Plagued though Russia currently is with high levels of coronavirus, something deeply significant is happening in Russia at the moment. In just a few days’ time, Russians will be going to polls, because President Putin is pressing ahead with a referendum that will give him a mandate to remain in office until 2036 – something to which he attaches huge significance, both as a means of retaining the reins of power, and to safeguard himself against legal investigations. The result itself, of course, is a foregone conclusion: it is merely a matter of how large a majority he returns.
I am particularly concerned here, however, to share the spiritual implications of what it is that Putin is seeking to establish. He has quite deliberately set out to cultivate and promote a narrative that commemorates the prowess of the Red Army who defeated Nazism at the enormous cost of some 26,000,000 of Russian lives, skilfully welding this into the framework of two most powerful organs: the national Army (which one would expect to be state controlled) and the Orthodox Church – with all the risk of politicising a fundamentally spiritual organisation (and this to the detriment and discomfiture of the evangelical church).
In his desire to be seen as ‘defender of the faith’ in the face of both terrorist threats and western secularism, a huge new cathedral has recently been built in the outskirts of Moscow. https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/14/russian-orthodox-church-consecrates-huge-cathedral-dedicated-to-military.
Original plans to include mosaics of both Putin and Stalin were dropped after public outcry, but some might argue that this centre piece of Putin’s strategy is as much designed to glorify the Russian army as to exalt Jesus Christ.
One might also ask how his apparently Godward focus squares with his increasingly close links with the avowedly atheist regime in China? It is hard not to feel that the significance of this rapprochement between these two vast nations is of primary importance to end-time developments – not least because it is only the Kings of the East that can provide the kind of manpower referred to in Revelation 9:16. (cf Ezekiel 38)
Relationships between Russia and Ukraine
All of this, inevitably, has a considerable impact on neighbouring Ukraine. For a concise and helpful overview of the political scene in the region and the relationship between Russia and Ukraine, see this article.
Father, we lift Russia to You again, and ask that it may find its true spirit and vocation not in the god of fortresses and military might (see Dan. 11:48), but in the Saviour’s love and commissioning. We pray Your blessing, likewise, on Ukraine.
End time events from an Orthodox Perspective
For those brought up on ‘Westernised’ teaching on the end times, we thought this Orthodox perspective might prove interesting.