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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 30 2024

Russia in prophecy

Bible prophecy gives strong indications Russia will play a significant role in end-time events. More than three decades after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is aggressively reasserting itself on the world stage, raising fears of renewed Russian expansionism.

In December 1991 the world watched in amazement as the Soviet Union imploded. Almost overnight 15 separate countries emerged with almost no bloodshed. The Baltic Republics and Ukraine in particular wasted no time in freeing themselves from the USSR’s yoke.

With the 2014 takeover and occupation of Crimea, Russia regained a warm-water port from which to launch its newly commissioned nuclear submarines and battle cruisers. Vladimir Putin then shocked the world in 2022 with his invasion of Ukraine, dramatically increasing tensions between Russia and the West.

We are all aware that human extinction through mass destruction is now possible. Well over 17,000 known nuclear weapons exist today, and it’s been estimated that even a “small” regional nuclear exchange—limited to, say, a single exchange between Russia and Ukraine, between Iran and Israel or between India and Pakistan—could potentially render the entire world uninhabitable for human life.

In a prophetic outline of end-time events, Jesus Christ stated just before His return “there will be great distress [also called in other translations “great tribulation”], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now(Matthew 24:21). He goes on to say if those days are not “cut short, no one would survive.” (verse 22). Jesus then stated, “But for the sake of the elect [the people of God] those days will be shortened.” Humanity would survive.

This period of great end-time calamity is foretold in many Bible prophecies, with the outcome always being intervention and salvation. Christ’s return to earth will be a time of restoration—for Russians, Ukrainians, those in the Middle East and for all people. As we approach these terrible days just before the return of Jesus Christ, the world has almost universally sunk to the basest levels of behavior, but the Bible clearly instructs us to embrace hope and the ways of God, holding fast as we near the end of this age. God promises, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28) and“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Outside the United Nations building in New York City stands the famous statue of a man with a hammer beating a sword into a plowshare. This concept comes from the book of Isaiah where he speaks of Jesus Christ returning to earth and establishing the Kingdom of God. Nations will then learn the ways of God: "He shall judge between the nations and rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).

This statue was a gift from the Soviet Union to the United Nations. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the reverse of the message the statue conveys, with Europe being awakened to the reality of an aggressor nation on its borders, causing them to realize they need to be capable of defending themselves. This has led to serious discussions among the European nations about turning from dependence on the United States for their safety and taking security matters into their own hands, including establishing a European military force.

Bible prophecy describes the rise of a revived European-centered modern Roman Empire in the last days, just before the return of Jesus Christ. Daniel chapter 11, beginning in about verse 40, describes events just before Christ’s return: "At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him, and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind with chariots and with many ships and horsemen….He shall enter also into the glorious land and many countries shall be overthrown…."

This key prophecy details the invasion of the Middle East by a power called the king of the north. History and prophecy identified that power as coming from the European heartland. The king of the south is a power based in the Middle East. It's a confederation of Arab Muslim states that make a push or an attack on this northern kingdom which provokes a retaliation. This European-based power then sweeps into the glorious land, which is identified with the state of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. There may also be a religious connection to this action as indicated by other prophecies.

Russia also plays a part in this prophecy. In verse 44 we are told, "News from the east and the north shall trouble him, therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many." The king of the north's invasion wil have ripple effects in other parts of the world. Beyond these Muslim nations to the north and to the east, there is only one major power, and that is Russia. Although the prophecy does not limit the likelihood that there will be other nations, like China, that may also be involved.

Other prophecies in Revelation describe two major troop advances from the east that will involve the Euphrates River. In Revelation chapters 9 and 16, there's a description of a movement of a 200 million-man army moving toward the Euphrates river. They advance across the Euphrates to the land of Israel to do battle against Christ in what is described as the great day of God Almighty.

These prophecies should move us to change our lives, as the Apostle Peter admonishes, "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with great noise…. Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore,since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" (II Peter 3:10-11).