Russia’s shifting policy

We celebrated Simcha Torah (Joy of the Torah) this past Monday night. It is when Jewish people commemorate the completed reading of the entire 5 books of Moses throughout the annual cycle, only to begin again with Genesis at the next service.

Besides the weekly Torah reading every Saturday, the synagogue service also includes reading the Haftarah, which is a portion taken from the Prophets or the Writings section of the Tanakh. The portion that they would be reading on the last week of the annual cycle is from Ezekiel 38-39, about the war of Gog and Magog. This war is special because many in Judaism understand this to be the final war that will bring the Messiah.

This title Gog and Magog is as popular among them as Armageddon is among bible believing Christians. It is very interesting that while many secular Jews avoid conversations which involves God and the Scriptures, when it comes to the War of God and Magog, they become all ears to hear and to comment!

Many in Judaism do believe that we are closing in towards that very war, especially when pointing out the three major players: Russia, Iran and Turkey, who are forming alliances. We see with Russian and Iranian armies, already at the Syrian/Israeli border.

And these days, we notice more hostility from the Russians because of Israel’s siding with Ukraine. This Russian shift in attitude to Israel and the Jewish people is major. When Russian President Putin took office 22 years ago, he actually led a clampdown on open antisemitism in his country. It was reported for example, that in 2019 a man was incarcerated for two and a half years for drawing antisemitic graffiti — this was a strong government response to antisemitism. Now, however, we see how anti-Jewish rhetoric in Russia is tolerated in the media and on their talk shows.

Roman Bronfman, a former Israeli lawmaker noted that in Russian history, when the regime’s stability was threatened, a Jewish target was often selected. He said, “In many ways this is a repeat of multiple episodes in Russian history, including the final days of Josef Stalin’s time in power”.

Russian history brings to mind the many pogroms in this country, especially between the 1820’s to the early 1900’s. The word pogrom is Russian for devastation. These pogroms were officially led and organized revolts against the Jews in various Russian districts, in which many homes and properties were destroyed, and many thousands of lives were lost. These pogroms eventually led to the great migration of some 2 million Russian Jews out of the country to seek haven in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Today we are witnessing a continued migration of the Jew, with 6000 Russians and close to 9000 Ukrainians have immigrated to Israel.

Observe, if you will the portrait attached to this article. One cannot help but be taken by the deeply poignant and striking depiction of the Jew fleeing for his life. See what he cherishes so deeply. See what is wrapped so preciously by the tallit (prayer shawl). It is the Word of God, the Torah Scrolls.

This is what Rabbi Shaul, Paul, spoke about as being given to the Jew, a mandate they were to carry through with because God had chosen them as the vessel through which the world would gain access to God’s living Word. Romans 9:4-5 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Messiah, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Their life’s mandate was to guard this Word and remembering the Russian pogroms is just one of many eras of time when the Jew, in his loyalty put the Word before his very own life. With this type of devotion and trustworthiness, it is no wonder that they have remained the enemy of our enemy Satan. The enemy will chase them, but God in His power will protect and save.

His Word assures that the calling to the Jews remains irrevocable. But as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable (Romans 11:28b-29). In Romans 3:3-4a Paul also reminds us, “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?  By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar. Again, this being an unconditional and irrevocable covenant with the chosen Jewish nation, God’s faithfulness to His Word is even greater attested when many if not most Jews remained in disbelief concerning the Messiah. God will still accomplish His perfect purposes His way.

Gog and Magog / Armageddon

The Jewish issue is even more enhanced when Russia is fighting Ukraine and the President of Ukraine, Zelensky is himself Jewish.  But these are the types of things we ought to expect when we consider the details of the War of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel.

And speaking of this war between Russia and Ukraine, the word nuclear has often been on the lips of Putin who said that he will use these bombs if his country is in danger. In response to this, another word has recently begun to circulate in the news, the word Armageddon, and this comes from the mouth of the leader of the most powerful country in the world, the U.S.

This is what President Biden said, “The mistakes get made, the miscalculation could occur, no one could be sure what would happen, and it could end in Armageddon.” That is some statement coming from the President of the U.S.

After this declaration, the White House hurried to reassure people that this is no immediate threat but praise the Lord we can rely on a God who is sovereign over every geo-political matter in this world. It is He who restrains and permits evil.

So, according to both the news and to bible prophecies, it might not be too long from now. Therefore, we take the time to speak about these things, always with the hope and prayer that some will turn to God for salvation. Whether in war or in peace, today is the day of salvation.