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Signs of the Times

September 16 2004

Luke 21:29-33, And He spoke to them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you likewise when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things are fulfilled.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away."

It's like watching the pieces of a giant puzzle being moved into place by an invisible hand.  I stand in awe of the power of God, and his ability to do in such a short time what the men of our time never thought could be accomplished.

With the advent of democracy throughout Eastern Europe, especially the old iron curtain, many a Christian scholars breathed a sigh of relief, chastising themselves for having given credence to the idea that Russia would be a real and present danger to the United States.  Ministries such as ours were belittled and mocked, being accused of having missed the mark, of having brought concern into the hearts of God's children, when no reason for concern existed.

I have visited websites, in the past few years, who all jovially pointed to the fact that Russia no longer exists, and a nation made up of 89 provinces, all fighting for a piece of the pie, all interested in their own survival could no longer pose a threat.

Just the mention of Russia posing a threat, garnered snickers from most, and I personally heard the statement, "you must be from another planet if you think Russia will ever again be a threat" at least a dozen times.

Many questioned, as they have a right to, as they should, how we could still believe that Russia still posed a threat, that after having been broken up into so many different pieces they could still mount an attack.  Our only answer was that God sees beyond tomorrow, he sees beyond two months from now, and He has the power to make the impossible happen.  Doubt was still evident in many, for although I know they believed that God was able to do anything, what could possibly happen that would make Russia centralize power again, essentially becoming one government, one dictatorship all over again.

The recent, and regrettable terrorist attacks in Russia, were enough of a cover to put into action what Vladimir Putin has sought ever since his first day in office.

If one is diligent in researching Mr. Putin's ideology and philosophy concerning his people, and his nation, one soon comes to the realization, that it has been his intention all along to have a unified and powerful Russia under his command, and not scattered provinces warring among themselves.  His purpose, although thinly veiled has always been to once more make Russia a super power.

I write this today, because the recent events in Russia only serve to once more warn God's children just how close foretold events are.  What once seemed impossible, namely the reunification of the old Soviet empire, is simply a parliamentary vote away.

Many in the United States Government see the dangers in this, and recently came out against Mr. Putin's proposed centralization of power, only to be reprimanded by Russia's foreign minister.

The following are some news articles I've been able to acquire that better accentuate both Mr. Putin's plan to centralize power, as well as his government's determination, to go through with the plan regardless of international opposition.

The Moscow Times, Wednesday September 15, 2004

"In response to the recent wave of terrorist attacks that has stunned Russia, President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced a package of sweeping government reforms that will bolster the authoritarian direction of Russian's political development.  Putin proposed a fundamental restructuring of the entire executive branch, making it far more rigid and centralized than before.  His plan further weakens representative democracy by dismantling key institutions such as direct elections.

Of all the measures that Putin proposed, only the Special Federal Commission on the North Caucausus is directly connected to the tragedy in Beslan, which served as the occasion for announcing the entire package of authoritarian reforms.  The reforms break down into two groups: emergency measures intended to help the Kremlin maintain control of the North Caucausus; and a number of broader anti-federalist and anti-democratic proposals.

The second group includes a return to the late-Soviet practice, also in place during the early years of Boris Yeltsin's presidency, of appointing regional leaders, as well as what amounts to an attempt to restore a single-party political system.  The first group consists o what could be called tactical measures although Putin's plan for coordination between the heads of 'district and regional anti-terrorism commissions' was in fact introduced in the Southern Federal District a month before the tragedy in Beslan.  The Kremlin has been working on the second group for some time, however only now it seems, did Putin decide that the time was right to put his plans into action.

In the name of strengthening the state and improving its ability to battle terrorism, Putin has proposed a fundamental revision of the democratic achievements of the Yeltsin years, including the main such achievements still in place - direct parliamentary and gubernatorial elections.  Party lit contests involving United Russia will differ little from Soviet-era elections in which people were invited to cast their votes for the 'indestructible bloc of Communists and unaffiliated candidates.'

Initial responses to Putin's speech from State Duma deputies and the governors unfortunately leave no doubt that the Kremlin's package of reforms will sail through parliament."

The actual proposal is lengthy and has many different points, but since I am not a political scholar, and have an aversion to the duplicity of politics, I will leave it to the individual to investigate this matter further.  The one thing that concerns both the United States Government, and many in the Russian government is that the newly proposed system in Russia, is the fact that everything is bound to one single person, namely the president.

Although no one as yet has voiced their darkest fears concerning this issue, the fact remains that a unified Russia under one key ruler, a Russia that has centralized both its powers and resources once more under the Kremlin's roof, is a new danger that cannot be overlooked.

United States Secretary of State Colin Powel, said in an interview with Reuters, that the changes were "pulling back on some of the democratic reforms."

In this humble man's opinion it's a little more serious than just pulling back on some democratic reforms, it is once more giving one man, total control and power over the whole of Russia.  Did anyone see this coming?  Yes, God did.

The thing that concerned me most however, was the Russian response to Colin Powel's remarks, a response given by Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday, that was less than civil.

During a speech given in Kazakhstan, Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying the following: "First of all the processes that are under way in Russia are our internal affair.  And it is at least strange that while talking about a certain "pulling back" as he (Powell) put it, on some of the democratic reforms in the Russian Federation, he tried to assert yet one more time the thought that democracy can only be copied by someone's model.  We for our part do not comment on the U.S. system of presidential elections, for instance.  The United States itself had been forced to take tough and controversial security steps after the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets," Lavrov said.

The only problem with Lavrov's entire discourse is that it was disingenuous from one very important point of view.  The plans that Vladimir Putin set forth were not drafted overnight.  They were established a long time ago, and this terrorist attack that just occurred was the best excuse as yet to attempt it implementation.  If the new changes that are being attempted were done only due to circumstantial opportunity, but for a different purpose, then indeed something is amiss.

This latest development in the international landscape is one worthy of close scrutiny, and as we continue to see this situation take shape and evolve we will more clearly see the fingerprints of God on both Russia's decision to make these sweeping changes, and the global disunity, animosity and even downright hatred that continues to consume most parts of the world.

The time is near saints, and only by God's mercy are things relatively quiet.  How long he terries, is His choice, and in this we can have no say, but the things that we do have control over, namely sharing Jesus, living lives worthy of His name, and striving for those things which only He can give, we should do without a moment's hesitation.

Today, I urge you to open your eyes, and look. As Jesus urged his apostles to look at the fig tree, and they would know the season.  I urge all who read this to open their eyes, and behold the hour we are living in.  The time for foolish notions is long passed, the time for seeking after earthly treasures and vainglory is long passed also. The hour is late, and the time has come to seek after God with all our hearts, to open our eyes that we may see, to open our hearts that we may receive, to open our minds that we may be enlightened.

The truth, especially the truth of God's word is willing to allow itself to be found by those who diligently seek after it.

With each passing day global uncertainty continues to grow, and that which God forewarned His children of long ago is beginning to unfold before our very eyes.  Cling to God, and He will never let you down.  Trust in Him, and your trust will not be misplaced.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

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