Provocations :: By Jonathan Brentner

In 1962, Russia began setting up missile bases in Cuba that were capable of firing nuclear weapons into the U.S. President John F. Kennedy responded boldly to the threat and initiated a “quarantine” of the island nation designed to stop Russia from delivering atomic weapons to Cuba. (“Quarantine” sounded less hostile than calling it a “blockade,” but that’s what it was.)

Although just nine years old at the time, I sensed my parents’ fear at supper time and was aware that others also feared a devastating war. We had a nuclear drill at my grade school, during which time we hid under our small desks for protection. Yes, that really happened!

Russia’s President Khrushchev later relented, agreed to dismantle the bases, and the threat subsided.

Fast forward to today. Confirmed reports tell of a Russian submarine, capable of firing nuclear weapons, patrolling along the coast of Florida. We read about Russian warships either close to Cuba or on their way to the island nation. Contrary to October 1962, few people sense that there’s any danger whatsoever. There’s no widespread sense of peril such as existed sixty-two years ago.

Another stark difference with 1962 is that America has a weak and incompetent president whose administration is controlled by power-hungry globalists. This worldwide group of demonic villains seeks to ignite a catastrophic world war for which they can blame someone else for starting.

Drumbeats of Nuclear War

For the past several months, I have read an assortment of threats on social media from Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking Russian officials, warning that NATO’s continued support of Ukraine would provoke a nuclear conflict.

Below is a recent warning from Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council:

Russia regards all long-range weapons used by Ukraine as already being directly controlled by servicemen from NATO countries. This is no military assistance; this is participation in a war against us. And such actions could well become a casus belli. Nobody today can rule out the conflict’s transition to its final stage.[1]

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov recently issued this strongly worded statement:

I would like to warn American leaders against miscalculations that could have fatal consequences. For unknown reasons, they underestimate the seriousness of the rebuff they may receive.[2]

Lawyer, economist, and author James G. Rickards recently wrote the following, which aptly sums up all that I am seeing from my sources of information:

The steady path toward World War III continues. U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine in the war with Russia has been one long failure, but that hasn’t stopped them from escalating the war with new weapons and tactics.

Russia has met the escalation with its own escalation every step of the way. At what point do rational leaders in the West (if there are any left) pause, consider that the war is lost in Ukraine, de-escalate, and seek a treaty to end the war?

There’s no sign of that yet. In fact, all of the signs point to further escalation, which is a sure path to nuclear war. What good has escalation accomplished?

I began studying nuclear war-fighting in 1969 and have continued my studies for decades, which includes all the leading thinkers about nuclear war. While the experts disagree in certain respects, they all agree on one thing:

The most likely path to nuclear war is escalation. No one wakes up and says, “Nice day for a nuclear war. Let’s start one.”[3]

President Biden recently greenlighted Ukraine’s use of American missiles to strike targets inside Russia. This insane goading of the Russian bear came to fruition just yesterday. Below are quips from one of many news stories concerning the tragic results of the President’s decision:

Russia said on Sunday that the United States was responsible for a Ukrainian attack on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula with five U.S.-supplied missiles that killed four people, including two children, and injured 151 more.

The Russian Defense Ministry said four of the U.S.-delivered Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, equipped with cluster warheads, were shot down by air defense systems, and the ammunition of a fifth had detonated in mid-air….

The Defense Ministry said U.S. specialists had set the missiles’ flight coordinates on the basis of information from U.S. spy satellites, meaning Washington was directly responsible.

“Responsibility for the deliberate missile attack on the civilians of Sevastopol is borne above all by Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, and by the Kyiv regime, from whose territory this strike was carried out,” the ministry said.[4]

What’s to keep Vladimir Putin from responding to this deadly provocation with an attack of his own against the U.S., whom he fully blames for the deadly missile attack on his soil?

As the threat of a nuclear confrontation between Russia and NATO intensifies by the day, the war in the Middle East threatens to also spark a much greater conflict. In addition to Israel’s war in Gaza, it appears that an all-out war with Hezbollah in Lebanon is imminent. Estimates vary widely as to when this will erupt into full-scale conflict. However, deadly attacks between Israel and Hezbollah continue on a daily basis.

The danger of the battle between Israel and Hezbollah leading to a world war is great. Iran recently threatened to get involved if Israel invades Lebanon. According to Amir Tsarfati, they are already flooding fighters into Lebanon through Syria. It’s possible that the U.S. can escape involvement in this imminent war, but that seems highly unlikely.

Surreal Response

Back in October 1962, I sensed the fear that gripped the U.S. because of the threat posed by the presence of Russian missiles in Cuba. Today, the situation is far more terrifying. For most people, however, it’s business as usual. Nothing to see here.

The most appropriate word that describes today’s response to the threat of nuclear war is “surreal.”

The general populace of the U.S. remains complacent, blissfully unaware of the dangers that threaten their well-being. I blame this dreamlike aura on a pervasive normalcy bias, a mainstream media that distracts everyone’s attention from the ominous threats to our well-being, and government spokespeople who are highly skilled at gaslighting the American people.

Many pastors contribute to the false sense of normality and security that prevails in the U.S. The absence of any reference to Jesus’ imminent appearing and the signs of the nearing Tribulation convey a false sense of safety.

The silence from the pulpits regarding what Scripture says about Bible prophecy and Jesus’ soon appearing resounds with this message: “The Lord is not about to disrupt the status quo of your lives any time soon.”

Not that long ago, I heard a pastor say that he didn’t have a pessimistic “doom and gloom” view of the future. Really!!?? Our world is on fire; believers need so much more than scant references to eternal life amid sermons that assume all is well outside the walls of the church. More than ever before, believers need messages that open their eyes to the hope that Scripture offers for perilous times in which they live.

Sadly, the false teaching of Replacement Theology blinds the eyes of many to the lateness of the hour, particularly as it relates to Israel. Because the proponents of this teaching say that God long ago rejected Israel, they fail to recognize the many prophetic implications of what’s happening in Israel at this very moment. Sadly, this blindness contributes to the prevalent deception in many churches that all is well.

There’s Good News, Really

The good news for those of us in Christ is that the many provocations for a nuclear war signify that the day of our redemption is rapidly approaching. Jesus is coming soon to take us home to the place that He’s preparing for us.

The Bible is remarkably clear about what it says about the day in which we live:

1. “Sudden destruction” lies ahead for the world but not for New Testament saints. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10, Paul makes a definitive distinction between the many “peace and security” advocates of our day and New Testament saints, that’s us.

Those outside of Christ will experience the “sudden destruction” that will initiate the “Day of the Lord.” Verses 9-10 reveal the Lord’s comforting promise for believers regarding the swift and unexpected start to the period of God’s wrath upon the earth:

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”

These verses, which the apostle wrote based upon a direct “word from the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15), assure us of deliverance from the “sudden destruction” that’s already on the world’s doorstep and likely to happen at any moment. This deliverance will come via the Rapture.

How does the Lord’s message to us in Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 apply to the day in which we live?

  • It signifies that the “Day of the Lord” will begin with “sudden destruction” at a time when people are saying “Peace and security.” Does this not sound like today?
  • Today’s multiple provocations for a nuclear war tell us that the devastation, which will mark the start of this time, is ever so close to happening (see also Revelation 6:1-8).
  • Since the Lord promises us that the Rapture will happen before the “Day of the Lord” wrath descends on the world, our “blessed hope” must of necessity be extremely close.
  • Regardless of what we might see in the days ahead, the most devastating wars in the world will occur after Jesus takes us safely to glory.

2. The Lord will richly reward those who eagerly await His appearing. Although it’s not easy waiting for Jesus’ appearing, we rest in His promise to reward those who long for the time when we will meet Him in the air. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul wrote about the “crown of righteousness” that the Lord will “award” to those who “have loved his appearing.”

When the Rapture occurs, and I believe it will happen very soon, Jesus will richly reward those of us who keep our eyes fixed on the prize and eagerly long for the day when Jesus takes us to glory (Philippians 3:14-21; Colossians 3:4).

Don’t let the perils of our day take your eyes off the glorious prize that awaits us at Jesus’ appearing. He will richly bless those who persevere in watching for His appearing.

I don’t know how soon the drumbeats of our day will lead to the unthinkable nuclear war. It’s possible that, but for the Lord’s restraining hand, the missiles might already be flying through the air. It’s impossible to say when the Day of the Lord will begin.

However, those who are not watching for the Rapture to occur in the coming hours, days, weeks, or months do greatly err; they don’t understand Bible prophecy nor what Scripture reveals regarding the end times, the very day in which we live. Those who regard these matters as “tertiary” make a serious miscalculation and mislead many saints.

I don’t know when Jesus will appear to take us home or how much longer we will have to wait, but given world events, it seems rather foolish not to expect it to happen rather soon.

Maranatha! Come ever so soon, Lord Jesus.


Note: In Hereafter, It’s Far Better Than You Can Imagine, Terry James and I describe the future glory that awaits us as believers, beginning with Jesus’ appearing to take us home. From beginning to end, we emphasize the jubilant joy that awaits us in Heaven. The time in which we will experience these things is ever so close.

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[1] James Rickards, Are They TRYING to Start a Nuclear War? June 4, 2024, on the Daily Reckoning Website at:

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] End Time Headlines, Russia blames the U.S. for deadly Ukrainian attack on Crimea, June 23, 2024, at: (One of many sources reporting on the attack).