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Sun Mar 6, 2022, 11:43 AM

These End-Times evangelicals are convinced that Russia's invasion is a sign of the Rapture. [View all]


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The day after Russia started dropping missiles on Ukraine, pastor Greg Laurie took to Facebook with a message for his flock. To much of the world, current events may look like the unhinged machinations of a megalomaniacal authoritarian intent on worldwide disruption, but to Christians of a certain ilk, Laurie argued that the war could be viewed as something else entirely: a sign of the second coming of Christ. “Is there any prophetic significance to what is happening in Ukraine right now?” the heading of the post posed. “The answer is…Yes!”

For millennia, end times Christians have tried to shoehorn current events into proof of Jesus’ imminent return, taking cryptic language from the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation to come up with various theories as to how the world will end. In most of these theories — embraced by conservative evangelical or fundamentalist branches of the faith — an entity referred to as Gog and Magog descends from the “far north” upon a peaceful, reconstituted Israel, whose people had been “brought out from the nations, and all now dwell securely,” as it is described in Ezekiel. The resulting war that follows allows a Messiah to swoop in and come to Israel’s rescue. It also ushers in the end of the world as we know it and the establishment of a new and better kingdom of God on earth.

Certain members of every generation since antiquity have found ways to convince themselves that they lived in the end times. “One of the beauties of end times theology is that it’s protean,” says Randall Balmer, a professor of American religion at Dartmouth College. “That is, it can be shaped and shifted to comply with particular circumstances, and it allows those who subscribe to it to claim to have a command of history, that they know how it’s all going to come out eventually.”

Over the centuries, the Gog and Magog label has been applied to Babylon, to the Roman Empire, and to the Vikings, among others. It wasn’t until the Cold War that Russia entered the narrative, as many American Christians cast the U.S. as the “new Israel,” the USSR as Gog and Magog (it’s a land in the “far north,” after all), and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev as the Antichrist (he even bore what many considered to be the “sign of the beast” on his forehead). In addition to the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war, the formation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was seen as proof that prophecy was being fulfilled and that the end times were upon us.


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Reply These End-Times evangelicals are convinced that Russia's invasion is a sign of the Rapture. [View all]
Nevilledog Mar 2022 OP
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