The invasion of the Ukraine by Russia has re-awakened fears of the communist Northern giant that haven’t been felt for a very long time. And fear is something all bullies, including Russia, prize even when everything else around them is failing.
While living in Russia, journalist David Satter tells of waiting in a potato line when a fight broke out among those on the street. “These lines are a disgrace. How can we live like this?” asked one man who was promptly answered by an old woman with, “Never mind — the whole world is afraid of us.”
This being their mindset, military action by Vladimir Putin should really surprise no one. When you have a disgraced country with a worldview proven to be a failure, an economy in shambles, a capital that mirrors Gotham City, utter lawlessness that makes the recent U.S. crime wave look tame by comparison, allies who resemble serial killers, and Olympic athletes who can’t compete without doping up, carrying out war is the most effective way for him to consolidate support for his deteriorating regime.
Looking at the situation, political commentators are recalling the 2014 annexation of Crimea that caused the “Crimea effect,” in which, according to Nikolai Petrov of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, Russians “forgot their worries and felt everything was allowed and anything was possible.” Deflection, a favorite tactic of political failures, works anywhere naïve populations exist (just look at our own country).
So, in a sense, it’s a win-win for Putin who buttresses his own failing approval numbers while causing unreasonable fear everywhere else. That seems especially true in America where the panic-porn media trumpets the potential for nuclear clashes and the stock market sells off in sheer terror, never mind the fact that, before the invasion, Ukraine is a country to which 99% of Americans have never given a moment’s thought.
While I’m thankful every day God saved me and privileges me with knowing His truth, it’s times like these when I’m especially grateful to rest in His sovereign control over everything and know He’s never taken by surprise. And that includes actions by nations like Russia who have their fate spelled out clearly in Scripture.
God’s plan for the nations
When it comes to all the nations that have or will ever exist, there are basically two eschatological (End Times) buckets: (1) Israel, a nation divinely brought into existence and chosen by God to deliver the Messiah (the human Word) and the Bible (the written Word) to the world, and (2) Gentile Nations: non-Jews both beloved (the Church) and hated, used by God for His purposes.
When it comes to nation’s leaders, whether it’s Alexander the Great or Vladimir Putin, their actions are ultimately controlled by God, who treats their heart, “like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1). God is, “ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings” (Dan. 4:32, 2:21).
Because humanity is estranged from God and from one another, the end result is constant turmoil and the rising and falling of nations. The longer humanity attempts to rule the Earth apart from God, the more degenerated that rule becomes.
This being true, the big picture Scripture paints for the nations is consistent worldwide turmoil, unrest, wars/threats of wars (Matt. 24:6-8) that eventually culminates first in the regathering of the nation of Israel in the End Times (Is. 11:11-2, Is. 66:7-8, Jer. 16:14–15, Ez. 36:22–28, 37:1-10) and then the establishment of a false peace by a one-world government and its appointed leader (Rev. 6:1-2).
And what part does Russia play in all this?
God’s plan for Russia
A telltale sign of a nation ruled by Satan is its hatred for Israel and the people of God.
You probably won’t be surprised to find that Russia is brutal to everyone in general, including its own people. Russians file more complaints with the European Court of Human Rights than the citizens of any of the 46 countries that make up the Council of Europe, 13,645 complaints in 2020 alone (by contrast, the figure for the U.K. was 124).
But its anti-Semitic worldview makes it especially difficult for Jews. In the 1800s, Russian Jews were murdered or forced to immigrate if they didn’t join the Russian church. Fast forward to the early 1960s and we find a Times magazine article stating, “The major center of persecution of Jews nowadays is the Soviet Union. In a land openly dedicated to atheism, the 3,000,000 Jews of Russia suffer more than any other faith because they are attacked both for their religion and as a despised national minority.”
But Psalm 121:4 says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep,” and so we find a very fitting end to Russia spelled out in Scripture.
The prophetic Word of God states in multiple places how God will pull Russia into its doom, with the most complete description being found in Ezekiel 38-39. In those chapters, Russia is referred to as “Gog and Magog.”
Interestingly, Magog is identified by Josephus as the land of the Scythians, the region north and northeast of the Black Sea and east of the Caspian Sea — now occupied by three countries: Russia,Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. The Great Wall of China was originally called The Wall of Magog by the Arabic countries in reference to it protecting the Chinese from invading Russians.
At some point in the future, God says He will, “put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out … on that day when My people Israel are living securely … you will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you … and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog” (Ez. 38:4, 14-16).
Russia is also referred to as a people from “the north” multiple times elsewhere in Scripture (e.g., Dan. 11:40-41) so it’s no surprise that when you look at a map and draw a line north from Israel, you go squarely into Ukraine and then Russia. Theologian C. I. Scofield was ridiculed in the early 1900s for saying in his study Bible that there would be a future Russian invasion of Israel, who didn’t exist at the time, but he said, “I don’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, but the Bible says it, and therefore I believe it.”
Scripture is crystal clear in its prediction of Russia’s demise, so while today they may confidently flex their military muscle and claim Ukraine, the reality is they are squarely carrying out God’s will and in the crosshairs of His trap from which they one day won’t escape.
So, knowing God is in control and has told us in advance what will happen, don’t be afraid of the actions of Russia or any nation, and do pray for the people of Ukraine. Never forget our God is sovereign over everything: “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away” (Job 12:23); “The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, 'surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand,'” (Is. 14:24).
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.