The Evil Plan of the North


Many headlines of late have involved Russia and what has happened in the Ukraine.

What does the future hold? We aren’t there yet, but someday the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 & 39 are going to come to pass. Ezekiel 38 lists 6 Nations that will unite against Israel:

  1. Magog = Which is Modern Day Russia
  2. Persia = Which is Modern Day Iran
  3. Cush = Which is Modern Day Ethiopia
  4. Put = Which is Modern Day Libya
  5. Gomer = Which is Modern Day Eastern Europe
  6. Beth Togarmah = Which is Modern Day Turkey 

Let’s look at Ezekiel 38:10

On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme.

The evil scheme includes

  • to disturb their (Israel’s) peace,
  • to dispossess them (Israel) of their land,
  • and plunder their (Israel’s) resources.

Russia is mostly flat with no natural barriers to keep enemies from invading. Therefore, the Russian’s defense is in their sheer size. History proves that Russia gobbles up as much territory as it can in order to ensure that it has size.

Today’s headlines are about Russia and Ukraine. How much do you know about Ukraine? What if this little country was a key, a huge key to the evil plan of Ezekiel 38?

Where does Ukraine fit into this thinking? The gap between Ukraine and Kazahkstan is only 300 miles wide. If any foreign army were ever to place itself in Ukraine, they could threaten to cut off Russia’s influence.

Russia has a natural gas pipeline, and most of that pipeline network which transports natural gas to Europe goes through Ukraine.  Russia needs to ensure that Ukraine can’t turn off the flow of gas over pricing disputes like it has before. Russian gas must reach Europe because Russian gas is key to ensuring that Germany remains submitting to Russia.

On March 1, 2014 Russia took control over Crimea (which is the southern peninsula of Ukraine). This force by Russia caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel to comment that President Putin was living “in another world”.

Why did Putin decide to resort to force?

  • We saw the pictures of the military tanks forcing their way into Crimea
  • And why does he seem unafraid of the West’s reaction? 

The popular opinion is that the Russian President is a hard-nosed leader who believes “it is better to be feared than loved.” One must understand that Russia has always had doubts about Ukraine’s ability to exist as an independent state. The Kremlin publicly said that the level of dysfunction and corruption in Ukraine is unbelievable. Yes, there has been much corruption.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the main causes of corruption in Ukraine are a weak justice system.

In a 2008 Global corruption report, it reported that the highest corruption levels were found in vehicle inspection (57.5%), the police (54.2%), health care (54%), the courts (49%) and higher education (43.6%).

The Kremlin, the former Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, more than a decade ago publicly said sovereignty is not a legal right.  In order to be sovereign a state must be economically independent and militarily strong. In Putin’s opinion Ukraine is lacking both of these components, and as a result Ukraine is likely to always be dominated by one or more external powers.  The Russian leadership needs to ensure that the dominant political forces in the Ukraine are not hostile to Russia.

The popular assumption is that the Russian President behaves as he does simply because he can. He is convinced that the Ukraine is more important to Russia than it is to the West and that any Western retaliation would be ineffective. Putin is aware that the EU is crippled by its economic problems and nervous about some of the parties in many of its member states. And, he has concluded, based on the evidence of the US’s decision to avoid intervention in Syria, that the American public will oppose any military action far away from its borders. He is probably right on all counts.

Here is the evil scheme of Ezekiel 38:

Russia supplies 30% of Europe’s natural gas through their company Gazprom

  • Founded in 1989
  • Headquartered in Moscow 

It has 18 pipelines running through the Ukraine. Putin can exert political and economic pressure on the EU anytime he chooses by shutting off the supply. This means that Europe is completely dependent on Russia.

Chevron, Exxon and several European oil companies have been doing some exploratory drilling in Ukraine. They found a massive natural gas field in the Western part of that nation, which extends into Poland.  However, they have not been able to obtain the contracts they needed from the former Ukrainian President (Yanukovych) because he had made an agreement with Putin. If you remember, this is the president who fled from Ukraine. Where did he go?  Russia.

With him gone – the EU really wants those gas fields, thus another reason to topple the government of Ukraine which will only cause Russia to rise up even more.

What is not being talked about much is that both the EU and NATO are schmoozing the government in Kiev. Kiev is in the northern part of Ukraine. The EU and NATO are hoping they will grant contracts to drill that gas, seriously cutting dependency on Russia. This is one of the reasons we have seen Russia move military into Ukraine. Russia has a huge naval base on the coast of Crimea on the Black Sea. Putin moved troops in to protect Russia’s interests, especially in Kiev.

Where does America fit into this? Well let’s remember some modern history…

In March 2010. Russia started Iran’s first nuclear power station:

23 months ago – In May 2012 – we had the (Moscow-Istanbul-Rome Initiative) (MIR) – To help promote Russia’s interests in the Middle East, The Moscow-Istanbul-Rome Initiative, or MIR Initiative, held a conference in Rome in late May (2012) Conference was called “Bridging the New Middle East.” The Muslim Brotherhood leadership and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, participated. 

20 months ago – Russian Attack Submarine Sailed in Gulf of Mexico Undetected - On August 14, 2012 The Washington Free Beacon published a report that a Russian, nuclear-powered attack sub patrolled the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, off the U.S. coast, and it was undetected for a month.

U.S. officials said the submarine patrol exposed deficiencies in U.S. anti-submarine warfare abilities—at the same time the U.S. military were/are facing cuts with the Obama administration’s plan to reduce defense spending by $487 billion over the next 10 years.

Today:

U.S. wants to place sanctions on Russia and has led the charge to bar Russia from the G-8  (they have been a member since 1975).

Russia’s stock market has taken a hit and the value of its currency, the ruble, has declined. We are now threatening to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens. In response, Putin says he is willing to completely dump the U.S. dollar.

So what?

Russia holds more than $200 billion in U.S. treasury bonds – U.S. debt. If Russia followed through with this it would devastating to the U.S. financial markets.

“The leader of the north will devise an evil plan” – Ezekiel 38:10

Click to enlarge map
Ukraine Pipeline Map

 

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The Bible & Hollywood


The #1 grossing movie in 2013 brought in $423,647,000 – that’s $423 million for just 1 film! What movie was that? The Hunger Games.

Hollywood is not known for having the greatest of values, so what is a Christian to do? Personally I don’t go to the movies very often because there just hasn’t been material that I wanted to see.  However I do recognize movies are a big part of our culture. I’ve never felt the need to be a part of that culture but I am always looking for ways to share the Good News of Jesus!

A TV mini-series was released last Easter 2013. It was simply called The Bible. It did amazingly well.  It did so well that it got the attention of Hollywood. Because of the broad success of The Bible mini-series Hollywood has responded with films due for release in 2014 that have more Biblical values then in previous years.  Now I am not endorsing these films nor am I endorsing what Hollywood produces. I am however looking forward to have conversations with those who do see these films.

2014 is being called the year of the Bible. The following list is some movies that are due to be released in the next few months.

Title                                                  Release date                   Theme

  1. Son of God                                          2/28                The Story of Jesus
  2. God’s Not Dead                                3/21                 College Philosophy
  3. Noah                                                     3/28                The Ark / Flood
  4. Heaven is For Real                         4/16                True Story of Pastor’ Son
  5. Mom’s Night Out                             5/9                  Motherhood: Meaning & Purpose
  6. Persecutors                                       5/9                  Religious Freedoms
  7. Alone Yet Not Alone                    6/13                 God will never leave you
  8. When the Game Stands Tall      8/22                Virtues and life lessons
  9. Left behind                                       Summer          Rapture
  10. The Letters                                      9/5                    Mother Teresa
  11. Ragamuffin                                     Limited            Rich Mullins
  12. The Unfair Movie                        TBD                  Corruption, Cover-ups-Abuse

Let’s take a closer look at each of these films:

The Son of God is from the producers of The Bible mini-series. While filming the mini-series they decided to shoot some extra scenes and produce a film for theatrical release. Will you see some scenes that are not 100% scripturally correct? Yes. The question is as a believer what do you do?

I do not look to Hollywood to tell me the story – I have read the book and the book is much better! However, we all have a choice. We can completely ignore these films because they do not perfectly conform to Scripture or we can use these films as tools. Because of the money the studios are putting behind these films – people are going to see them. What then? Can we use these films as a door to have deeper conversations? Can we correct any Scripture errors that these films correct? That is heavy on my heart. When people see a movie like Noah – and they will, I don’t want them to think what they are saw on screen is 100% Biblical! I want to be able to correct the errors and explain the truth. The movie may be an adaptation of the Biblical account but it is NOT totally Biblical.

If you see the trailer to Noahyou may have a desire to go see the film. If you do you may be upset. The trailer does not show some scenes that if you knew they were in the movie, you probably wouldn’t have seen it.

Noah has 3 sons who have wives. In the movie only 1 of his sons has a wife. She is pregnant and gives birth to twin girls. Wives for his brothers?

Only Noah and his family get on the ark. In the movie the villain breaks through the pitch and gets on the ark. He does not get off because Noah kills him.

There is an environment agenda (cutting down trees). There is an evolution theme and there are some magical arts.

Because Noah is a project of a major studio, because Noah has a major star, people are going to go see it. Please plan to engage these movie goers with the truth. Not engaging people after the film could be a huge mistake. 

Another movie coming out is called God’s Not Dead. This is a story about a college student who has to take a philosophy class. In fact in order to graduate he has to pass this philosophy class. However in order to get a passing grade the college professor insists that every student sign a declaration stating that God is dead.

This young student is a believer and can NOT agree with such a statement. The movie then is based on this young man’s story of proving that God is indeed alive. There a great question here – if YOU had to prove that God is alive – COULD YOU do it?  This storyline is happening across our nation on university campuses everywhere!

Another move staring Greg Kinnear is  Heaven is For Real. It a story about a pastor’s son who sees into heaven. Obviously people have many questions about heaven. Thanks to Hollywood, here is a tool to have some wonderful conversations with friends, co-workers, neighbors and family about heaven.

There is a comedy coming out starring Patricia Heaton called Mom’s Night Out. Our culture has been attacking the family structure and especially marriage. The family is the foundation of society. This movie is funny but more importantly it highlights the value of the family and especially motherhood. Andrea Logan White also stars in this film and if you get a chance to hear her testimony, I’ve heard it and it is amazing!

I recently saw the trailer to a movie called Persecutors. This is a political thriller. It deals with our Religious Freedoms. The main character is the last holdout to sign the new religious equality bill and because he refuses to sign this bill he is set up and framed. If you like thrillers, this is going to be a fun film. More importantly if you were in his place – would you be silent or would you stand your ground?!

On June 13th, Father’s Day a movie called Alone Yet Not Alone is scheduled for release in 185 cities. This movie is based on the song. It is a true story about historical events. The main message of this film is that God will never leave you!

This August a film called When the Game Stands Tall which is based on the true story of the De La Salle Spartans, a high school football team. Coached by Bob Ladouceur this high school team had TWENTY undefeated seasons! This film stars Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis and Laura Dern.  The message of this film is about what happens when adversity hits and when it is all said and done what is important. What has more value and purpose, winning or character?

There is a Left Behind film due for release. This NOT the one with Kirk Cameron. This one stars Nicholas Cage. If nothing else this movie will give believers a chance to have conversation about the Rapture and what happens to those left behind.

Just after Labor Day there is a movie about Mother Teresa due for release. The film is entitled The Letters. The film takes real letters that Mother Teresa wrote to friends and spiritual advisors. The letters will deal with the darkness she felt and the struggles of ministering to the poor.

Rich Mullins was a success. He was a musician who wrote songs like “Our God is an Awesome God”. But what does that mean? To some it means fame and fortune. Mullins achieved that however that was not what he wanted. He left the spotlight to live on a Navajo reservation. His story is told in the film Ragamuffin.

The Unfair Movie which is a film about a radio talk show host who exposes and highlights corruption, cover-ups and the abuse of power.

Why is Hollywood making all of these films? Simple. Because of the success of The Bible mini-series. Hollywood is going to produce movies that people will pay to see. The content is second, the box office is what drives Hollywood.

Now that you are aware of what is coming out over the next few months – you have some choices to make. You can ignore these films. You can go see these films. Whatever your decision, let me encourage you to engage people in conversation over these films. I have always believed before the end comes God will give the church a chance for revival. Can Hollywood be giving the church a few tools to have conversations that matter and may lead to others coming to the saving knowledge of who Jesus is and what he did? Maybe. If so, that will be revival!

God bless you. 

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