Daniel’s “King Of The North”: Do We Owe Russia An Apology? -- By: J. Paul Tanner

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 35:3 (Sep 1992)
Article: Daniel’s “King Of The North”: Do We Owe Russia An Apology?
Author: J. Paul Tanner


Daniel’s “King Of The North”:
Do We Owe Russia An Apology?

J. Paul Tanner*

Interest in Biblical eschatology took a quantum leap in America after World War II, especially with the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and early 1970s. As “the end” appeared more imminent than ever, a plethora of books on prophecy appeared. Volumes such as Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth popularized eschatology for the evangelical Church, feeding an insatiable market spawned by the emerging “Jesus revolution.” Every political development was carefully scrutinized for its possible prophetic implications, not the least of which were the cold-war hostilities between the United States and Russia.

While Bible students scratched their heads in search of Biblical details regarding America’s end-time role, a consensus prevailed that Russia was the major eschatological villain. A couple of factors contributed to this, the foremost of which was probably the anticommunistic attitude that had engulfed America following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The nuclear arms race that rapidly escalated after World War II only heightened the intensity of mistrust for Russia. A second factor was the pro-Israel stance of many evangelicals. Russia had a long history of persecution of Jews, and the efforts of Russia to form alliances with and arm Israel’s hostile neighbors only seemed to confirm suspicions that it would not be too long before the Red Army would descend upon the mountains of Israel.

If the second coming of Christ was indeed near and if Israel was to be attacked by a mighty army in the tribulation period, Russia appeared as the most likely candidate for such hostilities. In retrospect, however, the attention given to Russia seems disproportionate to the actual Biblical support for her role. The NT makes no explicit mention of Russia. Those who promote the idea of Russia’s end-time role usually appeal to two passages from the OT—namely, Ezekiel 38–39 and Daniel 11:40–45.1 In each of these a military force from the north is seen to attack Israel in a context of the latter days.

The purpose of this paper is to argue that the reference to a northern invasion against Israel in Dan 11:40–45 does not find its fulfillment in an

* J. Paul Tanner is professor of Hebrew and Old Testament studies at East Asia School of Theology, 15 South Buona Vista Rd., Singapore 0511.

invasion by Russia. The greater concern, however...

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