(AP)—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted some of America’s most prominent evangelical leaders to raise a provocative question — asking if the world is now in the biblically prophesied “end of days” that might culminate with the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ.
There’s no consensus on the answer, nor on any possible timetable.
Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, addressing his congregation at First Baptist Dallas, said many Christians are wondering, in the face of carnage in Ukraine, “Why does God permit evil like this to continue? …. Are we near Armageddon and the end of the world?”
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“We are living in the last days,” Jeffress said, “We’ve been living in the last days for the last 2000 years. We don’t know, is this the end? Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?”
The curators of raptureready.com — which shares commentary about “end of days” prophesies – suggest things could move quickly. Their “Rapture Index,” — on which any reading above 160 means “Fasten your seatbelts” — was raised this week to 187, close to its record high of 189 in 2016.
One of the most detailed alerts came from televangelist Pat Robertson, who came out of retirement on Feb. 28 to assert on “The 700 Club” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “compelled by God” to invade Ukraine as a prelude to an eventual climactic battle in Israel. Robertson said verses of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel support this scenario.
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“You can say, well, Putin’s out of his mind. Yes, maybe so,” Robertson said. “But at the same time, he’s being compelled by God. He went into the Ukraine, but that wasn’t his goal. His goal was to move against Israel, ultimately.”
“It’s all there,” added Robertson, referring to Ezekiel. “And God is getting ready to do something amazing and that will be fulfilled.”
Also evoking Ezekiel – and a possible attack on Israel — was Greg Laurie, senior pastor at a California megachurch whose books and radio programs have a wide following.
“I believe we’re living in the last days. I believe Christ could come back at any moment,” Laurie said in a video posted on YouTube.
Citing the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, he said biblical prophesies “are being fulfilled in our lifetime.”