By John F. Walvoord
The Future of Communism According to The Bible
The subject of Communism occupies the minds and hearts of more people today probably than any other subject. No doubt, there are millions of people who are seeking the answer to the question, What is the future of Communism? Everyone recognizes that Communism has had large part in our current history. Much of what is happening in the world is related directly to Communism.
When facing the future, there are few questions in our day that are more important in the secular field than the future of Communism. Millions of dollars are being spent by various governments of the world, using all the devices which the human mind can conceive, in order to trace a future course for Communism. One can hardly pick up a paper or a magazine which does not have an article on the subject.
Communism in Relation to America
The questions we have about Communism are near to our hearts because we are asking, even here in America, What is the relationship of Communism to our great country? Are we going to be embraced by Communism? Are we facing a radical change in our living standards? Are we going to face some of the bloody purges which have overtaken other countries of the world? Certainly anyone who is willing to think realizes that we have a real problem in Communism in the world. Before our eyes in recent years we have seen Communism advance, embracing great numbers of people in a movement that is absolutely unprecedented in all the history of the race.
At the present time there are some 800,000,000 people under the control of Communistic type governments. We recognize that this is a tremendous portion of the earth’s population and a movement unparalleled in history. If we are alert to the time in which we live, it is very natural for us to ask, What is the future of Communism?
Plain Facts About Communism
I do not have access to top secret information in Washington, nor do I speak in the role of an expert on Communism. We do not need unusual sources of information to chart the course of Communism. All of us have learned much about Communism in recent years. Communism is more than a form of government; it is more than mere propaganda on the part of Russia; it is more than just a philosophy of the “have nots” trying to get the possessions of those who “have.”
About ten years ago I was taking a graduate course in history under the head of the history department in one of our large universities. In one of his lectures, the professor remarked that Communism would never come to America. His reason was that America was too prosperous. He labored under the idea that Communism was only for poor ignoramuses. Anyone who has learned something about Communism will find that not only people in poverty but many who are wealthy have been converts to Communism. Some of our leading Communists are intellectuals—people who have property, ability, and keen minds. What is there in Communism that attracts such people?
As we study Communism in the world today, we find it is more than a mere economic theory. It is a movement built upon blasphemy against God. It denies that God exists and embraces as its very heart what we call atheism. Communists do not believe that there is any such being as a supreme God. Along with this are the other elements of Communism with which we are quite familiar. One of those other elements is materialism. Communists tell us the only real things in the world are material things. The supernatural or the spirit world does not exist for them. They assert that the world is moving inevitably to a goal which is Communism, and that capitalism will be replaced by a Communist society regardless of what we do about it. They believe in what is sometimes called “economic determinism.” They hold also that forces are let loose in the world which inevitably will plunge the whole world into a communistic society.
The Bible An Important Document On Communism
Most of us have heard all of these things many times. As we face these questions, and what the Communists themselves say concerning the future, we as Christians come back to the one Book in all the world which reveals the future of Communism. If you want the inside story on Communism, turn to the inside of your Bible.
There are three lines of truth in the Bible which lead to certain definite conclusions regarding the future of Communism. These lines of truth are built upon some comprehension of the prophetic Word. Many Christians have studied the Bible and know something of the broad purposes of God. Building upon this background, we may know what the Word of God says about the future of Communism.
Russia Will Never Dominate the Whole World
First of all, the Bible makes clear that we are in the midst of a planned program to which Christ referred in Luke 21:24 as “the times of the Gentiles”—a period of time which began about six hundred years before Christ and, according to the Word, will continue until Christ comes back. It is revealed in chapters 2 and 7 of the Book of Daniel that in this period there will be five great world governments. Daniel speaks first concerning the world empire of Babylon headed up by Nebuchadnezzar, which conquered Jerusalem and destroyed it approximately six hundred years before Christ. Both Scripture and history tell the story that Babylon was succeeded by a second great world government known as the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. The record of the downfall of the Babylonian Empire in the fifth chapter of Daniel is substantiated by secular history. Later Alexander the Great, king of Greece, came on the scene. His rapid conquest of the world of his day, prophesied in detail in the eighth chapter of Daniel, is familiar to all students of history.
The Book of Daniel pictures a fourth great world empire, which is not named, as following Alexander. According to history, this is none other than the great Roman Empire which was in power at the time our Lord was born in Bethlehem. The Romans had control of most of the civilized world. It was the world empire of its day.
As the Book of Daniel presents these four great world empires, it states clearly that the Roman Empire will be succeeded by a fifth empire. This fifth empire will have God Himself reigning over it (Dan. 2:44-45). A study of what Daniel has to say, compared with the other prophets and such portions of Scripture as Revelation 20, will lead rightly to the conclusion that the fifth world empire is none other than the world kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which premillenarians identify with the millennial kingdom which Christ will bring into the world when He returns in power and great glory as the Scriptures prophesy.
Christians living today, however, find themselves in an age which Daniel did not anticipate except perhaps by implication. A careful study of Daniel 9:24-27 will indicate that a period of time is implied between verses 26 and 27. This period is not described by Daniel, and is uncharted as far as the Old Testament is concerned. It occurs before the seventieth “week” of Daniel 9:27, the last seven-year program leading up to the second coming of Christ.
The previous program of Daniel 9:24-26 has been very carefully carried out, embracing 69 sevens of years followed by the death of Christ which occurred “after” the close of the sixty-ninth seven and before the beginning of the seventieth seven or “week.” From the death of Christ down to this present day, however, there has been no advance whatever in the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, indicating that Israel’s program has been set aside while another program is being completed.
Many students of the Scriptures have come to the conclusion that God in this present age is carrying out a purpose not revealed to Daniel, and that purpose is to call out from every nation and kindred and people a group to be known as “the church,” the body of Christ—those who are trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior in this day and age and who are being baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. God has continued this program to the present hour and it will continue until Christ comes for His church, at which time the dead in Christ are resurrected and the living church is translated into heaven as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. All of these wonderful truths are a part of the prophetic Word, but the important thing for us to realize is that, according to Daniel’s prophecy and the truth revealed in the Book of Revelation, the last seven years of “the times of the Gentiles” are still ahead. That period of seven years will begin, we believe, shortly after the church is taken home to glory, an event which many regard as imminent in the sense that it could occur any day.
The order of future events include, then, the coming of Christ for His church and the fulfillment of the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy for Israel. In this seven years the fourth or Roman Empire, contemplated by Daniel, is revived and brought to its destruction at the second coming of Christ. Following this, the fifth world empire—the millennial kingdom of Christ—is brought into being. While it would be naive to claim that all students of the Bible accept this interpretation, it is commonly held by premillenarians and those who have specialized in the study of prophecy.
If this outline of future events can be accepted as the Scriptural revelation, we can come to a few important conclusions. According to Daniel’s prophecy, there is no room for another world empire except the one which the Bible mentions as the revival of that fourth world empire. After the church has been translated and taken to heaven, this empire will be revived. It is revealed that there will be a confederacy of states around the Mediterranean area similar to the ancient Roman Empire which in God’s view will be a continuation of that fourth empire. The fourth empire eventually will become a world government and a dictator will head this revived Roman Empire who will rule over the entire world. Nevertheless, there will be only four world empires. The fifth will be the millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These simple facts, quite familiar to many Christians, point to the truth that the Scriptures allow for no other world empire than those already mentioned. Russia as a military power can never gain control of all the world. There is nothing in the Word of God which would lead us to the conclusion that Russia will be able to create a world power. In fact, a study of Matthew 24:6-8 reveals that the present age is a period “of wars and rumours of wars… Nation shall rise again ration, and kingdom against kingdom.” If that is the situation, and it certainly has been ever since Christ was on earth, it is also clear that there can be no world government worthy of the name in this present church age. The only world government before the second coming of Christ is the predicted revival of the fourth empire which does not come until after the translation of the church.
We can learn this also from the study of history. Many have attempted a world government. Napoleon tried, but he came to his end at Waterloo. Germany tried twice for world domination, but failed. Japan entered World War II with the same dream of world dominion, particularly of the Orient, but Japan failed. From the time of Christ to the present, there has been no other world government than that one which was in the world when Christ came and died—the Roman government. As far as the Scriptures reveal the course of the present age, they point to the conclusion that it is impossible for Russia or for any other nation to achieve a world government of a real character during this present age of grace.
Russia Headed For Military Disaster
A second important line of truth is found in chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel. Much has been written and said concerning this passage of Scripture which reveals the great battle of Gog and Magog. Most Bible students who have attempted to interpret the passage literally have come to the conclusion that in these two chapters there is portrayed a future military invasion of the land of Palestine by a great army which sweeps down from the north. Ezekiel begins with this pronouncement in which God speaks of the people who will participate in the invasion:
“The word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal: and I will turn thee about, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords” (Ezek. 38:1-4, A.S.V.).
The verses following speak of the other nations which will be a part of this great army.
The Scriptures also declare that this army will come from the north, and will come upon the land of Palestine in a period that is described here as a period of security for the nation Israel. Ezekiel 38:14-16 states:
“Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: In that day when my people Israel dwelleth securely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the uttermost parts of the north, thou, and many peoples with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company and a mighty army; and thou shalt come up against my people Israel, as a cloud to cover the land: it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes” (A.S.V., italics supplied).
It seems clear according to this word of Scripture that this army will come from the north. If the terms are traced—such as “Rosh” which is close to the word Russia, and “Meshech” which many say refers to the city of Moscow—a clear identification can be made in this portion of Scripture of a great army coming down from Russia upon the land of Palestine. This is confirmed by the fact that the army comes from the north.
Furthermore, the time of the invasion is described in two sentences: it is first declared specifically to occur in “the latter days,” and then, also, it is described as occurring in a time “when… Israel dwelleth securely.” Israel is not dwelling securely, or at rest, today in any real sense of the word. We all know of the tension which exists in the land of Palestine. Prophecy reveals that, after the church has been taken home to glory, the head of the revived Roman Empire is going to enter into a contract with the Jewish people. In that agreement he is going to offer them protection with the result that Israel will return to Palestine in even greater numbers than we have seen in recent days. They will dwell securely, not because they have an army of their own, but because they are under the protection of this Gentile ruler. Apparently, the battle that is pictured in Ezekiel 38 will occur during the first half of that last seven-year period leading to the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom in the world, possibly just preceding the beginning of the last three and one-half years, called the ‘‘great tribulation.”
Chapter 39 of the Book of Ezekiel reveals what happens to this army. Verses 1-4 state:
“…Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal: and I will turn thee about, and will lead thee on, and will cause thee to come up from the uttermost parts of the north; and I will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel; and I will smite thy bow out of they left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy hordes, and the peoples that are with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured” (A.S.V.).
The passage goes on to mention the fact that these hordes will be almost completely destroyed.
Here is something that would really make news. If today the military might of Russia were suddenly destroyed, we can be sure it would be most dramatic news. According to the Word of God, that very thing will occur. As a result of the slaughter of the Russian army by a judgment from God, there will be a sudden shift of military power. With Russia out of the way, the head of the revived Roman Empire, in control of the Mediterranean area at that time, will be able to proclaim himself as dictator of the whole world. There will be, accordingly, a fulfillment of the Scriptures which prophesy that the Roman government of that time will not only rule over all the territory of the ancient Roman Empire, but will extend its suzerainty to every people, land, kindred, and tongue (cf. Rev. 13:4-8). Chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel may well fit into the prophetic picture, and the defeat of Russia and its military force may be the occasion of the establishment of the world government by the world rulers pictured in Scripture. If this point of view is correct and our interpretation of these passages sustained, certain definite conclusions can be reached.
If it is necessary in that day for Russia to move into the land of Palestine in order to attempt to conquer it by military force, it should be obvious that Russia then will not be in control of the entire world. In fact, Prussia’s position at that time will be apparently very similar to what it is now—a great military power but not in control of the whole world. In other words, instead of being a world conqueror, Russia, according to the prophetic Word, will be defeated at that time and put down as a military power. If this is the case, we can easily see how the events which have led us to the present hour have been a divine preparation for the consummation of the age. If one believes that the Lord may come for His church at any moment, these prophecies can be fulfilled in the following order:
1. The church will be taken to heaven.
2. The Mediterranean area will be organized into a united states or confederacy of nations headed up by a ruler, the “prince that shall come” (Dan. 9:26).
3. Under these circumstances, Russia will attempt to conquer the land of Palestine, but will miserably fail and its armies will be destroyed.
4. Then, the revived Roman Empire will extend and exercise power over the entire world until destroyed by Christ in His second advent (Dan. 2:44-45).
All of these events are portrayed in the Word of God and subject to future fulfillment. Concerning the question of the future of Communism, the Word of God points definitely to the conclusion that Russia will never conquer all the world. As far as the Bible is concerned, there is no room for a world government by the Russian armies.
Communistic Godlessness Destined to Be World-Wide
However, there is a third line of truth which is the most important part of this study. The Scriptures seem very clear that Russia, as a political power, will never dominate the world, powerful as it is today. But there is plain teaching in the Bible concerning the continuation of that form of godlessness which is found in Russia. We find in our present generation an unparalleled phenomenon in the entire history of the world in the religious character of the communistic system. It has been pointed out that Communism is basically a religion. The unusual thing about it is that this kind of religion is not confined to Russia and it would not die if Russia were destroyed. Communism is based upon a godless philosophy, that is, materialism or a belief that there is no God.
In examining in the Scriptures the picture of the religious character of the future time of the great tribulation, it is observed that there is an amazing similarity to the religious character of Communism as it exists today. In fact, the same kind of materialistic blasphemy against God which characterizes Communism today will be carried over into the religion of the Antichrist. While Communism will not be perpetuated as a political movement, it apparently will be perpetuated as a religion.
This is confirmed by a study of Daniel 11:36-39. In this passage a revelation is given concerning the king who will come. This king is none other than the head of the revived Roman Empire and, as such, he is the one who is destined to be the dictator of the whole world. The description of this king given in Daniel 11:36 is as follows:
“And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished” (A.S.V.).
This passage teaches that the king not only exalts himself above man, but actually exalts himself above every god. Verses 37-38 describe the religious system that will be characteristic of that time:
“Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his place shall he honor the god of fortresses; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones and pleasant things” (A.S.V.).
What may be learned from this portion of Scripture? It teaches that the absolute ruler of the world in the time of the coming great tribulation will have a form of religion that is practically identical to what is found in modern Communism. Russia is the first great nation in all history which has embraced atheism—a denial of God—as its official religion. The world ruler here, described as this king, will have a similar kind of religion described as honoring “the god of fortresses.” Just what is “the god of fortresses”? It is military power personified. That is the only god Communism has—military power. Communists worship power, and this future world dictator will worship power also. Such will be the character of his religion.
A companion passage to Daniel in the New Testament is Revelation 13. In this chapter we have a picture of the same person, now described as the “beast out of the sea,” the one who is going to rule over the whole world. The passage reveals how he will receive his power from Satan who is portrayed as the dragon. The question is asked: “Who is like unto the beast? and who can make war with him?” This question relates to military power. As indicated above, the god of that day will be a god of military power, a god of materialism, and a god utterly contrary to the Christian faith. This person will continue for forty-two months. He begins the world-wide character of his reign at the time of the beginning of the great tribulation. At that time he sets himself up as the world dictator and takes power over the entire world. He will continue for the last three and one-half years preceding the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom. The character of this evil person is described in Revelation 13:6-8 (and one can almost hear the blasphemy of Communists as these verses are read): “He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.” The beast will thus become the object of worship of the whole world and be the embodiment of military power.
This portion of Scripture and the companion portion in Daniel 11 lead to some very important conclusions relative to the question of the future of Russia and the future of Communism. The Scriptures make clear that Russia, as a military power, will never dominate the world, and therefore we can expect the Scriptures to be fulfilled which anticipate that Russia will be crushed in that future time. But there is one thing in Communism which will continue and that is the religion of materialism. After the church is taken home to glory the same kind of blasphemy, unbelief, and rebellion against God as characterizes the communistic movement today will seize the world as a whole and be headed up in this one world ruler. It is obvious that this dictator will not rule as Communism does today. It is the rule of one man whereas Communism is not. This world dictator will be an absolute monarch, but his rule will be characterized by an atheism and a materialism which denies God just as Communism does now.
As we face Communism in our day, we need not fear that as a political force it will dominate the world. We should use every means to contain it and to keep it from spreading, but it is quite apparent according to the Word of God that, as a political system, it will never conquer the world.
But we do have something to fear, and even Christians, intelligent in the Word of God, do not always understand the implications of Communism. Our real enemy is not Russia, and neither is our real enemy Communism. Our real enemy is the atheistic blasphemy that is behind it. It is the unbelief in God and in Christ, and a turning away from belief in the God of the Scripture. Here in America it is necessary for us to fight Communism. It is necessary for us to arm in order to protect ourselves as a nation. Nevertheless, our real enemy is not Communism, nor a political theory. Our real danger is the godlessness and the atheism of our day. Some will say there are not very many people who are atheists. Perhaps not, at least they are not the kind who stand on soap boxes and proclaim atheism. But there are many today who are living in practical atheism; living as if God did not exist; living as if there were no heaven, no hell, no judgment, and no divine reckoning with human sin. Yes, America’s real enemy is not Communism. It is the blasphemous unbelief in God behind Communism that is our true enemy.
How to Fight Communism
What conclusions may we draw from these facts as Christians? Certainly we need to oppose Communism in every way we can. But what is our approach? What is the demand God puts upon us in this hour? What can we do? Thinking Christians will recognize that we need to come to God in prayer for the crisis of our present day. Certainly our hearts should go out to the millions who are in trouble and suffering and fear behind the iron curtain, to those many thousand Christians who are standing true, even though they may seal their testimony with their own blood. Yes, for many these are tragic hours as far as suffering is concerned. But what is the demand upon us? What can we do in the face of encroaching unbelief as we see it in the world today.
First of all, one of our best answers is to do what God has called us to do: proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth, engage in evangelism and in the missionary program of the church, and send out ambassadors of the cross. One of the best ways to counter Communism is to preach the gospel. If a fraction of the effort that is being put into our military machine could be diverted to a true preaching of the gospel, we should begin to see the tide turn even in our day.
Certainly, we need Bible teaching in our day. If a person is led to trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior and in the Word of God, one does not fear that he will become a Communist. Communism and Christianity, true Christianity, do not mix. If a man felt that it was his life mission to combat Communism and the various ideas involved in it, the best way to do it would be to preach the gospel and to use whatever means were at his disposal for disseminating the good news concerning Christ as the One who loved us and died for us. Certainly we need churches; we need missions; we need Christian schools—every method that God can use to send out the gospel in this day of His grace.
Then, as we face the question of the future of Communism, may we turn to a question that is even more important: What is our own future? The Scriptures seem to indicate that the future of Communism is not too bright, that Russia as a nation is destined sooner or later to fall, and that God is going to bring into judgment the blasphemy and unbelief that characterizes much of our day. But the real question for each one of us now—and that should burn into our souls—is: Where do I fit into God’s future program? What is my future? Do I know that if I should be taken from this world God would take me home to glory because I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior? Have I been saved through faith in Him and His blood which was shed for me on the cross? In this day of grace, have I availed myself of the love and mercy of God by trusting in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior? Yes, the Scriptures reveal the future of Communism, but the Scriptures also tell us much more concerning the future of individual hearts and lives of those who have trusted in Christ, and also the future of those who have not.
Friend, if you have not trusted in Christ, may I appeal to you to take Him as your personal Savior? You can know your future, whatever the future of the world may be. You can know that you are safe forever if you are willing to trust in Jesus Christ as your own Savior.
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