I lived in eastern Ukraine for 18 wonderful months in 2008 and 2009, in Dnepropetrovsk. So the Ukrainian crisis has been personal for me and I’ve kept in close contact with friends there. But many who follow “the signs of the times” (Mark 16:3) are really wondering if this is the beginning of the battle of “Gog and Magog” (Ezekiel 38:2). Gog and Magog are considered by many to be the ancient land area of modern Russia, spoken of in Ezekiel 38 and 39, considered an integral part of the endtime picture leading up the final events foretold in the book of Revelation.
Others of a more secular viewpoint simply wonder if this could be the leading edge of a new “Cold War” as Russia seems to be stretching its muscles in what some would say is a time of American weariness with foreign adventures and “wars of choice”.
I’ve received no dream or revelation about this and I’m not really seeking for one. But simply from a geopolitical and strategic view, I don’t personally see this going much further than it has already. If a referendum had been held in Crimea a year ago or 5 years ago, all those folks would have voted about the same way they did recently. On March 16, over 90% of the Crimean people voted for unity with Russia. It’s always been a strongly Russian enclave, more than anywhere else in Ukraine.
But Mark, what about all those Russian speaking folks in the eastern half of Ukraine?
That’s who I lived and worked with, who I had Bible classes with and who became my good friends. I didn’t meet a single one in 18 months who said anything about wanting to break away from Ukraine and be joined with modern Russia.
I was talking to my best Ukrainian friend there, a man in his 30’s with a wife and 2 kids. I asked him one time, “So how do you see yourself?”, expecting him to say either say that he was Ukrainian or Russian. He paused thoughtfully and said, “I’m Slavic.”
There’s no way to explain what that means to English speakers that I know of. People from Montenegro on the Adriatic to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast of Russia are all ethnically Slavic. My friend meant that he didn’t have a really strongly rooted national identity, like almost everyone else in the world does, which they just take for granted. Ukraine is like that; it would be strange to say it’s a “bi-polar” nation but maybe that’s an easy way to express a difficult condition and history.
But Mark, is this it? Will Russia keep biting off huge chunks of Ukrainian territory and other places in that part of the world?
Putin has said publicly that they have no intention of doing that. On the other hand, he’s said he will defend Russian nationals in other countries. If for any reason, Russia moves against Donetsk or Kharkov, that’ll be a bad sign. Those are the two large industrial centers in the far northeast and southeast of Ukraine. I don’t expect that. But if that happens, it’ll be bad. The same can be said for any Russian move towards the ethnic Russian area of Trans-Dniestr, in eastern Moldova, on the southwest border of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the new government in Kiev will do. Will they initiate a battle with Russian troops? Certainty all the leaders of Nato will strongly discourage them from doing that, whether or not that will have any influence.
What’s going to happen? It’s going to blow over is my guess. There’ll be anger, there’ll be sanctions, and there’ll be recriminations. But that most likely will be it.
Will this bring on World War III and/or God and Magog?
I don’t think so. On the other hand, for those who study prophecy and feel that we’re living in a time prior to the final events spoken of in Revelation, most of us feel that something (we don’t know what) is going to be the little match that lights the inferno of the future. Yes, this could be it.
But, let’s face it, so many people of faith have been somewhat jerked around by “Wolf, Wolf!” cries from alarmists and Cassandras for many years now and often we naively fall into another round of fear and confusion.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve been working on this series of videos on the book of Daniel. In that book, and others in the Bible, there are some very certain signs that will precede the final events in the book of Revelation.
So would you like to really know what to watch out for? The Third Temple. Maybe you’ve heard of that but there are plans made and movements afoot to rebuild the third temple in the history of the Jewish people. Right now that’s hindered by the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
But if you hear about things changing so that the building of that Jewish temple is going forward, you’d do well to really pay attention to that. And if that one slips you by but you hear about animal sacrifices being started again in Israel, that’s another very powerful signpost of the Last Days.
Meanwhile, I’m certainly not speaking prophetically here but I feel that the Crimea thing will blow over. If it doesn’t and Russia keeps up its appropriation of the territory of other nations, then we’ll definitely want to see if that develops into things that Bible prophecy has foretold.