March 3, 2022
The headlines were shocking! “Russia invades Ukraine!” Around 5 a.m. EET (Eastern European Time) on Feb. 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, announced a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine. This announcement was followed by missile strikes throughout the country, including the capital city of Kyiv. After weeks of threats, with 150,000 Russian troops surrounding the country of Ukraine, the unthinkable happened. Russia invaded another sovereign European nation.
When asked about the end of the age, Jesus Christ stated that “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” (Matthew 24:6). It has been almost 77 years since Europe was enmeshed in the most horrific war the world had ever seen—World War II. The first war designated as a “world war” had ended only 27 years prior, in 1918. While there have been other horrific wars (in reality, all wars are horrific) since May and August of 1945, when WWII came to an end in Europe and then in the Pacific, nothing on its scale has occurred since that time, even though there have been threats.
World War II ended almost 77 years ago, and it is hard to imagine that another one could be on the horizon. An all-out European war involving Russia is still unthinkable, but even a limited war in Ukraine will cause economic and energy disruptions that will be felt around the world. History should teach us that when there are so many complexities and nations directly impacted, things can get out of hand very quickly. A limited war can escalate to a much broader war, directly impacting Western Europe and, given our NATO commitments, the United States and Great Britain. Considering the events that preceded the two world wars—the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 and the German blitzkrieg through Poland in 1939—it is obvious the world was not prepared for what followed. It would seem that the world is no more prepared today than it was on the eve of World Wars I and II.
In Daniel 11:40-45 we read about the end time, when a “king of the North” engages in warfare with a “king of the South.” When coupled with the book of Revelation, we see that this “king of the North” will be a union of 10 “kings” that emerges out of the old Roman Empire with a powerful military leader (the beast) along with a powerful religious leader (the false prophet), as described in Revelation 17:11-14. The armies of the “king of the South” and the armies of the “king of the North” will gather outside Jerusalem at Armageddon in the end time, but they won’t be alone. The Bible prophesies of a gigantic army from the east that will also gather outside Jerusalem (Revelation 9 and 16). The stage will be set for the final battle of human history with three world powers present. Today, we are certainly not at Armageddon, but the events of this past week make one wonder how much longer it will be before we reach this stage in human history.
One thing is for certain, Russia has given Europe a wake-up call. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by unanimous vote of all 30 members announced on Feb. 25 the deployment of its NATO Response Force (NRF) to its eastern border with Russia. Germany also announced that it is dedicating 100 billion euros to military spending. After years of not paying its share of NATO costs, Germany has committed to spending more than 2 percent of its GDP on the military, considerably more than its previous NATO commitments. Discussions of the need for a European army have taken on a whole new life. The United Nations, mostly a symbolic and powerless organization, called an emergency general assembly for Feb. 28—only the 11th time in its 76-year history—to discuss the current crisis.
If we could go back in time to the 1930s, in between the two World Wars, we would see similarities to our day in a lack of preparation. With it being such a short time since World War I, and nations still in the midst of recovery, no one wanted to fight another world war. Europe was willing to appease Hitler in order to keep peace, but that only led to more demands. The world today appears to be in a similar situation to that of the 1930s, leading up to Germany’s invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. This was the beginning of World War II. What will it take to begin the next world war? When will Europe come together economically, militarily and religiously to face off against the rest of the world? That is the vital question from prophecy.
For Ukraine, this is a real war and not one being theorized. We are all saddened by the plight of the Ukrainians. They did nothing to deserve this major attack on their country. And how many innocent people will die before it is over? In the 1930s, we did not have 24-hour, seven-days-a-week news coverage as we do today. The good side of that is that we can more easily keep up with world conditions, but the downside is that whenever there is a major news story, it gets repeated over and over again, until we become overwhelmed with it and simply want to move on. This can easily happen with the crisis in Ukraine. Coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week tends to sear our conscience to the human tragedy that is occurring. We have seen this with other tragedies in recent years in places like Haiti, Syria and Somalia. How many human tragedies can we watch on live television before they no longer shock us? We should pray for those suffering anywhere in the world, and most certainly, at this time, for the Ukrainians.
In the beginning of the book of Revelation, John writes, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants– things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1). The margin of the New King James Version has “quickly or swiftly” as a replacement for “shortly.” John Walvoord, in his commentary on the book of Revelation, states, “That which Daniel declared would occur ‘in the latter days’ is here described as ‘shortly’ (Gr., en tachei), that is, ‘quickly or suddenly coming to pass,’ indicating rapidity of execution after the beginning takes place. The idea is not that the event may occur soon, but that when it does, it will be sudden” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 35).
This seems to be where we are in the timeline of prophecy. Once things begin to happen, they will happen quickly. Christ’s advice to His disciples is more important for us today than it has ever been: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). The return of Jesus Christ is described “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2), taking the world by surprise. Wars and rumors of wars will wear people down, and the world will be caught off guard, but that must not be the case with God’s people. Through watching, praying, fasting on occasion and drawing closer to God, we will not be surprised by Christ’s return (Matthew 24:43-44). As we approach the spring holy days, the need for spiritual preparation has never been greater.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,