Does the Invasion of Ukraine Mark the Beginning of the End Times?

Let me start by answering the question: I don’t know. And the truth is that nobody else knows either. Jesus told his disciples that nobody knows the time of the end except the Father. I think that if anyone actually guessed the timing correctly, God would probably change it just to make sure nobody knew but him!

One thing is for sure, the events in Ukraine have captured the attention of the world. People are glued to the news or their Twitter feed watching the events as they unfold. I am. Which alarms me a bit. You see, Jesus gave a warning that times like this could be trouble for our souls. Big trouble. Let me explain.

In Matthew 24, Jesus had a good conversation with his disciples about what is commonly referred to as the end times. More specifically, the events surrounding the time when he will come back to planet Earth to collect his people. Not everyone.

Jesus told them that there would be some signs alerting everyone that the time is nearing for his “second coming”. Those signs include the coming of false Christs, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, false prophets, the persecution of Christians, and more.

Then in Matthew 24:12, he mentions something that’s easy to miss: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Wow, that is no small thing!

Let’s start with the question, “Love of what?” Video games? Money? Food? I don’t think so. I think Jesus is talking about love for God and love for people. Back a few chapters, in Matthew 22, Jesus told everyone that the two greatest commandments from God involve love — love God and love people. Even though Jesus is not specific here in Matthew 24, I think it’s fair to assume he’s talking about his followers and their love for God and other people.

In fact, in the Book of John, Jesus explains that how the disciples loved one another would be the primary way that people would identify them as his followers. In other words, it’s the quality of relationships between Christians that should most identify who is a Christian and who is not. It’s not a bumper sticker on your car, or church attendance, or carrying a bible around. Rather it’s how we love each other that marks a Christian (John 13:34–35).

So when Jesus says “the love of most will grow cold” I think this is a sober warning. Look out! You’re in danger of losing what is of utmost importance.

Before I go on with the warning, let me address the greater context of Jesus’ talk about the end times. This little conversation is sometimes referred to as the Olivet Discourse because he was with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem. By the way, who made up the term Olivet Discourse anyway? Sounds so academic! But Jesus was telling his disciples that times will be very difficult before the end, but it’s most important for them to be ready at all times for his return. He’s coming without warning. It’ll be a surprise. So be ready always and stand firm to the end!

One of the ways his disciples will be ready is by loving God and loving people with a hot, fervent love. Not a cold love.

Now here’s the trouble. I’ve been working my way up to this point. Because of the increase in wickedness, your and my love levels are in danger of shrinking. Wickedness puts our love at risk. Red alert! Let me explain.

Yesterday I was watching the news coverage of the war in Ukraine on TV. Apartments were getting hit by bombs. There were updates and reports of all types. Then they showed a report of a Russian attack on a maternity hospital. The video showed a dead pregnant lady being carried out on a stretcher. Oh God! It felt like my heart stop. My wife and I just sat on the couch and cried. Then we turned off the TV and prayed. I was so angry! So sad! How evil for Putin to invade another nation and kill innocent pregnant mothers and their children. It’s so very wrong!

The danger is that when wickedness like this increases, whether in your neighborhood or on your TV, that it has the likelihood that your love will grow cold. It’s probable. Jesus said “many” or “most”. Not just a few people will struggle with the cooling off of their love. Cold love goes hand in hand with an increase of wickedness.

How does this cooling happen? I’m not quite sure, but I can speculate. For example, we watch Putin’s soldiers murdering innocent people and our hearts can become angry, even hateful. We become self-righteous, thinking that we’re not like (aka better than) those evil people. We look down on them, forgetting that except for the love of Christ in us, selfishness and evil is our nature as well. We become suspicious of others, thinking that the world is going to hell in hand basket. We criticize our nation’s leaders for their weak response (or over-reaction). We want to buy a safer house behind a big fence with security guards to isolate ourselves from dangerous people. I could keep going, but I think you get the idea. When wickedness increases, your love grows cold very subtly, very naturally.

And yet, love is your mark! It’s your calling card as a Christian. We each must be determined to lean on Jesus to help us be one of the few who keeps his or her love hot until the end. No leaks in our hearts that drains your love away. We must always view the increase in wickedness through the eyes of Jesus, with compassion for everyone, including the soldier who aimed his missile at that pregnant mom in the maternity hospital.

Oh God, I pray, only you can make me love those people. Please help me God! Fill me with your compassion. Help me to be angry at the injustice, and yet not be filled with hatred for people that I think are evil. Only you, Jesus, are the solution to the evil in the world. Come rescue us!

Let me end with the original question. Does the invasion of Ukraine signal that the end is near? Again, I don’t know. But I do know that it fits right into the signs of the end times, and we’re one day closer. And I am certain of this: when Jesus returns I want to be ready with a passionate love for God and a deep love for people. So I must be very careful during this terrible season to guard my heart and keep on loving well.

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Roger Gales

Roger Gales is retired from careers in Christian ministry and financial planning/real estate investments.