The conflict between Russia and Europe over Ukraine is increasingly becoming an energy war as the cold of winter approaches.
European sanctions on Russia have driven up the cost of fuel and enabled Russia to cut Europe’s gas supply. Over the summer, Germany frantically tried to fill up its gas storage facilities, but the abrupt termination of gas flows through Nord Stream 1, followed by three underwater explosions on both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 in late September, sparked fears that Germany’s supplies won’t last through the winter. Gas prices are soaring, and the European Union’s attempt to cap prices for consumers is failing. With inflation already raging, the energy crisis could lead to economic crisis, freezing homes in winter and the return of large-scale poverty in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron warned his citizens of the “end of abundance.” Germans have been urged to endure major cuts in their personal lives.
The “most advanced continent on the planet, the birthplace of Western civilization, our civilization, is getting much poorer very quickly,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on August 29. After an extreme summer, Europe is expecting an extreme winter.
Herbert W. Armstrong warned in 1984 that a massive financial crisis “could suddenly result in triggering European nations to unite as a new world power larger than either the Soviet Union or the U.S.”
Europe’s looming crisis is in many ways self-inflicted and could end as soon as it has started if it gets new leadership. Watch for a new leader to take advantage of Europe’s mounting instability.
Meanwhile, Germany is strengthening its relations with Israel. On September 12, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Germany’s security would receive Israel’s “total commitment.” During his visit with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Lapid discussed Israel’s gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean that could replace about 10 percent of Russian gas supplies to Europe.
Lapid also said that his country “will play a part in building Germany’s new defense force, mainly in the field of air defense. [I]t has to do with our total commitment to the safety of Germany, to the safety of Europe, to the ability of liberal democracies to defend themselves.”
In February, Scholz had announced that Germany would make a massive investment in its military. He specifically mentioned the purchase of Israel’s Arrow 3 antiballistic missile system.
Scholz visited Israel in March and met with then Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The two agreed on a strategic dialogue and steps toward a strategic partnership. On September 6, Israeli President Izchak Herzog visited the German Bundestag and called for deepening Germany’s partnership with Israel.
“German-Israeli relations are the most intense strategic relationship that Israel has with Europe,” Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told the Times of Israel. “After the United States of America, this is the most strategic relationship bilaterally that Israel has with any country.”
Hosea 5:13 prophesies that Judah, the Jewish nation called Israel today, will turn to Assyria, modern-day Germany. They share a common enemy: Iran. But the Bible warns that Israel will be fatally betrayed. You can read about this in our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy.
Iran’s relations with Russia, China and India leapt forward on September 14, when it signed a memorandum of obligations at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan. The SCO is an economic, political and security organization comprising more than 40 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of global economic output. It is similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but, so far, lacks a mutual defense clause. This new memorandum enables Iran to participate in SCO meetings and puts it on the path to full membership.
During the summit, Russian authoritarian Vladimir Putin said a new major Russia-Iran treaty, which will strengthen economic and strategic ties, is nearing completion.
But back in Iran, one of the nation’s most violent anti-government protests in recent years has been raging, with several protesters and government security agents killed and the government shutting down the Internet in parts of the country. The Trumpet forecasts that these protests will, like others before them, utterly fail to change or reform Iran’s radical Islamic regime and will likely suffer a brutal crackdown.
Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for its fifth election in three years. Political parties submitted their final list of candidates on September 15, officially kicking off yet another election season.
Israel also increased its air strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria in August and September, striking airports in Aleppo and Damascus and other targets around the Hama province. Seemingly in reaction to the air strikes, Iranian militias and forces of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah have withdrawn from parts of the country. But Russia’s role in the withdrawals has been underreported. One Israeli strike took place near a Russian naval base on the Syrian coast. Russia then demanded that Iran withdraw its militias from Syria. The Trumpet has predicted for years that Syria and Iran will divorce. Watch for Syria to seek stability and a new partner that is neither Iran nor Russia. Read about this in our article “The Imminent Iran-Syria Divorce.”
The Russia-China partnership continues to grow deeper and stronger in ways that are reshaping the global landscape and pushing toward war.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party sent forces to Russia to participate in large-scale war games under Russian leadership, along with forces from India, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan. Russia’s “Vostok” (East) military drills take place every four years, and this year’s iteration from September 1-7 involved an estimated 50,000 troops. China’s Defense Ministry stated, “The aim is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration among the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats.”
In light of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, some have expected China and other Russian partners to distance themselves. Although China has refrained from sending Russia requested weaponry, it has given Russia vibrant economic and political support in recent months, which has helped keep the war raging. At Vostok, Chinese troops worked shoulder to shoulder with the same Russian forces that have committed unspeakable atrocities this year in Ukraine.
In his May-June article “Asia Still Stands With Putin,” Gerald Flurry warned, “When nuclear-armed powers show such solidarity in wartime, what does this mean for the world? I tell you, it is woe to the world! … This crisis is far from over.”
As the war games proceeded, Russia’s government-controlled energy giant Gazprom and China’s government-controlled National Petroleum Corp. announced on September 6 that they had switched to Russian rubles and Chinese yuan for sales of Russian natural gas to China. This was a reaction to the United States and its partners freezing $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves, which was a reaction to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has demanded that Gazprom’s European customers switch to paying with rubles. Several refused, and Russia shut the tap on their supplies. Others complied, which has been a lifeline for Russia’s currency and its war. Turkey has also agreed to switch to ruble payments for Russian gas, and Indonesia entered negotiations with Russia to switch to settling all bilateral trade in Russian and Indonesian currencies. Some believe that these switches away from the dollar could severely harm the U.S. economy.
In Ezekiel—The End-Time Prophet, Mr. Flurry writes that the world’s increasing anti-Americanism will culminate in a group of Asian and European nations cutting the English-speaking countries out of global trade.
Just a week after announcing the currency switch, Putin and Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping met in Uzbekistan on September 15, marking their first face-to-face meeting since Russia escalated its war on Ukraine in late February. The trip was Xi’s first outside of China in almost 1,000 days and was seen as a signal to the world of the enduring strength of the Russia-China axis, even during war.
The Russian government’s TASS news agency reported that during the meeting, Xi told Putin: “In the face of the colossal changes of our time on a global scale, unprecedented in recent history, we are ready to team up with our Russian colleagues to set an example of a responsible world power and to play a leading role in putting a rapidly changing world on the track of sustainable and positive development.”
In military matters, economics and diplomacy, China and Russia are growing closer. Even an ugly war stridently opposed by the U.S. and the West has not divided the two, contrary to the expectations of some analysts but not at all contrary to Bible prophecy.
Revelation 16:12 describes “the kings of the east,” a multinational Asian alliance that will arise in the end time. Bible passages provide many details about this colossus, including its involvement in World War iii with its army of 200 million troops, more than has been possible at any other time or place in human history (see Revelation 9:16; Daniel 11:44–12:1).
Gerald Flurry has said that Putin will lead this Asian juggernaut, with China as Russia’s primary partner, and that the two are already fulfilling the early stages of these prophecies. “His track record, his nationality and his ideology show that he is fulfilling a linchpin Bible prophecy,” Mr. Flurry writes in The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’ “The time frame of his rule also shows that nobody else could be fulfilling the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy.” Read more in our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.
The United States is losing faith in God and the Bible. A new report released by Pew Research and the General Social Survey on September 17 found that young Christians are leaving the faith by the millions. Over the past half century, the share of adults who identify as Christian has fallen from 90 percent to 64 percent. If current trends continue, Pew Research estimates that Christians could become a minority in America by 2045.
When people have no faith in God and the Bible, they trust instead in other ideologies or in material things and politicians who promise these things. It is no coincidence that consumer debt started rising about the time belief in God started to wane in America.
According to Federal Reserve data released on September 8, total consumer debt rose $23.8 billion in July to a record $4.6 trillion. The average U.S. household is now $35,000 in debt (not counting mortgage debt). That is $12,000 more than the average household carried 50 years ago (even after adjusting for inflation). Yet despite these sobering statistics, Americans continue to cope with rising prices with their credit cards.
Forty-two years ago, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote an article titled “Prepare to Greatly Reduce Your Standard of Living,” warning Americans that God was about to remove their blessings for rebelling against Him. Now we see this punishment coming to pass as debt levels, prices and interest rates trend higher.
Declining church attendance and rising debt weaken family life. Divorce rates among millennials are at all-time lows only because marriage rates among millennials are also at all-time lows. Meanwhile, divorce rates among baby boomers have more than doubled since 1990. More and more couples who have been married for 20 or more years are getting what some call a “gray divorce.”
Another symptom of the hopelessness besetting America’s increasingly agnostic society is drug overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 107,622 drug overdose deaths last year. Yet rather than combat drug trafficking, particularly across the wide-open southern border, the Biden regime is passing out free syringes. A National Institutes of Health grant allots $3.6 million for vending machines filled with “injection equipment, naloxone, fentanyl test strips, hygiene kits, condoms and other supplies.” These machines will be set up in rural Kentucky in an effort to provide addicts with clean syringes when they inject themselves with heroin, fentanyl and other narcotics. Supplying such paraphernalia has been found to reduce overdose deaths, but they sidestep the bigger issue of preventing and ending drug usage. Widespread drug use and acceptance of drug use are signs of a terminal spiritual sickness the Bible calls pharmakeia, a “work of the flesh” often rendered “witchcraft” in Galatians 5:19-20 but more accurately rendered “drug use.”
Millions use marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs for the same reasons millions of others run up massive debts or leave their spouse of 20-plus years. They are searching for moments of temporary euphoria in a vain attempt to fill a spiritual void that can only be filled by faith in the God of the Bible.