land and besiege Jerusalem, and take it.
John Thomas believed he was living close to the time when this union would happen, a union that would eventually result in the invasion of the Land. In 1848 he wrote in Elpis Israel
But the time is at hand when the dominion, divided between the Dragon and the Beast, may be re-united; and the old Roman territory, with an immense addition of domain, again subject to one sovereign. This may be by the fall of the Two-horned Beast, and the expulsion of the Turks from Constantinople, which will then become the throne of the dominion, represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s Image, which is to be broken to pieces in “the latter-days”. The establishment of this sovereignty being accomplished, it stands upon the earth as the Accuser and Adversary of God’s people Israel; and will make war upon them; and will combat with the faithful and True One, and his saints…” (Elpis p92)
Based on reading the scripture, and the writings of Thomas and others, Graham Pearce in his book entitled “The Vatican and the Invasion of Israel”, written in February of 1970 stated:
So we can expect there will develop something like a restoration of the old Roman Empire as it existed in the time of Justinian. Justinian, ruling from Constantinople, sought to control Western Europe through co-operation with the Bishop of Rome, recognizing him as head of Christianity for the whole of the Roman world. Previous to this there had been a division between the East and the West. We have described the coming Roman world as a Christian-socialist state, corresponding with the iron and clay feet of the Image, and with the current socialist development of society in Europe…. In the light of the prophetic word, we may expect there to be a deal between the Vatican and Russia….” (p48)
What we saw taking place this week in Cuba was a significant shift toward the realization of Thomas’ and Pearce’s words, and more importantly the vision painted by the prophets. The crusade is being prepared, the mighty men of war are being awakened, and it is being sanctified by the religious powers of the world. This is the kind of invasion Joel wrote about:
“Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:” (Joel 3:9)
The word “prepare” is the Hebrew word ‘qadash’ meaning to sanctify, consecrate or to allow. This tells us the latter day invasion of the land will be Holy war. The preparations are being made for this. Graham Pearce wrote in 1970:
We have proposed that a further reason for this invasion of the land is that it represents a crusade. By the time the invasion takes place a great issue will have developed in the world: Babylon the Great verses Zion; the great issue of the Apocalpyse through the centuries coming to a head. At this time will be revealed two headships: the Daystar of Babylon (Isaiah 14) and the Daystar of Israel (Revelation 22) and they join issue in the land of Israel, contending for rulership of the world. So the European confederacy comes as a “Christian” crusade against the Jewish development in the land of Israel…
The “things of Zion” concern religion, and it is unmistakable that there will be this religious element in the invasion of the land; it is a Christian crusade against the Jews and their religion… by the time the people of the land will have progressed in faith, having been under divine instruction (Christ and the saints being in the earth), and there will be something distinctly “of Zion” in the land of Israel, provoking this Christian crusade.”
The events we are seeing taking place today of are monumental significance, unparalleled in some areas for 1,000 years.
A modern day Emperor Justinian is found in Putin, reviving the religion in Russia, building churches and championing Christianity’s cause as “defender of the faith.” The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches are coming together after a schism of 1000 years, in joint purpose to promote religious ‘action’ in the Middle East, and both look to Putin as their champion.
The image is being melded together, the legs walking in unison and looking to march toward the Middle East. Will Putin be the man? We cannot tell, but be it him, or his successor, all the pieces are rapidly falling in place. We must be motivated to put our lives in order for our Lord is surely at the door, and knocking ever so loudly.
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.