Whenever Russia threatens the world, Christians should be reminded of the role Russia plays in the return of Jesus. Especially when what is happening could be a precursor pointing to His return. Jesus said quite a bit about what would happen before his second coming. (Read Luke 21:7-28 & Mathew 24:1-36). In these passages, Jesus deals extensively with end-time events. As accurate as the accounts were of Jesus’ first coming, the accounts of his second coming are just as accurate. Some things will be easy to recognize, while others remain a mystery, even to Jesus. Matthew 34:36 tells us, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” There is also a marked difference between the first time he came and the second time. Hebrews 9:28 says, “he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” We must recognize the signs on the earth and in the heavens that mark his return, so we are prepared to assist those in need of salvation. As Luke says in 21:28, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”
The events surrounding His return are difficult to understand, which is why so many theologians struggle over what might or might not happen during this time. The seven seals found in the book of Revelation are vital as they list the sequence of events during those days. The first seal speaks of false prophets; the second is war; the third is famine; the fourth is pestilence; the fifth is tribulation; the sixth, heavenly signs; and the seventh, seven trumpets, when Jesus returns. The first four are where the four horsemen of the apocalypse appear. Because of space, I want to draw your attention to the first mentioned in Rev. 6:2, ” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” This is not Jesus even if there are similarities it isn’t Christ in fact it is a false Christ who comes to deceive the world. This is the deception that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24: 10-14. The first horse is the one who conquers through deception by distorting the message about Jesus.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus will return sometime during the battle of Armageddon, which takes place after the world has gone through a seven-year war called the tribulation. These seven years of conflict mirror the opening of the seven seals by the Lamb mentioned in (Revelation 6:18 – 16:21). The Bible tells us that these days will be highly challenging. (Mark 13, Matthew 24 & Luke 21) Theologians also have differing views on what happens to Christian during the tribulation. They point us to a term theologians use called the rapture, which though not explicitly found in any of the scriptures, is used to describe what may happen. They direct us to Thess. 4:16, which they believe, shows that Christians, both living and dead, will ascend into heaven to meet Jesus Christ at his Second Coming. Since I am not in favor of suffering or pain, I would rather meet Jesus in the air than live through the experience of the tribulation.
Let’s look at some of the events concerning the seven-year war called the tribulation found in Ezekiel 38. Remember, you are reading about the seven-year war which culminates in the battle of Armageddon. First, let’s talk about some of the aspects of the war. Every war has a leader, and this is no exception. The Hebrew word for an evil man or a wicked man is Rasha which phonetically sounds like the word Russia. Russia is the prime player in end-time events. Either now, under Putin, or after Putin under a different leader, whichever one it is, there will come a time when Russia will begin gathering other nations through either alliances or dominance. These nations under Russia will converge against Israel, creating a path of destruction on their way to Israel, where it will culminate in one final war called Armageddon. When you think about what this might look like, you only need to look at the desecration of Syria or Ukraine.
Ezekiel tells us how these armies will be unleased to battle with Israel. Verse 2 speaks of nations or territories that will form a significant part of these armies led by Gog. Gog is not the name of an individual but a title such as ‘Prince, Czar or President‘ who presides over the land of Magog. Magog is the ancient name for Russia. Rosh is the Chief Prince of Magog over Meshek, an old name for Moscow and Tubal or west-central Russia. Russia will take the lead in the assault against Israel. Other countries destined to join in with Russia are Persia, now Iran, Cush/Sudan, currently Ethiopia, and Put, which is Libya. Verse 6 speaks of Gomer, which are the territories of eastern Europe that historically were part of the former Soviet Union. They are comprised of Estonia, Lafia, Lithuania, Belarus, Armenia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, and Turkey.
For instance, Putin is saying he wants to re-establish the greatness of the former Soviet Union by going to war with Ukraine. Xi Jinping wants to restore China’s dominance by bringing Taiwan back into the fold. Erdogan of Turkey has spoken of his desire to re-establish the Ottoman Empire. We already know that Iran is a close ally of Russia’s sharing their ideology and military weapons. At the same time, Turkey is siding with Russia in keeping Sweden and Finland from joining NATO. These are no small coincidences but essential because they are crucial countries mentioned in end-time events as having a hatred for Israel.
Putin’s desire to restore the former Soviet Union should concern all the European countries that border Russia. To be annexed into Russia means they would have to give up their autonomy and become part of Russia. Putin already has a history of attacking countries, such as Georgia in 2008, Crimea in 2014, and Ukraine. Countries like Belarus, Estonia, Lafia, Lithuania, Armenia, and Poland should be afraid because if Putin can get away with what he is doing now, what will stop him from going into these other countries.
The scriptures tell us of various things that will happen on the earth; some are man-made disasters, and others will be natural disasters. Jesus refers to them as birth pangs. The world will go into a time of travail or intense labor. And Jesus tells his disciples that they need to lift up their heads when they see these things happening because they point to his imminent return. One of the birth pains will be the increase in wars and rumors of wars. Luke 21:10 says, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” So, if things are unraveling, as they are today, they are a harbinger of things to come. The more they match the birth pains that Jesus spoke of, the more we should lift our heads because our redemption draws near rather than be overwhelmed. There are theologians who, after reading the scriptures, have concluded that Jesus is not foretelling the events that will mark his second coming as much as they are of events that have already taken place. Such as, in 70 AD, the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem along with Nero, who persecuted the Jews. However, more theologians believe that because the imminent return of Jesus failed to happen, what was seen was not the second coming Jesus was referring to.
How does China fit into the big picture? China shows up at the battle of Armageddon. Rev. 16:12 says,” The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river the Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.” When the Euphrates river dries up, the armies from the East will come across to join the battle of Armageddon. When Jesus comes again to end the Battle of Armageddon Rev. 19, He will defeat every foe and crush every enemy that sets itself up against God and the nation of Israel (Rev. 16:16-21 with Ezekiel 38:18-23). So when we see these things lining up, we should lift up our heads rather than bury our heads in the sand.
We pray that as we watch these events be fulfilled that we would stay with the position of recognizing that our Father God is the one who knows all things and how they are lined up in history. May we stay alert and ready for whatever He brings and stay close (draw near to Him ) in all of life’s circumstances. May we live in His peace as He guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.