Is Vladimir Putin a good guy or a bad guy, and where does Russia fit in Bible prophecy?

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Russia has annexed the Crimea and eastern Ukraine. It has supplied Iran with weaponry and missile delivery systems. It has bolstered Assad in Syria. None of this can be calming to Israel.

However, there is some plus side to the ledger, I think. True Assad is a monster, but worse monsters are waiting in the wings. And Putin is not overtly hostile toward Israel, but most recently has paid his respects to the victims of the Holocaust in an amicable visit to Israel. Israel said it would not react aggressively to Russian planes passing over Israeli air space, which is quite opposite to Turkey's reaction.

Several anecdotes have surfaced that Putin is sympathetic and rather friendly to the Judaic faith in Russia. Breaking away from the atheistic communist antipathy toward Christianity, Putin has supported the Russian Orthodox faith, growth of churches, traditional marriage, and pro-life policy. Don't you think his counterpart, Obama—leader of the free world—is doing much less to uphold these Christian values on which the United States was founded?

Most recently, I heard that Putin has forbidden Bible commentaries that are anti-Semitic. If he is only cynically using religion as an expedient political card to play, he seems to be doing more than he has to. I perceive Putin to be at least as genuine as Constantine of the 4th century, who was supportive and promoting of the Christian faith. Somehow, I can't feel completely negative about Putin. What do you think?

Also, where do you think Russia fits in Bible prophecy? Recent thinking seems to attach Meshech, Magog, and Gog to Turkey or to the former Soviet states that are Islamic.

Ted's Response:

I have received similar comments as yours from numerous other people about Putin, Assad, Obama, and others. My most common response to their questions as to what I think about Putin and Russia is this: "I do not know."

I agree that Assad is a "monster," as he has caused the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of his Syrian people. But ousting him could create a vacuum into which other "monsters" could come in. Potentially, al-Baghdadi (head of ISIS) and Erdogan (president of Turkey) are two of them. One of Satan's greatest strategies is to create complicated situations where all options are bad, and the least-bad option is terrible.

I see Putin as a wild card. I think he has the potential to be a horrendously destructive tyrant. If that turns out to be the case, it is quite possible that he could appear, deceptively, like a decent guy, even to Christians and Jews, until his true colors are revealed. That describes many bad guys and con men. I tend to lean toward this notion of him, and I question his trustworthiness.

Also, I don't think I would equate Putin with Constantine, as far as being pro-Christian. Putin has not claimed to be a Christian, but Constantine did, even going to far as to be baptized not long before he died.

Putin may have the potential to be somewhat helpful to Israel against its enemies. However, if this were to happen he unexpectedly could be pushed into a corner and be forced to make some very radical decisions for fear of being attacked, defeated or destroyed.

I do not like or trust Obama's radically progressive policies. I see them as regressing away from the stable, secure, judicious, conservative Judeo-Christian foundation on which America was built. Many would place Obama in the "monster" category and feel that he is the worst thing that's ever happened to the USA. If he isn't that, I feel that he is close to it. He has been successful in fundamentally transforming the United States of America in the worst ways. Some feel that he will be the Antichrist, some feel that he will be the False Prophet, and some feel that he will be Gog. I wrote the following commentary soon after his first inauguration in 2009: Barack Obama: False Prophet? However, I do not know if he will fill this, another, or no prophetic role. Only God knows.

I suspect that economic and social conditions globally, including in the USA, will degrade significantly in 2016. Many believe that Obama will declare martial law, later in the year, after chaos and anarchy break out. There also seem to be an increasing number of people who feel that Obama will suspend the presidential election in November, basically saying, "We cannot change horses in the middle of this stream" and simply will remain in the White House indefinitely. Some feel that states eventually will secede from the union. I do not know if these things will happen; they may or may not, but nothing would surprise me.

I am not making any firm predictions, as I am not a fortune-teller. I cannot count the number of people who have emailed me with forecasts about what they think will happen over the next 1-3 years. Typically, my response is that "I do not know." I think many people find some degree of comfort in having hope that things will turn out as they visualize them to be in the short-term, even if those things ultimately do not turn out as they expect in the long-term. However, I do not think this is a realistic way to think, and I am not in that boat myself.

I honestly believe that as the end of the age and return of Jesus approach, events will become so erratic and inconsistent that virtually no one will be able to predict what will happen next, much less over the following few months or longer. For instance, I feel relatively certain that there will be more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, but only God knows when. This probably will be very disconcerting to most people because we prefer a significant degree of predictability in our lives; yet I believe that things will become less and less predictable as the world becomes increasingly lawless, disordered and out of control.

I have been working on preparing myself emotionally and psychologically in an expectation of events going crazy nationally and globally, although I do not think that most people are doing the same. Most people tend to have a "normalcy bias" and underestimate both the possibility of disasters and their inevitable effects. This may result in a general failure of people to make adequate preparations for themselves and their families and, on a larger scale, a failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.

As the threads of a peaceful, predictable society unravel around us, there will be great panic and terror because people will not know how to cope. They will put their hope in anything or anyone who convinces them that things can become normal again. Most likely, the Antichrist will come out on top of that heap, which is why a majority of awestruck inhabitants of the world will give him their allegiance for 42 months (Revelation 13:3-5). Unfortunately, that will turn out to be their greatest miscalculation and blunder.

I do not know where Russia fits into prophecy. I know there are many who seem to see a Russian confederation as being Magog and Putin as being Gog. It is interesting how Persia (presumably, Iran) will be part of that confederation (Ezekiel 38:5), and Putin appears to be a friend of Iran. However, I think the players who make up the exact "team" and the "captain" of the team are, as of yet, unpredictable. My general views about this can be found in my Final Battles commentary. However, I have no interest in attempting to make any firm, conclusive predictions. I simply do not know.

I do feel certain, however, that eventually Israel and Jerusalem will be attacked and will be drawn involuntarily into a war that will be extremely devastating and desolating for that nation. This is described in my destruction of Jerusalem section.

My suspicion is that Israel will be in the middle of a massive conflict between various factions of Islam attempting to dominate Jerusalem. When certain anticipated prophetic events happen (such as those described in Matthew 24:15-20, Mark 13:14-17, Luke 21:20,21, Revelation 11:3 and 12:6), I believe that this will be the beginning of the final 3˝ years prior to Jesus' return to earth to rule and reign as its King (Zechariah 14:9). I think this extremely difficult and arduous period could begin as soon as Passover week 2016, but I definitely am not adamant and resolute about that. Time will tell.

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