Bible Prophecy Comes Alive in Sochi

Bible Prophecy Comes Alive in Sochi

ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Forget the athletes. The Sochi Olympics are a celebration of the muscle, ambition and ruthlessness of Vladimir Putin, the prophesied ‘prince of Rosh.’

Imagine if we added up the number of hours every individual on Earth has spent watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The figure would easily be in the billions of hours, perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 billion. That’s the equivalent of 1,140,000years—an incredible time investment. Here’s something else incredible: Despite this enormous investment of time, 99.9 percent of viewers have yet to experience the most powerful and inspiring lesson of the Sochi Olympics.

This lesson revolves around Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and a prophecy in Ezekiel 38.

Let’s start with Putin. No one has more invested in Sochi than Putin. He’s been the driving force behind these Olympics ever since the idea of Russia hosting was first conceived—which apparently occurred in Putin’s mind during a 2001 ski jaunt in Sochi’s mountains. In 2007, Putin traveled to Guatemala and personally delivered the sales pitch to the International Olympic Committee (ioc). Putin made his appeal in both French (the ioc head was French) and English, the latter of which he apparently learned specifically for this occasion (an extremely rare gesture for Putin).

After being given the games, Putin gave his organizers a blank check and unfettered access to the vast resources of the Russian government. He withheld nothing, as long as the organizers followed his orders. The final tab of the 2014 Sochi Olympics came to $51 billion, making these games seven times more expensive than the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and by far the most expensive in history. The opening ceremony—which had Putin’s fingerprints all over it—was an absolutely stunning experience, full of energy, color and history. Since then, Putin has been omnipresent in and around Sochi—flirting with athletes, watching from the stands, visiting nightclubs and parties, and entertaining world leaders and diplomats.

The past two weeks have been a high point of Putin’s life, and certainly the high point of his 14 years on Russia’s throne. Not because of Putin’s love of sports or his affection for the sense of unity and camaraderie the Olympics sometimes engender. These Olympics are important to Putin because they embody and declare a powerful message about Russia, and about Russia’s president. Forget the athletes; the Sochi Olympics have been a two-week celebration of the muscle, ambition and ruthlessness of Vladimir Putin! In July 2005, during his annual State of the Union address, Putin bewailed the fall of the Soviet empire as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. Putin’s supreme ambition as president has been the restoration of the Soviet empire.

The2014 Sochi Olympics are Vladimir Putin’s declaration that the Soviet empire has been resurrected!

Remarkably, this message has been greeted by the mainstream media and most Western governments with apathy and disinterest; in some instances, with excitement. America and the West, for the most part, have shown themselves entirely ignorant of who Vladimir Putin really is and the danger his newly resurrected Russian empire poses to the global order. It’s true that the Sochi Olympics and Vladimir Putin himself have received some bad press. (President Obama and a few counterparts refused to attend the opening ceremony.) But this public display of opposition wasn’t in response to Putin’s revival of a powerful and belligerent Russia—it was in response to Putin’s supposed “war” on homosexuals.

Let’s slow down for a moment and think about who this man is, what he has done, and what he seeks to do in the future. Vladimir Putin is the mastermind behind Russia’s ongoing war on Chechnya, which has a death toll far in excess of 100,000. Vladimir Putin is widely known to be responsible for the 2004 poisoning of Ukraine’s opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, as well as the 2006 poisoning and death of Russian dissenter Alexander Litvinenko. Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s devastating cyberattack on Estonia in 2007 and Russia’s military invasion of Georgia in 2008. Vladimir Putin, together with China, is responsible for vetoing multiple UN sanctions designed to impair some of the world’s most horrible regimes. Vladimir Putin is friend and defender of post-revolution Iran and Bashar Assad’s Syria, and for years has actively and tangibly propped up both.

Putin’s conduct inside Russia is equally alarming and repulsive. Since he became president, 40 journalists have been murdered. He’s destroyed private business and enterprise, crushed independent media outlets, brought Russia’s energy infrastructure under almost total government control, and walked all over Russia’s constitution. Only two months ago, Putin dissolved Russia’s primary news agency, replacing it with Rossiya Segodnya, which is basically a PR tool to promote Russia’s image abroad. In January, the last largely independent television news organization, tv Rain, was threatened after it published an online survey which asked a question that displeased the Kremlin.

Putin’s PR machine sells this man as a brave and masculine daredevil with high morals and a soft, empathetic heart. Don’t buy it. The real Putin is a cold, calculated autocrat. For 14 years he has bullied, tortured and murdered opponents, both at home as well as abroad; he has actively buttressed many of the planet’s most dangerous despots and regimes; he has intentionally destabilized neighboring governments, and he has aggressively sought to undermine U.S. and Western efforts. Even now Ukraine is being torn apart by political chaos and violence that is a direct result of Vladimir Putin’s meddling. Yet, despite this track record, the only infraction America and the West make any significant noise about is Putin’s war on homosexuals!

For nearly two weeks now, countless millions of people around the world have been fixated on Russia. Sochi is teeming with journalists, politicians and diplomats. What an opportunity these people have had: to seriously evaluate Vladimir Putin, to expose to the world who this man really is and what his ambitions really are, and to declare the danger a powerful and aggressive Russia poses to the world. Instead, the only thing we can get vocal about is Putin’s aggression toward homosexuality. You watch: Our willing ignorance of who Putin is and what he intends to do will come with a heavy price!

So, where’s the dramatic and inspiring lesson in all this?

Over the last three months, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has delivered three separate Key of David programs featuring Vladimir Putin and events in Ukraine and Russia. In the cover story of the February issue of the Trumpet (“Is Vladimir Putin the Prophesied ‘Prince of Rosh’?”), Mr. Flurry examined and explained the prophetic significance of the Russian president. “This world has a lot of authoritarian rulers,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “But Vladimir Putin is one we need to keep a particularly close eye on. His track record, his nationality and his ideology indicate that he could—and I strongly believe he will—fulfill a linchpin Bible prophecy that was recorded millennia ago. The time frame of his rule makes it almost certain.”

That prophecy is in Ezekiel 38:1-3. The events discussed here occur right before the return of Jesus Christ. “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him” (verses 1-2). It’s not hard to discover who this prophecy is directed at. Ancient maps and ancient history, as well as many Bible commentaries, teach that “Gog” and “Magog” refer to the modern nations of Russia and China. The same sources also show that the names “Meshech” and “Tubal” are the ancient names of Moscow and Tobolsk, two prominent cities in Russia today.

Now notice verse 3: “And say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (New King James Version). You really need to study and prove all this yourself. However, the term Rosh, as Mr. Flurry comprehensively explained, is the ancient name of modern-day Russia. It’s also called Rus, or Rush. So, in modern terminology, Ezekiel 38:1-3 is a prophecy about the dramatic emergence just before Jesus Christ’s return of the “prince of Russia, Moscow and Tobolsk.”

Is there another personality in Russia or China right now as dominant as Vladimir Putin? As Mr. Flurry wrote, “Can you think of any other Russian politician who could become so powerful and have the will to lead Russia into the crisis of crises? I see nobody else on the horizon who could do that. … Vladimir Putin already has the power—and the will to use it. I believe there is not enough time for a competitor to arise and challenge him.”

Now, consider all this in the context of the Sochi Winter Olympics, which were the creation of Vladimir Putin, and which many aptly termed “Putin’s Olympics.”

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are sensational, divinely timed proof of exactly who this end-time “prince of Rosh” is!

One final important observation needs to be made about this prophecy in Ezekiel 38. Study the prophecy and you’ll easily see that two personalities are actually discussed here. In addition to the “prince of Rosh,” there’s also the “son of man.” This is God’s messenger. Notice, God not only reveals the end-time identity of the “prince of Rosh” to this individual, He also commands this messenger to “set thy face against Gog” and “prophesy against him.” In other words, God uses this man to warn the world about the “prince of Rosh.”

This would be hard to believe, were it not written in black and white in God’s inspired Word. This prophecy in Ezekiel 38, written 2,500 years ago, says explicitly that just prior to Christ’s return, a powerful leader who behaves as if he is royalty will emerge to take control of Russia. Not only that, this prophecy says that God will send an end-time messenger who will reveal the identity of the “prince of Rosh,” then deliver a dramatic warning from God. Is it coincidence that the 2014 Winter Olympics, hosted by Russia, have put the spotlight on Vladimir Putin? And is it coincidence that Russia’s prince is the center of global attention at precisely the same time Gerald Flurry identified Putin as the prophesied “prince of Rosh”?

What’s happening in Sochi right now proves the veracity of Bible prophecy, and reveals where God is working today and who He is working through. In effect, events in Sochi prove the existence of God and the authority of His Word! This, at least for me, is by far the most awesome and inspiring lesson to take from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Epic Drought Turning California Into a Cursed State

Epic Drought Turning California Into a Cursed State

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Don’t think the drought won’t affect you.

For three straight years, a punishing drought has devastated California and much of America’s West and Southwest.

President Obama visited California on February 14 to assess the severity of the drought. “California is our biggest economy [and] our biggest agricultural producer, so what happens here matters to every working American,” he said, “right down to the cost of food that you put on your table.”

2013 was officially California’s driest year in 119 years of record-keeping. According to Prof. B. Lynn Ingram of the University of California, Berkeley, it represented the most devastating drought in almost 500 years.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, almost 99 percent of California is “abnormally dry.” At least 60 percent of the state is experiencing “extreme drought,” and almost 10 percent is experiencing “exceptional drought.” Fire risk is high in many parts of the state. Seasonal firefighters worked all year round in 2013 because of this risk. As a consequence, camping has been essentially outlawed.

For the first time in 54 years, the State Water Project, California’s main municipal water distribution system, announced that it would not be able to supplement water supplies to local agencies, including farmers. About 40,000 residents of 17 rural communities may run out of water within the next 120 days.

Through billboards on California highways and other means, the state is asking Californians to drastically reduce their water usage voluntarily by taking “stop-start-stop-start” showers, not watering lawns and gardens during the day, sweeping driveways instead of hosing them down, flushing toilets less frequently and not refilling swimming pools.

Sacramento and Folsom residents have been mandated to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent. Santa Cruz restaurants have been asked not to offer water unless customers request it.

State-wide mandatory conservation measures have not yet been enforced; however, they are likely options, as Gov. Jerry Brown indicated when he declared a water emergency on January 17.

The fact that California has not mandated more drastic measures state-wide does not mean the drought is not severe. Such measures are politically charged. Water districts, for example, would lose revenue. The Santa Clara Valley Water District estimates that it would lose $20 million from enforcing a 10-percent reduction in water consumption. The Los Angeles Metropolitan District says it would lose $150 million from a 20-percent reduction. “We want to save the big hammer for when we know it’s really bad,” one water district general manager said. But delaying conservation efforts now may make the rationing much worse later if the drought doesn’t break.

Conditions are already really bad in California. Aquatic life has been hit hard. Fishing has been banned in most of California to protect endangered aquatic species like salmon. Meanwhile, ranchers struggling to feed their livestock have been forced to cull or sell their herds en masse. The U.S. is heavily reliant on California for much of its food; dwindling production will seriously impact food availability and prices nationwide.

About 80 percent of California’s freshwater supply is used for agriculture. Farmers of annual crops are reducing the acreage of crops they are planting to match the available water supplies. Such an option, however, is not available for fruit tree farmers, whose trees and vines continue from year to year and, this year, are dying. In 2009, Ken Shackel, a tree crop expert at the University of California, Davis, observed a 50-percent reduction in yield if trees were not watered for a year. A year of normal irrigation the next year only improved yield by 10 percent. After another year of normal irrigation, yields finally returned to normal. “However bad this year [is], it will be worse next [year],” Shackel surmised for this year’s farmers. “Really bad this year means really, really bad next year.”

When President Obama visited California, he announced that the federal government would give the state $183 million in aid, including $100 million for a controversial farm bill. After blaming California’s drought on human-caused global warming, the president also announced his plan to have Congress provide $1 billion for a “climate resiliency” program. The program, if passed, will fund research and infrastructure that would help in the preparation for climate disasters.

However, California’s climate problems are too big for money to solve. California has been the home of some of the choicest blessings on Earth. Our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains why those blessings are being replaced by curses. Request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy to understand the real “human activity” that has caused California’s curses. And catch the recent Trumpet Daily episode on this very subject.

America’s Absent Aircraft Carrier

America’s Absent Aircraft Carrier

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mick DiMestico/Released

The pride of America’s Navy is heading for the horizon.

Nothing says “Don’t mess with me” like a ship 1,092 feet long and 257 feet wide, displacing 97,000 tons of water, bristling with surface-to-surface torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles and guns, defended by over 85 fighter aircraft, and manned by over 5,600 personnel.

Similarly, nothing says “We aren’t a threat” like such an impressive behemoth of technology and power sailing off into the horizon.

This monolithic ship is the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, one of the last Nimitz-class aircraft carriers of the United States.

The Truman is the only remaining carrier that patrols the Persian Gulf and Northern Arabic Sea. Propelled by dual nuclear reactors and four engines, the Truman was sent to the region in 2013. Upon arrival, it began to play a dramatically reduced role in the most crucial sea gate in the region, the Strait of Hormuz.

Situated at the southern end of the Persian Gulf, wedged tightly between Oman and Iran, the Strait of Hormuz supplies the only seaborne access between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Considered one of the most if not the most crucial strait in the world, this narrow passage transports much of the oil from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the rest of the world. Its strategic significance cannot be overstated, nor can its proximity to the belligerent nation of Iran be overlooked. Consequently, the Strait of Hormuz has seen a constant U.S. presence over the years.

Iran knows the significance of the waterway, and has on numerous occasions threatened to close it down. Such a closure would spark panic worldwide among nations that rely on Middle Eastern oil to fuel their economies, militaries and industries.

To alleviate concern over such a devastating move by Iran, the U.S. maintains the Fifth Fleet in the region, which is based out of Bahrain. Up until recently, that force has comprised of at least two carriers patrolling the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Arabian Sea.

As of February 2013, only one carrier patrolled the waters. Many observers blamed American defense cuts.

Now that final carrier has been ordered to spend less time focusing on the Strait of Hormuz. According to The Hill, from August to January, the Truman spent roughly 101 days in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabic Sea, and only 45 in the Persian Gulf, with 11 days transitioning between locations. The Strait of Hormuz is experiencing the most lax security in almost four years.

The motive behind America’s carriers suddenly disappearing from the gulf region has everything to do with Iran’s nuclear program. In the last six months, America’s relationship with Iran has involved efforts to restore old ties and to work out an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly told The Hill that it would be reasonable to suggest that the Navy—thereby America—is sending a signal by limiting the Truman’s time in the Gulf. The message is, “We are not a threat.”

As the U.S. negotiates with Iran to convince it to suspend its quest for nuclear weapons, Washington claims that the military option is still available should the talks fail. But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at that claim: “I say explicitly to those delusional people who say the military option is on the table, that they should change their glasses …. Our nation regards the language of threat as rude and offensive,” he said.

President Obama has been pushing for a deal with Iran, and he doesn’t wish to see it scuttled before more negotiations can take place. Apparently to show his intent, America has intermittently removed the most spectacular sign of its military might—the aircraft carrier—from the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz for the past six months.

The Truman is a symbol of U.S. influence, and is a means by which the U.S. could achieve a military strike. By Obama’s reasoning, there is no place for an aircraft carrier in the nuclear negotiations. So Truman spends its days floating about in the Arabian Sea. While admittedly not that far from the Strait of Hormuz, patrolling the Arabic Sea sends a specific message. Washington is telling Iran that it sees its own carrier as a hindrance to peace in the Middle East. And it is a virtual admission that the carrier’s presence over the years has been an impediment to a nuclear deal with Iran.

The withdrawal of the vessel shows America’s policy of appeasement. Rather than display a show of force and protect the most vital strait in the world, the U.S. is quietly backing down to avoid offending Hassan Rouhani.

The situation plays into Bible prophecy in a twofold manner. Firstly, Iran will get what it wants, and America’s attempts at appeasement will fail. Daniel 11:40 discusses Iran’s rise in power as the head of the king of the south, a bloc of Islamic nations that will unite and “push” at other world powers until it is finally destroyed. Read more on this in our booklet The King of the South.

Secondly, take a look at the prophecies surrounding the Middle East. There is no mention of any powerful American presence. Even the destruction of the king of the south will come at the hands of another power. Europe is prophesied to be the one to finally put a stop to Iran’s belligerence, not America!

Between the decline of America and the return of Christ, there are many terrible prophecies to be fulfilled in the Middle East. No good comes as a result of America’s decline in the region.

The hope we can take away from it is that God promises to intervene directly in the affairs of mankind directly after the fulfillment of Daniel 11:40 and other earth-shattering prophecies to come about in our day. In that day, instruments of war such as the Truman will be removed as Christ establishes His rule and authority over this Earth and eradicates forever the weapons of mankind’s design.

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Could the Venezuelan Protests Be Good News for the Vatican?

Could the Venezuelan Protests Be Good News for the Vatican?

Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, over the weekend as tensions in the Latin American country continue to rise. At least three activists have been killed so far, dozens injured and many more arrested.

The demonstrators are upset with leftist President Nicolás Maduro’s failure to control rising inflation and crime rates, and with shortages of basic goods afflicting the country.

“This is David versus Goliath,” said one opposition organizer. “We are fighting a very corrupt authoritarian government that uses all the power, all the money, all the media, all the laws, all the judicial system in order to maintain control.”

The protests are the largest since last April, when many accused Maduro of having bypassed Venezuela’s constitution in order to become president following the death of longtime leader Hugo Chávez. Some analysts said the vote was rigged, and that Maduro may well have lost that election to opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Maduro denied those allegations, claimed a wafer-thin victory margin of 1.6 percent, and refused to allow a recount.

Amid the intensifying protests last week, Maduro banned demonstrations and vowed that he will not be overthrown. But as tensions climb to a fever pitch, it is increasingly difficult to dismiss them. If Maduro is ousted, it could equate to a significant victory for one party that at first glance may not seem connected to the situation: the Catholic Church.

The headquarters of the Catholic Church is in Europe. Yet it is not Europe but Latin America—incorporating Mexico, the Central American isthmus and the continent of South America—which constitutes the most catholicized landmass in the world. No continent is more aligned with the Vatican than Latin America. Yet Venezuela—under Chávez and Maduro—has in many ways been the exception.

During his 14-year presidency, Hugo Chávez distanced the Venezuelan government from the Vatican by often squabbling with the country’s conservative Catholic hierarchy. Chávez also closely cooperated with nations like Russia, China and Iran—usually to the detriment of Venezuela’s ties to Europe. Because of these moves, many in the Vatican came to view Chávez as a dangerous man and expressed deep concern over Venezuela’s priorities.

Although Maduro visited Pope Francis back in June, he seems for the most part to be following in Chávez’s footsteps.

But if Capriles, a self-described devout Catholic, comes to power, then the breach between the Vatican and Venezuela could be rapidly healed. Capriles was educated at the Catholic University in Caracas, and has said that the first items on his agenda, if he ever becomes president, will be to pay homage to the Virgin Mary, repeal Venezuela’s weapons deals with Russia, and bring an end to the nation’s robust relationship with Iran.

Such policies in Venezuela would no doubt greatly please Pope Francis and the EU.

In November, Capriles held a meeting with Pope Francis to ask him to mediate in Venezuela’s tumultuous internal politics. “This is a government that feeds off fear, hatred and lies, and aims to make all Venezuelans live in darkness and division,” Capriles told the pope.

The Trumpet and our forerunner magazine, the Plain Truth, have long pointed out Bible prophecies indicating that Europe and Latin America will draw especially near each other in the time just before Christ’s return—cemented together by the Roman Catholic religion, not to mention the Spanish language they share. The protests now underway in Venezuela could lead to another key step in that cooperation.

To understand the significance of Europe’s inroads into Latin America, read “Europe’s Latin Assault.”

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