Wars and Rumors of Wars…but Don’t Be Troubled

Matthew 24 fascinates me. As the chapter opens, Jesus had just lamented over Jerusalem’s propensity to drift away from God, but He left them a hint of encouragement. One day they will welcome Him back. (Matthew 23:37-39) Then, to open chapter 24, Jesus sits with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Kidron Valley, to the Temple on Temple Mount. There, the disciples asked Jesus what the signs of the last days will be.

We’ve written plenty about that scenario and Jesus’ answers, so let’s focus on only one of the signs Jesus warned of: wars and rumors of wars (verse 6). Verse 8 describes it as nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. In Greek, it translates as “ethnos against ethnos.” (Ethnic group against ethnic group.)

Consider the world today and the nations and ethnic groups waging wars against others. Here are a few:

  • Russia vs Ukraine: Russia is flexing its muscle and Ukraine has been severely battered and may soon be left without energy to heat homes during the winter. Russians and Ukrainians are close ethnic groups…yet in opposition to one another.
  • China vs Taiwan: China is also flexing its muscle, firing missiles over the tiny Taiwanese island and spewing rhetoric seeming to confirm their plan to take over.
  • Kosovo vs Serbia: We hear very little about this conflict, but Muslim Kosovars and Christian Serbs are at odds with one another. There is growing concern of persecution of Serbs. If so, will other countries respond? Will war break out?
  • Iran vs Iraq: A pro-Iranian candidate for Prime Minister in Iraq is being propped up by radical factions. Meanwhile, a nationalist candidate is backed by an anti-Iranian cleric. This is a Shi’ite vs Shi’ite ethnic battle for control of Iraq which could lead to civil war.
  • Iran vs Saudi Arabia: The Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam, and the seat of Sunni Islam. Iran, on the other hand, is the stronghold for Shia Islam. The two factions have been at war since their inception.
  • Azerbaijan vs. Armenia: When the Republic of Artsakh declared independence from Azerbaijan and was settled by Armenians in 1991, there has been very little peace. Azerbaijan borders Iran, so the Iranians have taken the opportunity to amass troops on the border. This could easily become a two front war for Azerbaijan, and the UN will likely be little help in averting the battled.

That’s only a short list of “wars and rumors of wars,” and many are truly ethnic battles. These are exact examples of what Jesus described in Matthew 24. Battles between nations and ethnic groups are growing in frequency and severity…just as Jesus said they would in the last days.

But, Jesus didn’t leave His disciples without hope…and He doesn’t leave us without hope either! Notice what He says in verse 6:

See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

~Matthew 24:6

There is no need to be troubled! These things will come to pass, but it is not the end! The message from our Lord is: “You belong to Me and I’ve got this!” When we know to whom we belong, and the sovereignty of that One, we need not be troubled.

It points to one of my favorite passages, filled with promise:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

~John 14:1-3

Rest easy, my friends! The end will eventually come, but for those of us who belong to King Jesus, there is no need to fret! He’s got this!

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