Several years ago, I spent a quiet evening with some good friends in Minsk, Belarus. Dave and Nina Esala spent many years as pioneer missionaries to the Soviet Union. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dave led two young men to the Lord on the streets of St Petersburg. They later came to the USA and were the first Russians to attend Rhema Bible Training Center. After the breaking of the Berlin wall, Dave had the privilege of being invited to the Kremlin. He was asked to lay his hands on the draft of the Russian Constitution. Gathered in a very ornate room, he prayed with the authors and various members from the Duma, dedicating the constitution and the nation to the Lord.
Dave was the first to share with me that Russia would play a very different role in God’s end-time plan than many had believed. He showed me that instead of being an enemy to the great harvest that we look for, Russia will play a major role in seeing it fulfilled. He proved from the Bible that Russia is not the army from the North who will attack Israel. The Persians, the Assyrians, and even the Babylonians (modern day Iraq) have all been labeled as being from the “north” (Isaiah 41:25; Jeremiah 50:3; Zephaniah 2:13; Jeremiah 1:13-15; 6:22; and Zechariah 2:6-7) No matter where they were located, Israel’s enemies generally attacked from the north.
That night in Dave’s apartment, he showed me an old article that was printed regarding another great missionary, Hudson Taylor. This is what I read:
The Awakening, a Vision of Hudson Taylor
On one of his furloughs in the 1850’s to England, Hudson Taylor was preaching when he suddenly stopped and stood for a period of time with his eyes closed. When he started to speak again, he explained that he had seen a vision. In this vision he saw a great war that would encompass the whole world. He saw this war recess and then start again, actually being two wars. After this, much unrest and revolts would affect many nations. There would be spiritual awakenings in some places. In Russia there would be a “general all encompassing, national spiritual awakening so great that there could never be another like it.” From Russia awakening will spread to many European countries, followed by an all out awakening, after which Christ will come.
I was stunned upon reading this as it confirmed so much of what was in my heart. If Russia is the army of the north, I thought to myself, it will be an army of evangelists! I remember so vividly how the Lord spoke to me when I first came to the former Soviet Union. He told me to gather and strengthen leaders that would shake the nations, and at the same time gave me a vision of fire and blood running down a large map of Russia. I knew that the fire and blood was revival, and I saw that it was spreading into the Muslim world and China. In the many Churches where I have preached all over Russia, I don’t know of one pastor who doesn’t have a heart to reach these nations!
Recently, many leaders who are popular for their teaching on end-time events have begun to switch their position. Many have stopped declaring that Russia will invade Israel, and now is pointing his finger towards the Muslim world. That writers and preachers are making such a change of position without apology causes me to raise an eyebrow. Prophetic teaching and end-time conferences are always popular. We seem to live in the midst of a new paranoia every two or three years. For instance, it has become common to describe the European Union as a modern-day Roman Empire in an attempt to fulfill the prophetic scriptures of Daniel. First, this is non-sense as the membership of the EU has passed the omen of ten countries and is fast approaching twenty-five! Second, the geographical area of these countries has nothing in common with the historical Roman empire.
I don’t have the time or the space to discuss these issues, but it is important to draw attention to one important principle. Have you ever heard the Muslims call America, The Great Satan? How did it make you feel? Do you realize that for many years American Christians have been condemning Russia for being an enemy to the cause of Christ, when in fact she must take her place in this great harvest of souls? Is it right to condemn Europe as being the base of operations for the Anti-Christ? Also, we need to be cautious that we don’t commit the same mistake where the Muslim world is concerned. Instead of condemning a nation and its people because of a prophetic bias, I think it is better if we take the Gospel to them and bring healing and reconciliation!
I am convinced that where the Bible is silent we also should remain silent. This will prohibit ourselves from falling into error and help foster an atmosphere of revival.
But there are areas where the Bible is not silent, and in them we can rejoice. In 1919, S. D. Gordon boldly declared that “the thread of unfulfilled prophecy is not picked up again until the Jew is renationalized.” This was thirty-one years before the very fact took place! I find it also interesting when he takes several pages to teach that Babylon must again become a place of world commerce.
With the overthrow of the reign of Saddam Hussein Iraq will enter the world in a new way. American involvement in that nation will thrust it onto the world scene. Something very amazing has happened. Just as the Berlin Wall was broken there is a veil being torn apart. The barriers that have held the Gospel away from the Muslim world is splitting wide open! A democratic nation in Iraq may very well set off a domino effect, specifically towards Iran, and open up even more nations.
Now is the time to pray, and to pray specifically against “principalities and powers” that would try to check this flood of God’s revival. The Gospel is going forth!