The Power Struggle—What Outcome?
“EAST IS EAST, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.” Recent developments in the power struggle between the Eastern and the Western blocs make those poetic words of Rudyard Kipling sound strangely up-to-date.
Yet, on reflection, when a person speaks of the East-West struggle, the term “East” does not literally mean east any more than “West” designates countries all located to the west of a certain point on the earth. The Communist bloc today includes not only the Soviet Union and the nations of eastern Europe but also some African countries as well as Cuba. None of these can be said to have an easterly location. Similarly, the “Western” bloc takes in such countries as Canada, Denmark (including Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Some of these nations can hardly be said to be located in the west. So why do people speak of “the East-West struggle”? Because originally the “Cold War” was mainly between the two superpowers—the Soviet Union and the United States—one of which is largely located east of Europe, and the other to the west. Thus, as things have developed, “East” and “West” have taken on symbolic meanings.
TWO RIVAL “KINGS”
Likewise, in the 11th chapter of Daniel, the Bible conveniently uses the expressions “king of the north” and “king of the south” to designate a succession of rival political powers. Originally these two “kings” were located north and south of the land of Daniel’s people—actually also of Jehovah God’s ancient people—in the Middle East.
The prophecy began its fulfillment after the death of Alexander the Great and the dividing up of the Macedonian Empire among his four successors. Two of these, Seleucus I and Ptolemy I, became respectively the first “king of the north” and “king of the south.” One of these men founded the northern Seleucid Empire and the other became the first of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs of Egypt, to the south. For centuries, the land of those then Jehovah’s people was a bone of contention between these two powers, as they fought for domination.
Naturally, with the passing of time, the powers symbolized by the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” continually changed. But the conflict for domination went on, down through the centuries. This prophecy also foretold that the struggle between the “two kings” would continue right up until “the time of the end.” (Dan. 11:27, 35, 40)* Today we see the struggle for world power going on as never before between the Communist and the non-Communist worlds. Is it possible to identify these two rival blocs with the “two kings”? Let us see.
“THE GOD OF FORTRESSES”
Immediately after having spoken of the “time of the end,” the prophecy of Daniel continues:
“And the king [of the north] will actually do according to his own will, and he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god; and against the God of gods he will speak marvelous things. . . . And to the god of his fathers he will give no consideration . . . But to the god of fortresses, in his position he will give glory; and to a god that his fathers did not know he will give glory by means of gold and by means of silver.”—Dan. 11:36-38.
Which of the two superpowers has unabashedly spoken out against “the God of gods,” Jehovah, calling religion “the opium of the people”? Which of them has for years organized its entire economy to give priority to producing guns rather than butter; tanks and warplanes instead of food, clothing and consumer goods, thus giving glory “to the god of fortresses”? Which “king” has worshiped “a god that his fathers did not know”—scientific militarism—honoring it “by means of gold and by means of silver,” not hesitating to devote a large percentage of the gross national product to military technology and the armed forces? There can be no doubt that the modern-day “king of the north” is the Communist bloc, headed by the Soviet Union.
As far back as 1977, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency admitted that the Soviet army is “the most powerful in the world, with great firepower and mobility.” This preparedness is backed up by military indoctrination in the schools. All 18-year-old males are conscripted for military service, spending two years in the army or the air force, or three years in the navy. They then remain reservists until 50 years of age, which means that at the present time tens of millions of Soviet citizens have received military training and could be mobilized quickly.
“PUSHING” BY THE “KING OF THE SOUTH”
Since the modern “king of the north” is the Communist bloc, led by the Soviet Union, the “king of the south” can be none other than the rival non-Communist bloc, under the leadership of the United States. Concerning these “kings,” the prophecy of Daniel goes on to say: “And in the time of the end the king of the south will engage with him [the king of the north] in a pushing.”—Dan. 11:40.
The postwar “pushing” by the “king of the south” had a relatively mild start, in 1947, with the “Truman Doctrine” of “containment.” This was followed up, in 1949, by the creation of NATO and, later, other regional mutual defense organizations. The “pushing” became tougher at the time of the second Vietnam war. But this conflict and its negative outcome for the West seemed to back up the case of the “doves”—those in the U.S. and among its allies who favor a conciliatory attitude toward the Soviet bloc.
However, recent political events seem to indicate that the “doves” are at present being outflown by the “hawks”—those who favor a tougher attitude toward the Communist bloc. The “pushing” by the “king of the south” against the “king of the north” seems to be intensifying. Interestingly, Anglo-American solidarity in this “pushing” was confirmed by the following news report: “Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who shares Mr. Reagan’s distrust of the Kremlin, was the only NATO alliance leader to underwrite his position publicly. She said Thursday night [January 29, 1981] that there was no sign of Soviet interest in genuine detente.” (International Herald Tribune, January 31, 1981) Just how far the “king of the south” will go in his “pushing” is something that will be interesting to watch in the days ahead.
Not unnaturally, the “king of the north,” now represented by the Communist bloc, reacts to this “pushing.” This also was foretold in the prophecy of Daniel, chapter 11. Let us read on:
“And against him [the king of the south] the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships; and he will certainly enter into the lands and flood over and pass through. . . . And he will keep thrusting out his hand against the lands; . . . And he will actually rule over the hidden treasures of the gold and the silver.”—Dan. 11:40-43.
HOW THE “KING OF THE NORTH” REACTS
Soviet reactions to the tough line recently adopted by the “king of the south” show that the “king of the north” does not intend to be ridden over roughshod. Since World War II, the Soviet Union has been “thrusting out his hand” to grab control over various “lands” and “hidden treasures,” including oil.
The challenge to the West has also been ideological, since many Third World post-colonial governments have adopted Marxist policies. Such developments have facilitated the penetration of Soviet influence into Asia, the Middle East, Africa and even the Americas. Additionally, the “king of the north” has had notable success in supporting Communist-led insurrections, enabling him to “enter into the lands” affected thereby with his ideology and military and technical aid.
With over four million persons under arms in the U.S.S.R. and eastern Europe, as well as 50,000 tanks, 5,775 warplanes, 289 major combat surface ships and at least 257 submarines, the “king of the north” certainly has the wherewithal to “storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships . . . and flood over and pass through.”
According to reports, Soviet troops already are present in Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Vietnam, Syria and South Yemen, not to speak of military advisers in many other lands. Soviet warships are plying all the strategic oceans and seas, including the Mediterranean. The extent to which the Communist “king of the north” will unleash these forces and “enter” other “lands” is something the future alone will tell.
BOTH “KINGS” COME TO THEIR END
Whatever the extent of the “pushing” by the “king of the south” may be, and whether the “king of the north” literally ‘floods over’ by invading other lands or not, one thing is certain: According to Daniel’s prophecy, neither “king” will achieve a decisive victory over the other. Concerning the “king of the north,” the prophecy states: “He will have to come all the way to his end, and there will be no helper for him.” (Dan. 11:45) Moreover, a parallel prophecy says of the Anglo-American World Power, also pictured by the “king of the south,” that “it will be without hand that he will be broken.”—Dan. 8:25.
How will these “kings” come to their end “without hand” and with “no helper”? Their end will not come about by human means. Daniel’s prophecy continues: “And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your [Daniel’s and therefore Jehovah’s] people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” (Dan. 12:1) Michael is none other than Jehovah’s appointed King Jesus Christ. (Compare Revelation 12:7-10.) The “time of distress” is the “great tribulation” mentioned in Jesus’ own prophecy about the “conclusion of the system of things” and his “presence” in his kingdom.—Matt. 24:3, 21; Luke chap. 21.
The present-day fulfillment of these prophecies shows that we are now living at the “time of the end.” Soon Christ will bring to an end the Communist “king of the north” and the non-Communist “king of the south.” Indeed, the enthroned King Jesus Christ will “strike” them and all other political nations with a “sharp long sword,” and “he will shepherd them with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 19:11-21) Yet another dramatic prophecy in the book of Daniel will thus complete its fulfillment, for we read: “And in the days of those kings [political powers] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:34, 35, 44.
That kingdom will usher in lasting peace on earth in a righteous new order. (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-5) In it there will be no more oppressive political “kings.” This is the very “kingdom” for which you have prayed if you have been saying the “Lord’s Prayer.” (Matt. 6:9, 10) It is mankind’s only hope. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to help you to make this hope your own.
For a full explanation of Daniel, chapter 11, see the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” published in 1958 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.