Investing in Evil
In the summer of 2003, Vladimir Putin flew to London on a special mission: cementing Russia’s business ties with the West. Now that Russia was free of Communism, many companies saw the opportunity to make huge amounts of money from an untapped market.
Putin donned a white tie and tails to dine with Queen Elizabeth II. He sipped iced vodka with 700 bankers and business executives. And during an energy conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair, he watched the British company BP sign a commitment to invest $6 billion in a Russian oil and gas venture.
“Our priority is the step-by-step integration of Russia into the European and world economy,” Putin told the conference, stressing Russia’s desire to double its economy and attract investment in high-tech and aerospace sectors, too. Such cooperation, he said, three years into his presidency, would be “a great investment in strengthening Europe’s stability.”
Nearly 20 years on, those deals and plans lie in ruins as Western governments and companies isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil have said they will abandon multibillion-dollar investments in energy. Banks and insurance companies worldwide are cutting transactions with their Russian counterparts.
Investors could be forgiven for giving their money to a nation that was free of Communism. When it became clear that Putin was a dictator, they should have looked for the door. They foolishly thought they could work with a tyrant and suffered a great loss for their mistake.
Any money invested in Russia is now trapped. Moscow is blocking foreign investors, who hold tens of billions of dollars worth of Russian stocks and bonds, from exiting. Russian companies were also barred from paying dividends to overseas shareholders.
The Russian stock market has been closed for several days. People need to keep in mind that the Russian stock market closed in 1917 and didn’t open up until 75 years later. At any point, Putin can have a company nationalized, wiping out the stock value of shareholders.
The value of Russian ETF funds that are still trading in the West has seen huge losses. The Dow Jones Russia GDR Index is an index designed to track the top Russian Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs). The index plunged a mind-boggling 97% in just a few days and wiped out $572 billion from the market value of 23 stocks, including Gazprom PJSC, Sberbank of Russia PJSC, and Rosneft PJSC.
One of the most widely traded ETFs is VanEck Vectors Russia fund that trades under the stock symbol of RSX. It traded at $33 right before the invasion and quickly dropped to $5 as Russian troops moved in.
I’m shocked to see that many investors are buying up these Russian stocks. They are lured in by PE rations at one-tenth of US stocks. The people buying these stocks are hoping that peace will return and these stocks could go up many folds.
Stocks like Gazprom would seem to be a good investment with vast resources and a near-monopoly in the natural gas business. However, the stock has done poorly since it became a public company in 2006. Nearly all the Russian ETFs have gone down since their IPO.
Investing in Russia is investing in evil. The nation is run by a tyrant that has pocketed hundreds of billions from bribes and fraud. The oligarchs that run the companies use them as their personal debit cards.
In the past week, dozens of Western companies have closed their operations in Russia. The Russian government has proposed nationalizing these shuttered foreign-owned companies. Toyota, Nike, and IKEA didn’t take their factories with them when they closed up shop. The abandoned inventory, property, and investments worth billions are just a free gift to the Russian government.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Western nations have pumped about $400 billion into Russia. These so-called investments have only benefited Putin and his cronies. When BP made that $6 original investment into Russia, it poured another $19 in over the years and now has to write off the whole $25 billion.
I like to think that the West has learned a valuable lesson in realizing the danger of investing with a dictator. We lost equal amounts of money in the 70s and 80s by investing in South American nations that were run by military dictatorships. Things would get tough, and we would have our investments nationalized. The same scenario would play out again in the same nation a dozen years down the road. Greed has a special power to blind people to even the most obvious financial danger.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Discerning This Evil Day
Authors note: This week’s article is rather lengthy. It is the conclusion I wrote to our book DISCERNERS: Analyzing Converging Prophetic Signs for the End of Days.
I believe it is more relevant to this hour even than when it was published a few years ago. Certainly, we are now nearer that Spectacular Moment when the Lord Jesus Christ will call us to Himself in an atomos of time.
Our weekly column on the raptureready.com website is called “Nearing Midnight,” named so because we discern that planet Earth has almost reached the midnight hour of the Church Age, or Age of Grace.
Whereas the geopolitical humanist powers that be frame their view of human history’s closing minutes within their “Doomsday Clock,” we observe these fleeting times before Christ’s call to the Church by placing the template of Bible prophecy over the converging of prophetic stage-setting.
The political scientists and other scientists can only guess at what will happen to the human race. Most all believe that humankind will meet its end from nuclear holocaust or by climate-change disasters.
We who give total credence to what God’s Word has to say about the consummation of the age can know for certain, through a detailed preview by God, Himself, how the end of all things will unfold. We don’t know precisely when the end will come. We can know, however, the general time when it will begin to manifest.
We can know for certain when the midnight hour of God’s prophetic timeline is approaching.
The Lord Jesus gave His family (born-again believers) explicit instruction about how and when to discern the nearing midnight hour.
“And when you see all these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your head, for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).
Note that Jesus didn’t say to watch for when these things “come to pass.” He said “when these things begin to come to pass,” we are to “look up and lift up our heads, for our redemption is drawing near.” At that time, He will be on His way to rescue His Bride, the Church, from the carnage that is about to take place on earth.
The blackness of the midnight hour will descend following that rescue of Christ’s Bride, the Church. Seven years into the Tribulation, complete evil will have engulfed the planet with satanic darkness. The first bright gleaming that pierces that most horrendous time of all of human history will then burst through the billowing storm clouds of Armageddon. Brilliant light will part the heavens, and Christ and His army will appear.
So, discerning the times in which we find ourselves is all-important to the believer. If it wasn’t possible to discern the times, Jesus wouldn’t have told us: “What I say unto one, I say unto all. Watch” (Mark 13:37).
He promises in Revelation 3:10 that we’re not appointed to God’s wrath and will be kept out of the very hour of that wrath.
So, what are the things the Lord forewarned would be taking place—beginning to come to pass—that we see happening at this very moment? Exactly what are the things for which we are to look?
Remember, the whole Bible is the Word of God. And, Jesus is that Word (John 1:1).
Every prophecy, whether already accomplished or yet to come, is attributable to Him. God, the Holy Spirit, inspired the Old and New Testament prophets to give the prophecies. So, we don’t have to consider just what the Lord Jesus, Himself, said by way of prophecy to discern the times in which we live. We can and must consider every prophecy yet to be fulfilled, presented in the Bible by all Bible prophets, as part of the process.
I am of the camp that believes we’re seeing stage-setting for fulfillment of prophecy yet future rather than fulfillment itself. The one caveat concerns the nation of Israel. My view is that Israel again being a nation after millennia of dispersion across the world is fulfilled prophecy.
That said, however, everything we see happening around us at this very hour has prophetic significance. Some things involved are profoundly significant.
One such profound sign of stage-setting for prophetic fulfillment, as has been expertly presented by Bill Salus in his chapter, is the coalition of nations forming to Israel’s north.
Russia (land of Magog), Iran (much of ancient Persia), and Turkey (the land of Togarmah) coming together in a coalescing alliance is a spectacular example of God’s foreknowledge of things to come. These, of course, are exactly the central actors prophetically scheduled to come against God’s chosen nation, Israel, according to Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39.
Each author in Discerners: Analyzing Converging Prophetic Signs for the End of Days has presented, I believe, Holy Spirit-directed insights into these closing hours of the Age of Grace (Church Age). Each topic they accepted to address covered the stage-setting for Bible prophecy that is on the very verge of being fulfilled.
It must be agreed that much of the stage-setting itself is likened to fulfilled prophecy in some ways. For example, the Apostle Paul’s “perilous times,” presented in 2 Timothy 3, is almost a vivid snapshot of these spiritually darkening days. Dr. Larry Spargimino, radio host of Southwest Radio Church, presents a tremendous chapter on these times. While prophecy yet future, for the most part, seems reserved for the Tribulation (Daniel’s seventieth week), developments in our nation and world today are becoming ever more like those given in God’s Word for that last seven years immediately preceding Christ’s Second Advent.
Luciferic darkening has so infected this generation in America and throughout the world that we who “watch” in order to discern the times are brought face to face with end-times insanity born of greatly increased rebellion against God. Other than the fact that Israel itself is what most discerners view as the most dramatic sign of where this generation stands on God’s prophetic timeline, there runs a deadly septicemia throughout humankind that marks this as a generation at the end of its prophetic rope. The infection proves we’re in the terminal stage of rebellion.
The Apostle Paul explains very clearly that infection, satanically injected into humanity’s collective bloodstream.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:18-32).
Carefully reread the above block of prophecy. It is astonishing how much it says about the human condition at the time of Christ’s next catastrophic intervention into mankind’s rebellion.
In my view, no descriptive could be more vivid or accurate of what has taken place in America over the past decade. This nation, despite its founding as a Christian nation—and it was so founded regardless of whether anyone wants to dispute the fact—has served as the prototype for the human condition and comportment given here by the Apostle Paul.
The most recent presidential election and the era surrounding it encapsulates practically every nuance of condemnable points about rebellious man herein characterized by the great apostle. It shows where we currently must stand on God’s prophetic timeline.
Paul points out that the culmination of all the rebellion against the God of Heaven results in the Lord turning the rebels over to a “reprobate” mind. This is where this generation, as a collective, stands.
A reprobate mind is one that cannot think clearly. These rebels turn everything upside down. Good is called evil, and evil is called good in their convoluted world.
Even Christendom—all religious entities that claim Christianity as their base—has become terminally infected with this end-times lunacy. These are false-teaching, apostate wolves in sheep’s clothing who cannot (and do not even want to know) the truth. They’re of the totally reprobate mind Paul described.
An example of this religious septicemia during our time is provided by my close friend and colleague, Daymond Duck. Daymond writes the following:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; ” (Romans 1:18).
On June 16, 2019, the building caretaker at Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dan Davidson, dressed up as a drag queen called Sparkle Leigh.
Sparkle wore a purple dress, makeup and high heels.
Sparkle stood at the door of the church to greet people as they entered. (It seems to me that Auburn is a church in name only.)
During the children’s portion of the worship service, Sparke went on stage and read “The Story of Harvey Milk and The Rainbow Flag” (possibly the opposite of training up children in the way that they should go).
Sparkle could have read Scripture and shared a Bible Story with the children (such as what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah), but Sparke preferred to talk about Harvey Milk and the rainbow flag (days of Lot, departing from the faith, even worse, turning evil into good and flaunting it at church, etc.).
Indeed, in consideration of a worldwide cultural and societal 180-degree turn away from God, the spirit-filled discerner of these prophetic end times cannot but conclude that the moment of Heaven’s judgment must be very near at hand.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).