In the late 1980s, with the Soviet Union on its last legs, critics accused me of getting prophecy regarding Russia wrong. One man wrote, “Where is this terrible menace from the North today? Well, it’s no secret the Soviet Union is undergoing the most significant internal change since the communists came to power 70 years ago…. ‘Rosh’ and ‘Tubal’ are turning out to be a toothless lion…. Even Gorbachev is said to be a baptized Christian.”
In the late 80s, Mikhail Gorbachev led the Soviet Union into an era “openness” (glasnost) and restructuring (perestroika). During his leadership, the USSR officially remained an atheist state, but he occasionally said things that made him sound favorably disposed toward Christianity. There was a rumor that he even told a Texas pastor he was “a baptized Christian.”
Not long after that, he emphatically reaffirmed his atheism to the press. Gorbachev died in 2022, and I hope he was a Christian. But the big question is not whether he was baptized. The question is, “Can we trust what the Bible says about Russia’s future?” The answer is, “Yes, we can.” Never judge the Bible by current events. But let the Bible give context to those events.
In the 1990s, Russia was relatively cooperative with the West. But during the years since Vladimir Putin’s rise to the leadership of Russia, the nation has become increasingly belligerent. A former KGB agent, Putin called the Soviet Union’s collapse, “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” How could anyone see it as a “catastrophe” that the evils of communism — its heartbreak, poverty, atheism, and oppression — ended in their country?
Going all the way back to the communist revolution, Russia has held a strong and seemingly inexplicable animosity to the nation of Israel. Ezekiel 36 and 37 speak of the restoration of Jews to the Promised Land. Chapters 38 and 39 give the prophecy of Russia leading a confederation of nations in an all-out assault on Israel — an assault that God Himself will stop.
Ezekiel 38:2 describes the northern commander as “Gog of the land of Magog, the prince” (meaning ruler) “of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” In Ezekiel 38:8, God addresses Gog. “In the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations.”
Critics say they don’t see Russia in these chapters. Russia didn’t exist as a nation until the 9th century AD. Instead of using the then-nonexistent word “Russia,” the prophet identified the great nation to Israel’s north by laying out its family tree. From that, it becomes obvious that it refers to the modern nation of Russia. I’ve gone into this elsewhere, so I won’t bother doing it here.
Others listed as part of the confederacy include Iran, certain African nations, and tribes that were then located in what we now call Turkey. Russia, Turkey, and Iran were sworn enemies for centuries — until the last few years. They have grown ever closer, forming key alliances in several areas. Today, Russia is also closely allied with China, though I don’t know how long that will last.
In 1995, another critic wrote, “Perhaps even the likes of Hal Lindsey have ceased predicting the final battle of Armageddon now that Russia’s evil empire has disintegrated.” The writer was confusing Ezekiel 38 with Armageddon. But I didn’t stop talking about either one. The reason is obvious. I’m aware of current events, but I don’t go by them. Instead, I go by the Bible. I teach about Armageddon because the Bible teaches about Armageddon.
The writer in 1995 said, “Russia’s evil empire has disintegrated.” Russia did not disintegrate. But the Bible says it is headed toward a disaster. God will take care of Russians who trust Him, but that nation’s leadership opposes the God of the Bible. And it is the Bible that we must go by.