Rumors of war are flying with a fury out of Ukraine and Russia. Massive numbers of troops are on the move. Almost unfathomable levels of firepower are being mobilized. Jesus warned that the last days would be characterized by rumors of war. The rumor of war in Ukraine is superpowered by Russia’s repeated threat of using nuclear weapons. But Ukraine and several other former Soviet bloc nations fit Bible prophecy in another powerful way.
One of the most famous and detailed prophecies in the Bible concerns an invasion of Israel by a confederation of nations. Chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel give the details, including a specific list of the nations involved. The first two verses say, "And the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him.’" [NASB]
It’s obvious from that passage and others that Gog is not a nation, but a national leader. The word "Gog" means "high," "top guy," or "supreme." The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote that, "Magog is called the Scythians by the Greeks." The Greeks used the word "Scythia" to refer to the region north and east of the Black Sea. Today, that includes, not just Russia, but also Ukraine.
The Scythians also ruled the area east of the Caspian Sea that is today occupied by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Each of these nations were once part of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin seems intent on bringing them back into the sphere of Russian control. Also, each of these nations is predominantly Muslim, which may also contribute to their desire to one day join a coalition of nations against Israel.
But the first step in Putin’s plan centers on Ukraine. In area, it is Europe’s second largest nation. It gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. At that time, Ukraine possessed one-third of the Soviets’ nuclear armaments. With 1,900 warheads, Ukraine then held the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. In 1994, Russia, Britain, and the United States signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. They promised to ensure Ukraine’s security if it gave up its large nuclear arsenal.
The sad and horrible lesson to every other nation in the world is that if you have nukes, don’t give them up ever — no matter what. Today, if Ukraine still had its nuclear weapons, Russia would not be threatening. It’s as simple as that. Promises from Britain and the United States were not worth the paper they were printed on.
The other protector of Ukrainian security was to be that benevolent nation known as Russia. Now, it all seems like a cruel joke. In 2014, Russia stole Crimea from Ukraine. That gave the Russian military better access to the Black Sea. Today, Russia’s goal in invading Ukraine does not seem to be an annexation of the country, but a move to place a puppet government there.
In all this, remember that no matter what their nations do, people can still turn to Christ. Iran is another key part of that Ezekiel 38 coalition. And Iran is experiencing a tremendous number of people turning to Jesus. Prophecy tells us what some nations will do, but that does not predetermine the actions of individuals within those nations.
Whatever Putin’s motivations (and there are many), one really important fact stands out. His actions fit Bible prophecy to a tee. At some point in the future, Ukraine will again come under Russian control. And it may be only a matter of days.