The Bible and the War on Ukraine

by Cliff McManis

Just after 6:00 am on Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, invaded Ukraine and started a full-scale war. As of February 26 (the day this article was originally penned), the consensus of the world is that Russia’s action is unjustified, a sheer naked act of hostile aggression against innocent people. No one today is voicing support for Putin’s move or his further intentions. The United States, the UK and a coalition of nations around the world are in unison condemning Russia’s attack as inhumane and horrific.

I have been following the news daily, and praying, as I am greatly saddened by the reality of war and the loss of life. I’m particularly concerned about this war since I have friends who currently live in Ukraine and in Russia. God allowed me to visit Russia twice and Ukraine three times in the past ten years in order to preach the gospel in different contexts and to help train the men of God who were studying at seminaries in Novosibirsk, Russia and Kiev, Ukraine. The saints at my home church have generously supported the ministry efforts of faithful believers we work with in both countries. I continue to have working relationships with pastors, missionaries and seminary professors in both countries. As a Christian, I love the people in both countries. Christians have a unique perspective of the nations of the world since we see all humans as made in God’s image (Gen 9:6) and we see every person as a candidate for the gospel (Luke 24:47) and in need of Jesus’ saving grace. He is the Savior of the world! (John 4:42)    

Christians have a unique perspective of the nations of the world since we see all humans as made in God’s image (Gen 9:6) and we see every person as a candidate for the gospel (Luke 24:47) and in need of Jesus’ saving grace.

There are many voices in the media offering play-by-play and hour-by-hour updates and commentary. Few are offering a biblical perspective on the unfolding events, so I’d like to offer some. The Bible, as God’s living Word (Heb 4:12), is sufficient, and speaks to every event occurring in our lives (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Scriptures even speak to the details of war in general, and the war on Ukraine specifically as it offers God’s perspective on everything that happens in life. Consider some of the Bible’s timeless principles of what is happening now:

  1. Why is there war?
    James 4:1 asks, “Where do wars and fighting come from?” And then the Holy Spirit gives the simple answer: wars and fighting come from “the lusts that wage war in your body…You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (4:2). Evil people initiate war and kill others out of lust for power and control over others. Today, it is obvious to the world that Putin has an insatiable lust for power and control. So what is the source of war? Sin! There is no other explanation from God’s perspective.
  2. When will wars stop?
    Wars have gone on non-stop since evil Cain killed his righteous brother Abel 6,000 years ago (Gen 4). Nations have been warring against each other for 4,500 years since God made the nations (Gen 10-11). Jesus said that war will continue until He returns at the Second Coming. Jesus warned us, “you will hear of wars and rumors of wars…nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt 24:6-7) until He comes again at the end of the age. Like poverty (Matt 26:11), we will always have wars with us. Wars remind us that we live in a fallen, cursed world in need of a Savior (Rom 8:18-25). This present earth is not our home (Phil 3:20-21; Heb 13:14). 
  3. Why doesn’t God do something?
    Many times in life we look around at all the horrific evil that goes on unchecked and we might ask, “God, why don’t you stop this?” Believers all through history have asked this question at times. The whole book of Job, all 42 chapters, answers that question. Job was a godly man and yet asked God, “God, why are you allowing this to happen?” God answered Job’s question. God is doing something. He’s actually doing a lot in many ways we do not recognize. Nothing in this life happens without His permission (Job 1:12) and everything happens in accordance with His ultimate plan (Rom 8:28). Right now God is answering specific prayers that believers are raising up in Ukraine and around the world (1 Pet 3:12). Countless prayers. We will hear about many of them much later. God is working through courageous people right now to help the situation (Phil 2:13), like Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that is on the ground providing food and clothing, or nearby nations in Europe that are providing immediate aid to thousands of refugees, or wonderful Christians like Allen who is at this moment driving a bus from Poland to Kiev to rescue 22 children in an orphanage (James 1:27). Pray he makes it safely home to the States by next Tuesday. Practically we are God’s hand and feet in time of need. For those who keep asking, “God why didn’t you do something?” Jesus asks of them, “Why didn’t you do something?” (Matt 25:41-46). God will also honor His inviolable principle of Galatians 6:7 that says “what you sow you shall also reap.” No one gets away with sin; “your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23). God will right every wrong and bring every soul to full justice in due time (Rev 6:10-11).  

What can I do way over here in the States?
A lot! Every Christian can pray very specifically in keeping with God’s Word. God moves in response to the prayers of His people. That is one of the means He has decided by which He will accomplish much in life. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16-18). Now is the time to pray fervently. Pray that God will protect the believers of Pastor Greg’s church in Kiev, Grace Bible Church, and that they can minister to the many frightened unbelievers all around their neighborhood. Pray that God moves the hearts of righteous rulers in Europe and around the world to be proactive and swift at defending the innocent and punishing the wicked (1 Tim 2; Rom 13). Ask your family to have a brief special prayer time on behalf of all the women, children, helpless and elderly who are currently being bombarded by destructive missiles and bombs (Prov 19:17; 1 Thess 5:14; Heb 13:3).