Is Armageddon near?
Here are some of the latest headlines:
As a young boy in school during “The Cuban missile crisis,” I remember climbing under my desk for another bomb drill in preparation for a potential atomic bomb threat. I seriously doubt our desks would have done us any good.
Now, 60 years later, AP News reported that President Biden said:
“The risk of nuclear ‘Armageddon’ is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine.”
Anytime a world leader, much less a U.S. President, uses the word “Armageddon,” we notice.
President Biden continued, “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” He suggested the threat from Putin is real “because his military is — you might say — significantly underperforming.”
Add to this, the U.S. has just spent $290 million on anti-radiation drugs. The threat is not being dismissed.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, who has single-handedly set this nightmare scenario into motion, is reportedly isolated in a bunker, becoming increasingly paranoid and nervous as his army has suffered defeat after defeat in his war against Ukraine.
World leaders are taking this seriously. So should we. But is this potentially Armageddon?
The short answer: no.
To most Christians, “Armageddon” is often used to describe the final apocalyptic battle that mankind will someday face. The word ultimately comes from the Hebrew word “Har-Magedone,” which means “Mount Megiddo,” the predicted battle location.
Christians should understand that this cannot be biblical Armageddon no matter what happens with Putin’s threats. That is a specific series of battles fought at the end of what the Bible calls “the great tribulation period” that will last for seven years. It is inaugurated by the emergence of the antichrist and ends with the return of Jesus Christ.
But what if Russia and the United States enter this conflict of the highest stakes? Let us all pray together that such a thing never happens.
But what if you knew that a nuclear missile was coming and you only had moments more to live?
As a matter of fact, this did happen at 8:07 a.m. on Saturday, January 13, 2018, to the people of Oahu. Their phones buzzed with this ominous warning:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
People in Hawaii waited breathlessly for 37 very long minutes before being told it was a false alarm. The official explanation is the wrong button was pushed during a shift change.
Shelly, a friend of ours, who was on Oahu at the time of this emergency alert, reacted calmly because of her deep faith in Jesus Christ. She texted us after the all-clear was given. After the emergency alert, her neighbors came running over to her house on the North Shore of Oahu and asked her what to do. Shelly writes, “I prayed with them and said the first thing we need to do is make sure we know where we are going when we leave this earth!”
One day an actual threat will come your way — a nuclear threat or a personal one. It could be a heart attack or a car accident. One thing is sure: no one gets out of here alive.
Like Shelly, we should all know where we are going. Only those who are prepared to die are ready to live.
About 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, came to our planet and died on the cross for all of our sins. There, hanging on that cross, He carried all the sins of the world, including yours, and died in your place. Then, three days later, Jesus rose again. Death died when Christ rose.
If we will turn from our sins and believe in Him, we can know we will spend the afterlife in Heaven. With that knowledge, we are prepared to give that same answer of hope to someone else.
There is no escaping the realities of life and death, even in a place as beautiful as Hawaii. One day, it will not be a false alarm. Nothing is more important than readying yourself for whatever emergency comes your way. I pray that our leaders, from the White House down, are doing everything they can to de-escalate this conflict immediately.
But for the rest of us, it is vital that we know where we will spend eternity.
Greg Laurie is the Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and the speaker at the Harvest Crusades. He is also the author of Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus: A Spiritual Biography of Rock And Roll.