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 1,140,000 years—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.
The 2014 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. ▪