And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Micah 4:3).
After the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Ukraine declared independence. Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine, which led to tensions with Russia. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was based on the peninsula and worries surfaced of possible armed skirmishes. Crimean Tartars began returning from exile and resettling in Crimea. Ukraine’s constitution allowed Crimea certain autonomy, including a local group to deal with matters affecting that region only. Kiev’s national parliament reserved the right to conduct national military, foreign and national economic policy for the entire country. This made Ukraine’s national Parliament comparable to other European Parliaments, but relegated Crimea’s rights comparable to a state in the United States.
On February 26, following the Ukrainian revolution which removed Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych as President, thousands of pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol. Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened, declaring the new government illegitimate. The Russians justified the action by questioning the new government’s rights over Crimea. The United States and Europe maintained that the country was always one and any action violated its autonomy. Russian troops stormed the Crimean Parliament building and locked it down. Parliament voted to set a referendum date for the Russian-speaking residents to decide their own destiny, contrary to the Ukrainian Constitution. This is the most intense conflict between Russia and the West since the Cold War, yet none fear the escalation of the conflict into outright war with Russia. Why?
Russia’s economy since 1991 has been rebuilt on the back of the energy industry. Oil and natural gas account for more than half of all exports. Antonio Spilimbergo, International Monetary Fund’s mission chief in Moscow, wrote that Russia desperately needs a new, more diversified economic model in order to compete in today’s global economic environment. Putin holds the 45 million citizens of Ukraine as key to building a Russian-led trading bloc which could rival the EU, contends Michael Ganske, head of emerging markets at Rogge Global Partners Plc in London. “Putin cares for the economy, but he cares more for the greatness of Russia and regional influence. As a former spy, Putin has this grand-Russia idea in his head and he just doesn’t accept that Russia’s importance in the geopolitical context has decreased,” Ganske said.
A New World Since WWI
There are few indications that the world’s great powers today are ready or willing to be drawn into regional conflicts as they were prior to 1914. T. Max Hastings, a British historian whose latest book, “Catastrophe” analyzes the world’s descent into World War I, says that there is no appetite for war in the West and that Putin has a rational sense of Russia’s limited power as a country with a population of 143 million that last year grew naturally for the first time since 1990. This is contrary to a century ago when Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Russia possessed vast colonies with millions of subjects. Growing power and influence brought the United States into that club. The First World War was the final struggle between empires and one of its products was a repartition of the globe with colonies seized and distributed among the victors. Since 1914, there have been nearly 100 border changes from the continued breakup of these pre-War empires.
The Times of the Gentiles
Dominion of the earth was originally given to Adam. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). When Adam disobeyed God’s command and partook of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, this dominion was taken from him. God promised, however, that he would send a deliverer who would restore this dominion to man (Genesis 3:15). Later, God promised this restorer would descend from his friend Abraham through his son Isaac. “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1).
This promise of a great deliverer, ruler and teacher suggested the restoration to man of universal dominion over earth. Israel had visions of developing into such a dominion. However, that nation’s desire to substitute kings for the rule of God led to its loss of dominion and subsequent servitude to Gentile nations.
“Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezekiel 21:26-27). This prophecy was given in the days of the last king of Israel, Zedekiah. Soon Israel would go into captivity, and the “crown” or dominion over both Israel and the civilized world would last for over 2500 years. The book of Daniel portrays this time in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the great image (Daniel 2:31-35) and Daniel’s vision of the four beasts (Daniel 8).
End of Gentile Rule
World War One ended the dominance of the Gentiles over the nation of Israel when the great Ottoman Empire (Islam), surrendered its rule over the Middle East to Great Britain. In a public speech at Guildhall in London on November 9, 1914, the Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, declared: “It is the Ottoman government, and not we who have rung the death knell of Ottoman dominion not only in Europe but in Asia.” Since 1914, we see evidence that Jesus Christ, the promised deliverer, is subduing the nations prior to receiving them from the Father as his inheritance (Psalm 2:8).
The restoration of the nation of Israel since the time of the breakup of the old world empires is evidence that the time is near for God to establish his universal kingdom through Jesus, the deliverer. “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15-16). The Scriptures also speak of the followers of Christ even reigning with Jesus as “kings.” (Revelation 1:6, 5:10).
The global resources that have been devoted towards military research, development and production will be redirected towards the domestic needs of the common people.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [Kingdom] of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains [fallen kingdoms of this world] … all nations shall flow unto it.
“And many people shall go and say, ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
“And he shall judge among the nations and … they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:2-4). And then — forever — there will be no more war!