Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine
When the USSR fell apart in 1992, the nation of Ukraine found itself in possession of thousands of nuclear weapons. To prevent these weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, an agreement was arranged that all former Soviet states would hand their nuclear material over to Russia for safekeeping. Back in 1994, Ukraine decided to give up those weapons in exchange for the U.S., U.K., and Russia guaranteeing the country’s security. The agreement is known as the Budapest Memorandum. Today, Ukraine’s leaders probably think they should have held on to a few nuclear missiles.
The threat to Ukraine from Russia is not something that just recently popped up. Vladimir Putin has amassed more than 150,000 Russian troops at the Russian border of Ukraine since last year. The build-up began on the 90th day of Biden’s presidency, and no one was really paying attention. There was no alarm at the State Department when Putin had no compunction about stating that Ukraine should not exist at all.
Putin’s strategy is reminiscent of Hitler taking over the Sudetenland. Hitler was worried sick about Germans that lived in areas of Czechoslovakia. They were being pursued by the evil Czechs, and he demanded they become part of Germany. Within months, all of Czechoslovakia fell under Hitler’s control.
Putin has already taken over Ukraine territory in the 2014 Crimea invasion. The Republic of Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine following a disputed referendum, and then Russian Troops moved in.
The fighting is not going well for the Russian side. Many of the Russian troops appear to be poorly trained. Some captured soldiers said they were never told they were going to invade another country. By Western standards, things look bad for Putin, but I see him using the same tactics he used to win against Islamic groups in Syria. He will just keep bombing until there is nothing left standing. If he loses 10,000 troops, soldiers, it won’t matter to him one bit.
The fighting has done wonders to unify NATO. Member nations are having a let’s arm Ukraine party. The Dutch government is sending rocket launchers for air defense. The Estonians are sending Javelin antitank missiles. The Poles and the Latvians are sending Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The Czechs are sending machine guns, sniper rifles, pistols, and ammunition.
And Germany, long allergic to sending weapons into conflict zones, is sending Stingers as well as other shoulder-launched rockets. Germany has also decided to vastly increase its military budget, which oddly enough was reduced to near zero after their defeat in World War I and II. Hey, I guess you can’t have WW III without Germany.
Since we don’t want to get into a nuclear war with Russia, sanctions are the preferred weapon against Putin. In sanctions announced last week, the U.S. and its allies are also targeting “technology exports” in the oil refining sector, which they say could help the U.S. move toward its goal of “degrading Russia’s status as a leading energy supplier over time.” Money accounts by Putin and his thug underlings have been locked up.
Many companies are taking their own action. Nike and Apple closed their online stores in Russia. The world’s biggest shipping lines, MSC and Maersk, suspended container shipping to and from Russia. Airplane giants Boeing and Airbus have both stopped supplying parts and support to Russian airlines. Many booze shops have stopped selling Russian Vodka.
Putin has a $650 billion cash hoard to help him weather the sanctions. He also knows that nations still need to buy his oil, which has soared 20% since he invaded Ukraine. Putin recently sold all of Russia’s U.S. bonds and has accumulated a large horde of gold.
The willingness of Putin to evade Ukraine has to be related to Joe Biden’s presidency. He has watched the weakness of the deteriorating President. He watched America’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer.
After 20 years of war, Putin saw the U.S. abandon Afghanistan again to the Taliban – a withdrawal that made the Soviet retreat from the same country 30 years earlier look orderly. Biden has not been on top of the Ukraine situation—any more than he has been on top of anything. Just last month, he seemed to be saying he would allow Russia to take a portion of Ukraine. Two days before Putin acted, Biden said Putin had decided to invade its neighbor, which Putin obviously took as an open invitation.
Former televangelist Pat Robertson came out of his retirement to weigh in on the situation. According to him, Vladimir Putin is being willed by God to conduct the invasion as a way of triggering the End Times. I always expect Pat’s theology to mess up, but in this case, I generally agree with him. Putin is the perfect match for the Gog leader. Ukraine may make Putin so isolated that he tries to change the game by launching an attack on Israel and being joined by a host of demonically inspired Muslim nations.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Heaven’s Unfathomable Riches
A couple of commentaries ago, I announced my great friend Bob Rogers going to our Heavenly home and how he is now enjoying things beyond which we can imagine. Today we share with you through tears comforted by joyful knowledge that she is alive forever, that his dear wife, Vicki Rogers, a wonderful Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, has joined him after a lengthy bout with illness. However, both were infinitely more than my friends. We are all part of a family the Lord put together many years ago. It is a spiritual family relationship rather than biological, and that, to me at least, has always meant it was even more meaningful than if we could have been relatives in the earthly, biological sense.
Their daughter, Angie, is my honorary daughter in every sense. She is also my editor (the best in the world of editing) of many, many years. The children of Angie and husband Kurt (also close to my fatherly heart) – Nick, Lindsey and Erin – are my honorary grandchildren, whom I love as if they were my biological family.
Because of her belief in Jesus Christ and being in God’s family, Angie’s mom is now together again with her beloved husband Bob and is exulting in a magnificent joy that’s beyond comprehension. We can know this because of the following familiar promise from God’s Holy Word.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
We have read in that Holy Word that Jesus said that in Heaven we are neither married nor given in marriage. Some might find that to be something that is discouraging. I do not. That’s because of the above promise. We are promised more wonderful things when we reach that eternal state of joy than we are capable of imagining. This means, to me, and should to you also, that the relationships, whether they be earthly friendships and family relationships – or marriage partnerships – the intimacy will be millions of times more wonderful than any relationship we’ve had while in this earth-bound body.
Like in the earlier case of Bob’s making that trip to his eternal home, Vicki’s going to be with her Lord tripped things within my spiritually-motivated cognitive processes. It immediately brought up the scriptural promise that I have always found profound almost beyond ability to express. Here is that promise. It is more than a promise.
It is a fact right at this moment, not just when we reach that heavenly home that Bob and Vicki now are enjoying. It is profound because it is so hard for us who are now in God’s eternal family to get our earthly minds around while still in these mortal bodies.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8: 16-17).
Do you grasp what this is truly saying? All that God has He has given to His Blessed Son, Jesus. God is telling us here through the Apostle Paul that we – already, in this life – are possessors of all of God’s riches, in exact measure as is His Son! Now that is something that I can certainly not truly get this feeble, full-of-much-age grey matter around!
God is telling us that we are joint heirs with the Creator of all that is! Jesus was given the power and authority from the Father to make all there is!
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17).
The phrase “by him all things consist” has always given me a sense of the awesome power of our Lord. We are told that He created the very substance of all matter. He holds together the atoms and even the elements that make up the atom! If He didn’t hold the elements of Creation together, all that is in existence would fly apart instantaneously.
That is how we can begin to somewhat understand why when Jesus rode the little donkey into Jerusalem to present Himself as Israel’s Messiah, he said that if the people didn’t praise Him at that time, the very stones would cry out. All of nature – the very elements – obeys our Lord and recognizes Him for Who He is!
When we are in Heaven with Bob and Vicki, with each other, and with our wonderful Savior and Lord –our Brother Jesus – we won’t just be tiny unrecognized figures in a Heaven full of billions of souls. We will be people in flesh-and-bone bodies – immortal bodies – like Jesus’ Body. We will know each other individually and intimately, as God, our omniscient Father, knows each of us and every hair on our heads (which all men among us will have again in abundance)!
As Dr. David Jeremiah might say while preaching fervently, “Can I get a praise?!”