Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] Vladimir Putin shocked the world in 2022 with his brutal invasion of Ukraine. Why did this happen, and where will it lead? Does Russia have a role to play in end time prophecy? Let's see what your Bible has to say.
Outside the United Nations building in New York City stands a famous statue of a man with a hammer beating a sword into a plowshare. The name of the statue is "Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares." The concept is taken from the book of Isaiah where it speaks of a time to come when Jesus Christ returns to the earth with the Kingdom of God, nations shall go to Jerusalem to learn the ways of God. And it says in the Book of Isaiah that "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," it goes on to say, "shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." It's from the book of Isaiah chapter two.
The statue in front of the United Nations was a gift from the Soviet Union to the United Nations, the world body that was established after World War II to promote world peace. The sculpture portrays this ideal from Isaiah based on that biblical truth of a time when war will end, and it was created at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a constant threat of nuclear conflict. The Soviet Union, however, broke up in the early 1990s and the Cold War ended. Historians at that time began saying that it was the end of history. What they meant was that conflict between great powers was now over. The world had entered a time of globalization where economic interests were different, and a better world where disputes would not be settled by war, though it was now created. But they were wrong. War and conflict have continued.
In early 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Now this set in motion events that might not have happened for decades to come. And what has happened is that Europe has been awakened to the reality of an aggressor nation on its borders willing to go to war for its own interests. This war has upset the world order that was in place since the end of World War II. The relentless attack on Ukraine has destroyed cities, creating a massive wave of refugees. Millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes, crossing borders into neighboring European countries. And Russian troops have used missiles to indiscriminately bomb cities, creating fear in the civilian population and leading to the collapse of a nation. Europe's worst humanitarian scenario since 1945 has taken place.
Now many wonder, does the Bible, does Bible prophecy tell us anything about what is occurring? Well the answer is yes, it does. In this program we're going to look at some prophecies that give a biblical worldview on these events that have been occurring. The scenes of missile attacks on hospitals and public buildings sheltering civilians show the vicious ferocity of Russian attacks. And coming without provocation, it drives home the very cold hard fact of forces of war that are at work. Scripture tells us that war in this part of the world flows from spiritual forces. War ultimately is borne in the mind of the devil.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine could eventually lead to one of the most significant prophecies about the return of Jesus Christ. There's an interesting statement made years ago by the British statesman Winston Churchill, who said that "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." Now we have watched events in Russia all of our lives and we had hoped that a new era of peace between the old Soviet Union and other nations would come. But with what has happened, that has been shattered. Russian President Vladimir Putin's goal, it seems, is to regain parts of the lost Soviet empire and Ukraine is one of those regions formerly part of greater Russia. The connections that those two countries have go back more than 1,000 years. And the spirit that is driving this crisis is part of the story that is told in the Bible regarding the powers from the region of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
We really cannot understand what is occurring today without first looking at key passages of prophecy from the Bible that show the flow of events, at the end of the age before the coming of Jesus Christ. Understand this, Bible prophecy tells us something about God most Christians miss. Bible prophecy isn't just about predicting when Christ is going to return or who might be the beast of Revelation or trying to identify the false prophet. Bible prophecy actually tells us that God is in control of history. God is fulfilling His purpose for life on this earth. And Bible prophecy tells us nothing occurs to derail God's plan for salvation for all of mankind.
Also understand this, that the Bible does record specific details of the events leading to the life and the death of Jesus Christ, when He came for the sins of the world. Every one of those prophecies came to pass without fail. Christ died in the manner foretold by Isaiah and other prophets. Christ was resurrected and He sits at the right hand of the Father according to that prophesied plan. Now we have faith in that knowledge for our salvation.
And finally understand this, we can also have faith in the prophecies that lie ahead of us, foretelling the coming of the Son of God, His coming in the power of the universe. The Bible gives us understanding of the flow of history to its true end, which is the end of human misrule, and the coming of the righteous reign of Christ as King of kings. And we can have absolute faith that those prophecies are true and that God is guiding these future events to accomplish His goals. Anchored in this truth we can have faith, which brings peace of mind and confident courage in these very troubling times. And we can let those motivate us to godly righteousness.
So where will this invasion by Russia lead? Can we understand from Bible prophecy? Well, Russia does have a role in history and in Bible prophecy. In this program we're going to examine a key prophecy in the Book of Daniel that gives us a vital key to this matter. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the reverse of the statue that tells the story of beating swords into plowshares. The Russian bear has risen. How ironic! How tragic and how sad! Nations have not learned to wage peace. People suffer and die, and evil continues to raise its head and produce terror. So let's look closely at one passage of Bible prophecy from the Book of Revelation that will help us to set the stage for where we are.
But first let me tell you about a special study aid that we have produced for this program: "Russia and Bible Prophecy." This is a timely, informative guide that will give you vital background to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. The very opening chapter here, "The Russian Bear Awakens," is written by a native Ukrainian who understands the story of the people and the region. We think that this booklet provides understanding of why this is happening, and more importantly, what it means for Bible prophecy. So you can receive your free copy of "Russia and Bible Prophecy" by calling the number on your screen or going beyondtoday.tv.
Now one common question is, where is Russia's invasion of Ukraine, where does it fit into the many prophecies of the time of the end? We can start by looking at one, it's well known to all of us. It's in the Book of Revelation chapter six. It is a passage about four horsemen that ride in the time of the end. Revelation six is where the Lamb of God who is Jesus Christ, begins opening the scrolls. The seals that are on that scroll that are in heaven. Now the scroll contains all of the judgments of God upon humankind at the end of the age. John the apostle is told, "The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll, and to open its seals." And in chapter six Christ begins to open the seals, and John sees four riders that appear. Let's look at each one of those in sequence.
The first one is this. John says, "I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a loud voice like thunder, 'Come and see.' And I looked and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him. He went out conquering and to conquer." Here is a scene of false religion overtaking people bringing the promise of an inner peace, safety, and order to the nations at a time of great crisis. Christ warns that false teachers would come in His name claiming to represent Him, but He said they would be false. Now while some tell us that we live in a post-modern, post-religious age with little interest in religion, don't believe it. We are living at a moment where people are looking for something spiritual to counter the present age of materialism and all the turmoil that is taking place. And Satan will exploit that moment. All of us need to be alert to false christs. That's the first seal.
The second is this. In verse three he says, "When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come and see.' And another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another. And there was given to him a great sword." Here's another rider bringing war. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has again brought war to Europe, a region that has seen numerous wars. The rise of the Russian bear has awakened Europe from a sleep. No question. 70 years and more have passed since the last war of this kind on European soil. The nation of Germany has decided it’s time to increase its defense budget and build an army to defend itself. A strong Germany at the heart of Europe creates an imbalance of power and brings change. This invasion of Ukraine has given birth to a new Europe and what happens in Europe always matters to the world. It's just that we have forgotten that fact today, as we will see that will lead to other prophetic events.
John now sees another rider. It says in verse five, "When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come and see.' So I looked and behold a black horse and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard in the midst of the four living creatures saying, 'A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, but do not harm the oil and the wine.'" Now, here's a scene of famine, food shortages. Translated into amounts that we know today, here's what this means. It is saying that a day's wage is required to buy a loaf of bread, a day's wage. And there's no meat with it, there's no cheese, nothing else. Think about it. You make $200 a day, that's the price of one loaf of bread. You live in poor nation, and you make $20 a day, that's the price of one loaf of bread. In other words, it takes all that you earn to buy a loaf of bread and nothing else. This war, we're talking about now in Ukraine, will create a shortage of food among the nations. Ukraine and Russia account for more than 20% of the wheat grown and distributed in the earth today. The planting and the harvesting cycles will be severely disrupted by this war. Transport and distribution lines are going to be disrupted. Poorer nations that cannot grow enough to feed their people, they will be the ones who suffer. People will die. This is the natural consequence of war in a modern, global world that's dependent upon the free flow of trade. Now there is one more rider that John saw. It's the fourth seal. It says that, "When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, 'Come and see.' And so I looked and behold, a pale horse, and the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth." More than six million people, think about this, more than six million people have died in recent times from COVID. I've had friends that died from this disease. We all know people who died of that disease. This prophecy in Revelation of disease is very real. While the COVID pandemic is nowhere close to the numbers that are mentioned in this verse, it has been a dress rehearsal of what is to come. We're being taught a lesson. Our world is very vulnerable to disease outbreaks.
These four horsemen of Revelation have not begun to ride with the fury shown here in Scripture when Christ unleashes His fury, and God's judgment upon the earth. But we should heed the signs, we should understand that they will ride. Pandemic, war, and famine, they're in our headlines. False religion will rise to offer a false hope of normalcy. Your daily life is already being impacted. Christ said these events are only the beginning of sorrows to come.
Now in a moment, we're going to look at a detailed prophecy in Daniel to get a closer look at what Russia's invasion of Ukraine means even closer in Bible prophecy. We're offering today a new study guide that we have prepared, "Russia and Bible Prophecy." Many are asking, "Where does Russia fit in in end time prophecy?" Well, the keys found in understanding the connection between Europe and the Middle East. The Book of Daniel gives us a key to the answer. So you can get your free copy of "Russia and Bible Prophecy" by calling the number on your screen or going online to beyondtoday.tv.
Now let me give you a glimpse of what Daniel's prophecy does say. It's in Daniel chapter 11 which contains the longest, most detailed prophecy in the Bible. Beginning in about verse 40 it describes events at the time of the end, very precise. It says, "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, and he shall enter into the countries and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land and many countries shall be overthrown, but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon."
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 coming from the European heartland. The king of the south is a power based in the Middle East, and it's a confederation of Arab Muslim states that make a push or an attack at this northern kingdom and provokes a retaliation. This European-based power sweeps into the glorious land, which is identified with the state of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Now there very likely will be a religious connection to this action as indicated by other prophecies. We've long wondered how something like this could occur. We look at Europe, it lacks the military capacity to do something like this. And has in the past, at least, lacked even the will to do something like this. But now, Russia's attack on Ukraine, a sovereign, democratic nation in Europe, we now see Europe beginning to stir and rise out of a slumber, like a beast awakening.
Europe, they say, today has had a wake up call. And Russia plays a part in Daniel's prophecy. Let's continue on. In verse 44 it says, "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 has ripple effects in other parts of the world. The Muslim nations, east of Jerusalem, and other Muslim nations to the north, will consider this another crusade against Islam, and they will react. Muslim tradition still sees conflict with Europe and the Western nations as part of a long jihad or struggle for supremacy. 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 Asian nations, like China, that would not be involved in this action. Other prophecies in Revelation describe two major troop advances from the east that will involve the Euphrates River.
Revelation chapter nine, there's a description of a movement of a 200 million-man army moving toward the Euphrates river. In Revelation 16 there's another description of this same movement of armies stirred by the evil demonic world, and they're caught up in a frenzied international crisis at the very end. 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 that include Russia, China, and other nations from the points that are indicated in this prophecy in Daniel and Revelation.
Now, we consider this and the question comes, why does all of this matter? Why should a student of the Bible be interested in current events, in something that's happening in a faraway place like Ukraine? We'll discuss that in a moment. Let me first, once again, make you aware and offer the study guide that we have prepared, "Russia and Bible Prophecy." It's a vital guide to help you understand the changes that are taking place in this world today. Students of the Bible too often dismiss prophecy as something that's too difficult or irrelevant. Prophecy, they think should be dismissed, because of sometimes, many times, wrong interpretations. And as I've showed earlier there are many prophecies, however, about Christ's birth, His life and death, all of which came true exactly as foretold. Can we then dismiss prophecies about His second coming, the end of the age, most of which were given by Him? I don't think so, I don't think we should. Prophecy can help us. It can help us understand today's headlines in this world today. So your free copy of "Russia and Bible Prophecy" is waiting for you online at beyondtoday.tv or call the number that is on your screen.
As I said, Bible prophecy is the real only tool to properly understand today's world. With a sound foundation of prophetic teaching, you can have a calm confidence and a hope that God does control history and God does control major world events. When properly understand, Bible prophecy should move us to change our lives. And that's the real point that God wants us to understand as we have that hope and that confidence in the future. There's a scripture from 2 Peter chapter three that I always like to go to, to help us understand and put prophecy in a proper perspective. In it the apostle Peter writes, he says, "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore," Peter writes, "since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" What type of people should be in holy conduct and godliness? That's what prophecy should bring us to. That's what prophecy should motivate us to become, better people, better Christians, better disciples. Prophecy is sure, prophecy will come to pass, prophecy is God's guidance and control of history and events to His end. We're living at a critical moment in modern history, and the events of the past two years have changed this world we live in. This is our time, this is your time, to let God motivate you to change your life.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet, "Russia and Bible Prophecy." Russia has once again taken the reigns of world history, yet the end of the story is in your Bible. Our free study guide, "Russia and Bible Prophecy" will guide you through the historical factors. Every day brings us closer to the final configuration of nations described by your Bible. Order now, call toll free 1-888-886-8632, or write to the address shown on your screen. God has not left His people without hope for the future. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. Six times a year you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "Russia and Bible Prophecy," and your free one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living what the Word of God really teaches, you've found the right place. We're a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming kingdom of God. We'd like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.