A Note from Pastor Paul
By now we are all aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a war against Ukraine. To the casual observer this may seem like nothing more than a “land grab.” Perhaps some of you have seen a Meme floating around on Facebook titled,“Why Ukraine Matters.” This Meme highlights a number of eye-opening statistics that reveal that Ukraine is an untapped treasure in Eastern Europe. For example, Ukraine ranks number one in all of Europe for recoverable reserves of uranium ore. They are the second largest in the world for iron reserves (30 billion tons). Ukraine is third in Europe, but thirteenth in the entire world for shale gas reserves. They also rank seventh in the world for coal reserves. Ukraine is a “treasure trove” of energy and mineral reserves, which explains Russia’s desire to invade Ukraine and put them under Russian control like they were in the days of the Soviet Union.
Now that may be the reason Ukraine matters to Russia, but why does Ukraine matter to us? Certainly, many of us are concerned about this war as we should be. When you watch a news story covering the conflict in Ukraine it’s always connected to its impact on our economy, specifically to the rising oil and gas prices. However, that may be the reason Ukraine matters to the average American, but why does Ukraine matter to us as Christians who love and follow Jesus?
First, Ukraine should matter to us because the people of Ukraine matter to God. We do well to remember that John 3:16 says,“For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever shall believe in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.” Ukraine is much more than an Eastern Bloc Country rich in un-earthed minerals and energy reserves. It’s a country populated by hearts and souls who matter to God. Right now, these people are in shock. According to Joel Rosenberg Editor in Chief of All Israel News, many Ukrainians did not really believe that Putin would actually launch this invasion. Sources say that the airports are closed, and all the roads leading out of Ukraine are jammed by hundreds of thousands trying to flee to safety.
Second, Ukraine should matter to us as Christians because we have brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine. In fact, there are ten Calvary Chapel affiliated churches in Ukraine including an acquaintance of mine Benjamin Morrison who pastors Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk. On Facebook Benjamin posted this update, “Many are scared right now. The main thing is not to panic. Our Lord Jesus defeated Satan and death. He is our Rock. We have a kingdom that no one can take away.” Joel Rosenberg interviewed an Evangelical Christian pastor in Ukraine (who has chosen to remain anonymous) regarding this crisis. He said that “he and his wife were awakened early this morning by explosions, either bombs or artillery. And there’s an airfield in the nearby city. It’s been bombed and disabled. The reports are that all the airfields across Ukraine have been bombed and disabled.” He said that “in all my years in Ukraine, I’ve never experienced anything like this—It’s just horrific.” Rosenberg asked him how the church can be praying? He replied, “Just pray that God’s sovereign plan would be taking place.”
Third, this Russian invasion matters “eschatologically” or prophetically when it comes to matters of the end times. Putin’s attack on Ukraine, is consistent with what the Bible says about the nature of modern-day Russia, which was called “Magog,” in the Bible. In Ezekiel 38, we read about a coalition of Arabic nations that will include among others Iran, Libya and Turkey. However, the key player leading this coalition who invade Israel is actually Magog or modern Russia. The prophet Ezekiel reveals the thing motivating Russia to lead this invasion. In Ezekiel 38 verse 12 Magog declares the reason they are attacking Israel is, “to seize spoil and carry off plunder…”(EZK 38:12b ESV). Simply put Israel, will have something Russia wants. What could that be? What could the tiny Nation of Israel possibly have that Russia would ever want? The same thing Ukraine has, mineral and energy reserves. It has long been known that Israel is rich in gold, diamonds and other precious metals and minerals. But back in 2010 they discovered an abundance of oil and natural gas under the Mediterranean Sea. Conservative estimates say there’s 95 billion dollars’ worth of natural gas along with an additional 250 to 500 thousand barrels of oil. Once this amazing discovery was made the Jerusalem Post on June 8, 2010, quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, “Israel won’t get OUR gas!” Immediately, making it clear that he at some point in the future intends to lay claim to Israel’s gas and oil reserves.
Why would an ancient prophecy in the book of Ezekiel about “Magog” or Russia be relevant to this current invasion against Ukraine? It’s relevant in the fact that this 2,500-year-old prophecy illustrates the sovereignty of God. We serve an “All Knowing God,” who not only knows future events, but he even knows the hearts and character of world leaders like Putin and Russia, millennia before they were even born. Charles Spurgeon used to say that “Christians should have the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other.” In other words, we should use the Bible to interpret the current events in the news. When the Scripture is our lens to look at world events, we discover that we serve a God who is fully in control. While many Ukrainians, for that matter many in the world at large, did not truly believe that Russia would launch this attack, let me say that God was not surprised. He has known since the beginning of time the true heart and motives of the Eastern Bloc Superpower once called Magog.
To quote a Baptist pastor and civil rights activist Ralph Abernathy, “We may not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.” In these chaotic, out of control times it’s imperative that you know and trust the one who’s in control. In closing, let us remember the prayer request of the Ukrainian pastor Joel Rosenberg interviewed who said, “Pray that God’s sovereign plan would take place.” Let me leave you with some Scriptures that indeed remind us that our God is Sovereign and in control.
“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”
“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!”
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
“And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”