By Stephen Leonard
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes, in various places. All these are but the beginnings of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:6-14
Jesus spoke these words in the first century AD. His words cannot be misinterpreted. Nor does their age make them any less true. They ring with authority and veracity. They have and will come to pass!
Tens of millions of people since Christ spoke these words have suffered through hundreds of wars. They have feared with great anxiety because of the rumors war was indeed coming. Even the anxiety now of Russia invading Ukraine, and of both Ukrainian civilians and Ukrainian and Russian soldiers taking their final breath. Yes, tens of thousands will die, and certainly, Christians on both sides will die too.
It does no good in reversing the course of history to rail against God. It doesn’t change a thing. It only makes the blasphemers more culpable of not hearing the universal King. Their railing against Him will be replayed for their ears at the Great White Throne Judgment, unless repentance occurs first.
This week I have heard over-the-top blasphemy of the God who has told us precisely what will take place, to the full extent of an eternal hell; a hell which particularly provokes their minds into grossly offended disbelief. I believe God and trust Him to be holy, true, and just. I can do no other, but warn of that of which He warns. Yet the blasphemers seem to blame us who believe Him as though we are guilty of it as well as He. They question us, “How can you believe in such a vicious God?” How can we not? Because He is, and there is no other.
The wars which Jesus predicted, including Ukraine if it happens, will take a significant toll of lives. It is our task to endure, including to possibly even die in war, for our endurance does not mean we shall not die, nor our loved ones die, but our persistence means we continue to trust Him whose plan includes wars. Our endurance means we will not come to rail against Him, but instead bless Him always as both our God and our Redeemer. Though our immediate end may be death, it is also certain Heaven.
The promise of wars and rumors of wars does not mean we shall escape them, but that God promises us, Heaven, despite the lethality of war, which may well include our own fatality. When we truly enter the valley of war, He is with us, and He is with us no matter its result. And He will still be ours in death, when we also live because He lives.
“God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus; He came to love, heal and forgive; He lived and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!
Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives!”
(1st verse of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s hymn, “Because He Lives,” 1971)