Putin: Political or Prophetic?

PutinVladimir Putin, president of Russia, has an agenda, though we may not fully understand it. While many political leaders are trying to figure out Putin’s next move and trying to determine how to stop his strategic acclamation of more territory, the Russian president simply thumbs his nose at Western leaders and stays his course. Julia Loffe wrote in the New Republic: “Russia, or, more accurately, Putin, sees the world according to his own logic, and the logic goes like this: it is better to be feared than loved, it is better to be overly strong than to risk appearing week, and Russia was, is, and will be an empire with an eternal appetite for expansion.” What is really going on? What is Putin up to? I think we can return to Bible prophecy to answer these questions.

Russia is going to lead a coalition of nations against Israel in a battle called the battle of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38-39. For Russia to head up such an attack, what do you suppose would have to be true about Russia?

  • They will obviously need to have garnered some respect and influence in the region.
  • They will need to know that they can initiate such activity without western interference.
  • They will need strong respect from the Arabic nations who hate Israel.
  • They will need the military resources and backbone to be able to arm their soldiers for such an invasion. (One can only guess what rich, industrial resources Russia will gain by taking over eastern, Russian speaking Ukraine. They have already secured the home of the Black Sea Fleet in the Ukraine.)
  • They will need to have no fear of the U.S. or any other nation who may disagree with what they are doing.
  • They will need to position themselves as friends with anyone who hates Israel and promote a global intolerance of the Jewish state so Israel will look like the bad guys.

Maybe we could all put our heads together and list additional reasons, but my point is that all of the things we see happening today are leading to an end that was prophesied thousands of years ago in the Bible: leading a coalition of nations in war against Israel.

We cannot date when all of this is going to happen, but I do believe there is something to Putin’s strategy to ensure his role as president of Russia. All of this could linger for another 100 years, but it sure seems like something is building now. It could take 15, 20, 25, or 50 years to develop or it could happen in the next five years, but it is coming. We do know that Putin will be president until at least 2018. We must respond by praying for Israel, sharing the gospel freely, doing everything we can to reach the nations with the gospel (this includes the unreached people groups of the world), preparing ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially for what may be difficult times ahead, and preparing our children to stand strong for the cause of Christ. We are living in challenging but exciting times. Jesus said to be alert and watchful. Be diligent and faithful. Jesus is coming again.

Israel – Alone

Israeli soldier stands beneath a flagI sat watching the news last night feeling as if Bible prophecy was being lived out before my eyes. Actually, I predicted nearly three years ago that the world would become more and more anti-Semitic, but I suppose I am still shocked by how much of the world seems to be opposing Israel (see my blog on November 10, 2011 – “Iran”). The Bible predicts in Ezekiel 38 that when Russia and the five-nation coalition attacks Israel, Israel will not have an ally really stand with them. They will stand alone. If you read through Ezekiel 38-39, you will not find any other nation standing with Israel. The significance of the world opinion right now, which is anti-Israeli, goes right along with the prophecy. I am amazed that anyone would criticize Israel for protecting themselves when attacked, and I am amazed that anyone would be so harsh toward Israel when civilians are hurt in Gaza because Hamas is using civilians, including children, as human shields. As I am sure you know, Israel has agreed to a cease-fire, but Hamas has refused. My point is not to make a political statement, but rather it is to point out that once again, God is right. Israel is gradually losing the global support, even the support of American leadership. When this attack does happen sometime in the future, that is the attack of Russia and the other five nations, there will be no allies to stand with Israel. Just watch as the world continues to back away from Israel, and know that this is but one more sign of the coming end of the age.

What do we do? Well, first of all, pray for Israel and pray for our nation’s leadership. Anyone who sides with Israel’s enemies are on the wrong side. Remember that Israel is the apple of God’s eye. Our nation’s leaders need to beware. Secondly, prepare for growing spiritual warfare. As the return of Christ draws closer, spiritual conflict will intensify. This is actually the topic for my new book that I hope to have out sometime in the near future: Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. Thirdly, look for the opportunities that will be abundant during the days of difficulty. There will be many opportunities to share your faith and serve others in Jesus’ name. Fourthly, study the Word of God as never before. Great deception will spread in the days ahead, and we must know the truth of God. Finally pray. I know I said that first, but Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:18-20 to pray all the time in all ways for the conflict is too challenging for us to engage the enemy of our souls alone.

One final thing I didn’t mention. Get ready by making sure of your relationship with Christ. Are you truly saved? If you died today, are you certain that you would spend eternity in heaven? If not, why not right now tell Jesus that you surrender your life to Him? Confess your sin to Christ, and tell him that you give your life to follow Him. Jesus is coming again. The prophecies in the Bible will come to pass. Are you ready?

Could Hamas’ Refusal for Cease Fire be Prophetic?

ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-GAZA-CONFLICTHamas has refused to sign a cease fire treaty with Israel as the Israeli hating terrorists continue to send missiles into Israel. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated on Wednesday that the only solution for the region is the destruction of Israel, and that the armed confrontation must expand beyond Gaza. While these events are terrible in that human lives are at stake and the instability in the region affects the whole world, is there any other significance to these events regarding Bible prophecy? While I realize that you cannot put a date and a time to some of the prophetic events of the Bible, you can study them and compare them to current events in an effort to see if it is possible for the stage to be set for the events the Bible predicted would happen before the return of Christ. The Bible prophecy of specific interest to me is found in Ezekiel 38-39. God led Ezekiel to know of a future battle that would take place between Israel and a five-nation coalition led by Russia. We know without a doubt that three of the five nations are Iran, Libya, and the region of Sudan/Ethiopia. The other two nations are possibly Turkey and Germany. Ezekiel said there would be other nations with them as well. It seems quite easy to me to see how the events going on today in the Middle East could lead to such a war. Russia is continuing to grow in prominence and is moving further away from the United States and closer to the Arabic nations who see Israel as their arch enemy. Ezekiel indicates that Israel will stand alone against this great attacking army, but they will have one decisive ally: God. This great battle will be over quickly as God will step in and miraculously deliver Israel.

One thing that is significant about this prophecy is that Ezekiel says that Israel will be living securely before this battle begins. Consider the words of Ezekiel 38:8 “…[Israel] has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.” Has there been a time when Israel has lived in safety since they became a nation in 1948? Not really. Ezekiel goes on to describe Israel as having “unwalled villages” and being a “peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.” There is only one way that this could happen. Hamas and others in the region will have to be eliminated or the region will have to come to some type of strong peace agreement. It is difficult for me to imagine Iran and Hamas agreeing to peace with Israel. It is easier for me to imagine Israel destroying Hamas and her other enemies or at least rendering them so weak that they are of no consequence. While one cannot say for sure that today’s events are certainly leading to the Ezekiel 38 war, it is easy to see how it could.

Continue to watch the news and read the Bible. Jesus commanded us to be alert as to current events because they are signs of His return. What are your thoughts about what is going on in the Middle East? Do you think it could be setting the stage for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Share your thoughts below and pass this on to your friends.

Quit Hurting Yourself

Beetles_TreeThe most interesting headline of the day is, “Beetles Kill George Harrison Memorial Tree.” The pine tree that was planted in memory of the former Beatles star, George Harrison, in Griffith Park, was killed by pine beetles. The irony is not lost on anyone, and the story made me think of the truth with which we all live: we are our own worst enemies. I know the illustration breaks down a little, but it does make me reflect upon the fact that in many circumstances, I am hurting myself with attitude choices, lack of personal discipline, and choosing to, sometimes, live a life out of balance. What do we do to stop the attack before we too are destroyed?

First, we must acknowledge that we are hurting ourselves and be specific with the lifestyle choices we are making that cause us personal damage. Most of the time, we do not get past this step because we are not willing or able to be fully honest with ourselves. Can you admit that a particular habit is really harmful? Can you acknowledge that you cannot overcome your addiction without outside help? Will you agree that your eating habits are killing you? This step of admitting should also include admitting our failure to God. Repentance is a critical part of the change we want to experience. Admitting our failures and frailties is an important part of the process to healing and personal victory.

The second thing we must do is replace the harmful activity with something that is helpful or God-honoring.  I remember when I was a child that I was having a hard time getting an ugly thought out of my mind. My mother told me to replace it with something that is good. I think this is the message of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” If we are going to follow this admonition, then it means there are some things we should choose not to dwell upon. Thinking about things is not our only downfall. We need to also change our actions. If I am eating foods that are harmful, then I need to make a conscious choice to change my eating habits. If I have a habit that is hurting me spiritually, emotionally, or physically, I must replace it with something that is helpful and wholesome.

A third thing that will help us is accountability. Sometimes we find the strength we need to chart a new course by simply telling someone else of the changes we are going to make. That resolve can be strengthened even more when our friend or family member asks us about our commitment over the next days and weeks. This is part of the strength of real community. We actually share our strength with someone else by holding them accountable to the commitments made.

Are you attacking yourself? Now is the time to stop. While other steps can be added to give you victory, these three will certainly put you on the road to a new you.

Sing A New Song

sing a new song 1I considered it a joy and a privilege to write the book Songs from the Heart: Meeting with God in the Psalms. It has been encouraging to see how God has used the book thus far to encourage people in their personal spiritual journeys. I recently received a letter from someone who had been encouraged and challenged by the chapter on Psalm 33 from my book. Psalm 33:3 states, “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” I challenged readers to consider singing a song to the Lord as an act of worship, though this song would be a “new song.” Basically, it was a challenge to just sing from your heart to God. I sought out the writer of the letter and asked for permission to share her thoughts on my blog, and I was granted permission.

Dr. Tim,

 I decided to take your challenge of singing a new song to God. I am not a musical person. I can’t carry a tune, read music, or play an instrument.

 I sat on my patio and started singing a song to a tune I did not know and words that flowed perfectly, even as the tune changed. It was an amazing experience, and yet I cannot remember any of the words nor the tune. So thank you for your guidance. With your encouragement and the Holy Spirit’s help, I was able to meet my God in a way I never thought possible.

God wants to meet with you too. You may have this encounter simply through reading the Bible, praying, or listening to worship songs. You might have a meaningful experience with God by singing a “new song” to the Lord that overflows from a heart filled with love and gratitude. Why not give it a try? God is longing to hear from you.