Have we ignored the signs of imminent global war—again? Would you even recognize the warning signs? What do history, the Bible, and end-time prophecies reveal?
For most of us living in what are called First World or “developed” nations, life is good. This is no doubt how many in Hawaii felt as they woke up on one sunny Sunday morning. But December 7, 1941 would live on in infamy—for them and for the rest of America.
Europe was already at war. It had been scarcely more than two decades since the so-called “war to end all wars” that had directly or indirectly cost the lives of more than 20 million soldiers and civilians. So, most Americans now had no interest in engaging in a conflict on the other side of the Atlantic, much less one on the other side of the Pacific. So strong was the United States’ isolationism in 1941 that the military draft had nearly been scrapped four months earlier. “The margin of victory [in the House of Representatives] was a single vote [to retain the draft], and the battle could have been lost as easily as won except for [House Speaker Sam] Rayburn’s personality, leadership, mastery of parliamentary procedure and—when push came to shove—lightning-fast gavel. If Rayburn had failed, the Army stood to lose about two-thirds of its strength and three-fourths of the officer corps” (“How Mr. Sam Saved the Draft,” The Washington Post, August 18, 1991).
Anyone watching the world could see the warning signs of what was to come, but many wanted to believe that the catastrophic would not happen. Japan was flexing its muscles in China and relations between Japan and the U.S. had been deteriorating for the better part of a decade. “[By] the late 1930s, American foreign policy in the Pacific hinged on support for China, and aggression against China by Japan therefore necessarily would bring Japan into conflict with the United States” (“Pearl Harbor attack,” Britannica.com, November 30, 2022).
Japan had already taken over parts of China, and Japanese and Chinese soldiers continued to fight. “On the night of July 7, 1937, a small Japanese force on maneuvers near the Marco Polo Bridge demanded entry to the tiny walled town of Wanping in order to search for one of their soldiers” (“Marco Polo Bridge Incident,” Britannica.com, June 30, 2022). The Chinese garrison refused entry. Negotiations went back and forth for several hours. Eventually, a shot was fired, and what started as a localized skirmish between two small contingents of soldiers blew up into the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).
In retrospect, whether looking at Hitler and Mussolini in Europe or Japan’s moves in East Asia, the world was sleepwalking into the greatest conflict mankind had ever known, in which an estimated 40 to 70 million lives would be lost. Yet is it any different today? Are we also on the cusp of the unthinkable?
Japan miscalculated after the Marco Polo Bridge incident. What they thought would be a short war brought China’s feuding Communist and Nationalist forces together to fight a common foe—a fight that continued for eight brutal years. Japan lacked natural resources such as oil, iron, rubber, and other raw materials, and so turned its forces against French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and a small part of China) to fuel the war machine. This brought alarm in Washington. “In July 1941, by which time the Japanese had occupied all of Indochina and had entered into an alliance with the Axis powers (Germany and Italy), the U.S. government severed all commercial and financial relations with Japan. Japanese assets were frozen, and an embargo was declared on shipments to Japan of petroleum and other vital war materials” (“Pearl Harbor attack,” Britannica.com).
The sudden attack on Pearl Harbor was the consequence of forces moving inexorably toward a showdown. Japanese planes did not come “out of the blue” for any willing to accept the facts. It was the sure result of a gradual drift into war that had begun a decade earlier.
The question today is, Where is our world headed now? One notable student of history, known as a realist, gave us the answer. This headline appeared on NBC News: “Ex-Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev: ‘World Is Preparing for War’” (January 27, 2017). That was five years before Russia invaded Ukraine. Just as the world of the 1930s sleepwalked into the greatest conflict in mankind’s history, so our nations are sleepwalking, one decision at a time, into catastrophe.
The Russian war against Ukraine was supposed to be quick and easy for Russia, just as Japan expected of its war against China. President Putin and his advisors were wrong. Less than two months after Putin’s “special military operation” began, Ukraine sent Russia’s naval flagship to the bottom of the Black Sea, prompting this dire headline: “‘World War III has begun,’ says Kremlin state media after sinking of Russian warship Moskva.” The article went on to report:
Olga Skabeyeva, one of Putin’s top media figures… bizarrely claimed that the war in Ukraine had escalated into a war against Nato. “What it’s escalated into can safely be called World War Three. That’s entirely for sure. Now we are definitely fighting against NATO infrastructure, if not NATO itself. We need to recognise that” (“‘World War III has begun’, says Kremlin state media after sinking of Russian warship Moskva,” Free Press Journal, April 15, 2022).
Was her assessment as “bizarre” as MSN reported? Not according to Pope Francis, who a month later gave a similar assessment of the situation.
“World War III has been declared,” Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging conversation with the editors of European Jesuit publications on May 19, [2022,] referring to Russia’s attack against Ukraine…. “The world is at war,” he said. “For me, today, World War III has been declared. This is something that should give us pause for thought. What is happening to humanity that we have had three world wars in a century?” (“Pope Francis: ‘World War III has been declared,’” America: The Jesuit Review, June 14, 2022).
Was this an exaggeration? These two quotes are hardly the only ones voicing this view. Writing from Unherd.com, Rob Lownie reported on January 16, 2023:
The third world war has already started, according to one of France’s leading intellectuals, Emmanuel Todd. Speaking to Le Figaro last week, the anthropologist and historian claimed that… the West, too, has entered into an “existential” conflict.
“It’s obvious that the conflict, which started as a limited territorial war and escalated to a global economic confrontation between the whole of the West on the one hand and Russia and China on the other hand, has become a world war,” Todd told the French newspaper (“Emmanuel Todd: World War III has already begun,” The Post, January 16, 2023).
Time and again the West has reversed its position as to the scope of lethal aid given to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s regime, allowing itself to be sucked further into the conflict. The U.S. said it would not send Patriot missiles but later relented under pressure from Zelenskyy. One NATO country after another resolved not to send tanks, but later reluctantly relented. Each reversal put more “skin in the game” for NATO nations—and each time more is invested, the more difficult it becomes to leave the fight and save face. NATO’s decision to send modern tanks to Ukraine brought this angry response from Moscow:
Russia today warned that Germany’s decision to send dozens of modern tanks to Ukraine is “extremely dangerous” and will “take the conflict to a new level”…. Putin propagandist Yevgeny Satanovsky… told the Waldman-LINE channel that nuclear-tipped missiles should be used on the centre of German democracy. He said: “German tanks with crosses on their armour will again march across Ukraine attacking Russian soldiers”…. Meanwhile Putin’s favourite propagandist Vladimir Solovyov also ranted about the move, which he plainly sees as… being proof in Russian eyes that Germany has directly joined the war (“‘This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level’: Furious Russia vows Western vehicles will ‘burn’ as Germany confirms it will give tanks to Ukraine... prompting Putin’s TV puppets to call for a NUKE strike on Berlin,” The Daily Mail, January 25, 2023).
No sooner had the tank decision been made before Zelenskyy began pressuring NATO to send fighter jets. Standing before the House of Commons in London, “British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was asked about reports on the possibility of the ‘creation of a fighter jet coalition with Ukraine.’” His answer to the question is all too accurate. “‘Since we took on the battle over getting tanks to Ukraine, people are understandably asking what will be the next capability,’ Wallace replied. ‘What we know about all these demands is that the initial response is no, but the eventual response is yes’” (“Biden Rules Out Providing F-16 Fighters to Ukraine, As Debate Picks Up in Europe,” CNS News, January 31, 2023).
It became apparent early on that Putin was all in—so invested that he could not afford to lose if he hoped to stay in power. It is now apparent that NATO is sailing the same rudderless boat. NATO and the West cannot afford to lose. What started as a limited territorial war has incrementally grown into a global conflict. When mankind’s great powers lock into a conflict that none can afford to lose, it will not likely end well for the planet. What we see today is the 1930s all over again!
In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Bill Gorton asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt. Mike’s answer? “Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.”
World wars do not come out of nowhere. The fictitious Mike Campbell’s answer applies to many things in life, including great conflicts. Small incremental decisions by nations build until something breaks. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 was the culmination of tensions running below the surface, and it quickly became the spark that lit the First World War. The Marco Polo Bridge incident in China was the spark to a decade-long buildup to war in Asia that spread far from that continent.
Many would be surprised to learn that what we see happening in Europe today was predicted in the book known as the Bible. No, Russia attacking Ukraine is not specifically mentioned, but the effects of the invasion are. We here at Tomorrow’s World have published for decades that Germany would once again become a great military power, and that it is destined to lead ten nations or leaders to once again make war on the world. This prediction is found in the pages of the Bible. (See our resources Germany in Prophecy and The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor, or Soon-Coming Reality?)
As I explained in our July 2022 Tomorrow’s World magazine, “More than one United States president called for Germany and other European states to live up to their obligations of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. Recent President Donald Trump went so far as to threaten pulling out of the [NATO] alliance if they did not do so…. Vladimir Putin changed that virtually overnight.”
Germany and other European nations are feverishly trying to catch up to the threat facing them. German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz announced his nation would exceed the 2 percent annual threshold on military spending and set aside an additional 100 billion euros to rebuild the sagging Bundeswehr. This will take time and will not happen overnight, but the true emergence of this Beast power may not be far off.
Consider this shocking headline from the Jerusalem Post: “Russia’s Medvedev: ‘Fourth Reich’ to be made up of Germany, Poland.” The article has this to say: “‘The Fourth Reich will be created, encompassing the territory of Germany and its satellites, i.e., Poland, the Baltic states, Czechia, Slovakia, the Kyiv Republic, and other outcasts,’ said Dmitry Medvedev, former president of Russia and a staunch supporter of the war in Ukraine, on Monday night” (The Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2022).
None of us know for certain the exact timing of this German “Fourth Reich” rising, but the fact that someone of Medvedev’s stature made this prediction must not be readily dismissed. One wonders what he knows is going on behind the scenes. The answer may be discovered in an article from the Asia Times:
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken probably thought that in his self-appointed role as the world’s policeman, it was his prerogative to check out what is going on among Germany, China and Russia that he wasn’t privy to. However, Blinken’s call to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday (December 23) turned out to be a fiasco.
Most certainly, his intention was to gather details on two high-level exchanges that Chinese President Xi Jinping had on successive days last week—with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the chairman of the United Russia Party and former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev respectively.
Blinken likely made an intelligent guess that Steinmeier’s phone call to Xi on Tuesday and Medvedev’s surprise visit to Beijing and his meeting with Xi on Wednesday might not have been coincidental (“A Germany-China-Russia triangle on Ukraine,” December 25, 2022).
One does have to wonder what was said in these meetings. What inside information does Medvedev have? Is his prediction of a fourth Reich rising this year a wild speculation? Or might he know more than the rest of us? Time will tell whether his timing is correct, but according to the Bible, the prediction is otherwise accurate, and the state of the world order lets us know that we are certainly in the time range for this Beast power to rise in Europe.
The downfall of the U.S. and the collapse of the dollar could speed this geopolitical shift, and Medvedev had some predictions in that regard. “He further stated, ‘The Bretton Woods system of monetary management will collapse, leading to the IMF and World Bank crash. Euro and Dollar will stop circulating as the global reserve currencies. Digital fiat currencies will be actively used instead’” (The Jerusalem Post). This is something that has been speculated by many over the last few years. Whether or not one understands Bretton Woods and how it set up the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world, suffice it to say that life in the U.S. and other Western nations would change dramatically—for the worse—overnight.
Predicting future events is tricky, and timing them is even more so. God, however, reveals history in advance in the pages of His word, the Holy Bible. More than 2,500 years ago, God gave the prophet Daniel an outline of world history and identified the major imperial powers that would shape the world from then until now. Further details building upon this framework were given to the Apostle John, who recorded them in the book of Revelation.
Dmitry Medvedev’s prediction of a fourth German Reich involving other European nations matches Bible prophecy. The only question is, When will this happen? A lot is going on behind the scenes. The U.S. is morally bankrupt, distracted by an anti-God agenda, badly divided, and financially in debt to the tune of more than 31 trillion dollars. And much the same can be said of the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Some predict a second American civil war that will shatter what unity is left in the nation. If that happens, where will all the nations stand who have depended on the “American umbrella”?
Bible prophecy will be fulfilled. The U.S. and the British-descended nations, which have rejected their Creator and given themselves over to immorality, will be brought down. The war in Ukraine is a serious threat to both the Western and the Eastern powers. A great geopolitical realignment of Europe is in our near future, according to Bible prophecy. Current allies will become enemies.
We are hardly the first generation to experience difficult times, but the Bible gives encouragement to those who faithfully trust and obey God. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear” (Hebrews 11:7). Wise King Solomon also understood that things will work out well in the end for those who fear God—those who truly put Him first in their lives. “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God” (Ecclesiastes 8:12–13).
When Judah went into captivity, four Jewish boys were carted off with thousands of others to a foreign land and an uncertain future. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego trusted God under the most trying of circumstances, and God saw them through (Daniel 3:6, 26–28).
The prophet Jeremiah was living in Jerusalem during this time, but God protected him when the city fell (Jeremiah 39:11–14). God also protected Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch (45:1–5), and likewise spared the life of Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who trusted in God and helped save Jeremiah’s life (38:7–13; 39:15–18). Earlier, King David was no stranger to danger, yet he feared God more than man—and God watched over him all the days of his life. “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11).
An unusual vision recorded in Ezekiel 9 portrays the city of Jerusalem in a metaphor and message for the northern ten tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 4:3–5). In this vision, six men are told to go through the city and slay its inhabitants, but there is a seventh man with a writer’s inkhorn who is to go through the city and put a mark on the foreheads of all those who “sigh and cry” (lament) over the abominations done among their fellow citizens. The executioners are commanded, “Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary” (Ezekiel 9:6). That they are to begin at God’s sanctuary may suggest that this punishment will come first upon religious hypocrites—those who claim to be religious but do not live as God commands.
As Hemingway’s fictitious Mike Campbell described, our world truly is sleepwalking toward Armageddon—arriving there gradually, then suddenly. But the end of mankind’s misrule on the earth is not here quite yet. Many prophecies must yet be fulfilled—but, as we have seen in the last three years, our world can change dramatically overnight. We are moving from gradually to suddenly. Is this not what the prophet Isaiah recorded for our rebellious world? “Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perversity, and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant” (Isaiah 30:12–13).
Expect major surprises that will shock the world in the days, weeks, and months ahead!