Bible In The News Update – How a priest turned Putin’s invasion to a holy war!
One of the fascinating aspects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over the last month has been the response of the Russian Orthodox Church.
For example, one headline this week talked about ‘how a priest turned Putin’s invasion into a Holy War’. While the religious aspect of the conflict may appear elusive, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has been the most ardent of cheerleaders for Vladimir Putin for the last decade. The article stated above has this to say:
‘Two days before he launched a bloody invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat alone in front of a camera and delivered a rambling, hour-long address. It outlined the ideological justification for what would ultimately become his “special military action” in Ukraine — an invasion that, as far as Putin was concerned, had more than a little to do with religion.
“Ukraine is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space,” he said. Two days later, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, spoke to military leaders and published a statement in honor of Defender of the Fatherland Day. This religious ramp-up to war was the culmination of a decade-long effort to wrap Russia’s geopolitical ambitions in faith — specifically, the flowing vestments of the Russian Orthodox Church’.
The Economist wrote only a couple of days ago that ‘in Russia, the church and military go hand in hand. Patriarch Krill implicitly supports Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and spouts Kremlin propaganda. Nor is his endorsement of this war unique. During his tenure, Russian priests have blessed bombs destined for Syria and Crimea! Bishop Stefan of Klin, who presides over the Cathedral of the Armed Forces, leads the church’s department for co-operation with the army. Before taking holy orders he was an officer in the missile-defence force’
We read throughout the scriptures of a Babylonian power that would be perpetuated through the ages right until the time of Christ’s coming. For example, we read of the destruction of Babylon the Great in Rev 17:14-15 when the lamb (the Lord Jesus Christ) is sitting of the throne in the Kingdom Age. The same thing is depicted in Dan 7, with the fourth Roman beast oppresses the holy ones right up until the ancient of days comes to the earth and set up his throne. This 4th beast is representative of the Kingdom of men right up until the return of Christ. A final example of the same phenomenon is in Daniel 2 describing the famous image that terrified King Nebuchadnezzar in his dream. The iron legs of this image correspond to the Roman Empire. The feet of the image are a mixture of iron and miry clay, demonstrating the presence of a Roman power right up until the stone hits the standing image on its feet. The two legs of the image explain how the Roman empire would split into two halves. Before this split or division of the empire, Emperor Constantine, in around 300 CE moved the capital of Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople – demonstration the shifting centre of gravity in the Roman world. Not long after Constantine’s death, the Empire split in half, with the Western leg being governed from Rome, and the eastern leg being governed from Constantinople. The Eastern Roman Empire survived for another 1000 years after Constantine’s death only collapsing in 1453 with the invasion of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks (this section of history is described in the sixth trumpet in the book of Revelation)
Byzantine Empire and Russia
This history is a vital part of modern Russia’s heritage, as both Putin and Patriarch Kirill are very aware. This can be seen for example in the Oxford Slavonic papers, written by Dimitri Obelensky, who was a lecturer at the University of Oxford. He writes that ‘Byzantium is the main source of Russian Civilisation. The continuing strength of the Byzantine inheritance in modern Russia has asserted itself again and again in the form of the Orthodox Christian faith. It is highly significant that Russia entered the European family of nations through her conversion to Christianity, for which she is indebted to Byzantium. The Heritage of East Rome is the main channel through which Russia become a European nation. Byzantium, (or Constantinople or Istanbul) was Russia’s gateway to Europe. Byzantium brought Russia five gifts: Her religion, her law, her view of the world, her art and her writing ’
This is why bro Graham Pearce wrote in the 1970s that ‘we ought not fix our eyes entirely on the papacy as the essence of Babylon the Great. Babylonish qualities belong to the east as well as the West. Russia is truly the heir to the old Roman Empire. We see Russia as a nation prepared by her long history to play her part in the final brief revival of the power of the Roman empire – the fourth beast of Daniel – when the saints slay the beast and take the kingdom.’
In the days leading up to Russia’s grand move for the building up of his image-empire, we expect to see a magnification of the ties between church and state in Russia. This expectation makes Putin’s friendship with the Russian Orthodox church, and Patriarch Kirill’s seemingly ludicrous support for Putin in Ukraine, an exciting sign of the times. We pray for the long-expected, but stealthy advent of the King of Israel, when God’s law will go forth from Zion and all the nations will learn of his righteousness. This has been Daniel Blackburn joining you for this weeks edition of Bible in the News
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