The following article was first published in Russian in the Christian newspaper, Predvestnik ("The Forerunner") in Kiev, Ukraine. Roman Medvid as serves the managing editor of Predvestnik which is distributed in 10 of the republics of the former USSR. He also translated this article into English for publication in the Chalcedon Report.
The kingdom belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations. (Ps. 22:28)
The revealed will of God is not obviously seen in every event in history. Temporal setbacks of Christianity and the growth of Islam are vivid examples of this. However, the growth of the kingdom of God predicted in the Holy Scriptures surely contains a message for us.
At the very dawn of the Soviet state, the Russian Communist leaders were too well aware of the fact that this country could not permanently exist unless it received some foreign support. The only socialist island washed by the hostile waters of capitalist countries had little chance to survive. And the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia was carried out with expectations of outside support.
Those revolutionaries who gained power in Russia believed they were at the threshold of a revolutionary movement sweeping all countries worldwide; they were possessed with the idea of "the world revolution." They flattered themselves with the thought that they were pioneers in the universal breakthrough into happiness. There could be hardly another reason to explain the rush and eagerness of rulers to throw the country into the pit of a bloody Civil War in Russia in the years after the Great War.
"During the Civil War, the Bolshevik party believed that the revolution in Russia was just a beginning of transformation of the entire world, and that socialist revolutions would happen in many developed capitalist countries."1
As the economy of the newly emerged Soviet Russia needed close collaboration with its neighbors, hopes of economic advancement were also linked with the goal of world revolution. For example, Zinoviev, one of the chief leaders and a co-worker with Lenin, set the date for it: as early as 1927. No wonder the Communist leadership was surprised and upset with the reluctance of the foreign proletariat to use the experience of Russia and carry on the struggle for the Communist cause.
Expressing his confidence in the forthcoming revolution in Europe, Lenin made remarks that "all our hopes of the ultimate socialist victory are founded on this confidence and on this scientific foresight."2 He also wrote, "There cannot be a shadow of doubt about the ultimate outcome in the world struggle. In this aspect the ultimate victory of socialism is wholly and certainly secured."3
It is noteworthy that the Soviet government was constantly trying to present evidence for the vitality of its cause. It did its best to promote Communist ideas in other countries: in Asia (China, Afghanistan, North Korea, Vietnam), in Africa (Angola), in Europe (the eastern Communist bloc), in the other hemisphere (Cuba). Thus the world revolution had a strong military provision.
Once a superpower, the Soviet Union has disintegrated, and nowadays the victory of socialism in it is even more obscure. The question we should ask ourselves is: Could it possibly have gotten the strength and power to enlarge itself and absorb the whole world with its contrary social order?
This topic is relevant today since many godless ideologies are headed toward the goal of world dominion. Fascist leaders, for example, proclaim at their gatherings in Russia, "The Aryan organization will be back, the Aryan order will return and reside worldwide — it will surely return to stay forever . . . Our national revolution that is being started in Russia is a beginning of the general national revolution, which will bring order into every conglomerate of the universe."4
In order to evaluate such claims, the general question we must consider is: What laws are the foundation of this world? Who rules in it? How should an individual live to prosper in it? What ideas and acts are doomed to failure and which ones receive sanction and support?
The Master Over Historical Development
All orthodox Christians have always believed that God is The Lord over history. It is he who creates history — everything that happens on the earth is in accord with his Providence. The Bible constantly tells us that it is from God that the initial decision emerges to found and lift up a nation or to bring it down and break it as the potter smashes his creation.
The Bible also abounds in cases of God's judgment on rebellious and wicked nations. If the state keeps transgressing God's commandments and turns into a tyrant which deludes itself into believing it is the only sovereign in the land, God will come down on this country in judgment fire. He can hear the outcry of the afflicted. He does answer people's tears and sufferings. On the other hand, individuals in any nation that keep his commandments are pleasing in his sight. Their nation can be blessed by him.
Did the Soviet Union break God's regulations? It certainly did.
First of all, the ideology of the country was from the outset against God. The philosophy of scientific materialism (that is, belief in non-existence of God allegedly founded on scientific evidence) was to replace any idea of God. But the first commandment asserts the existence of God (Ex. 20:2-3), and atheists are called "fools" in the Bible (Ps. 14:1). At the very beginning, God denied any soundness of mind in Soviet Russia.
Then, the methods of the Communist revolutionaries always involved terror and murder, and this light and thoughtless way of treating human lives breaks the commandment: "Thou shall not kill." Substantial redistribution of wealth, from the rich to the poor, was a violation of the commandments: "Thou shall not steal" and "Thou shall not covet."
The Bible contains many references to a cup filling up with the measure of the people's lawlessness. When this measure reaches its peak, God unleashes his judgment. While many countries and their official states may be listed as transgressors of God's law, it is obvious that the cup of the USSR brimmed with resistance to God — murder, theft, etc. After 70 years of its existence, God erased the USSR from the face of the earth. This name can only be seen in history reviews, in the transcription "Made in USSR" on old things, and in posters on rallies of the Communist Party which still cherishes the thought of a triumphal comeback.
The Whole World Is Under Control of the Evil One?
As we are sure of God directing the world's events, we also are familiar with the Biblical expression: "The whole world is under control of the evil one" (1 Jn. 5:19). This Scripture, however, is very often misunderstood. According to this wrong interpretation, whatever we do in this world, whatever we handle — all such activity is sinful. The whole world is nearing its total collapse. The main task of Christians is to wait till it is all over, to be involved in the matters of this world as little as possible. Though such an opinion might seem very "spiritual," it is not Biblical whatsoever. It much more fits hermit monks.
The Bible many times declares God to be the King of kings and the Lord over all lords. He always wins, not loses in history. There have been many tyrants, powerful God-haters, blood- shedding empires, and they are no more — God has destroyed them, and has even erased memory of some! His truth, on the other hand, stands up to this day shining brightly.
The Scriptures very often describe the wicked and God-resistors as dust, chaff that is blown away in a flash by the wind (Ps. 1:4: , 35:5, 37:10, 83:13). And it's the righteous who will inherit the earth. Even though the godless are prospering, they put their wealth in store for the righteous (Pr. 13:22).
It would be also profitable to consider two Scriptures that are most often used to defend Christian escapism.
(1) Matthew 4:8-9: "Again, the devil took Him [Christ] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. `All this I will give you,' he said. . . ."
It has been stated that the devil had real power over all the world's kingdoms and was at liberty to pass them on to Jesus. Therefore, if the devil is the ruler of all kingdoms, then there is one thing left for Christians to do — to withdraw from involvement in these kingdoms.
In this statement it is overlooked that Satan is a liar and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), and his words can hardly be trusted. In the above mentioned Scripture from Matthew, he was actually claiming God's prerogative.
Many centuries before this happened, God — and certainly not his enemy — had been called "God over all the kingdoms of the earth" (2 Kin. 19:15) and "the Ruler over the nations" (Ps. 22:28). It's God who has real power to treat the world's kingdoms freely according to his good pleasure.
The devil has power over nations only in that these nations are ignorant of God's truth. The responsibility to bring God's truth — the gospel — lies on Christ's messengers (see Ac. 26:18). The Scriptures prophesy that finally all nations will turn to God (Is. 11:10, 60: 3; Ps. 22:27; 47; 89:9), and thus the kingdom of darkness will be pressed out of the earth. "The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Is. 11:9).
(2) John 18:36: "Jesus said, `My kingdom is not of this world.'"
It is true that the Kingdom of God is not conceived in minds of earthly humans, smart as they might be; it comes down from heaven. But there's something that has changed since Pilate's interrogation of Jesus.
When speaking of his kingdom being not of this world, Jesus made his point by saying that he has no servant around to defend him. He was not speaking of angels, for the Father could answer his prayer and send thousands of angels. Christ was talking about men — everybody had deserted him, even his apostles. It was quite logical, though — they couldn't stand for Jesus because they hadn't yet experienced the power of the Holy Spirit filling them, and they hadn't because Jesus hadn't yet died for them on the cross.
Since the church has now received the Holy Spirit, this has changed. Now Jesus did have his real servants on the earth — he even calls them his Body to explain their close relationship. Thus, the Kingdom of God has reached the earth. Although not of this world, it is in the world. The people of God are called to overcome in and not escape this world.
"It's Hard for You to Kick Against the Goads"
Many Christians today espouse a pessimistic outcome of the struggle between good and evil. Now, they do believe in the ultimate victory of God over Satan, after Christ's return, but they have a dim view of their earthly future. Sometimes they even speak more about Antichrist which is coming and his wicked acts than the Lord Jesus. This is indicative of the spiritual bondage that must be cast away from the midst of God's people. God gives us victory on the earth as well as in eternity.
If God is described as the sovereign over the world's destiny as far back as in the Old Testament times, it is even more true now, in the New Testament era. For Christ came in order to "destroy the devil's work" (1 Jn. 3:8). Just prior to his being crucified, Christ said, "Now the prince of this world will be driven out" (Jn. 12:31), "the prince of this world now stands condemned" (Jn. 16:11). If the devil had in a sense been the prince of the world before Jesus came, he has undoubtedly been deprived of any power through the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ (see Mt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 2:15).
Christ is the King of kings, and therefore wicked and godless empires will crumble and cease existence, and not build up and prosper. Those individuals, as well as entire states, that resist God's revealed truth, will always experience the resistance of the earth's Master. Like Saul the persecutor of the Church, they will find it "hard to kick against the goads," since everyone persisting against truth is trying to combat the everlasting and invincible power, God himself.
This Scriptural truth can be the mandate for believers to do good and hope that God will bless their efforts while destroying works of God-haters, exercising their influence in godly transformation of their community, and expecting the gospel to transform entire nations.
1. Political History (textbook for high schools), Zaporozhye, 1990, vol. 1, 193.
2. Ibid, vol. 2, 8.
3. I. Lenin, "It's better to do less, but better," Complete Selection of Works, vol. 45, 404.
4. "Reproof for preaching racism," Moscow News, No. 21, 1995.