The Man Who Wrecked the Soviet Empire
By Gerald Flurry • August 4, 2023
The Soviet Union was a brutal dictatorship—not so different from Russia today. One man was behind its collapse more than perhaps anyone else on Earth. His name was Alexander Solzhenitsyn. His life reinforces a powerful biblical lesson.
Solzhenitsyn suffered as a prisoner in the Soviet gulags for eight years. His book Gulag Archipelago exposes how these horrendous prison camps were part of a network scattered all over the Soviet Union like an island chain from the 1920s to the 1950s. Intermingled with Soviet civil society, these camps inflicted terror on the nation’s own population.
In 1975, Solzhenitsyn wrote The Oak and the Calf, which was translated into English in 1979. This account describes the struggle to publish his writing in the oppressive Soviet Union.
Solzhenitsyn was a man of faith. I believe God used him to expose that evil empire and teach us a lesson about human nature. This man of faith realized that just one man can shake the world.
While Solzhenitsyn languished in the gulags, Herbert W. Armstrong warned the world about communism. He proclaimed how communism was a deadly enemy of the West, particularly the modern nations of Israel—primarily America, Britain and the Jewish state in the Middle East.
Jesus Christ had a lot to teach the world about faith. “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:27-29).
God made this powerful example available to us in the Bible. It shows how even the world has access to Him through faith! Trusting God leads to spectacular results.
“And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:14-20).
Christ condemned the lack of faith in this world. He healed the sick and cast out demons all over the place while He was on Earth, yet almost no one believed and obeyed His words. His own disciples needed to learn about real faith before they could follow His example.
The demons Christ cast out are still around today—Satan the devil too. Christ showed how to drive them away by trusting Him in faith.
Christ taught that real faith moves mountains. How can anyone ignore such a momentous promise from God? We need to fathom the incredible power of faith and allow it into our lives.
Through faith, Alexander Solzhenitsyn shook and wrecked the Soviet empire.
Notice another of Christ’s proclamations about faith: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell [hades, the grave]: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:21-25).
The people of Capernaum didn’t recognize Christ because they were so vain and ignorant of spiritual things. They had a great culture in some ways, but it wasn’t God’s culture. Christ said He could only teach God’s truth to babes—to those who are humble and childlike, with open minds ready to learn.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn understood the importance of humility. He wrote in The Oak and the Calf:
The hardest blow was to find that after going through the full course in the camps, I was still so stupid and vulnerable. I had been an underground writer for 18 years, weaving my secret web and making sure that every thread would hold. A mistake about one single person could have plunged me into a wolf’s pit with all I had written, but I had made no mistake and had not fallen. So much effort had gone into keeping it all safe, so many sacrifices into writing it. My plan was an immensely ambitious one. In another ten years’ time, I should be ready to face the world with all I had written.
Solzhenitsyn was ready to move a mountain with his writing! His mind was filled with the dreadful experiences of the gulag, and he just had to write about it all.
“The strength in my position was that my reputation was unstained by compromise, and I must keep it so, if I had to keep silent for another 10 years,” he said. When facing so many trials in the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn needed a lot of faith not to compromise. He went from being willing to follow the delusion of the majority to correcting and humbling himself. He believed that God was with him, teaching and guiding what he was doing.
This man had a lot of ambition. Someone asked him why he was always in such a hurry, and he responded that he had so much to write about! He had no time to lose to expose the Soviet Union before the whole world.
“I had learned in my years of imprisonment to sense that guiding hand, to glimpse that bright meaning beyond and above myself and my wishes” (ibid). He was inclined to search for higher cosmic meaning in the brutal Soviet Union. He had faith in God, and God wanted him to expose that vile dictatorship.
Solzhenitsyn tried to interpret each important event in his life. “Many lives have a mystical sense, but not everyone reads it right,” he said. “The secret of a great life is often a man’s success in deciphering the mysterious symbols vouchsafed [granted or permitted] to him, understanding them, and so learning to walk in the true path.” He worked hard to let God guide him.
He understood that human nature is evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 8:7). He struggled mightily to get the evil out.
He further wrote:
To enjoy my proud and open defiance, my acknowledged right to think for myself, it would—I dare say—have been painful, perhaps impossible, to return to my previous quiet life. At last I was beginning to see revealed the higher and hidden meaning of that suffering for which I had been unable to find a justification, that sharp reminder from the supreme reason [that’s God] which no mere mortal can at first understand.
We can’t always understand God’s purpose right away as to why we must suffer sometimes. But Solzhenitsyn figured it out: “This was why my murderous misfortunes had been sent to me from God to deny me all possibility and snatch from me any chance of lying low and keeping quiet to make me desperate enough to speak and act. For the time was at hand!” (ibid). He knew he had to speak out now. He could not remain quiet as the Soviet empire inflicted such mind-destroying pain on millions.
“Happy the man who deciphers more quickly the writing in heaven, but I am slow. I need time. Yet I, too, awoke one morning a free man in a free country” (ibid). Solzhenitsyn endured and at last was free—thanks in large part to his writings.
God wants to reason together with human beings (Isaiah 1:18). We can think and study and discover more about our Creator every day, just like Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Here are some Russian proverbs that inspired this great man: “All else will pass, but the truth will remain.” “Misery won’t get you over the water.” “One man dies of fear; another is brought to life by it.” “If trouble comes, make use of it too.”
The West really disappointed him. “I put no hopes in the West—indeed no Russian ever should,” he wrote in Invisible Allies. “If the 20th century has any lesson for mankind, it is we who will teach the West, not the West us. Excessive ease and prosperity have weakened their will and their reason.”
He came to America, visiting Harvard and other places, and condemned our way of life! The people didn’t like that very much. But he was right—they were too caught up in sports, movies and pleasures to have any will or reason! It is even worse today.
Solzhenitsyn decried the educated and the intelligentsia of his time who were pleasure-saturated and politically indoctrinated. All of society was brought down, sapped of strength, will, reasoning, courage and enthusiasm for doing right and exposing wrong.
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). Solzhenitsyn did this. God’s Church is commanded to do the same. We declare to the nations of Israel and the whole world their transgressions—and how they will be punished by God if they don’t wake up and repent.
In the gulag, Alexander Solzhenitsyn saw God. He saw the truth and asked God to help him expose it. Through him, God toppled the Soviet mountain!
“[F]or verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). Follow this astounding example from history, and nothing will be impossible to you!Read More