Communism’s One Good Thing
There’s something compelling about seeing those big wrecking balls swinging from cranes, bashing the walls of obsolete buildings into of rubbish. Even more fascinating is the countdown for the triggering of explosives set against supporting pillars in huge structures marked for demolition. People watch wide-eyed as small blasts erupting from ground floors cause these buildings to shiver and then, as if in slow motion, to come crashing down in a mammoth cloud of dust and debris.
Such was the spectacular display produced by the collapse of the vaunted Communist economic system in Eastern Europe. It came unannounced and sent shock waves through a world now waiting to witness what will emerge from the rubble.
For those of us who saw the Kremlin’s Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on a table at the U. N. and bellowing “We will bury you,” there is a measure of deep satisfaction. And, frankly, when the rotund chief atheist’s successor, several times removed, comes hat in hand to the West to say, “Please help keep us out of the economic graveyard,” it is difficult to suppress unabashed glee.
This phenomenon, however, is not the stuff of a sports arena where men press, plot, and maneuver until a fabricated foe is vanquished and the thrill of victory is embraced. There is obviously a higher hand in all of this, and we are not engaged in a superficial transition in human history.
Merging with the failed Communist economic system was the spontaneous burst of desire for freedom that swept across Eastern Europe. People in shabby clothes living in flats with empty pantries cried, “We’ve had enough! Give us freedom now.” Gorbachev’s level of compliance heartened many, perplexed some, and caused others to wonder when the mailed Communist fist would fall, as it had in China.
But whatever reservations were entertained, the fact is that the wall was down, and people were passing east and west in numbers unequalled since the beginning of the Cold War.
Most significant of all was the lifting of restraints against religious expression when Gorbachev “promised a law guaranteeing the freedom of religion.”
Demands for millions of Bibles, books, and pieces of Christian literature sent mission agencies scrambling for resources, men, and materials to meet the need. Mission leaders are unanimous in their opinion that no one saw this coming, and no one knows how long the door will remain open.
Dr. Ben Abraham, a veteran worker from behind the Iron Curtain, believes that the root cause of everything happening in Eastern Europe is spiritual, not political or economic. These were side effects of the main issue. God moved in hearts to create a hunger that could no longer be suppressed. It is, in his view, a direct answer to the sustained prayers of some of God’s people who bombarded the throne, causing the wall to fall before the irresistible power of prevailing prayer.
The ravenous spiritual appetite of Eastern Europeans seems to bear this out. For example, when Dr. Abraham went to Bucharest, Romania, he found the people open to the gospel beyond any measure he could have dared to hope. The Communist Hall in the capital city—once used only by Communist groups—was opened for evangelistic meetings. Nine thousand people attempted to push their way into a structure designed to accommodate no more than five thousand. Those confined to the outside overflow crowd listened eagerly to the claims of Christ.
Dr. Abraham adds another dimension with his statement about root causes: “Communism did one good thing [by creating a hunger for the knowledge of God in people systematically denied His truth].” Years of such deprivation spawned a pent-up force that, when unleashed, was the spiritual equivalent of an erupting Mount Saint Helens.
How did Communism’s “one good thing” contribute to the gospel’s being welcomed by so many Eastern Europeans? For starters, Communism went farther than the Devil himself has when its leaders announced that their system would wipe the visage of God from the planet. They declared God not only impotent, Communism pronounced Him nonexistent. In the Communist paradise of the people, men would be free from servitude to a figment of deranged minds—faith in God.
What was discovered, however, was that etched deep in the heart of humanity there is an irresistible desire to worship that will not be denied. Years of atheistic suppression have only heightened the desire, and given the opportunity—or even when deprived of it by state edict—men will bow down.
Therefore, there can be no serious question about it, events in Eastern Europe display undeniable evidence of the moving of the hand of God. For believers, the immediate result is a magnificent opportunity to bring the gospel to people long deprived of the truth. In addition, clear prophetic ramifications are seen in the fact that Jewry is a central focus of the long-term direction of events.
Daniel 9:24–27 is the premier prophetic passage in the Scriptures. A passage that settles many perplexing questions, it represents the foundation upon which all other prophetic portions rest. An intensely important feature of these verses is the identification of the five elements that are related to all datable prophetic events. They are:
- “Thy [Daniel’s] people” (9:24)—Jewry.
- “Thy holy city” (9:24)—Jerusalem.
- “Messiah” (9:26)—Jesus Christ.
- “The people of the prince that shall come” (9:26)—Roman Empire.
- “He” (the prince that shall come, 9:27)—Antichrist.
From a positive perspective, Israel is to be the unfolding story of the last days as she moves through tribulation toward national reconciliation with the Messiah.
The Chosen People’s relationship to the Messiah is, of course, the consummate issue to be settled on Israel’s journey to the kingdom.
Standing against the Messiah and Jehovah’s purposes for the Chosen People are the Antichrist and a revived Roman Empire. Antichrist and his Western confederation will lead a contingent of nations against the Lord, Jerusalem, and the Jewish people.
A search of biblical and secular history confirms that Jewry and Jerusalem have consistently borne the brunt of satanic hostility led by the Antichrist’s forerunners and imperial usurpers.
The Babylonians, who were in control of the Middle East when Daniel’s prophecy was written, typify the pattern with their destruction of Jerusalem and taking the people captive.
Antiochus Epiphanes (Dan. 11:21–35) the nefarious type of the Antichrist, exhibited the process in a consummate way when he polluted “the sanctuary of strength, and [took] away the daily sacrifice, and [placed] the abomination that maketh desolate” (v. 31) in the Temple at Jerusalem. At the same time, he attempted to destroy the Jews.
The impending invasion of the Middle East by forces from the North (the area currently occupied by the Soviet Union) is aimed toward turning a hand against the “desolate places that are now inhabited [Israel], and upon the people [Jewry] that are gathered out of the nations” (Ezek. 38:12).
Zechariah 13–14 gives the picture of the closing phases of the Tribulation period and shows (13:8–9) two-thirds of the Jewish nation destroyed by belligerents. Chapter 14 opens with “all nations” gathered against Jerusalem.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the Antichrist occupies the Tribulation Temple in Jerusalem. A corresponding passage, Revelation 12, details his attempt to wipe out Jewry in a final, Satan-forged holocaust.
At this hour, the vast majority of the Arab states conspire to accomplish the same goals—seize Jerusalem and rid the land of the Jewish people.
A potent illustration of the Daniel Blueprint is found in the current situation in Eastern Europe.
About two years ago, I sat with an official in the External Affairs Department of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. He informed me that an estimated 400,000 Jewish people in the Soviet Union had signed applications for exit visas. “If only they could be allowed to leave,” he exclaimed. “How many others would follow? A million? More? Who knows?
“One thing I do know,” he continued, “the emigration of Soviet Jewry to Israel would give a new lease on life to the state of Israel.”
He doubted that such a thing could take place in the foreseeable future.
But the converging streams of international necessity are bringing to pass what was once thought nearly impossible. The Soviets desperately need economic assistance with which to fuel their gasping economic engine. The Western capitalistic nations have the ability to come to their aid. Such aid is linked to Soviet concessions on human rights—a matter directly related to allowing substantial numbers of hostage people to emigrate.
Jewish people were the most dramatically affected by Gorbachev’s liberalization of emigration laws. As Jews began to stream out of the country, most were headed west. Reluctance on the part of the U.S. and other Western nations to accept massive numbers of Jewish immigrants has made the Israel option more attractive, thereby swelling the Jewish population in the Promised Land. One hundred thousand Jews are expected to enter Israel by year’s end. Forecasters tell us that, if the current exodus is allowed to continue, as many as two-thirds of the Jewish population will have left Russia by the close of the decade.
Jewish desire to get out of Russia has not, for many, been precipitated by the longing to see the land of their ancient fathers. Rather, they are reacting to the ominous rise of influence by hate-filled anti-Semites who threaten a rerun of what occurred in Europe just over a half century ago. All evidence indicates that they have good reason to be concerned.
“An epidemic of ethnic hatred is sweeping the world, dismaying and perplexing fair-minded people who are at a loss to explain it. Why are Jewish cemeteries in France and Italy being desecrated? … Very few Jews are left in Central Europe after Hitler’s Holocaust, but the anti-Semitism that lay dormant under communist repression has sprung back to life” (Time, May 28, 1990).
Subterranean populist groups in Russia and Eastern Europe are promising death and destruction for Jewish people.
East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Romania, among others, have their particular brands of vehement anti-Semites smearing “Jews to the ovens, Jews for soap” slogans on walls and shouting, “We missed you [the Jews] the first time. But now we’re coming back.”
The Soviet Union’s Pamyat (memory) group is the prototype of this patchwork of Jew haters. They blame the Jewish people for both the rise and fall of the Communist system. Their rallying cry is “Death to the Jews!” Pamyat recruits are said to be required to submit to their leaders the names and addresses of at least four Jews, a means by which they will be able to find Jews when they are ready to implement their planned pogroms.
Pamyat sees “glasnost and perestroika as a conspiracy to regain control of the country” (Newsweek, May 7, 1990). Pamyat attempted to launch pogroms against Soviet Jews on May 5 and 15 of this year. May 5 was chosen because it was the feast day of Saint George, a favorite of Russian “Christians,” with whom Pamyat links itself.
Although these groups move on the fringe of society, they hold the potential of unleashing a new holocaust. One authority comments, “If Gorbachev falls, the Soviet Union’s frenzied ethnic minorities could plunge the country into a bloodbath. At such times Jews become targets of opportunity.”
Historian Attila Pok amplifies the concern. “Once a political leader is found who can make use of these feelings, [he] might arouse the masses behind [him].”
Thus, Eastern Europe’s Jewish population is being stricken by a panic mentality that is causing thousands to opt to get out while they can.
A Jewish man from Leningrad, Yuri Rouppo, who, with his family, is leaving Russia for Israel, gives an interesting perspective. “Now there is this new emigration, and perhaps we are coming to the end of the great Jewish civilization in Russia. I do not know. But life is life. Leningrad and Moscow are not Jewish cities. So be it. In our Jewish history, we have examples of the Exodus from Egypt to Israel. Why not repeat it?”
The Egypt/Israel experience is an apt analogy, for Pharaoh saw himself as driving out the troublesome Jews. Yet, in the divine scheme of things, Jehovah was bringing them out in order to return them to their own land and accomplish higher purposes.
Today, strident anti-Semitic groups trumpet their determination to drive Jewish people from Russia and Eastern Europe. But among the spiritually minded there is a pervasive feeling that, as in the ancient Moses/ Pharaoh confrontation, God is bringing them out to accomplish His ultimate higher purpose for the Jewish people and the Holy City.
In the Daniel 9 passage cited earlier, the central factor is the Messiah. Positioned on one side are the Jewish people and the beloved city. On the other side are the Antichrist and his hostile host. The messianic emphasis is placed on the cross-work aspect of His ministry—“Messiah [shall] be cut off.” This fact is immensely important, because through all of the international tremors preceding His return as King to subdue the nations and put down every foe is the need of individual people, Jew and Gentile, to find personal peace. That peace is available in the Messiah.
All that is happening in Eastern Europe demonstrates that God has set before believers of this generation a great open door, and there is no other acceptable option except to seize the moment for Christ and send the message, by whatever means possible, to those who must hear or perish.