The Kings of the East
More Plain Truth predictions now marching toward fulfillment: Russia will join forces with East Asian nations, forming a superpower of a scope the Earth has never seen.
If we survey the landscape of the nations of Asia during the time when Herbert W. Armstrong was making geopolitical forecasts about them—from the 1930s to the 1980s—the remarkable nature of his predictions becomes undeniable.
First, consider Russia. The Moscow-led Soviet Union appeared to be the primary threat to the Western world. For decades, it was expanding its territory at the rate of roughly one Belgium per year! As people languished under Communist tyranny behind the Iron Curtain, the Soviets and the Americans built up elaborate missile and space programs that threatened human civilization with extinction. For more than four decades, the world remained transfixed by the Cold War standoff; the arms race spawned fears over the possibility of nuclear winter and “global overkill.”
Next, consider China. Under Chairman Mao, the Chinese were weak, backward and too mired in domestic turmoil to pose a formidable threat to world powers.
The bulk of interaction between Russia and China was bickering, wars and imperial conquests. There were periods of partial cooperation, but eventually the two became fixated on a rivalry to see which would triumph in achieving the “one true communism.” In 1964, tensions between Moscow and Beijing reached fever pitch, prompting them to completely sever relations. Chinese leaders called for an overthrow of “Soviet revisionism.”
That was the general scene in the Orient at the time. Most analysts of that era said the ussr was the primary power the Western world should fear, China was essentially a non-threat, and bitter enmity would remain between Moscow and Beijing for decades or even centuries.
But since Mr. Armstrong’s forecasts were based not on appearances, but instead on the sure word of Bible prophecy, they were precisely the opposite of prevailing analysts’ views!
‘Don’t Fear the USSR’
Amid the cacophony of news reports that emerged throughout that Cold War era, his lone voice cried out: “Russia will not attack America!”
He repeatedly declared—years ahead of the Soviet Union’s fall—that the ussr was not the power the U.S. should fear. The real power to watch, according to his forecast, would be a 10-nation “United States of Europe” that would rise up to play a lead role on the global stage. He said Russia would remain a threat to the world—but not in the way most Westerners thought.
Not many listened to Mr. Armstrong’s predictions. Many scoffed at statements such as this one, which appeared in the December 1956 Plain Truth: “We have been warning that it is not Russia which will conquer us—it is not Russia which will master Europe … it is a union of 10 fascist nations in Europe which will become a third power in the world and rise up to conquer the democracies of Northwest Europe and America!”
Remember: That statement was printed at the height of the Cold War!
Even around the time of the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962—when many Americans were literally losing sleep over the Russian threat—the Plain Truth categorically declared that the U.S. need not fear the Soviet Union. “The Russians would back down, or give in on almost any point that has arisen, rather than go to war with America!” Mr. Armstrong stated in the October 1962 issue.
To say this was a minority perspective is like saying “a lot of people live in China”: It’s a gross understatement!
Mr. Armstrong continued to proclaim that the Soviet Union would not go to war with America right up until his death on January 16, 1986. Still, many didn’t believe him. But a few short years after he died, the ussr collapsed and the Iron Curtain rusted away. Suddenly, the “evil empire” lost its foothold in Eastern Europe and the Soviet threat to America indeed seemed to diminish. The Cold War was over, and a reunited Germany appeared—just as Mr. Armstrong had boldly declared!
Cooperation Between Moscow, Beijing and Beyond
Mr. Armstrong also boldly declared—despite China’s lack of development at the time, and despite the mutual hatred between Moscow and Beijing—that soon Beijing would be powerful, and would rally behind Russia. Other Asian states, possibly including Japan and India, would also lend their numbers and might to this confederacy, according to his prediction.
He forecast that after the ussr collapsed, a giant Asian superpower, with Russia and China at the helm, would rise up and dramatically affect the course of history. This power bloc—a conglomerate of peoples that comprise one third of the world’s population—would begin cooperating economically and militarily and eventually form a gargantuan Asian superpower of a size and scope the world has never seen. He went on to say that it would play a vital role in the torrent of events that will lead to the conclusion of mankind’s 6,000 years of self-rule!
Even before World War ii broke out, Mr. Armstrong could foresee the emergence of these two superpowers. In the June-July 1934 Plain Truth, he proclaimed, “Scripture prophesies two great military powers to arise in the last days—one the revival of the Roman Empire by a federation of 10 nations in the territory of the ancient Roman Empire; the other … Russia, with her allies.” He suggested those allies would be “possibly China or Japan.”
The Plain Truth of December 1959 predicted that Russia and China would lay aside their differences to form a coalition: “Russia’s program is not to take Europe and to attack the United States, first. The Communist program, which our leaders should know, calls first for the seizure of Asia. Lenin wrote that the way to Paris, London and New York is via [Beijing] and Delhi! … [P]art of the Communist plan [is] to place India and Pakistan in a giant vice between Russia and China. … Red China insists it has a legal right not only to Tibet but [also] to many parts of India and Southeast Asia. … Their constant dream for centuries has been ultimate world conquest! … China knows, however, that in this highly industrialized age she can accomplish this dream only as an ally of Russia. … China is now ready to begin devouring the rest of Asia with Russia’s secret military backing” (emphasis added throughout).
The December 1962 issue of the Plain Truth explained which Bible scriptures informed Mr. Armstrong’s prophecies about Asia: “From time to time, news commentators—in describing the coming catastrophic military struggle for world control—use the biblical expression Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16. But what they do not mention is a striking prophecy about ‘Armageddon’ found in Revelation 16:12. In this verse we read that ‘the way of the kings of the east’ is to be prepared!”
Who are these “kings of the east”? Their identities are critical for us to understand if we are to know where modern nations fit in biblical prophecy. Your Bible—mainly in the books of Genesis, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Revelation—identifies these leaders or nations as Meshech, Tubal, Gog and Magog.
Mr. Armstrong pointed out, “There is general agreement among students of prophecy that ‘Gog’ in the land of ‘Magog’ is the vast regions of northern Eurasia extending from the Baltic to the Pacific. ‘Meshech’ is Moscow; ‘Tubal’ is Tobolsk. The Bible margin says ‘Prince of Rosh,’ which is Russia” (Plain Truth, April 1981).
In addition to pushing into Middle Asia, China would attempt to pull some of its island neighbors into its grasp. On this issue, it has been the practice of Western leaders to try to appease China through peace talks—often to no avail. The very non-politically correct Plain Truth of the 1960s didn’t mince words regarding this problem.
“The Asiatic mind is totally different from the Occidental [Western] mind. It doesn’t reason in the same manner. Try though we may to delude ourselves into believing our dollars, trade missions, military advisers and arms shipments, our hospital ships, our missions, our food supplies are helping stem the tide of the advancing threat of communism in these Eastern nations—we are failing! These simple peoples are impressed with strength, not talk. They feel a much closer kinship with other peoples of the Asian sphere than they do with the far-away ‘Yankees’ with customs, languages and religions so totally different from their own” (November 1961).
Eastern Europe’s Breakaway
One key event Mr. Armstrong said would enable the building of this Asian bloc was the slipping of Eastern Europe from the ussr’s grip—an event that has been happening since 1989.
As early as April 1952, even while West Germany was rebuilding after being bombed to ashes in World War ii, Mr. Armstrong’s Good News magazine wrote, “Russia may give East Germany back to the Germans and will be forced to relinquish her control over Hungary, Czechoslovakia and parts of Austria to complete the 10-nation union.”
Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in a booklet first published in 1955—over 45 years before Eastern Europe split from the ussr: “[S]ome of the Balkan nations are going to tear away from behind the Iron Curtain. Russia has lost already, to all appearances, Tito’s Yugoslavia. Russia probably will lose still more of her Eastern European satellites.”
Not many believed that statement then, or this Plain Truth report from the following year: “Communist oppression in Eastern Europe is being overthrown. … We have shown years in advance what would happen to Russia’s ill-fated empire in Eastern Europe. These prophecies have been in your Bible for the past 1,900 years. But the world, and the churches of this world, have refused to believe them” (December 1956).
In January 1957, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “When the right psychological moment arrives, a number of these [Eastern European] nations will break away from Moscow ….”
That “right psychological moment” didn’t arrive quite as early as Mr. Armstrong thought it might. But in 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the moment marched in with force!
Throughout the Cold War, the Russians believed the West—Germany in particular—would try every means within its power to pry the Soviet satellite nations of Eastern Europe out of Moscow’s grip. The passage of time has revealed that those fears were well founded. Many of the Eastern European nations—including the Czech Republic, the former East Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the states that once comprised Yugoslavia—did in fact escape the clutches of Soviet Russia! Each is now a part of the European Union or is subject to it.
Throughout the Cold War, Mr. Armstrong’s insights were correct!
Why is the loss of these Eastern European nations significant? Because it drastically weakens Russia’s western border defenses. Russia has learned, having suffered three European invasions in two centuries, that it needs a strong buffer against Germany on its western flank. With that buffer removed, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been on a rampage to rebuild Russian strength. His February 2014 annexation of Crimea, Ukraine, was a part of this campaign. Putin seeks to create a buffer at the Ukraine plain and reassert its influence in the Caspian region. Russia has used European dependence on Russian oil as a powerful lever in this process, and would like nothing more than to bring the former-ussr Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan) back in the Kremlin’s fold. In some of these nations, such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, Putin has already regained de facto control of some key regions. In others, such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, he is essentially king of the whole nation in all but name.
But this is not enough for the Russians to feel secure. To further counter EU and nato expansion, Russia is also drawing closer to India, Japan and, most of all, China.
Asian Powers Today
In 1989, some three years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev made a landmark visit to China, which set in motion a sharp tightening of ties and injected new impetus into efforts to settle demarcation lines the two had disputed for centuries. Within two years, Moscow and Beijing had signed an official border agreement, and from 1991 to 1997, China spent $6 billion on Russian armaments.
In April 1997, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan met to sign a security deal regarding the 4,700-mile border between the former Soviet Union and China. That November, the presidents of Russia and China formally ended variances over the 1991 border agreement. This act seemed to confirm that the two nations that had for so long competed with each other, were entering a new era of cooperation.
August 2003 saw Russo-Chinese military cooperation leap to the next level when armed forces from both nations participated in joint anti-terror exercises under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco). Since then, they have held half a dozen joint military, naval and anti-terror drills, often including troops from other sco members such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Many view these exercises as evidence of an emerging military bloc that could eventually rival nato.
The first military strike of this rising Asian superpower came in August 2008, when Russia attacked the former Soviet republic of Georgia. This invasion was Putin’s first military step toward reviving Russia’s control over central Asia.
On January 1, 2010, Putin further advanced his revival of the Soviet Union by building a Eurasian Economic Union with Kazakhstan and Belarus. Moscow has since been working to bring other former Soviet nations—like Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—into the union. Putin has said his goal is to enlarge the union to include all post-Soviet states (excluding the three Baltic EU member states).
Sino-Russian relations have evolved out of common interests. On the same day that the customs union was made official, Russia completed an oil pipeline and port complex that positions Moscow to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. This pipeline, which runs from central Siberia to the Pacific coast, unlocks a gate through which Russia’s vast oilfields will gush into Asia’s energy-hungry economies. For over a century, Russia’s entire energy infrastructure has focused mainly on supplying Europe. Now Chinese, Korean, Indian and Japanese currency will flow into Russia, and the Kremlin will have the option of turning off Europe’s energy taps if the situation warrants it.
Putin said the purpose of such initiatives as the customs union and the pipeline is to form a bridge between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. This “bridge” highlights the shift of Russian foreign-policy priorities from West to East.
This shift became staggeringly more pronounced in the aftermath of Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in early 2014. After this illegal landgrab, Western powers blasted Russia for its moves and said they thought the entire world would view it as barbaric behavior. U.S. President Barack Obama, for example, said the nations of the world were “largely united” in believing Putin had violated Ukraine’s territory. But he was wrong! In a stunning fulfillment of biblical prophecy, which vindicates Mr. Armstrong’s predictions from all those years ago, the Asian powerhouses made clear that they support Putin. “Backing Russia is in China’s interests,” said the Global Times, a mouthpiece for China’s Communist Party, on March 5, 2014. “We shouldn’t disappoint Russia when it finds itself in a time of need.” The next day, a senior official from India made a similar statement.
Mr. Armstrong would never have bought into the fallacy that all countries have come to think like the West. The Plain Truth of October 1973 said, “The Communists haven’t suddenly changed ideologically. They haven’t come to believe that their system is unworkable. Neither have the Communists given up their hopes of leading the world to socialism. But they do profess that their goals can be reached by means of peaceful coexistence.“
Of all nations, Russia is uniquely able and willing to provide the secure source of energy needed to power China’s and India’s rapid industrial and economic growth. Russia has the oil, natural gas, uranium and nuclear technology needed to provide power for the billions of inhabitants of Earth’s two most populous countries.
In April 2014, India announced plans to build a $30 billion oil pipeline with Russia that runs through China’s restive Xinjiang province. If successful, the pipeline will be the most expensive in the world. A few weeks later, Russia and China finally wrapped up a 10-year series of talks on a $400 billion pipeline and gas deal—the largest known business transaction in history.
Russia and China both want to take advantage of a weakening United States. Both are reaping the benefits of close cooperation, and realizing that their very existence depends on good relations with each other. They share common philosophies economically, politically and militarily—and both have, in the West, a common enemy.
The way that China, for decades, counterbalanced Russia’s presence in Asia benefited the U.S. geopolitically. But that equation is changing as Russia and China march toward military alliance!
News of military and economic cooperation between Russia and China has become so commonplace in recent years that only the largest events receive much attention in the Western world. But we must remember that Mr. Armstrong predicted this development from a long way off, before any evidence of it appeared!
God has prophesied the final outcome of the emerging Asian alliance. Using those prophecies, Herbert Armstrong and the staff writers of the Plain Truth, as well as the editorial staff of the Trumpet, have accurately forewarned for many years what is coming for Asia. Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, but the Trumpet continues to declare that a nuclear World War iii is coming! Biblical prophecy powerfully supports Mr. Armstrong’s assertion that “the kings of the east” will forge an even deeper relationship in the years ahead—and eventually play a major part in the coming battle of Armageddon!
Although America and Britain are destined to fall, we still say it is not Russia, nor a Russian-Asian conglomerate, that these nations need fear, at least for their direct destruction. It is Germany and the revived “Holy” Roman Empire! Some will still scoff—even today. They say the Cold War is over and we need not fear a “hot” war anytime soon. But God has prophesied that our world is about to be rocked!
However, our message isn’t all gloom and doom. Just beyond the perilous times that lie ahead is unbelievably good news! That is the biggest news of all! Yet no major newsmagazine is announcing that good news because the world simply does not believe it!
That good news involves the gospel of the Kingdom of God. (The word gospel means “good news.”) The worldwide work that produces the Trumpet magazine is actively announcing the crisis at the close of this age—the crisis of which the greatest news forecaster of all times, Jesus Christ, warned about in Matthew 24. We are announcing a crisis that will usher in a new and better age, when all peoples everywhere will begin to enjoy peace and prosperity under God’s divine rulership.