“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24: 6-8)
It was 7 a.m. on February 24, 2022, when I woke up to the sound of a missile strike hitting an airbase located around 10 miles from our home in Irpin, Ukraine, which is a Kiev suburb. Due to our distance from the city, the sound wasn’t very loud, but it was very unpleasant. My memory recalled the similar sounds heard back in 2015 during my travel to the Donetsk area with a humanitarian aid mission; back then Russian-backed militants were attacking the eastern borders of Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea.
Having heard the same sound of explosions, but now very close to my home, the first thought that came into my mind was, “Is it for REAL?” At that moment, I was forcing myself to embrace the reality of the war. I didn’t like it and I wasn’t prepared for it — but I couldn’t change anything about it.
One of the thoughts that often comes to my mind now is that as Christians we tend to read the Bible as stories about what happened centuries ago as well as descriptions of events that will take place far in the future. So, we place ourselves in a “safe zone in the middle” and we become like observers and commentators of biblical events from the past and those in the future and we never allow our minds to embrace its relevance to our lifetime.
When we heard Jesus speak about wars and rumors of wars in Matthew 24, we didn’t think that those final wars might be during our lifetime. As I look at how this war with Russia has affected the entire world and caused the current world order to transform into a different one which will hopefully do a better job of maintaining peace on the planet Earth, I believe that we are living at the moment of a global shift towards the acceleration of the end-time events. Are we prepared for what is going to take place next? How do we get prepared?
When the war with Russia began, I found myself unprepared for it. I did hear the news warning of a possible war, I just didn’t believe it would happen between Russia and Ukraine. It was difficult for my mind to align with what Jesus said about wars between nations taking place during my lifetime and with my own country — and yet it was real. I was staring out the window, forcing my brain to embrace a reality that was new to me but not new to Jesus. He was warning me about that in Mathew 24, I just didn’t comprehend that it could happen during my lifetime. Am I alone with such a perception of what Jesus said?
The strategy of the enemy is to distract God’s children from the main point of the kingdom by overwhelming them with what is happening right in front of their eyes. The strategy of the enemy is to place fear in the hearts of those who are called to be praying, “Let your kingdom come! Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”
We live in a time when his kingdom is coming in fulfillment of what Jesus Christ was talking about! Jesus said, “Do NOT be afraid!” Our eyes should be fixed on the big picture of world history being finished by our Heavenly Father and we should be honored to live in a such time as this.
Let the proclamation of our heart and spirit be, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Let the oil in our lamps be stored continually. Let our minds be renewed by embracing the reality of the kingdom being at work now. Let our spiritual ears be fully awake! Jesus is coming soon!
Andre Khudyakov is a Ukrainian Baptist pastor and church planter. You can hear more from him in a 2018 podcast interview with Word&Way.