War in Ukraine
Tim Moore: For several weeks, American and European leaders warned that Russia was about to attack Ukraine. Now we know that the Russian Bear is indeed trying to expand his empire.
We’ve all watched the terrible devastation now being inflicted upon Ukraine since Russia aggressively rolled its military across the border in an attempt to overthrow Ukraine’s government and install a puppet government of its own. We’ve recoiled in horror as Russian President Vladimir Putin has devastated that nation and attacked and killed innocent people in his crusade.
We will now explore the reasons behind Putin’s attack and see if there are any implications for the Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39.
Weakness of the West
Nathan Jones: The timing of Russia’s invasion is interesting because it seems like Putin and the rest of the hostile world powers were just waiting for the United States to pull out of Afghanistan, which we did very poorly, unfortunately. The botched Afghan pullout demonstrated the stunning weakness of our nation’s current inept leadership. We no longer possess a regional base in Afghanistan from which to launch a strike.
And, so far, it appears that both NATO and the United States are not going to do anything to stop Putin other than to throw economic sanctions at Russia. No wonder the aggressor nations feel so emboldened! North Korea is testing long-range missiles again. Iran may even now already possess a nuclear weapon. All of the Axis of Evil, as President George W. Bush called it during his time in office, appears to be on the move.
Tim Moore: They certainly are. Putin looked at what was happening during America’s pullout from Afghanistan regardless of the negative political implications for that nation. The world concluded that America must be on the decline and that the leadership in America would not be responsive to outside aggressions, along with the rest of the West.
Tim Moore: Regarding the rationale behind Mr. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, there are internal rationales that he’s using to try and convince his people this invasion will be good for Russia. For one, Russia would possess more land. Ukraine is very rich in terms of natural resources, agriculture, and even with some of its technology. Two, historic reasons also exist for Russia wanting to pull Ukraine back within its sphere of influence. And, three, Mr. Putin and some of his allies would like to destabilize the West. They feel that the West has become as weak as it’s ever been in terms of keeping our alliances. So, Putin believes now is the best time to pounce.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely, right. But, let’s also look at the reasons to invade from Russia’s perspective. Our ministry contacts in Russia say Putin has a viable reason for being concerned that NATO has been moving one country at a time closer and closer to Russia’s border.
Certainly, launching an incursion and killing innocent Ukrainian people does not justify Russia’s aggressive stance towards that nation, especially since Russia shares a lot of history with Ukraine. Most don’t remember that when Stalin was in power he starved out three and a half million Ukrainians and then repopulated the emptied areas in the eastern portion with Russians. Putin has been saying that he’s invading to liberate these Russians being in effect held hostage by the Ukrainian government, but the fact is that these Russians had been moved onto Ukrainian soil in a Russian attempt to take over more and more of that land.
Economically speaking, why does Russia seem so bent on taking Ukraine? Because that nation is extremely rich in resources. Ukraine is the breadbasket of Eastern Europe. The nation possesses great mineral wealth. It also holds the natural gas pipeline going into Europe from Russia. I read that 40% of Putin’s economy is based on the sale of oil and gas to Europe. So, it’s essential that Russia controls that pipeline.
Tim Moore: Besides Putin’s economic reasons, there are historical and religious implications as well. The Russians consider Ukraine to be the forerunner region for the Rus or Russian people. Most of the Rus people originated long ago from the Kyiv area.
Concerning the religious implications, the Russian Orthodox Church, which is now a major part of Eastern Orthodoxy, considers itself to be the mother church of that region. Fairly recently, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church asserted itself as separate from the Russian Orthodox Church. And so, there are theological tensions between these two nations.
We are not excusing Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, of course. We condemn it, but we are trying to understand the mindset of the Russian leader and people.
Mr. Putin has been using the excuse of de-Nazi-fying the Ukrainians. That’s such a farce because Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a Jewish man. He is not given over to being a Nazi in any way, shape, or form. But, in the Russian mind, just the specter of the Nazi regime, which 80 years ago had rolled into Russia and created such havoc in their nation, is not something the average Russian desires to ever see again.
Back to what you said about NATO steadily expanding eastward towards the western borders of Russia, even in the midst of American and allied weakness, that would certainly make Russia feel as if they were being encroached upon. All of these reasons explain why we are now seeing Russia become such an aggressor just in the last few weeks.
Nathan Jones: You bring up a good point, because people wonder why is Putin doing this? We’ve listed quite a number of reasons. Primarily, when it comes to NATO encroachment, we point to the horror the Russian people feel remembering when the Germans marched into Russia and killed millions of its citizens. Sure, we know that NATO today is nothing more than a paper tiger. It’s not going to invade Russia. Regardless, Putin honestly fears NATO encroaching up to a point where it can eventually launch a takeover of Russia.
Foretold in Prophecy?
Nathan Jones: Let’s look at the Russian invasion of the Ukraine from a biblical perspective. Christians want to know if Russia’s attack on Ukraine was foretold in Bible prophecy.
Tim Moore: Russia’s attack on Ukraine demonstrates that the Russia Bear has not been defanged, as most believed it had become. Famously, when Mitt Romney was running against Barack Obama for president, Romney made a statement claiming that Russia was America’s greatest geopolitical threat. Obama dismissed him, scoffing that the Cold War was no more.
Nathan Jones: Yes, Obama replied that the “80’s were calling”!
Tim Moore: Yes, but Obama’s dismissal was premature. Sure, the Cold War was over, but it morphed into a different kind of conflict. It continued as an ideological conflict that Putin and the oligarchs who control Russia never stopped waging. The European nations had set the Cold War aside because many of them had become dependent upon Russian energy. That places the European nations in quite a precarious position, one they are now suffering the consequences for making such an alliance.
But, is this invasion right now directly tied to Bible prophecy? I think what we are witnessing is Russia becoming the major threat Russia was prophesied to become leading into the end times.
It’s important to realize that when a war like the one we’re witnessing begins, no matter how much planning the Russians made, nor even the Americans or NATO’s allies have made, things go sideways. The situation very quickly begins to be squeezed like a balloon. You think you can control the pressure, but then all of a sudden there’s a popout from another area. Russia could become so desperate that it raises the stakes dramatically. Mr. Putin could raise the alarm level to nuclear, which he has already threatened to do, which would be catastrophic for the world.
We could also see Mr. Putin become so desperate that he decides to form alliances with some of the Islamic nations listed in Ezekiel 38. He may even turn his sights southward because Russia is already fully engaged in Syria.
So, are there implications from the Ukrainian invasion that move the world towards the fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Most certainly! But, I don’t think that this war is directly tied to the Gog-Magog War. Though, we are seeing all of the nations and peoples mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39 — Iran, Turkey, Sudan, Libya, and so forth — beginning to be stirred up. And again, events could go southward towards the land of Israel very quickly.
Nathan Jones: I believe this invasion falls into one of the ten end times signs that Jesus gave in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Jesus foretold that as we got closer to His return, there would be an increase in wars and rumors of war. As Matthew 24:6-7 reads: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
So, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine certainly falls under the increase in wars and rumors of wars sign. But, it is not an actual prophetic war. After all, Ezekiel 38 and 39 — the Gog and Magog War — goes into great detail about how a leader from Russia — a man designated as Gog — leads Iran and the Sudan and Libya and all those ‘Stan nations and Turkey together in an attempt to plunder and destroy Israel. That hasn’t happened, certainly not yet. But, we are seeing Russia getting its power back so that it can one day lead a multi-national coalition.
In reading Ezekiel’s prophecy, the prophet tells us that “Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions” just sit back and watch the Russian coalition invade Israel (Ezek. 38:13). Sheba and Dedan are the ancient names of the Saudi countries, the Merchants of Tarshish would be the nations at the ends of Europe along the Atlantic Ocean, and all their young lions would be the descendants or colony countries of the New World.
That means that when the world gets to the point in history when Russia has gathered a large Islamic coalition and is ready to attack Israel, it believes that there is no nation standing in its way. Why isn’t Europe standing in Russia’s way? Well, it could be because the European Union remains rather weak at that point. But, I think it’s because the Rapture will even more severely weaken the West, along with China.
After all, when this coalition attacks Israel, God Himself personally steps in to defeat these armies using supernatural disasters and earthquakes and by turning the invading armies against each other. Ezekiel even reveals that God will send fire raining down on their countries. That’s God stepping directly back into the affairs of the world once again. Therefore, the Gog-Magog War is not a Church Age event.
Does the Russian invasion of Ukraine mean that we’re getting closer to the Rapture? Well, every day we’re getting closer to the Rapture! But, no, the invasion of Ukraine is certainly not the Gog-Magog War. It is merely the beginning tremors, or birth pangs, you might say.
Tim Moore: As Christians, we condemn the aggression that’s taking place in the Ukraine. We condemn all of the weakness that’s being manifested by the Western nations. We do not wish for any kind of armed conflict, obviously, for that could become very catastrophic very quickly due to a nuclear-armed Russia. History shows that when the Russian Bear is backed into a corner, in desperation it will lash out in a way that would be unthinkable with today’s weaponry.
Therefore, Christians need to be watching end time events unfold very carefully. We need to understand the background causes behind these conflicts. And, we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Ukraine, because they will be continuing to endure much suffering in the weeks and months to come.
Nathan Jones: I’m sure the Russian people don’t want this conflict just as much as the rest of us. After all, this is Putin’s last hail. He’s 70 years old and he wants to cement his legacy. So, we should also pray for the Russian people. And, know that the Lord has got this all in His hands for His inevitably good purposes.