Asia's Armageddon Army

By J. Michael Hile

One morning after returning from an early church service in a small town in the heart of America, the railroad crossbars went down, and the bell loudly clanged its familiar warning. As the long train slowly moved northward, the names printed on the sides of the boxcars were noticeably different from the companies and manufacturers that had been a familiar sight on America's railroads for almost half a century. The boxcars were all labeled with names of Chinese companies.

Most of the Chinese acronyms were unfamiliar; however, the name "COSCO" kept showing up on many of the boxcars. COSCO stands for the Chinese Overseas Shipping Company. While waiting at the railroad crossing on this sunny July 4th, some 200-plus years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, I pondered the many changes that have taken place in the United States in recent years. How long would we continue to enjoy the freedoms that have been passed down to us by the founding fathers of this nation? How long would God's hand of protection be upon us despite the rapid moral and spiritual decline that has engulfed our country? How long, 0 Lord, before You intervene in the affairs of mankind and set up your eternal kingdom? How long, 0 Lord?

While attending a Bible college in the late 1950's in southern Arkansas, my sister studied under an economics teacher, an old professor who, cognizant of the future, told his class one of the things they should fear was Red China. Today, that "sleeping giant" has awakened from centuries of dormancy to begin its rise to world prominence as anticipated by many students of Bible prophecy.

The Kings of the East Head West

The book of Revelation speaks of an "end-time" gathering of kings from the East that will join other armies in the valley of Megiddo in order to take control of the land given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants. Although China's name is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, this large country located east of the Euphrates is uniquely qualified as a candidate for the final battle of the age that is sometimes called "the battle of Armageddon."

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-16).

The Battle of Armageddon

Although many in the world consider the word "Armageddon" synonymous with any major war that appears on the horizon, "Armageddon" is the ultimate final battle between good and evil that will be fought by the King of kings and Lord of lords at the close of this dispensation. The armies of the world, who have been deceived by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, will be marshaled into action by a hoard of demonic spirits who have destructive designs for planet earth.

The events leading up to the climax of Armageddon described in chapter 16 of Revelation are detailed in chapter 9, where the kings of the East destroy a large portion of the earth's population as they traverse westward across the Euphrates River en route to the Promised Land.

And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication nor of their thefts (Revelation 9:13-21).

The Satanic Factor

The army of 200 million horsemen is marshaled into action by four demonic angels bound at the Euphrates River. They are commissioned to kill a third of the earth's population. The fourth seal which unleashes the pale horse in Revelation 6:8 has already killed one-fourth of the human race with sword, hunger, death, and the beasts of the earth. With less than three-fourths of the earth's population remaining when the 200-million-man army begins its carnage, an additional third of the people on earth are killed, thus reducing the population of the earth by one-half.

The world's population crossed the six-billion mark during the latter half of 1999. Using that figure as a benchmark and discounting the effect of future wars and famines, there will be at least three-billion people killed prior to the final battle that takes place in Israel at the close of the great tribulation. This will include one-and-one-half billion deaths worldwide after the fourth seal is opened and an additional one-and-one-half billion, primarily in Asia, after the sixth angel sounds his trumpet.

Mobilizing the Largest Army on Earth

Whether the 200-million-man army is a human army that is demonically influenced or an army that is entirely demonic in nature is not altogether clear from the text. The fire, smoke, and brimstone is an apt description of modern warfare involving gunpowder and explosives, however, the strange-looking horses may be demonic in nature like the locusts described in the preceding verses of chapter nine. Since the kings of the east are destined to bring their armies across the Euphrates, the large army is probably comprised of humans rather than of demons riding horses.

In 1965, an article in Time magazine stated that China was able to field an army of 200 million men. China had an estimated population of 1.2 billion in 1998 and projects 1.8 billion by the year 2020. Since several kings of the east are involved in the march toward Israel, fielding a 200-millionman army is in the realm of possibility. The logistics of quickly moving an army this size across the Euphrates River and into the Mideast is formidable due to the large amount of food and water necessary. This army, however, is energized by the demons loosed from the Euphrates and it will be capable of superhuman endurance.

If the 200-million-man army is a hoard of demons, one wonders why these demons will have lost their ability to function as free spirits, as opposed to being confined to a cavalry-based army.

On the other hand, the earth during this time will experience a bombardment of demonic forces from the bottomless pit (center of earth) that has never been witnessed before. Understanding the true nature of the 200-million-man army may not be possible from our perspective. It is possible the apocalyptic riders will be both human and demonic in nature since Satan will be exerting his influence on the armies of the world in a way that this world has never seen before.

The Euphrates River to Be Dried Up

Perhaps the most conspicuous force gathered at the battle of God Almighty (Armageddon) is these kings of the east who miraculously cross the Euphrates River which will be dried up through drought or possibly because of a series of dams that have been constructed in recent years.

Prior to the 20th century and the invention of airplanes, rockets, and other forms of modern warfare, an invasion of the Middle East from nations east of the Euphrates, as described in the book of Revelation, would be expected to be primarily ground forces with a large contingent of horsemen. With the advent of new weapon systems, including advanced fighter jets, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other strategic weapons following World War 11, the scenario describing the large armies that are to cross the Euphrates seems to be primitive by today's standards of combat.

We need to remember, however, that a large portion of the earth's population will have been exterminated toward the latter stages of the great tribulation. Many of the weapons of mass destruction will already have been used or rendered useless by a warfare technology called electromagnetic pulsing or deemed inappropriate for accomplishing strategic goals in the land of Israel. Whatever the reason, the kings of the east seem to follow a more primitive mode of warfare involving large numbers of soldiers rather than the high-tech weapons in abundance today that could quickly decimate a large army. The ability of the kings of the east to cross the Euphrates and enter the Holy Land without being quickly wiped out indicates that more conventional weapons will be used rather than today's strategic nuclear weapons.

Who Are the Kings of the East?

It is not yet evident from our vantage point which nations will make up "the kings of the east." Until the 200 million warriors actually cross the Euphrates, we can only speculate as to who they will be. Traditionally, China has been the major candidate mentioned among Bible scholars. "Kings of the east," however, implies a confederacy of several nations that unites to accomplish a diabolical plan. Since the Euphrates River will be dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the east, we must obviously include only those nations that are east of the Euphrates.

The Euphrates, which is the longest river in western Asia, is 1, 700 miles in length. It begins its journey in the mountains of eastern Turkey around the 40th parallel, crosses eastern Syria, and flows southeastward through Iraq where it joins the Tigris River. The two rivers merge in a swamp to form the Shatt-el-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf at the 30th parallel.

The land between the Euphrates and Tigris supported an early center of civilization called Mesopotamia. The kingdoms of Assyria to the north and Babylon to the south, described in the Old Testament, are the progenitors of modern-day Syria and Iraq. When the Assyrian and Babylonian armies invaded Israel between 722 and 586 BC, they followed the Euphrates River northwest and then cut back southwest across modernday Syria and Lebanon to enter the land of Israel.

This route assured an adequate water supply and prevented certain death in the Syrian Desert to the south, which is located in today's Jordan and Saudi Arabia. If the kings of the east follow a similar route when they hasten to their appointment with destiny in the valley of Megiddo, they will cross the Euphrates around the 35th parallel before heading southwest toward the Promised Land.

If we assume that the invading armies from the east (Revelation 16:12) cross the Euphrates at the same location (35th parallel) that was followed by the ancient armies of Assyria and Babylon, we can extend an imaginary line eastward to see which nations might comprise "the kings of the east." An imaginary line crossing the Euphrates in Syria and going east would pass through Iraq (ancient Babylon), Iran (ancient Persia), Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China. The same imaginary line extended eastward from Jerusalem (32nd parallel) would pass through the same countries.

The westward march of the large army from the east would of necessity incorporate or decimate all the nations that it would pass through. Nations from Southeast Asia that might join Asia's Armageddon army include Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and North and South Vietnam. Japan, known as "the land of the rising sun," and Taiwan are both east of China and would qualify as "kings of the east" or "kings of the sunrise," however, their involvement will likely be limited due to a lack of direct access to the Asian mainland. Since the "kings of the east" implies nations directly east of the Euphrates, the primary candidates for this designation, based upon today's national boundaries, would be Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China.

China's Rise to Power

Up until the latter half of the 20th century, China remained a primitive country for the most part, with minimal progress in its economic and manufacturing base. The limited influx of modern technology into China from 1949 to 1973 restricted economic growth and expansion that was commonplace in the United States and Europe. That has all changed in the last decade. The label "Made in China" has recently replaced "Made in Japan" and "Made in Taiwan" on many of the goods purchased in America and throughout the world. In his bestselling book, Megatrends Asia, John Naisbitt states:

What is happening in Asia is by far the most important development in the world today. Nothing else comes close - not only for Asians but for the entire planet. The modernization of Asia will forever reshape the world as we move toward the next millennium ... Until the 1990's everything revolved around the West. The West set the rules. Japan abided by these rules during its economic emergence. But now Asians - the rest of Asia - are creating their own rules and will soon determine the game as well.

In the 1990's, Asia came of age ... Asia will become the dominant region of the world: economically, politically and culturally. We are on the threshold of the Asian Renaissance ... the principal emphasis is on China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. That is where the main dynamic of growth and change is located ... The global axis of influence has shifted from West to East. Asia was once the center of the world, and now the center is again returning to Asia (Megatrends Asia, Eight Asian Megatrends that are reshaping our world, John Naisbitt, Simon& Schuster, 1996, pp. 10, 12, 16).

China: The Last Superpower

The rapid rise of China to world prominence is likely to have major implications for world peace during the Twentyfirst Century. Nearly 200 years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader and emperor of France (1804-15), stated: "When China awakens, the world will tremble." The sleeping giant awoke during the final decade of the 20th century as the Bush and Clinton administrations allowed the Chinese spy network to infiltrate many of the military and defense installations and steal the nation's top military secrets. The Cox Report published in May of 1999 detailed much of the espionage engaged in by the Chinese.

During the years following World War 11, the United States helped rebuild Japan's economy. Devastation caused by the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompted Japan to neglect the rebuilding of its military in order to pursue a purely commercial course involving the manufacture of goods and services. For many years, the words "Made in Japan" were associated with cheap, inferior products. Japan quickly reversed its course and jumped into the manufacture of electronics and automobiles and became a world leader in hightech goods and services. Brands such as Toshiba, Nissan and Toyota are commonplace in today's economy.

The words "Made in Japan" were soon joined by "Made in Taiwan" and more recently "Made in China" as inexpensive products from the Far East flooded the marketplace and whetted the appetites of the industrialized nations in the West. In recent years, China's mass production of goods and services with cheap labor has attracted the attention of foreign investors and businesses from both the United States and Europe.

China's ready access to American technology and top military secrets has opened a Pandora's box that will accelerate an arms buildup of both nuclear and conventional weapons among the enemies of "the free world." Many observers, this writer included, believe that the irresponsible and insane actions of the power brokers and politicians in Washington will likely come back to haunt the United States and perhaps the whole world in the foreseeable future.

Russia - China: The New World Superpower

On January 4, the 1999 annual forecast and Global Intelligence Update from STRATFOR.COM titled 'A New and Dangerous World" projected that "Russia and China will be moving into a closer, primarily anti- American alliance in 1999 ... The Post-Cold War world quietly ended in 1998. A new era will emerge in 1999 ... We should not think of the period 1989 - 1998 as an era. It was an interregnum, a pause between two eras ... 1999 is the first of many years of increasing tension and conflict involving not only minor players, but also the world's great powers. It is the beginning of what will prove to be a tense first decade in the 21st century."

Russia and China's new strategic alliance is designed to neutralize the effect of the United States in the economic and geopolitical spheres. How they plan to accomplish that goal has ominous implications since neither Russia nor China can compete economically with the United States. Colonel Stanislav Lunev, the highest ranking military officer ever to defect to the U.S., in an article titled "Russia-China, the New World Superpower" written for NEWSMAX.COM, states:

Seminal change has taken place in the balance of world power, and scant notice has been paid to this dramatic shift. Russia and China, for decades hostile enemies, are moving ever closer to forming a political and military alliance to challenge the United States and the West ....

The military ties between Russia and China began to develop in 1992. These were, and still are, characterized by active military sharing on the highest levels, with ongoing cooperation in the development and production of the most modern weapons systems .... The West should be alarmed by such an alliance. The two countries together would combine the largest conventional army, the Chinese army, with the largest atomic arsenal, the Russian nuclear stockpile. Again, this menacing shift of power, which will likely be realized in the next few months, will have dramatic consequences for our civilization that cannot be overestimated.

At a meeting on June 9, 1999, between Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Chinese delegation-head Zhang Wannian, deputy chief of the Central Military Commission of the CCP, Mr. Stepashin made it absolutely clear that: "Building close ties with China is one of Russia's top foreign-policy priorities and that the two nations desire a strong strategic partnership . " According to Lunev:

Both nations have already introduced compatible weapons systems. By integrating the weapons systems of the Russian Armed Forces and the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the two countries are rapidly becoming a superpower. More-over, cooperation between Russia and Red China is expanding in the area of intelligence, which is laying the foundation for a climate of mutual trust in Russian-Chinese relations, including guarantees of each other's mutual security. Thus, all the necessary preconditions for the strategic alliance between the Russian Federation and Communist China are in place. And this alliance could threaten the United States and the West much sooner than anyone thinks.

Russia, China, NATO and the New World Order

The Kosovo crisis in the Spring of 1999, initiated by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), under the direction of President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, greatly increased tensions between the United States, Russia, and China. This first-time use of NATO as an offensive force rather than for defensive purposes set a new precedent that some believe may be used to provide the military muscle necessary to set up and enforce the new world order (now called "global governance"). This abuse of power marked the first time that NATO forces had invaded a sovereign nation, Yugoslavia. The United Nations (UN) was not consulted by the leaders of NATO since it is certain that both Russia and China would have vetoed the invasion had the UN become involved in the decision-making process.

The invasion of the province of Kosovo in Yugoslavia provided cover for the Clinton administration scandals and helped set the stage for future military excursions by NATO. This act of military aggression may be part of a larger plan to use NATO to enforce global peacekeeping operations. Peacekeeping troops sent to the island of Timor in Indonesia during the latter part of 1999 serve as another example of the movement towards an international peacekeeping force.

One of Clinton's global strategists, Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State, before joining the administration, wrote in an essay titled "The Birth of the Global Nation" which appeared in TIME magazine that he is looking forward to government run by "one global authority." "Here is one optimist's reason for beheving unity will prevail ... within the next hundred years ... nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority," Talbott remarked in the July 20, 1992, issue. He continued, "All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary."

Talbott's allusion to a 100-year goal for setting up a world government is a smoke screen to disguise the real intentions of the globalists, who are looking at a shorter time span, perhaps a few months or years, to put their plan in place. The linkage between a global government and Christ's return is contained in Daniel's vision of the great image, and an amazing future glimpse of God's displeasure with the nations of the world is revealed in the book of Psalms.

And the fourth kingdom (Final Gentile World Empire) shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise ... And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed (Daniel 2:40, 41).

Why do the heathen (nations) rage, and the people imagine a vain thine. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure ... Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel (Psalm 2:1-9).

The coming world government system, which is already in an advanced stage of development, will seek to stifle religious freedom and expression and outlaw the teachings contained in the Bible. As Psalm 2 alludes, the nations of the world will directly oppose God, the Word of God, and those who follow God. This soon-coming global government, which may be only months or years away, should be a wake-up call to all believers, since the events of the great tribulation and the return of Christ are directly linked to implementation of a world government system.

Russia and China Accelerate Relationship

As a result of NATO's military involvement in Kosovo, Russia and China accelerated their movement toward a strategic partnership. In June of 1999, the Secretary of Russia's Security Council and Federal Security Service Director Vladimir Putin (now acting-president) met with the Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Council of the People's Republic of China, Zhang Wannian, in the Kremlin. Putin was quoted as saying, "In the light of the rapidly changing situation in the world, relations between Russia and China have assumed strategic nature."

The STRATFOR.COM third-quarter forecast on June 27, 1999, stated that the Russia-China alliance was:

... the most important global trend today. It is well under way and is also intensifying ... The purpose of the alliance is twofold. First, it is to create a counterweight to the United States that would force the U.S. to take Russia and China seriously. The second purpose would be to provide a focal point for secondary states looking for a safe haven from American power, which would, in turn, enhance the power of the Sino-Russian bloc ... We therefore expect that the Third Quarter of 1999 will bring Russia and China to the brink, if not over the edge, of a formal alliance whose goal will be to contain American power and provide a counterbalance to American geopolitical power ... The Post-Cold War is over. We are now deep into the transition to a new era.

Russia and China Hold Joint Naval Exercises

On September 24, 1999, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported that Russian and Chinese warships would take part in firstever joint maneuvers in early October. "The Russian Pacific Fleet destroyer Burny and missile cruiser Varyag will visit the port of Shanghai on Oct. 2-6 to mark China's 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Russian- Chinese diplomatic relations, said Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo."

During the visit, the two Russian vessels were to hold joint exercises with ships from China's Eastern Fleet. "It was to be the first joint maneuver between the two fleets," ITAR-Tass said "...Russian-Chinese relations have been warming steadily since the early 1990's, following decades of tension. China is a top client for Russia's ailing military industrial complex, purchasing billions worth of jets, missiles and submarines."

Where Is the United States in Bible Prophecy?

What does the current strategic position of the United States in world affairs have to do with Russia, China, Israel, Europe, and the end-time prophetic scenario? If we are close to the fulfillment of end-time events described in the books of Daniel and Revelation, students of Bible prophecy and current events should be asking probing questions such as: Where is the United States in Bible prophecy? Why does the United States not appear to have a major part in the end time prophecies? After all, the U.S. was, up until recent years, the strongest military nation to ever exist on the face of the earth.

To the chagrin of some, the United States will probably not be a prominent player in the end-time events described in the Bible. Although America is today the strongest nation in the world economically, the United States will more than likely be neutralized economically and/or militarily so that she will not be a major factor in future prophetic events that take place in Europe, Asia and the Mideast.

Whether removal of the United States from its position of economic and military authority takes place gradually or, God forbid, through a preemptive strike by Russia's nuclear arsenal remains to be seen. The United States has been unilaterally disarming under the Clinton administration. On the other hand, Russia has been steadily building its war machine for decades and has surpassed the United States in military strength, especially in the area of nuclear weapons. Conventional weapons will not be a major factor in a nuclear war.

America Disarms While Russia and China Prepare for War In a provocative book published by NEWSMAX.COM, Christopher Ruddy states:

The only thing that makes Russia a great power is its nuclear weapons. One pundit has described Russia as 'Bangladesh with nukes.' In fact, Russia has more nuclear weapons than every other country in the world combined, over 30,000. [The United States only has approximately 10,000 such weapons.] .... To put it briefly, the West has been disarming, while the Russians and Chinese have been building their mili- taries rapidly - especially their strategic forces, or 'superweapons'...

Although it has been largely unreported by the national media, President Clinton has overseen the destruction of nearly two-thirds of America's nuclear weapons stockpile. He has removed America's "launch on warning" policy and has replaced it with one that says America will retaliate only after it has been attacked. This policy from the Clinton administration means that American cities and military targets must first be destroyed before America retaliates. To the contrary, Russia's President Boris Yeltsin, on December 17, 1997, issued a 37-page policy statement reneging on previous pledges not to use nuclear weapons first.

Clinton has proposed removing computer circuitry from land-based missiles so that they could not be launched in an emergency. He has also proposed making it much more difficult for our submarines to launch their weapons, and has suggested welding shut the missile hatches on our submarines. The American people need to wake up, get informed, and get involved in the political process, especially at the national level, if our republic is to survive. Sir Winston Churchill once said, "If you don't look the facts in the face, they have a way of stabbing you in the back." If America does not have a strong-enough military to defend its vital interests, our entire way of life and western civilization as we know it is in jeopardy!

The Sino-Russian Alliance: Threat to World Peace

After decades of peace and economic prosperity, the American people have been lulled to sleep and think war with Russia and China is now impossible. Unfortunately, leadership of Russia and China do not think that way. Russia and China have murdered tens of millions of their own citizens and have tens of thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons pointed at the United States. Never before has the strategic balance been so favorable to Russia and China. Recent activities in these countries indicate that they are at the least contemplating nuclear blackmail of the United States. These ominous developments include:

An enormous military build-up which includes expansion of their arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons and an introduction of new biological and nuclear weapons with firststrike capability.

A huge expansion of their navies (while the U.S. mothballs over half of its ships).

A new form of brinkmanship, where Russia and China regularly probe America's defenses.

Large new civil-defense programs, including enormous fallout shelters in Russia (One new underground city is larger than Washington, DC).

While Russia and China have been preparing for war, the Clinton administration has cut the U.S. military to the bone, leaving America more vulnerable to foreign attack than at any time since the Cold War.

Clinton has slashed troop levels in the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines by 30-40 percent. Most remaining battle troops are now deployed overseas, in the Middle East, Bosnia, South America and elsewhere.

The U.S. arsenal of cruise missiles has dropped to a dangerously low number with less than 100 left. The few remaining missiles are being quickly discarded through senseless engagements in Kosovo, Iraq, and the Middle East, and the Clinton administration is not building any more.

Clinton has slashed defense spending from 28 percent of the federal budget in 1988 to 17 percent in 1999.

The Navy has decommissioned almost half of its ships, down from 600 in 1991 to 336, which is the lowest level since 1938.

The critical balance of nuclear weapons is now heavily in Russia's favor. Many of our remaining nuclear weapons are vulnerable to attack, since the strategic bombers that carry the nuclear warheads, located in the United States, are in the Middle East and Europe.

The United States has practically no civil defense system to protect its citizens from a biological, chemical or nuclear attack, and there is no anti-ballistic missile system to protect against incoming missiles. Former Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger states in his book The Next War, "...the United States has embarked on a massive disarmament. Since 1985, the military budgets have declined 35 percent. Spending on research and development has been slashed by 57 percent, and procurement of newly produced weapons by a whopping 71 percent." Never before has the United States been so vulnerable to attack by the worst mass murderers in human history, and never before has an American leader so jeopardized America's ability to defend herself.

The Greatest Threat to Freedom

The greatest threat to America and modern civilization is not a stock market crash, an international banking crisis, or some other unexpected disruption of the global economy. The greatest danger to America is a preemptive nuclear strike from Russia. This danger is not imaginary, as some would like to believe. Unlike Russia, the United States does not have an antiballistic missile defense or an active national civil defense plan.

Anatoliy Golitsyn, a high-ranking KGB defector who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union several years before it happened, alleged in his 1984 book New Lies for Old that the coming Soviet collapse will be orchestrated by the KGB in order to disarm the West. Gen. Jan Sejna, a Czech defector, made a similar claim in 1982 in his book, We Will Bury You. Both Golitsyn and Sejna described a long-range Soviet plan that involved a grand deception, unprecedented in scope. According to Sejna, "One of the basic problems with the West is its frequent failure to recognize the existence of any Soviet 'grand design' at all. Those rejecting this concept unwittingly serve Soviet efforts."

In 1984, Golitsyn predicted a Russian military alliance with China that will be formed toward the end of the "final phase" of the long-range strategy. Golitsyn's book suggested that the end of the "final phase" would roughly coincide with the year 1999. He believed the West would disarm after the Communist collapse, and Russia would form a military partnership with China while both countries continue their buildup in military power. Golitsyn's predictions have been remarkably accurate.

According to J.R. Nyquist, a WorldNetDaily contributing editor and author of Origins of the Fourth World War, nuclear war has two basic objectives. "The first objective is the elimination of the enemy's strategic weapons. The second objective is the preservation of friendly nuclear strength in order to blackmail the surviving countries. A country that successfully destroys all opposing nuclear weapons (while retaining a large nuclear reserve) can dictate the shape of the future."

In Russian strategy, a nuclear war would not simply be an exchange of nuclear strikes, but many countries would be invaded and occupied in the process. These countries wouldn't dare resist with conventional forces without risking annihilation by Russia's reserves of nuclear and biological weapons. The successful side in a nuclear exchange would be able to translate the slaughter and destruction into their design for a New World Order.

If the United States' nuclear arsenal were ever destroyed, Russia and China would gain control of the whole earth. Therefore, members of the Russian military staff have their eyes fixed on America's nuclear missiles. That is what they care most about and what they worry most about. Without our nuclear deterrent, we would be "sitting ducks." America's nuclear weapons protect western civilization from annihilation and conquest by the barbaric, Communist leaders of Russia and China.

According to CIA analyst Peter Vincent Pry, "Soviet military textbooks written in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's generally endorsed the view that nuclear war could be won and that victory was likely to go to the side that struck first. " Russia has been making many provocative statements in recent months concerning their use of force against the Western nations, specifically the United States. During November 1999, Gen. Valery Manilov, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said, "When aggression cannot be stopped by conventional weapons, when it poses a threat to the very existence of Russia and its people, then Russia has the right to use all its potential in defense of its sovereignty, including its nuclear potential."

The Russian generals are taught that war involves preparations in three areas;

1) Preparation of the armed forces;
2) Preparation of the national economy;
3) Preparation of the population.

Again quoting Nyquist:

Preparation is 90 percent of the game. The leaders of a successful nuclear offensive must plan for the survival of their own people. They must lay the groundwork for post-war economic recovery. Without such preparations the war becomes an exercise in suicide. Therefore, if Russia's leaders have decided on war, their preparations must give them away .... For example, the Americans see Russia mobilizing forces in 1999 (authentic information), but American analysts are nonetheless tricked into concluding that the mobilization is to deal with a terrorist threat in the North Caucasus (erroneous conclusion). They will not notice that a deployment exceeding 100,000 troops is out of proportion to the 5,000 lightly armed guerrillas that are led by one of the GRU's own agents (in this case, Shamil Basayev). As the operation proceeds, the Chief Directorate of Strategic Camouflage will continue to generate diversions and feints.

America's willingness to ignore and write off warning signs that are increasingly prevalent is a reflection of the arrogance and naivete present among many of the politicians who live in the Washington beltway. "Men are so simple, and so much creatures of circumstance," wrote Machiavelli in The Prince, "that the deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived." Nyquist lists ten indicators of Russian military preparations for nuclear war:

1. Significant troop mobilizations in response to a fabricated crisis; 2. An increase in missile tests, to assure the readiness and accuracy of the Strategic Rocket Forces;

3. An increase in prohibited underground nuclear tests;

4. An increase in war exercises of all service branches;

5. Significant troop mobilizations in satellite or allied countries, especially China, North Korea, Iraq, or Serbia;

6. Any attempt to create a unified nuclear command;

7. Efforts to extend the range of fighter-bomber formations by upgrading them with extra fuel tanks and in-flight refueling capability;

8. An increase in high-level meetings between government and military leaders;

9. Misleading official statements about the military readiness of the armed forces;

10. The sudden distribution of a new generation of conventional weapons to the armed forces.

Every indicator in the above list has been reported and verified by the Russian or Western press, except for item 6, the creation of a unified Russian nuclear command; however, its creation was reported last January and then supposedly dropped. Nyquist lists ten key economic indicators of Russian war preparations:

1. The unusual stockpiling of nonferrous and rare metals;

2. Significant cutbacks in petroleum exports for increased military consumption and/or stockpiling;

3. Large government purchases of gold;

4. A large increase in food imports (above normal domestic consumption);

5. Large imports of agricultural machinery;

6. The creation of hardened underground sites for the relocation of war factories; The sudden closing of heavy industrial plants or key scientific centers involved in aerospace research;

8. An increase in shipping assets operating along the Volga and Caspian waterways;

9. A sharp increase in rail traffic in the Ural Mountains and Far East regions; and

10. A sudden rise in domestic energy consumption.

Except for item 8, all of the above indicators have been reported in the Russian or Western press. The third area of war preparation described in Russian military writings involves preparation of the population. The four areas listed in Russian military texts include:

1. Warning the population in advance of attack; 2. 3. 4. Evacuating areas which lack blast or fallout shelters; Construction of emergency shelters; Proper instruction of the population on protective measures against weapons of mass destruction.

Psychological preparation of the population is very important in preparing for war. According to Soviet Military Strategy, "The political preparation of the morale of the people is of decisive importance ... since the use of weapons of mass destruction in war imposes exceptionally high and unprecedented demands on the political morale of the population." The population must be conditioned to have a strong "love of the Motherland." To accomplish this, the Russian leadership must effectively paint America as a vicious and warmongering country.

NATO's attack on Kosovo and Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, which included the Chinese embassy, was used by Russian and Chinese propagandists to generate hatred toward the western nations and America in particular. Quoting from the text of Soviet Military Strategy, "Hatred of the enemy should arouse the desire to destroy the armed forces and military-industrial potential of the aggressor and achieve complete victory in a just war." In order to psychologically prepare the Russian public for war, the Kremlin must:

1. Convince the Russian people that America them;

2. Show that Western capitalists have been looting the Russian economy;

3. Say that the United States has designs on Russia's neighbors, or on Russian resources;

4. Say that the United States is preparing to build new weapons - in violation of treaty obligations - that will make America invincible to attack;

5. Suggest that corrupt Russian officials and capitalist "oligarches" are agents of the CIA;

6. Work behind the scenes to provoke a regional crisis that makes the United States appear in the role of aggressor;

7. Repeatedly expose the public to official statements that nuclear war is close at hand;

8. Increase the number of civil defense drills;

9. Require the population to organize itself into voluntary civil defense units; and

10. Initiate a new program of education on methods of defense from nuclear weapons and fallout radiation.

According to Nyquist, all of the above indicators have been reported in open press reports except for item 9. A special Kremlin meeting chaired last summer by former Prime Minister Stepashin focused on civil defense and the creation of an improved program for the people. Detailed reports about specific policy changes or programs were not given. In the event a nuclear war is close at hand, perhaps only a few hours away, additional danger signals will become evident. Nyquist lists 10 indicators that suggest a nuclear attack is probably imminent, with any three simultaneous occurrences being a "red flag" of warning.

1. A rash of high level-assassinations within the United States and other Western countries;

2. A sudden outbreak of an unknown and virulent disease which quickly kills or debilitates thousands of people in a matter of hours;

3. Unexplained underwater nuclear explosions in the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea, North Pacific or Arctic;

4. Reports or rumors of an attempted military coup against the president of the United States;

5. A collapse of the power grid throughout most of North America;

6. Failure of the phone system in the United States and Canada;

7. Motor vehicles with computerized ignition systems failing to start up;

8. Widespread terrorism, mayhem in the cities, rioting, looting, fires and general unrest caused by "unknown forces" (regardless of who is blamed); and

9. The Russian population is moved into fallout and blast shelters;

10. Russia evacuates many small towns and rural districts.

Ultimately, the fate of America and the freedom of the world rest in God's hands. God has preserved this nation for over 200 years; however, many evil forces are working overtime to destroy the spiritual and moral foundations of this country that were based upon the teachings in the Bible. Isaiah received a vision from the Lord concerning Judah and Jerusalem that should also be a wake-up call to our generation: "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isaiah 1:19,20).

Lessons from the Past

The United States in recent years has invited Chinese and Russian military leaders to inspect military facilities in our country that are classified and off-limits to average American citizens. What madness! The Washington bureaucrats are more interested in appeasing our enemies than in protecting the vital interests and security of this nation. Good judgment and common sense have been abandoned in the interest of pursuing a global government agenda that is believed will bring peace to the world.

During the days of Hezekiah, King of Judah, prior to the Babylonian captivity that began in 606 BC, the king decided to open his country to foreign inspection in the hopes of achieving peace and appeasing his enemies.

At that time Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? And from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.

Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon (Isaiah 39: 1-7).

In 586 BC, exactly 100 years after Hezekiah's death, Isaiah's prophecy was literally fulfilled when King Nebuchadnezzar completed his third invasion of Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and took the national treasures and many of the Jews captive to Babylon. The fatal breach of national security by King Hezekiah is being copied by the United States as we open our borders, military bases, defense industries and other national treasures to inspection by those who have vowed to destroy us.

Welcoming adversarial nations into our midst is a "recipe for disaster," and signing treaties with foreign nations who break them when it is convenient is bad foreign policy. We should realize from past experience that treaties bind the righteous rather than the wicked and give license to those who have evil intentions. The Psalmist accurately reveals the heart of those who seek a military advantage, "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords" (55:21).

How many weeks, months, or years remain before God says, "Enough is enough?!" "For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:2, 3)

Daniel explains why God allowed Judah to be taken captive by the Babylonians: As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice (9:13, 14).

The leadership of our country needs to take Isaiah's warning seriously and reverse the policies that are destroying the moral foundations on which our nation was founded. If not, God will allow our enemies to destroy us as he did with Judah. We should guard diligently the national heritage that has been passed down to us from the founding patriarchs of our nation. If not, we will reap the fruits of our negligence.

The Final Battle: How Do We Get There From Here?

At some point in the future, the world-power structure will shift back to Europe, Asia and the Mideast. If the return of Christ for His Bride is near, what events must transpire for us to move from the current state of world affairs to the end-time conditions depicted in Revelation 16 where the kings of the east mobilize for the final battle of God Almighty (Armageddon)? The kings of the east show up at the end of the great tribulation which is a 3 1/2 year period that begins when the seven-year covenant in Daniel 9:27 is broken (Matthew 24:15). How do we get there from here?

Although there is nothing prophetically significant in the Bible concerning the new millennium we are entering, many prophetic scenarios are developing simultaneously throughout the world that deserve the close attention of serious Bible students. Some of the most interesting parallel, prophetic passages in the New Testament are found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Jesus' description of events leading up to His return, sometimes called the Olivet Discourse, depicts an atmosphere that is increasingly hostile to Christians. Luke tells us that there will be "wars and commotions" and "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Luke 21:9-10).

Are the international conflicts currently taking place around the world setting the stage for the period of "wars and rumors of wars" that will precede Christ's return? During recent months, several hot spots around the world have threatened global peace. Conflicts in 1999 alone include NATO's intrusion into Kosovo in Yugoslavia, India and Pakistan's squabble over the province of Kashmir in Northern India, the United States and Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, North Korea and South Korea, China and Taiwan, the island of Timor in Indonesia, and the ongoing Mideast conflict between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), also called the Palestinian Authority (PA). Many of these nations have nuclear weapons or will soon have them.

The pseudo "peace and security" agreements (I Thessalonians 5:3) taking place in the Mideast and other parts of the world today will prove fatal, according to the prophetic Word. Daniel the prophet was informed by a heavenly messenger more than 2,500 years ago that at the time of the end, many would run to and fro and knowledge would increase (12:4). He was also told that the wicked would prosper but not understand "the big picture" spiritually; however, the wise would understand what was taking place (12:10).

We are entering one of the most challenging times in world history as Daniel's prophecies unfold before our very eyes and set the stage for the end-time players. At the end of the great tribulation, the kings of the east appear to have the military advantage as they cross the Euphrates River en route to "the battle of that great day of God Almighty" with the King of kings and Lord of lords.

By assuming that China, symbolized by the dragon, will be one of the kings of the east, as described in Revelation 16:12, we can begin to make some projections based upon our current understanding of the prophetic Scriptures and world events as they exist today. If we are living in "the time of the end" as described by Daniel the prophet, what should we expect to happen in order to move from the strategic alignment of nations present today to the alignment present during the latter days of the great tribulation?

The Revived Roman Empire

The focus of economic and military power during the last half of the 20th century has been centered around the United States and Russia. The center of power during the last seven years (Daniel's 70th week) before Christ returns will be a tennation confederacy headquartered in Europe and controlled by the "man of sin," commonly referred to as the antichrist. Before the revived Roman Empire, as pictured by the ten toes in Daniel 2 and the ten horns in Revelation chapters 13 and 17, can become the final world kingdom of the Gentiles, economic and military superiority must be relinquished by the United States and Russia.

In the case of the United States, its economic output has increased at a phenomenal rate, but its military strength has decreased dramatically during the final decade of the millennium as she unilaterally disarms in favor of social programs and implementation of a one-world government system. On the other hand, Russia's civilian economy has fallen apart while its military economy has been growing at an alarming rate. The United States has for the most part dominated the world militarily since World War I. U.S. military might reached a peak during the Reagan years of the 80's, but has decreased rapidly during the 90's under the Clinton administration. The unilateral disarming of the United States at a time while Russia and China have been rapidly building their stockpile of nuclear and conventional weapons may have ominous prophetic implications.

Although it is perhaps safer and less controversial to relegate all prophetic events to the distant past or the distant future, the times in which we are living invite a fresh approach to interpreting the prophetic Scriptures. The Pharisees and Sadducees were rebuked harshly by Jesus for not paying attention to the times in which they were living (Matthew 16:3). We should strive to be Scripturally sound but remain open-minded in order to discern "the signs of the times."

Bible prophecy students have for some time debated whether or not the United States is symbolically represented in the prophetic Scriptures. Although answers to the United States question are not clear, there is no evidence of the United States being a major player in the end-time events described in the Bible. Although Babylon the great, described in Revelation 17 and 18, is a great commercial city that thrives during the end-times and resembles the economic success that is currently present in the United States, this prophecy appears to be more aligned with some future city, possibly the city of Rome.

Since the final Gentile world empire will exercise control over Europe, Asia, Africa, and the whole world, the United States must necessarily cease to be the dominant economic force in world affairs. Whether America's demise is brought about by economic collapse, moral disintegration, nuclear war or other unforeseen catastrophe remains to be seen; however, the absence of the U.S. in the end-time picture should be a sobering thought to all Christians living today. Removal of the Christian evangelistic base in the United States would radically change the impact of worldwide evangelism and threaten the basic freedoms enjoyed by many in the Western world.

The Worldwide Kingdom of the Dragon

The final worldwide kingdom that is to rule the earth prior to the return of Jesus Christ is described in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17. In Revelation, the future world kingdom is described as a beast that rises up out of the sea.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority (Revelation 13:1, 2).

This beast, which is described as having seven heads, ten horns and ten crowns, has characteristics like a leopard, a bear, and a lion. This end-time world government will be different from all previous kingdoms, "and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces" (Daniel 7: 23). Daniel also gives a different view of the same end-time kingdom.

Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns (Daniel 7: 2-7).

The fourth beast (end-time world empire) described in Daniel will operate globally in international commerce and will work closely with Satan's team of deceivers to control all buying and selling of merchandise. This composite beast, having characteristics of a lion, a bear, and a leopard, represents the final world Gentile kingdom on earth. This beast, together with the second beast (Revelation 13:11-16), sets up an economic world order that requires a mark in the right hand or on the forehead in order to buy or sell. The underlying feature of this new world commercial system involves the number 666.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six (Revelation 13:16-18).

Today's computer and global satellite system has made commercial transactions commonplace through the use of credit cards, which can carry a vast amount of information from the point of transaction to an overhead satellite, the customer's bank, and back to the satellite and point of sale in a few seconds. Incorporation of this technology permanently under the skin is now taking place in animals and in some cases with humans.

The Four Beasts of Daniel 7

The traditional interpretation of Daniel's dream in chapter 7 links the lion with eagle's wings to the Babylonian empire, the bear to the Medo-Persian empire, and the leopard to the empire of Alexander the Great. This interpretation fits in well with the interpretation of Daniel 2 where the first three kingdoms are represented by the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, and the Alexandrian empires. The fourth kingdom in Daniel 2, the fourth beast in Daniel 7, and the beast described in Revelation chapters 13 and 17 represent the same end-time global empire.

Although some interesting parallels can be drawn from equating the first three kingdoms of Daniel 2 with the first three beasts of Daniel 7, there are also some problems associated with them. First, the four winds striving upon the great sea in Daniel 7 seem to be a spiritual striving that determines the order of the beasts that are to arise on the world scene. It is clear from Daniel's vision that all four kingdoms (or beasts) were still future in Daniel's vision since Babylon had already fallen and Persia had taken over. The distant fulfillment of all of this prophecy is implied by the statement, "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth (7:17)."

The Final Kingdom of Antichrist Is Judged

After the judgment takes place in the heavenlies (7:9,10), the fourth beast (final end-time kingdom) is judged, destroyed and given to the burning flame (7:11). The judgment of the fourth beast and little horn (antichrist) is followed by judgment of "the rest of the beasts," (i.e. lion-eagle, bear, leopard) who are contemporary with the fourth beast. They have their dominion (power and authority) removed but their lives are prolonged for a period of time (7:12). Since the fourth beast is judged and destroyed before the lion-eagle, bear, and leopard empires whose lives are temporarily spared, all four empires appear to exist at the same time. The kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Alexander the great were not contemporary with each other, are not present today, and will not be present when the fourth beast is judged and destroyed.

In review, the four beasts of Daniel 7 appear to coexist at the same time, strive against each other, and become incorporated into the fourth beast that takes control of the world during the 70th week of Daniel (9:27) (seven-year tribulation) at the close of this age. It is interesting to note that the lion, the bear and the leopard are included in the description of the composite beast of Revelation that rules over the earth; however, the eagle, which was plucked from the lion, is not mentioned.

A Lion, Eagle, Bear and the 20th Century

The first three beasts of Daniel 7 may refer to the major nations that have controlled and influenced commerce and military affairs in the 20th century and have paralleled Israel's return to world status. Up until World War I, Great Britain (lion) was the major world military power that controlled the Great Sea (Mediterranean) and world politics. The United States (eagle), which was birthed from England, has been the dominant nation in the Mediterranean area since World War Il. Russia (bear), due to her military strength and nuclear warheads, has been a major factor in world politics for several decades. Although Russia's civilian economy is in ruins today, her military machine is very much intact.

The fourth world empire will be a composite beast made up of 10 kings (horns) which will include a lion (England?), a bear (Russia?), and a leopard M. Who or what the Leopard may represent is unclear, however it may represent the African nations, the Arab nations, or some Far Eastern nations. It appears that Russia will be a major world military power up until the invasion of Israel that is detailed in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Therefore, it would not be prudent to dismiss Russia's role in world affairs in the foreseeable future.

Although the national media has deceived the American people into thinking that the Cold War ended when the Berlin wall came down, and Russia is no longer a threat to world peace, the United States and European nations keep sending billions of dollars to keep the bear from raising its paw and unleashing its nuclear weapons. The three ribs in the mouth of the bear (7:5), which may represent three nations or a religious or political alliance controlled by the bear, encourage the bear to "arise and devour much flesh." Obviously, this prophecy by Daniel has ominous implications if its fulfillment is still in the future.

If the lion is represented by England, the eagle is the United States, the bear is Russia, the leopard is yet to be determined, and the fourth beast is the final world kingdom, possibly involving the European Union, we are living in the most exciting time period since Jesus Christ came to earth nearly 2 1 000 years ago. As stated previously, this is a possible scenario based upon current world events and the prophetic Scriptures and is not a dogmatic assertion. Only God knows the true course of future events.

A Thief in the Night, Peace and Safety, and Sudden Destruction

The return of the Lord in the air for His saints will be followed by an unprecedented destruction of the earth's population. We will examine four Scripture passages that are associated with the "blessed hope" or Rapture, when the Lord shall return to take His people away from the earth before judgment is unleashed.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For your selves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety: then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief .... Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober .... For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:9).

And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting? unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:10- 13).

And 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. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 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 (Luke 21:34-36).

Rapture and Rupture

In the examples given above, the return of the Lord is associated with "sudden destruction," "fire and brimstone," "a great noise," "the elements .... melt(ing) with fervent heat," and "a snare" that comes upon the whole world. The context implies economic, business, and social events proceeding as usual during a time of pseudopeace and security which is followed by the sudden return of the Lord for His saints "in the twinkling of an eye," and an associated destruction that impacts the whole world.

How this destructive string of events develops and progresses toward the judgments contained in the book of Revelation is not clear from our vantage point. We "see through a glass darkly" and "know in part" (1 Corinthians 13:12); however, an Old Testament prophecy that might be associated with the "rapture" is given in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. The author is not dogmatic concerning this possible scenario, since there is not sufficient Scriptural evidence to fill in the gaps. It is offered only as a possibility based upon the development of world events in recent years and historic prophecies that may be close to fulfillment.

The Russian Invasion of Israel

Since the prophecy given to Ezekiel more than 2,500 years ago is yet to be fulfilled, and the stage for its fulfillment is being prepared, we may be closer to a major paradigm shift in world events than is apparent to the casual observer. Ezekiel's prophecy is to take place "in the latter years," and "the latter days," when a large confederacy of nations, made up of Iran (Persia), Ethiopia, Libya, Turkey (Togarmah) and Magog (Russia), invades Israel.

Prior to the 20th century, the Ezekiel prophecy could not have been fulfilled. Israel did not exist as a nation, Russia did not exist as a nation, the military alignment of nations given in Ezekiel did not exist, and the means of coordinating an invasion of Israel was not possible due to primitive communications equipment. All of the hindrances to fulfilling Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 have been removed. We are now poised for the fulfillment of this remarkable prophecy which may be the major prophetic event that realigns the nations of the world and ushers in the end-time events described in the books of Daniel and Revelation.

An article written for World Net Daily ( by editor Joseph Farah, in September 1999, entitled "Is Russia planning Mideast attack?" sheds new light on the possible fulfillment of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Farah's article quotes Joseph de Courcy, editor of the well- respected journal, Intelligence Digest, concerning a possible Mideast invasion: While NATO congratulates itself on bombing the Serbs into submission, Israel's Mossad and other Middle Eastern intelligence sources have discovered that Kosovo was one humiliation too many for Russia. Now Moscow has agreed to back Saddam's secret plan of revenge. With this all-important Russian backing, Saddam is joining with hated Iran and Syria to launch one final war against Israel. Amazingly, Saddam will allow Iranian troops to cross Iraqi territory to join the attack on Israel. And to keep America from interfering, Moscow has given Osama bin Laden and other terrorists the means to attack American population centers with weapons of mass destruction. The threat is real .... and the implications terrifying.

Although the secular press would have us think that Russia is not capable of waging war due to its weak economy, Russia's war machine is poised for fulfilling the prophecy contained in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39.

Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord God; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it: And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, 0 Gog, before their eyes (Ezekiel 38: 14-16).

Russia's Incentive to Invade Israel

In Ezekiel 38:4, the Lord says: "I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen." The context implies that Gog, the leader of the nations that invade Israel, will be turned back from his intended plans in order to invade Israel. The phrase "I will turn thee back" might refer to the disastrous economic problems currently being experienced in Russia's civilian economy that tempted the "hungry bear" to "take a spoil" and "take a prey" or it may refer to Russia's military ambitions that are directed towards the Western nations, but for unknown reasons, are to be redirected towards the land of Israel.

Although the actual reason for turning Russia back may not be clear until the event happens, the following scenario is possible. Russia's number one enemy is the United States, due to many factors, including its nuclear arsenal. The shortest distance for Russian nuclear weapons to strike America is not across Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, but directly north across the Arctic Ocean and Canada. If Ezekiel's prophecy implies that Russia will be planning a preemptive military strike towards the north but is turned back by God who puts hooks (incentives) into Russia's jaws (bear jaws) and brings them south into the land of Israel "to take a spoil" and "take a prey," the world may be in for some very disturbing times.

Ezekiel tells us that, "In that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; so that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground" (38:19,20).

God Comes to Israel's Rescue

It is clear from Ezekiel that God will defend Israel from its enemies with "an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone" (38:22). Whether the judgments orchestrated by God against the invading forces are God-made, man-made, or a combination of both, remains to be seen. God sent the flood in Noah's day and fire and brimstone against Sodom and Gomorrah; however, He chose to use the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman armies and their war machines against Israel when she rebelled.

The possibility of nuclear armaments being present in the invasion seems to be implied due to the special precautions taken during the cleanup and disposal of the weapons and bodies described in chapter 39:9-16. God tells Ezekiel:

I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord. (39:6) And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face .... For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 38: 17-23).

Since the rapture of the saints is associated with a major destruction and conflagration, it is possible that the Lord's return might immediately precede or coincide with the prophecy given to Ezekiel. The prophecy in 2 Peter and the other passages given above take on a new meaning if they coincide with the prophecy of Ezekiel.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:11, 12).

Is World War III Around the Corner?

The United States and the other major Western powers will be blackmailed or neutralized militarily prior to or possibly during the confrontation described in Ezekiel, which some have called World War III. Those nations observing this invasion through the modern inventions of television and global communications watch from the sidelines but do not get directly involved. "Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee (i.e. Russia, Iran, Ethiopia, Libya, Turkey, etc.), Art thou come to take a spoil? Hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? To carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?" (Ezekiel 38:13).

After the earth-shaking fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 and 39, Russia's global agenda will be shattered, and she will cease to be a major world power. With both the United States and Russia out of the way, the stage will be set for the rapid emergence of the fourth beast (final world empire). This final world empire will not be able to control the world financially and militarily until the United States and Russia are removed from their superpower status.

The antichrist, as leader of the global empire, rides on the scene (white horse) in Revelation 6 and meets his ultimate fate (the beast) in the lake of fire burning with brimstone in chapter 19. He will sign a seven-year covenant with Israel either before or after Russia's Mideast invasion. The signing of the covenant with Israel will usher in the apocalyptic prophecies contained in the book of Revelation. He will break the covenant after three and-one-half years and establish his throne in Jerusalem. Antichrist's act of defiance, called the abomination of desolation, will start the events of the great tribulation which encompass the second half of the seven-year covenant.

The kings of the east will begin their march toward Israel during the closing weeks of the seven-year covenant and will be destroyed when the Lord returns to reclaim the earth. Many of the nations from Southeast Asia will be present at the "battle of Armageddon."

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Revelation 19: 19-21).

Concluding Remarks

It is perhaps fitting that China's national symbol, the dragon, is also the symbol of Satan. In Revelation 12:9 we read, "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." The final battle, when Christ returns, will involve the kings of the east with China and Satan, representing the dragon in its earthly and spiritual forms.

China, Taiwan, and Japan's rapid rise in world status both economically and militarily in the latter half of the 20th century should serve as a wake-up call that the Asian kings of the East are beginning to prepare for their role in the final confrontation between good and evil. As this spiritual drama continues to unfold before our eyes, we are reminded of the admonition of Luke 21:28, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."