On August 17th – in a column entitled, “Putin Rising: But Is He Gog?” — I wrote that “after keeping a relatively low profile for the last several years, Vladimir Putin is rising. In recent weeks, the Russian leader — currently serving as his country’s prime minister — once again has been making headlines, stoking controversy, and seeming to position himself to run for president of Russia again in March 2012.”
Now it’s official. Putin is officially running in the March 4th elections. The announcement came over the weekend and, barring unforeseen circumstances, should win in a landslide. His anti-American, anti-Western “tough guy” image of crushing the Chechens, and the Georgians, and building a vibrant economy through Russia’s oil and natural gas industries, and building strategic alliances with radical Islamic allies such as Iran has played well and made him very popular throughout Russia’s eleven time zones. Putin is counting on such support to allow him to emerge as the next Czar of Russia for many years to come. Reuters notes that “the next president will be elected for six years and the constitution still allows the head of state a maximum of two straight terms — meaning Putin could be in power for another 12 years.”
The re-emergence of Putin as Russia’s central tyrant will re-stoke speculation that we are heading towards the “War of Gog and Magog”as prophesied in the Bible in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Many evangelical Christians believe we are, in part because the prophecies of Ezekiel 36 and 37 have already come true regarding the dramatic rebirth of the State of Israel and Jews coming back to the Holy Land in the last days after centuries of exile. And Putin strikes many as far closer to the image of the evil dictator “Gog” described in the prophecy than the current President Dmitry Medvedev. A growing number of Jews also believe Ezekiel 38 and 39 could come true in our lifetime, and possibly in the next few years. In June of 2010, for example, a group of Rabbis in Israel said current events seemed to be leading to the “War of Gog and Magog.”
While it is still too early to say such prophecies will be fulfilled soon, the rise of Putin — combined with Russia’s increasingly close ties to Iran, Libya, Turkey, Central Asia and other countries described by Ezekiel – certainly doesn’t bode well for the State of Israel or the Jewish people.