In the 21st chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Yeshua tells His disciples what will happen:
“When you hear about wars and turmoil, do not be horrified, for this must be before; but the end is not immediately” (Luke 21:9).
We are living in this time. We don’t just hear about wars, we hear war. There is practically no such city in Ukraine where the war has not been heard, explosions and shots have not been heard. But we were warned 2000 years ago. And we were told not to be terrified.
I don’t know about you, but when I first read the Gospel, I fell into bewilderment, in particular, from this. Yeshua says to various suffering people, people who are in despair, who have one, maybe a weak hope in God: “Do not be afraid, only believe.” I thought: “How can you not be afraid?” A woman who suffered for many years from an illness, and medical help made things worse, she, with her last strength, somehow got to Him, and He says: “Do not be afraid! Just believe!”
God’s Faith Protecting Us and Giving Shalom
I did not understand then that when a person comes with hope to the Lord, maybe he does not have strong faith, but at least there is hope, the expectation that if this meeting takes place, then the Lord will perform a miracle – this is enough for God. Especially if it’s not the person who knows Him. And when this important meeting takes place, it can be said that the eyes of the Lord meet the eyes of the seeker, and the Lord transmits the impulse of faith. And the person who comes to Him can grasp this faith in the presence of the great King, in the presence of the Lord of all. And by this faith, submit himself to His dominion, His power. This presence embraces him and begins to fill him. And this supernatural presence itself will squeeze out and simply dispel fears if a person seizes the faith of God, brought to him by the Lord, brought to him by the Holy Spirit.
When we have this meeting (now with the invisible Savior) and we open ourselves a little to His flowing Spirit, then He produces faith in us from within. And we, concentrating on this faith, allow Him to dispel and remove all fears. And then the miracle becomes simple and normal. The miracle becomes a natural manifestation of God’s presence.
That is why Mashiach said: “Do not be afraid, only believe. Don’t be afraid, just believe.” And then, when it has already happened, He says: “Your faith has saved you.” It is clear that this was the faith of God, which was accepted by a woman. But it is the faith of God, when it becomes ours, that makes any miracle simple and natural.
And here, in Luke 21:9, a commandment or exhortation of the same kind: “Be not dismayed.” How can one not be horrified when there is a war around, when we hear even more about various military escalations, when military rumors change from day to day, when the news is ahead of each other and hits the brains of normal believers in Ukraine? How can you not succumb to panic, horror and fears? That’s the same!
This is possible if we focus not on the news, not on the terrible circumstances of war, not on the tragic events, not on the rumors that are in the air, ahead of each other and unsettle, but on the One who always, yesterday, today and forever unchanged. He is always the same, He is always the King of kings, He is always the Lord of lords, He is always the Ruler of the world, He is always Adonai Shalom. And this shalom He gives to His children.
If we aspire to Him, if we, believing in varying degrees, and in some cases at least hoping, come to Him, raise our eyes to Him, His presence, His shekinah covers, envelops us like a wonderful warm sleeping bag. It seems to be not so thick, but so warm, and protects in any cold. And in this suit of God, in this shekinah, we are separated from everything that brings horror, fear, panic, bitterness, hopelessness, despair, doubt, unbelief and disappointment.
Trials and Persecution as a Means of Witnessing about Yeshua
And then He says, “But the end is not immediately” (Luke 21:9). This is about the same as it is written in the 24th chapter of Matthew: “But this is not the end.”
“Then he said to them: Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes in places, and famines” – famine here, famine there – “and pestilence” – an epidemic, another epidemic, a new epidemic – “and terrible phenomena, and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:10-11) .
Apparitions can be terrible for those who concentrate on phenomena. But if we continue to hold on by faith for the Lord, then all these horrors have already passed us by in advance.
“First of all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you, handing you over to synagogues and prisons, and will bring you before kings and rulers for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:12).
Here Yeshua describes successive waves of persecution and persecution of believers. First, purely internal persecution, the persecution of the Messianic Jews, the apostles, their disciples, the disciples of their disciples. Those who believed in Yeshua within the Jewish people in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Galilee, were persecuted by the Jewish elite.
And then: “They will lead you before kings and rulers for my name” – here it is briefly said about those persecutions that will begin in pagan countries and peoples. And this will be persecution not only against Jews who believed in Yeshua, but especially against pagans who have become Christians. And further it says:
“And this will be your time to witness” (Luke 21:13).
This is a unique verse in the Gospel of Luke! It turns out that even terrible persecution for the faith the Lord used and continues to use as a witness to a variety of people — as a witness to the persecutors, as a witness to observers, as a witness to the wavering, as a witness to apostates, as a witness to brothers and sisters who had a hard time, but who were not strengthened through the persecutions themselves but by seeing how ordinary God’s children, filled with God’s extraordinary power, went through these trials.
But verse 13 can refer not only to persecution, but to all of the preceding. And such terrible trials as epidemics, famines, internal conflicts, natural disasters – earthquakes and so on, and, of course, wars, can serve with God’s right approach to testify to different categories of people.
“Therefore make it your heart not to think beforehand what to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:14-15).
The more extreme the time and circumstances, the more supernaturally the Holy Spirit living in us is ready to act, the more firmly we must rely on Him, the more freely we must hold on to God, trusting Him in unfamiliar circumstances.
“You will also be betrayed by your parents, and brothers, and relatives, and friends, and some of you will be put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name, but not a hair from your head will be lost” (Luke 21:16-18).
By the grace of God, this is not happening now. This is not the time. This is not the total persecution that Yeshua prophesied about. And those difficult times that we are going through are far from the most difficult times. “By your patience save your souls” (Luke 21:19). And this is for all time!
And further after the words “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand” (Luke 21:20), Yeshua gives advice that helped the Jerusalem Jewish Messianic community escape from besieged Jerusalem, when the siege was lifted for a while, and most of the people thought they had won and the Romans retreated. But the Messianic Jewish community, who remembered the prophecy of the Lord, knew that they had to flee, taking advantage of this brief period. And, armed with faith in His prophecies and promises, they left Jerusalem, crossed the Jordan, and founded the first Jewish messianic movement on the other side of the Jordan in Syria.
Signs, disasters and fears – things that should not frighten us
“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth there will be despondency of the nations and perplexity…” (Luke 21:25).
I want to say, the spirit of despondency, the spirit of confusion, the spirit of bewilderment, the spirit that paralyzes willpower, the spirit that disperses attention and, as it were, confuses thoughts, it is now acting on Ukraine. Especially in the first couple of weeks it was in a clearly visible but now it is happening. And we must watch and not give in. In all such difficult times, the enemy uses these circumstances to sow despondency, hopelessness, to weaken and to make us lower our hands, so that our knees buckle.
Friends, if you notice yourself in this mood, this state, in no case do not let this muddy water overwhelm you. Stop, take the authority that Yeshua gave you. Use this authority over your thoughts, over your feelings, over your mood. Mood is not our master. The mood should serve us. And we should have power over the mood, and not vice versa. But that only applies 97 percent to God’s children. Only they have such power for real.
“And the sea will be noisy and rage” (Luke 21:25) – Russian Bible translation.
Very often in the Bible, the sea is the image of this world. The world will make noise, buzz, roar, resent, get angry, worldly waves will roll one after another, collide, foam will rise high, but this does not apply to us.
“People will die for fear and expectation of disasters that are coming to the world” (Luke 21:26)
I found one amazing statement on the Internet: “The most difficult fear to treat, the most severe phobia, is the fear of fear.” This is what is written here: people will die from the expectation of disasters. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the horror film industry is so popular and profitable? There is something in the human soul that is drawn to that which is terrible. It’s not just natural, it’s demonic, and it must be miles away from us believers.
Perfect Hope in the Lord Strengthening Us Daily
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27).
The main meaning of this verse is that when it reaches its climax, there will be a sign of the coming in the glory of the Messiah. Second meaning: if we stay awake, resist all these temptations, pressures, oppression, attacks, then in our spirit with our heart renewed eyes we will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud of great glory.
Even before He returns, we will see Him returning victoriously and dispelling to the end any darkness and beating the remnants of the enemy army. If we, despite everything that happens around us, do not give in to fears, reject these fears and choose only faith, then we will see Him. Our heart will see and rejoice in anticipation of His final glorious victory and enthronement.
“When these things begin to happen, then rise up and lift up your heads, for your deliverance draws near” (Luke 21:28).
In fact, we are called to this every day. It is not a religious ritual, not a religious procedure to be automatically repeated. There is no automatism, no ceremonial ritualism, which is fixated on itself and on some external actions, often devoid of internal spiritual content. Not!
This is what we can do by the Holy Spirit, Who guides us in a new way every day, despite the pressure of this world, which is under the power of the prince. Despite the circumstances, despite the weaknesses and shortcomings of our soul, despite the fears that naturally come, despite the fears that demons try to implant in us, despite despondency, despite embarrassment, disappointment, confusion, some nonsense that confuses us, in spite of conflicts with people, especially believers.
When every day in openness, in trust in God, realizing that on our own we can’t do anything sensible (we can’t defeat even the smallest demon, we can’t defeat ourselves, we can’t correct ourselves), but with the Lord we can do everything, we rise from faith to faith, from hope to new hope, from strength to strength, we raise our eyes, hands, hearts to our Savior—then He becomes spiritually visible in His glory. And that brings perfect hope.
Boris Grisenko, Senior Rabbi of KEMO.