The nations prepare for war sending troops and equipment to the territories around the Ukraine as tensions rise.
As believers in the prophecies of the Bible we know we are living in a time period called “the latter days”. The prophets of God foretold of this period and that it will be marked by the return of the Jews to their land (Hosea 3:5, Ezekiel 38:8 & 16 and Joel 3:1). It can be said with great confidence therefore that we are living in this time period right now. The nation of Israel was only established in 1948 and the Jews have been “making Aliyah” or returning, ever since.
The purpose of God in this period of time is ultimately to introduce His son, The Lord Jesus Christ to the nations in dramatic events so that they might “know Him”. The prophets predict that the nations will stand in opposition to God’s ways and to His people, The Jews, in this time. They predict that the nations will gather their military might and bring about an attack on Israel.
For example in Zechariah 14 we read:
“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” Zechariah 14:2-3
In Joel we read a prophecy of what the nations will be saying to each other during this time: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.” Joel 3:9-11
So at the time when these nations gather God will fight against these nations through the work of Christ and his immortalised followers - the “mighty ones” of God. Jesus will return to the earth to raise the dead (1Thessalonians 4:16, Acts 1:11) , gather his followers to him and complete this work. The armies of the nations will be defeated, Israel will be triumphant. It is then that God’s Kingdom will be established on the earth with Christ, ruling on the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32).
In Zechariah we read: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Zechariah 14:9.
Therefore the build up of military tensions is of great interest to Bible believers living in this time period after the Jews have returned to their land.
A dominant Russia
Of particular interest is the power of Russia. The Bible speaks specifically of Russia in Ezekeil 38:3 where it describes the nations who are aggressive against Israel as being headed up by a character termed “Gog” who is the “Prince of Rosh” (YLT). The Rosh or Rus are the peoples of Russia.
We expect then from the Bible to see a dominant and aggressive Russia emerging onto the world stage. A military might headed up by a leader who is not scared to send troops into battle.
Russian soldiers in training, part of a series of drills across the country launched
by the Russian military amid tensions with the West over Ukraine
Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP Source: Haaretz
Russia and Ukraine
And this is exactly what we see when we look up from our scriptures to our news items this week. Russia are amassing troops on its boarder with Ukraine and the west is becoming increasingly alarmed. Troops are being sent to the front lines by NATO nations as tensions rise.
When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 the Ukraine became politically separate from Russia. However Putin has never seen it being separate. In fact, in an essay written in July Putin called the Ukrainians “one people” with Russia.
But within the Ukraine there appears to be a split - with some wanting to associate with the EU instead of Russia marking a breaking away from its roots. Back in 2013 the Ukraine nearly signed an “association agreement” with the EU. It didn’t and there as a push to connect more with Russia. However protests exploded into violence and the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia.
Russia then took over Crimea and there have been tensions between pro Russian groups and anti-Russian groups in the East of Ukraine ever since.
NATO countries have sort to help the Ukraine and have been training and supplying their army. Over the last few months both NATO and Russia have been sending thousands of troops to neighbouring territories. Politicians have been warning of the horrors of an invasion and warning of sanctions on Russia. Nations have been pulling their diplomatic staff out of the area. Weapons, equipment and even blood has been sent to the area as both sides prepare for potential war.
In an interesting development this week Russia has allied itself with China to put pressure on the situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in China for the Bejing winter Olympics and issued a joint statement. Here are some of the news headlines that reported it:
“Russia, China call for halt to NATO enlargement” POLITICO, February 4, 2022
“Russia and China rise from their knees to challenge US dominance” The Telegraph, 4 February 2022
“Xi and Putin urge Nato to rule out expansion as Ukraine tensions rise” The Guardian 4 Feb 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping
said the oppose further enlargement of NATO
Credit: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP Source: POLITICO
From these headlines we can see that Russia sees the Ukraine as its own and that NATO is trying to “expand” into its territory. China also feels this way about Taiwan which split from China in 1949. China wants it back. These headlines also indicate the shift in power on the world stage. The US is not the big player here - Russia is. The Russian bear is taking its place at the head of the nations as the Bible prophets predicted.
World War 3
The conflict with the Ukraine could simply be the start of a much wider conflict. The Sun News outlet ran an article on Jan 25th 2022 entitled “WORLD ON EDGE How Russian invasion of Ukraine may trigger conflict in ‘all corners of the globe’ in ‘terrifying’ WW3, expert warns.” Here are some excerpts:
“A RUSSIAN invasion of Ukraine could trigger a future global conflict in “all corners of the world”, an expert fears. Fears of a conflict breaking out in Eastern Ukraine remain ominous as Moscow shows little sign of curbing its “aggression”… Isabel Sawkins, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, thinks any potential conflict in Eastern Europe would not be confined to its borders. She told The Sun: “The crisis has the potential to extend its tentacles into all corners of the globe.”… Sawkins warned that there’s nothing stopping Russia from expanding its sphere of influence. She said: “There’s a history of relationships between the Soviet Union and Latin America. “There’s nothing to stop Russia from expanding into Africa. There are so many terrifying possibilities, and it’s not going to be just the European continent.” Hawkish Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov threatened to deploy forces in Latin America after Moscow failed to persuade the West from blocking future Ukrainian accession to Nato, and roll back decades of expansion in Eastern Europe.”
We wonder, could these events unfold to eventually also see a flashpoint with Israel as the Bible predicts? Could Israel be seen as an attempt of Western expansion in the Middle East and could this cause the nations to come against it as the Bible predicts?
Russia and Israel
On February 3rd an article in Haaretz was published entitled “For Russia and Iran, the Ukraine Crisis Is Already a Success. For Israel, It’s Bad News.” The article went on to say:
“It is difficult to see how the crisis can end without Russia coming out ahead and the U.S. and West weakened. Russia has staked out positions from which it probably cannot back down from, and which the West cannot accept… Emboldened by the American debacle in Afghanistan and his successful pro-regime intervention in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears determined to revamp the post-Cold War global order and reassert Russia’s global stature and its sphere of influence… Success in Ukraine will embolden Russia in the pursuit of its strategic objectives of pushing the U.S. out of the Middle East and becoming the dominant superpower in the region, objectives that it shares with Iran. Russia has already taken major strides in this direction. It successfully intervened in Syria, saved the regime, ensured its ability to project power in the region by signing long-term agreements for air and naval bases there and made Israel’s efforts to thwart Iranian entrenchment in Syria dependent on its goodwill. It has sold nuclear reactors and advanced weapons to Turkey, thereby creating a rift between it and the U.S. and is now trying to do the same in Egypt, using the same tools. Russia has gained a role of influence in Libya and further strengthened its strategic relationship with Iran… Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and especially the Gulf states, whose security is largely dependent on the U.S., will increasingly question whether they can continue to rely on it… the Gulf’s interest in a further expansion of ties with Israel will grow, as part of a regional rebalancing designed to counter Iran and the growing Russian-Iranian-Turkish axis.”
So then, as we watch world events from the perspective of Bible prophecy we are reminded that things can unravel very swiftly. The world is indeed “on the edge”. God’s prophets have predicted an aggressive and strong Russia and we are seeing that. The nations are saying “Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near”.
The Return of Christ
The Bible believer knows that these events are building to the time when the nations eventually unite together under a Russian autocrat against the people of Israel. We don’t know exactly how the conflict in the Ukraine will unfold. But one thing is for sure “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Daniel 4:17). The Lord Jesus Christ will return and God’s kingdom will be established on the earth. Eventually the earth “shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habbukuk 2:14
This has been Matt Davies joining you. Come back again next week for another Bible in the News.