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“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of My mouth.” (Deut. 32:1)

The anniversary of the D Day landings, and the recent celebration of the 70th anniversary of  Victory in Europe is a good time to take stock and recognise just some of the pressing dangers and developments around the world.

While I was in Jersey a week or two ago, the Lord reminded me of the roots of the Message for our Times that He gave me back in early 1980’s. Amongst the starting points for this were the verses about Israel growing complacent and provoking God to anger, (see Deut. 32:15-38) along with a very strong message from the book of Amos about how far we are from God’s heart as a nation. Many of the verses the Lord spoke to me through at that time struck me forcibly with fresh vigour.

He also led me to consider once again the spiritual powers that are at work in both Russia and China. Both countries are dramatically developing their military potential at a time when the West is continuing to decrease its defence spending.

While much of the world’s attention is (understandably) focused on the intensity of ISIL’s advances in Iraq, significant developments are continuing to take place elsewhere. For example, I have long been aware that China has been developing its armed forces, particularly its Navy, in ways that far exceed any need for self-defence. The Daily Telegraph, which is usually good at reporting on defence matters, goes so far as to suggest that the tensions between China and America have reached such a point that there is a serious risk of actual conflict developing between these two superpowers. US-China war ‘inevitable’ unless Washington drops demands over South China Sea

It is no secret that disturbing forces are at work again in Russia. Let’s preface these thoughts with a very “strong” Scripture. Whilst some Biblical prophecies refer to one literal event, others are capable of multiple prophetic fulfilment. Along those lines Daniel 11:13 struck me with fresh force: “For the king of the north will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment.”  

Finland regards the situation as so serious that it has this week mobilised 900,000 reservists to supplement its small standing army.

Daniel 11 continues (in verses 15-16): “The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it.”

As reports are coming in of renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine, are we seeing developments that might reactivate people’s thinking about the references to Gog and Magog (which are associated with modern-day Russia) in Ezekiel 38 and 39?

From a purely military point of view – and this most certainty includes the really serious risks that cyber warfare poses, and which we have encouraged people so often to pray about – here are some of the many articles from defence agencies warning how Russia is now flexing its military muscles as President Putin, as Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Russian armed forces, increasingly deploys huge numbers of troops and full battle equipped armed forces along the frontiers of a range of former Soviet states – from Moldova in the south to Latvia in the north.

Russia and Nato launch rival war games in the ArcticTensions rise in the West as Russia flexes military muscles;   Russia’s military exercise      For a glance at how Russia is viewing developments, see China, Space, Military report.

Only yesterday Finland dropped depth charges on a suspected submarine just outside Helsinki. A few months ago Sweden did the same. In the face of such clear military developments, there is an obvious need to pray that the response of the West will not be as flabby and belated as it was during the 1930’s.

Although not all of us instinctively feel drawn to pray and study political developments, let alone military scenarios, it is important to be aware of what is happening. As my father commented, the “King of the North” is acting with deception (cf Dan. 11:27). Russian involvement in Ukraine has so far not been a “simple” power invasion with recognisable forces. But mothers of Russian soldiers who have perished in the recent conflict are not even allowed to know where and how they died.

Finland and Sweden were prepared to drop depth charges, albeit not very powerful ones, but the UK has meanwhile scrapped important reconnaissance aircraft, built an aircraft carrier that has no aircraft to fly from it, and reduced our defence spending below even our own grudging target. It has often been said that for the devil to prevail all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing. In spiritual terms it is a moot point whether we do indeed count as good men! Yet despite dangers on so many fronts, and all we have done to provoke Him, the Lord is still willing to hear our prayers and to intervene.

For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works You do? . . . Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. (Deut. 3:24 Is. 64:4) 

The following article in The New York Times was written in 2013 before the real implications of Russian aggression and ISIL emerged, or the news of further defence cuts. Shrinking Military spending under scrutiny

Prayer is needed if the Lord’s mercy is to restrain the aggression that is rising and raging in so many parts of the world. May each one of us use the time the Lord has granted us well and wisely for His purposes, to encourage, exhort and build each other up, and to fulfil the varied callings He has given us. (1 Thess. 5:11)