We’re all aware of what’s happening with the Ukraine and Russia right now. They’re under attack from Russia, and people have asked the question, “Is there any significance to all of this prophetically?” Over the last little while I have seen all kinds of prophetic words coming out, and I am seeing Christians grabbing hold of all kinds of weird and wonderful so called words from God. I would like to give you my perspective on what is happening in the Ukraine, and in Bible prophecy.
Let me start by saying this: I believe we’re living in the last days, that Jesus could come back any time. But the Bible gives us clues that support this… Not absolutes or timetables, glimpses.
WHO KNOWS WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE UKRAINE AND RUSSIA?
God does, but He never gives us a firm timeline. Why should He? If Christ was returning in September this year as some are claiming, you could just get committed in August and be set for eternity.
We don’t know God’s exact time frame, and He is under no obligation to tell us, but right now as Johnny Cash once sung, Matthew 24 is knocking at the door, and Matthew 24 is a great passage to examine with regards end time prophecy. In it Jesus clearly says,
Matthew 24:36 (ESV)
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
I’d say Jesus knows now, but when on earth even He did not known the precise hours. Let’s ask this, Why does no one know?
Matthew 24:42 (ESV)
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Matthew 24:44 (ESV)
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
If you think you have the timeline pegged, you are wrong. Don’t fall for that stuff. Wikipedia quotes at least 50 failed predictions of Jesus’ return, and more to come. Jesus asks this question,
Luke 18:8 (ESV)
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Christians often argue about whether they are pre tribulation, mid, post, amillennial, pan, thinking it will all pan out in the end. Here’s a simple theological stance that makes sense… Pray for pre, but prepare for post. We should live every day as if Jesus is returning today. And when He does, the question is, will He find you being faithful when He returns?
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Ukraine and Russia are part of world history.
Matthew 16:2-4 (ESV)
He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
There are certain signs of the times the Bible tells us to be looking for. And in fact, Jesus likened it to labor pains in a woman who’s ready to give birth, the idea being the closer and more intense the contractions, the closer you are to the birth. And today we see more signs—more things happening, and they are more intense— and these remind us Christ is coming back again, and the time for His return is getting closer. Let’s look at just a few signs that it’s getting closer…
Matthew 24:37-39 (ESV)
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
People living for themselves, eating, drinking, interesting that marriage is highlighted, given the plebiscite we had a few years ago. They were living exactly like we do now, unsuspecting, until it is too late.
Matthew 24:5-8 (ESV)
For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
We certainly see all of this. False saviours, people claiming to know, and of course the wars, rumours of wars, nation against nation, tribe against tribe, famines, earthquakes… We are seeing it all, and all in increasing frequency.
NBC reports an increase in earthquakes of over 200% verses the previous century. At worse, the frequency is the same but the intensity, or numbers of people killed has increased (this includes Tsunamis). There’s a whole lot of shaking going on!
Oxfam reports a 6 fold increase in people suffering famine like conditions since COVID. Wars are increasing in number and severity, the 20th century seeing over 108 million people killed in wars. In fact, in 3400 years of human history, there has only ever been 268 years without a war of some sort.
All of this we are seeing, increasing if not in frequency then in intensity. Like birth pangs, the contractions are getting stronger, and more frequent, because the time is drawing near.
Matthew 24:7 (KJV)
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.
The Greek word for pestilence is LOIMOS, which Vines dictionary defines as “a plague, any deadly, infectious malady.” I think we would all agree that COVID is aptly described in that verse, a global plague, which has affected our world in ways we have never seen before.
ENTER THE ANTICHRIST
The Bible warns of a world leader that will come to dominate and deceive people but ultimately reveal his true colours, that he is in league with satan himself. And he’s called the Antichrist. The Bible teaches that there will be many antichrists, culminating in the one described as the beast in Revelation 13 and 19. And here
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (ESV)
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
I believe a lot of this government overreach, the intense control and imposing themselves on their people, is a sign or foretaste of what is going to come later when the Antichrist emerges on the scene. I do not believe COVID was the start of the tribulation, but it was a great dressed rehearsal, and now governments know how to control billions of people using the medium of health concerns and mandates.
Strangely, in the space of a few days we are now hearing practically nothing about COVID, and the media have replaced fear of the pandemic with fear of a world war or flood. Let’s look at Russia.
UKRAINE AND RUSSIAN HEAD FIRST INTO PROPHECY
Many Bible scholars believe that in the Ezekiel 38, as it speaks of Magog attacking Israel, that Magog is modern day Russia. Obviously, the mention of ancient peoples and equating them with modern nations is open to interpretations, but in essence, Gog is a person, and the ancient Jewish historian Josephus identified Magog as the land from which the Scythians descended, in an area now occupied by Russia and several other nations of the former Soviet Union, including the Ukraine.
Ezekiel 38:1-2 (ESV)
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him
Gog was called the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, which we believe are areas located in modern-day Turkey. These are sons of Japheth, one of Noah’s sons…
Genesis 10:2 (ESV)
The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
Ezekiel named these and other nations because he is describing a coalition (i.e., political union) of nations from north of Israel that will ultimately make a final assault on Israel, after the people of Israel have been restored to their homeland.
The coalition also includes
Ezekiel 38:5-6 (ESV)
Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you.
These countries are allies of Gog’s armies: Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia), Put (Libya or some other north African country), Gomer (people north of the Black Sea, possibly Ukraine and others) and Beth Togarmah (Armenia). Interestingly I read this yesterday…
“As the Russian attacks on Ukraine spill over into the cyber realm, state sponsored Iranian hackers have launched a global cyber espionage campaign, aimed at Europe, North America and Australia.”
These nations are already joining together, and ultimately they will attempt to destroy Israel and take their land. Sure, they are not attacking Israel yet. But we can already see them joining together. More birth pangs.
ISRAEL HAS TO BE HOME
For all this to happen in Bible prophecy, don’t miss the point that the dispersed people of Israel must be in their homeland. For most of 2 millennia, Jewish people were dispersed across the world, but THE key sign of recent history is the Jews returning to Israel.
We know, during World War II and after the Holocaust, Jewish people from around the planet began to return to their land. It was a miracle never seen before, and a clear kairos moment in time on God’s prophetic timetable.
Isaiah 66:8 (ESV)
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.
Make no mistake, it was an incredible miracle that Israel was created on one day, May 14, 1948. So that part of the prophecy has been fulfilled. But then scripture says a nation from the extreme north of Israel will march on her, called Magog.
If you look on any map, you’ll see that is the geographical area of Russia. Ukraine used to be a part of the Russian Empire. They broke away in 1991 after the fall of communism. Are they going to be part of Russia again? Could be. Communism is alive and well in this country, let alone the former soviet block.
But the one thing that I think of when I see the aggression of Russia or Magog, if you will, is that’s it’s a reminder that Magog is an aggressive nation intent ultimately on attacking Israel, probably in the middle of the tribulation or some think at the end of the millennial reign of Christ. That’s another story, but the Spirit behind current events is unmistakable. More birth pains.
Let’s make this clear, Ezekiel 38 describes Magog attacking Israel, not the Ukraine. Is this the start of it all? Probably not, it’s likely just Russia flexing it’s muscles and seeing how much the west reacts. Hitler did it in 1938 with great success, so I am sure Putin is trying his luck with the West too.
The Bible says that in the end, when Gog and his armies reach Israel, God’s wrath will flare. In his fiery rage, he will send a great earthquake to Israel that will make every living creature tremble and will demolish natural and manmade objects (Ezekiel 38:18-20). Gog’s troops will be so panicked that they will begin killing each other, and the slaughter will be helped along by other God-sent disasters (38:21-22).
Ultimately Gog’s invasion will be crushed as the world witnesses God display his holiness and power, leaving no doubt to the unbelieving world during the tribulation that our God is the true God (38:23).
Remember this… prophecies about Gog and Magog and all the other countries are only really significant when they intersect prophecies about Israel. If you want to see a marker in world events leading up to end times, tribulation, restoration, etc., watch Israel.
ARE YOU RAPPED IN THE RAPTURE?
So Jesus said, “When you see these signs begin to happen, freak out!”
No, he didn’t say that. He said,
Luke 21:28 (ESV)
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Straighten up is ANAKYPTO in Greek, which means to lift up. The Greek for redemption is APOLY-TROSIS, which is a term referring to someone being liberated by the paying of a ransom. This exactly described what Jesus has already done for us, He has bought us back from the devil, paid the price for our sin and saved us for all eternity.
Here’s the bottom line and takeaway truth: so many Bible prophecies predicted long ago, waited for by faithful Christians for centuries, are being fulfilled right before our eyes, in our lifetime. It seems like we’re seeing more things happen in real time, closer together, as the Scripture said they would be, before Jesus returns.
We don’t need to be fearful. The world, they are fearful, and rightly so. The prospect of world war, destruction and Armageddon is terrifying. But we need have no fear because we trust in the Lord, and He has us in the palm of His hand, protecting and loving us. Let me remind you of what Paul wrote,
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (ESV)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
These signs and prophecies in Scripture are designed to be an encouragement to us to keep going, keep serving, keep seeking the Lord, because Jesus will return. The signs are increasing, so it’s getting closer, but it will not be when some prophetic guy juggles a few numbers and hits on September this year. Paul charged Timothy,
2 Timothy 2:23-24 (ESV)
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
By all means, get interested in the Bible and learn about these signs. But Sitting around arguing the toss of these prophetic predictions is foolishness, a waste of time and it is not profitable, although it makes a change from wasting time discussing COVID.
Jesus said no one knows the day or hour of His return, so why try and read into Bible passages things that are not there, and not helpful for living a victorious life for Jesus.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUR UKRAINE AND RUSSIA, OR NOT DO?
TJ Tim’s said, “God did not give us all these signs so we could build bombs shelters in the backyard, but bigger tables so we can invite our friends around to dinner and tell them about Jesus.”
What should we do about Ukraine and Russia and what shouldn’t we do about Ukraine and Russia?
We certainly should not get wrapped up in meaningless discussions about interpretations of prophecy. You can’t prove any of it, and it never causes unity, it divides Christians, confuses, sometimes embarrasses the name of the Lord, and it is all for no purpose. We should be on our guard against some of the foolishness on Facebook. FB is not the Bible. Don’t propagate it, and certainly do not build your doctrine on it.
That being said, better than reading FB, the newspapers or news websites is reading the Bible. If we do, we might see that Gog and Magog are likely to be Russia, but that is significant only in a future day to come, not now, and Bible prophecy does not describe this current invasion of the Ukraine and Russia.
As that Luke passage suggested, We should look up, and we should remember that whatever is happening, God is in control. I’ve read the last page of the Bible, the last page of Revelation, and I know who wins in the end. God promises us a new heaven and a new earth, so whatever happens on the world scene, be it a pandemic or world war or climate change, we have nothing to fear. In the end, we win, the Antichrist is thrown down, and the devil is smashed. Jesus is victorious, and we get to live with Him forever!
But this is what we should do. Let’s all be praying for the people of the Ukraine. They’re going through a time of great suffering, completely undeserved right now. Pray for them, their safety and their faith. Pray also that God gives to our leaders wisdom as they’re making very important decisions in the days ahead with Ukraine and Russia. Pray also for the Russian people, because most are just like you and I, despite their leader being a psychopath (some would argue our leaders are not far behind). Bottom line, Let’s pray for the believers in the Ukraine, and for peace in both Ukraine and Russia.
AS WELL AS PRAYING FOR UKRAINE AND RUSSIA, LIVE THE LIFE GOD WANTS YOU TO LIVE
2 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV)
scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
The world is saying, where is this Jesus, He’s not coming back. It’s been 2000 years. But you see, That’s why we have these apocalyptic, prophetic chapters in the Bible. They are there to remind us that God has an eternal and world wide plan, and He is on His schedule. But don’t get seduced by numbers and dates and times with Ukraine and Russia. Peter goes on to say,
2 Peter 3:10 (ESV)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
That’s easily could be a description of a nuclear reaction, written long before mankind knew about or had the capacity to produce it. I actually believe that there will likely one day be a nuclear war, but most likely, we will be long gone by that time, remember.
2 Peter 3:12-13 (ESV)
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The best thing we can do in light of the current crisis in Ukraine and Russia right now is to pray for the innocent people, especially believers, caught up yet again in the greed of a psychopathic despot.
AND IN ADDITION, We must live a life of holiness and serve Him, so that when He returns, tomorrow, next year or whenever, He finds us faithfully living godly lives.
Let’s pray for the people of the Ukraine, the innocent Russian people, for their peace and protection. But most of all, let’s pray that we, and others, can stand for what is godly, holy and true in our society, faithfully proclaiming Jesus Christ to a dying, world
PRAY FOR THE UKRAINE, AND FOR THE INNOCENT RUSSIAN PEOPLE. PRAY ALSO FOR ISRAEL, FOR THEIR PROTECTION AND FOR THE GOSPEL TO BE PROCLAIMED ACROSS THE WORLD, ESPECIALLY HERE.