Is the Russian invasion of Ukraine part of the end times prophecies?
It seems that many Christian leaders are watching closely to find out. Some have made a leap of faith and claim God’s prophecy is being fulfilled, while others have cautioned it is just too early to tell.
In recent days, videos have popped up all over the Internet, including on social media, the websites of Evangelical Christian ministries and on Christian media outlets, citing passages from Ezekiel 38 and claiming that the end times are here.
Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) founder Pat Robertson, 91, made an unusual and unexpected appearance on the network's 700 Club program on Monday to talk about why he believes the Russian-Ukraine war might fit into biblical end times prophecy.
In the nearly 18-minute film, Robertson repeatedly quotes Ezekiel 38 and claims that “God is getting ready to do something amazing and that will be fulfilled."
What does Ezekiel 38 say?
The word of Hashem came to me: O mortal, turn your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him and say: Thus said Hashem: Lo, I am coming to deal with you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal! I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed in splendor, a vast assembly, all of them with bucklers and shields, wielding swords. Among them shall be Persia, Nubia and Put, everyone with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its cohorts, Beth-togarmah [in] the remotest parts of the north and all its cohorts—the many peoples with you (Ezekiel 38:1-6).
Robertson’s video followed posts by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship and Evangelical author Joel Rosenberg, both who likewise cited Ezekiel and hinted that what the world is seeing today could be a precursor to the “battle of Gog and Magog” referenced in the Bible.
“We’re all aware of what’s happening over in the Ukraine right now. They’re under attack from Russia, and people have asked the question, ‘Is there any significance to all of this prophetically?’” Laurie asked.
“Many Bible scholars believe in Ezekiel 38, as it speaks of Magog attacking Israel, that that is modern day Russia,” he explained, noting that in that same chapter, the Bible says that the Jewish people will be scattered and regathered in their land again - a prophecy that some Christians and Jews believe was fulfilled in 1948 with the founding of the State of Israel.
“But then scripture says a nation from the extreme north of Israel will march on her called Gog and Magog," Laurie continued.
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a Orthodox scholar who has written more than 100 books on various topics that deal with current issues from a traditional Jewish perspective, spoke about an imminent Gog and Magog War for several years.
“The advantage of looking at events from a perspective of prophecy is that you know what is going to happen,” Rabbi Winston said in an interview with Israel365. “There is no question about what is going to happen. The only questions are when and how current events fit into the picture. And, of course, where you will be standing about God when it does happen.”
Why is Russia believed to be Magog by so many Bible believers?
According to Robertson, one only has to look at a map.
In his video, he linked each biblical name mentioned in Ezekiel to a modern-day state:
> Cush = North Sudan and Egypt> Gomer = Ukraine> Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan> Persia = Iran> Put = Libya> Rosh = Russia> Togarmah and Tubal = Turkey and Syria
He then cited a further passage from Ezekiel, verses18-22:
“When Gog sets foot on the soil of Yisrael—declares Hashem—My raging anger shall flare up. For I have decreed in My indignation and in My blazing wrath: On that day, a terrible earthquake shall befall the land of Yisrael. The fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that move on the ground, and every human being on earth shall quake before Me. Mountains shall be overthrown, cliffs shall topple, and every wall shall crumble to the ground. I will then summon the sword against him throughout My mountains—declares Hashem—and every man's sword shall be turned against his brother. I will punish him with pestilence and with bloodshed; and I will pour torrential rain, hailstones, and sulfurous fire upon him and his hordes and the many peoples with him.”
"And I think you can say, 'Well, Putin is out of his mind,' and yes, maybe so,” Robertson said. “But at the same time, he's being compelled by God.
"He went into Ukraine, but that wasn't his goal,” according to the evangelist. “His goal was to move against Israel ultimately. And he will link up with Turkey across the little (land) bridge, and they will come together. And then, you look down into North Sudan, you've got a Muslim country down there, and there they all are. Persia, of course, is Iran."
Robertson said that “you can look at your map. You can read your newspapers. You can listen to your news. But know of a fact that God is bringing to pass what he prophesied years ago through his servant Ezekiel.”
'Try to stay away from speculation'
While the videos are riling up many in the Christian world to pray and profess their faith, other Bible experts have said that while these are workable theories, it is better to be a little more cautious.
There are multiple opinions surrounding the complex story of the battle of Gog and Magog, they say, and no one knows when the end of days will come.
“I’ve been a Christian walking with the Lord for 50 years and I have seen this sort of speculation for 50 years,” said David Parsons, vice president and senior international spokesman for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. “In my 25 years in Israel, I have also seen it among Jews - though maybe they are not quite as obsessed as some Christians are.”
Parsons said that he tries to “keep my feet on the ground a little more.”
He acknowledged that many Christian scholars, when they read Ezekiel 38 and 39, talk about Armageddon or, in Jewish terms, the battle of Gog and Magog. But he said, “I just try to stay away from that sort of speculation.”
But he said that Christian intentions are good: They are looking for signs of the Bible’s accuracy.
"As dark, troubling times come, you want to be able to look around and see certain markers laid out in the word of God, as that gives you assurance that He is in control, and you do not have to fear," Parsons said.
But he noted that the Book of Ezekiel also talks about Israel dwelling in unwalled villages and being totally at peace with its neighbors when all of a sudden, the country suffers from a surprise attack.
“That does not really describe the situation today,” Parsons said. “You have to be the most vigilant nation on Earth, so I have a different take on it.”
Rosenberg stressed in his video on the subject that no one knows when the end of days will come.
So, what should Christians do, Laurie asks?
“We should look up, and we should remember that God is in control,” he said.