PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D Pace
The Russia-Ukraine War
Is the Tribulation is Near?
Jesus, the Apostles, and the Prophets had much to say about the world’s attributes and temperament that would lead mankind into the Tribulation. Russia is depicted in the Bible as a key nation of the “Last-Days,” and it has made its move against Ukraine. People want to know if there are prophetic signs being fulfilled in Russia’s maneuvering?
What’s interesting is how God pre-wrote the twilight of human history. Did you know there are more prophecies that relate to the Last Days than any other time of history? That means the OT presented more prophecies pertaining to the Endtime than it predicted about the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That is truly remarkable!
But there is a purpose for God reserving a profusion of prophetic events during the Last Days: God refuses to let people stumble blindly into the Apocalypse. Thus, he has provided the last generation with an irrepressible forewarning that announces the climax of human history. This sudden crush of prophecies, earthly signs and wonders, and cosmic events will be too much for anyone to deny! It’s God’s way of providing mankind with “Due Notice” that the Apocalypse is imminent.
You see, the God of mercy and truth will not let anything impugn his character! It would be the height of injustice for God to withhold evidence that mankind had reached the terrors of the Tribulation but nobody knew it until it engulfed them. That would not represent a God that proclaims himself to be just, faithful, and good.
(Transition) With the outbreak of war in Eastern Europe, people have wondered how this relates to the proximity of the Tribulation.
Has the Tribulation Begun?
I want to take you back to 2020 at the outbreak of the coronavirus. As I preached at our drive-in church service, people had begun asking this question: “Does the COVID—19 pandemic announce the initial stage of the Tribulation?” And this was my answer: “No, not at all! Are we close to that day? Yes, we are undoubtedly living in the Last Days. But we have not entered the Tribulation!”
That was my answer to the coronavirus and it’s my answer to this war. How can I be certain of this? Well, to be forthright, it’s not the way the Bible shows the world lurching toward the Tribulation. And here’s what I want to emphasize today: The Bible clearly delineates the sequence of events that drag us into the Apocalypse.
Since that’s the case, we should, at least, familiarize ourselves with this sequence of Endtime events. So, I’ll start with this: What should Christians identify as the single greatest harbinger that announces the imminence of the Apocalypse? It is this: While there is a foremost apocalyptic signal, we are looking for more than the fulfillment of “a” prophecy/sign. We are looking for the fulfillment of a monumental prophecy, which is then followed by a series of prophecies!
When numerous Biblical prophecies simultaneously leap from the pages of Scripture and grip the earth, this will announce the imminence of the Apocalypse.
The grace of God will not let the “shock and awe” of the Tribulation befall mankind without supplying “Due Notice.” God will first alert the world of that dreadful day.
(Transition) Because I believe we are close to the culmination of all Biblical prophecy, I want to unveil this convergence of apocalerts that will announce the Tribulation. And let’s see if we find Russia in this mix.
The Beginning of Sorrows—Birth Pains
What’s interesting is, Jesus coined a phrase that identifies this succinct slice of time containing this profusion of prophecies. He called it the “Beginning of Sorrows” or the world’s “Birth Pains” (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).
There is a reason Jesus equated this momentary turmoil as “The Beginning of Sorrows” or “Birth Pains.” He was comparing the Last Days to a woman contracting and heaving in pain just before birthing her baby. Jesus knew that the world’s Endtime pregnancy would produce a bizarre, unordinary child. And he was talking about a pregnancy that would produce the Apocalypse!
So how did Jesus describe these “birth pains”? I first want to read his words from Matthew 24:4—8.
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. (5) For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (6) 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. [Luke 21:9 phrases it like this: “These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Now back to Matthew 24:7] “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (8) All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Luke quotes Jesus much like Matthew, but I want to point out what Luke 21:10–11 adds:
“Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. (11) There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Characterizations of the Beginning of Sorrows
Many people would say that these events have occurred for centuries. And they have! They have occurred on-and-off for hundreds of years. And this leads to the key to understanding this passage of Scripture! One earthquake, or one virus, or one of any of these signs does not mean the Endtime has emerged. Jesus didn’t say this: “The beginning of sorrows will occur on-and-off for hundreds of years and then the Tribulation will appear.” No! A mother’s birth pains occur immediately before her baby is born. And then, poof, the delivery!
Let’s continue to examine Christ’s analogy here. How do women typically react when their birth pains arrive? They writhe in anguish! (They rip up the sheets, strangle their husbands, and shout words I’m not permitted to repeat in this setting.) That means when the “Beginning of Sorrows” erupts on this planet, people will be terrified. The earth, and even the cosmos, will contract and heave as if it were in labor pains!
That discloses the analogy that Jesus was making: He wanted us to know that over a relatively brief period of time that the world would be assaulted by wars, uprisings, international disputes, mega earthquakes, deception, famines, pestilences, and fearsome cosmic events. They will all appear in rapid-fire succession! And then, suddenly, the Tribulation will appear! All this will be God giving his irrepressible forewarning of the Tribulation.
Now do you understand why it cannot be said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or COVID—19 alone has launched mankind into the Tribulation?
(Example) Can you imagine three, four, or five major earthquakes rocking the globe in a short span of time? Then imagine wars and uprisings breaking out? Envision mankind being plagued with viruses that infect millions. And to top it off, picture a meteorite clobbering the planet. No sensible person could ignore the fact that the Endtime convergence of contractions had begun. This would be enough to convince sinners that life “as usual” had been interrupted and God was introducing the Apocalypse to the world.
So, what prophecies are we waiting for that will announce the nearness of the Tribulation? And what is the foremost supersign of prophecy that we are waiting to see?
Israel the Fig Tree Reappears
In answering this question, I want to point out one of the last miracles and the last parable Jesus told before his crucifixion. And they both regard the fig tree.
Christ’s next-to-last miracle was when he cursed the barren fig tree. He did this because he and the Prophets referred to Israel as a nation as the “fig tree.” So this had figurative significance. The cursing of the fig tree symbolized the death of Israel as a nation. And amazingly enough, forty years after Christ’s death, Christ’s act of cursing the fig tree played out in actual events. In 70 AD, the Romans attacked Jerusalem, killed a million Jews, destroyed the Temple, and eliminated Israel as a nation. At that moment, the Jews were uprooted from their homeland and those that escaped dispersed into 133 nations. At that point, Israel, the fig tree had fallen and was dead!
But now let’s listen to Christ’s remarkable parable in Luke 21:29—32.
Then he told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; (30) as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is near. (31) So you also, when you see these things happening, [The reappearance of Israel—the fig tree—replanted in its homeland] recognize that the kingdom of God is near. (32) Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Once the Romans destroyed Israel, its land lay desolate for 1900 years, and the Jews were without their homeland. However, Jesus and the Prophets had not only spoken of Israel’s demise and dispersion into the nations, they had prophesied that God would resurrect Israel and rebirth them as a nation in the Last Days.
After 1900 years of global absence, Israel—the fig tree—reclaimed its Statehood on May 14, 1948. Today, Israel is a sovereign nation once again and nothing like this has ever happened in world history! Jesus indicated that when this happened, the clock of Endtime events would lead to the final countdown to his return to Earth.
This apocalert is the Supersign of Endtime prophecy, because once Israel became a nation again, it opened the way for a host of Endtime prophecies converging upon the earth. Now, what are we waiting for?
Major Endtime Events
Gog and Magog War
Temple must be rebuilt. (This leads to the Antichrist entering the Temple and claiming to be “God.”)
International upheaval. Mega earthquakes. Famines. Pestilences. Fearsome signs from the cosmos.
And then . . . at the start of the Tribulation . . .
The Antichrist will Sign Peace Pact with Israel
Revelation 14 & the Three Angels
As I conclude this message, I want to explain the Bible’s purpose for predictive prophecy.
As these foreboding prophecies come to pass, God uses them to strike fear into unsaved people and turn their hearts toward Christ. Our loving God desires that none “should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Thus, the foremost purpose of fulfilled prophecy is to warn the wicked of a day of judgment so they can turn their hearts toward Christ before it’s too late. Remember, the grace of God will not let mankind walk blindly into the Apocalypse. He has determined to alert man with irrefutable evidence that the Apocalypse is approaching and spiritual preparation is needed.
Secondly, God uses predictive prophecies to assure Christians that his plan is unfolding just as he recorded in his Word. And when we witness prophecies being fulfilled it deepens our faith and confirms that we can trust God to the very end.
The Danger of Overstating Bible Prophecies
There is something that Christians must keep in check regarding Bible prophecy: we must never exaggerate, overhype, or misapply prophecies in an attempt to convince sinners that we have reached the end of days. There is nothing to gain from overstating or misapplying Bible prophecies! Because it won’t take long for people to realize they were duped by a “bad actor” who sensationalized a prophecy.