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The Observer

Trusting God while facing the Prospect of Nuclear War

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on

It's Wednesday, April 20 2022. I'm Joshua Claycamp. And this is the observer a Kamloops Christians reflection upon the news from a biblical perspective, in order to help Christians to understand how we need to think and feel about current events,

as tragic as war is in the course of human civilization, one of the things that war helps us to see is what a nation's true values and true ideals are just reflecting upon war and what it has brought about over the last 100 years, we see that it has exposed certain ideals, certain commitments to freedom and liberty, we have seen nations willing to fight and die and even risk potential annihilation for the sake of certain causes. Some of these causes are noble, some of these causes are ignoble. When we consider events in Eastern Europe, with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, one of the things that we're beginning to see is that the values and the ideals that are at play in this war between these two competing powers are laid bare and exposed before our eyes for our very consideration. Just reflecting back on history.

One of the things that we see when it comes to conquest and combat is that when your back is up against the wall, what it is you value and what is most important to you becomes very apparent for all to see, after the D Day landings on Normandy on June 6 1944, it became very obvious to the German High Command that they simply could not contain the Allies beachhead. And so after a German counter attack near can failed. On July first, the top German commander on that front Field Marshal GERD von Rundstedt, phoned Berlin to report the debacle to the Army Chief of Staff William Keitel, who then asked him well, what shall we do? To which von Rundstedt famously replied, make peace you fools. What else can you do? This moment?

The German High Command under the leadership of the for Adolf Hitler had a decision to make? Would they sue for peace? Would they pursue some sort of an armistice or a ceasefire? Would they begin the process of negotiating a cessation of hostilities with Allied powers? Or would they double down, it was obvious to the field marshals and the generals, that the ability to contain the Allied advance simply did not exist. Germany was fighting a war on two fronts that had begun a war in the east with Russia, who was formerly their ally. And they had been waging since 1940, a war in the West against France and in an attempt to crush opposition had tried unsuccessfully in the Battle of, of Great Britain to conquer the United Kingdom. And of course, the Allies fought back first in Africa, and then again, eventually landing troops in Normandy on a beachhead in France, with the goal of one day liberating all of Europe from Nazi aggression. When they made that landing on D Day in Normandy, it was apparent to the German High Command and to Hitler, that they were at a list logistical disadvantage. And so the question becomes, as the leaders of the German nation, do we, for the good of our people make peace in a war that we simply cannot win? Or do we continue to throw bodies and lives and battalions at an enemy that we are no longer sure we can defeat in the hopes that somehow we might get lucky and preserve our position as leaders in Germany? Or do we recognize that this war is all but lost, and make a decision to surrender and to negotiate for terms of surrender, in the hopes that we will preserve more lives and save more lives than those which are currently being lost.

And it's in this moment, when the German leadership revealed itself to be the truly evil and demonic force that it was at all Hitler was committed, of course, to the eradication of the Jewish people, the Holocaust was well underway, and the death camps and the concentration camps were busy chewing through innocent people, killing them, murdering them at a shockingly high rate. Hitler's goal of eradicating the Jewish people from the European continent was not yet complete, but his desire was to achieve as much of that final solution as it was referred to by German high command as possible prior to the invasion of Germany itself by the allies on the Western Front and Russia on the Eastern Front. What happened next was the day after General von ronstan had phoned and said make peace you fools. Was that von ronstan was removed.

And this is not unlike what Putin has just done in his war with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin recently removed two of his top generals and appointed a new general one who has experience from the bloody campaign in Syria in order to lead the spearhead into the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. This is phase two of his war according to his own words. Now, appointing new leadership did not work for the Germans, and again without making any predictions. As we look at what Putin is attempting to do now in Ukraine, it is apparent that despite the leadership which Putin puts into place, the Russians are going to be meeting very stiff resistance from an undermanned and under armed Ukrainian force that is nevertheless despite its many shortcomings, very committed and determined to preserving life and liberty for the people of Ukraine. This this truth was driven home to us last week.

The US confirmed on Friday that the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet was struck and sunk by a pair of Ukrainian Neptune missiles. This is a military feat seen as a very significant blow to Moscow's Ukrainian campaign. The missile cruiser Moskva was critically damaged in an explosion Thursday in the Black Sea south of Odessa, and it later sank as it was being towed to Crimea for repairs. The 12,000 ton warship which was more than 600 feet long, is thought to have had a crew of nearly 500 sailors, and it was a major element of Russia's naval strategy in the Black Sea. That is up until it sank last Thursday. again on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said the ship was hit by their Neptune missiles. Russia, of course denied that and said the source of the fire on the ship was unknown, but that it was fire that had touched off a series of explosions from the ammunition depot on board. A statement by the Russian Defense Ministry reported by state agencies said that the ship sank in stormy weather due to structural damage. A senior defense official said Friday that the United States was actually able to confirm that it was Neptune missiles fired from Ukrainian defense sources that were the source of the explosion on the ship and that the ship had sank as a result of the airstrikes. There had been casualties from the Twin missiles, the official said Nevertheless, there were lifeboats spotted in the water it is believed that at least a portion of the crew was able to escape however it is still likely and defense officials are confirming this week, it is apparent that a large contingent of the ship's complement of sailors sank with the Musca and perished there are unbelievable casualties associated with this. And this is a significant blow not only to Russian pride, but to Russia's strategy and strategic deterrence within the Black Sea.

The Moskva was not merely a sophisticated and technologically advanced missile cruiser for the Russian naval fleet. The Moscow was in fact, the flagship that is the lead ship the crowning jewel of the Black Sea Fleet. It was very technologically advanced, it had apparently the A state of the art defense suite that the Russians were convinced would be capable of defeating the Ukrainian Neptune missile system. After all, the Neptune shore to ship missile system was developed by Russia. They had in theory tested their ship defense systems against their own weapons which they had developed previous to this during the height of the Cold War, and which they knew full well the Ukrainian military had in their possession. Nevertheless, despite their knowledge of Ukrainian defensive military capabilities, and despite the defensive capabilities of their own ship, they went into combat, believing that their ship would be able to counteract the Neptune shore to see missile. And they discovered, much to their own dismay, that such was not the case. Sometimes defenses simply fail to defend. This was revealed to be the case on Thursday when the Moscow was hit, and eventually sank.

Now, in terms of the Russian response to this, what happened was seen as a major blow to Russian pride. And it could not despite the Kremlin's best efforts, it could not be politically spun in such a way that the Russian people would welcome this news as still a minor setback but nevertheless, the news in the Kading the war in Ukraine was progressing smoothly. Indeed, the reports of nearly 500 sailors drowning the reports of the of the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet going down in flames. This was information that was simply too difficult for the Russian media to contain for the Kremlin to spin to its own political purposes. And indeed, this is a significant blow not only to Russian pride and prestige, but as we said earlier, it is a significant blow to Russian strategic defense and deterrent capabilities.

In response to this. On Friday, Russia immediately scrambled a flight of nuclear armed bombers to fly near the Ukrainian border. The The Daily Star is reporting that Russian jets were spotted in the skies over western Russia on the border of Ukraine, after Vladimir Putin gave the green light himself for some unknown mission that was not disclosed by Russian media. The defense ministry in Moscow have not yet announced what the purpose again of that mission was. But it is clear that four nuclear armed aircraft were spotted in Russian AirSpace very near to the Ukrainian border. These four aircraft are reportedly used to routinely carry nuclear bombs. And this occurred in the day immediately following the sinking of the Moscow, it is clear to outside observers that Russia is attempting to set to rattle its sabers towards Ukraine, and is signaling a potential willingness to escalate the conflict to the point of tactical nuclear warfare.

The prospect of this should alarm and horrify all of us. What we are seeing in Russia is the clear disclosure of the values that the leadership within Russia holds dearest. It is apparent that Vladimir Putin initiated this war into Ukraine on behalf of what he considers to be Russian glory and most likely his own legacy as the leader and president of Russia. In the aftermath of the Cold War. Vladimir Putin has demonstrated a willingness time and again, to engage in open war and to commit unbelievable atrocities and to shed blood for the sake of achieving his own goals. As he looks at the near abroad as it's referred to within Russian geopolitical thinking. He sees the loss of Ukraine at the end of the Cold War as a blow to Russian preeminence Russian glory, He sees it as a catastrophic mistake for what he considers to be the greatness of Russia. Now as the leader of Russia, he also intertwines his own personal reputation and prestige with that of Russia. And as a result of his own pride, he is seeking to reestablish something approaching the old Soviet bloc, the old USSR, United Soviet Socialist Republics, all joined together under one happy umbrella known as Russia or the USSR. He's seeking to reassert or re establish some form of that kind of coalition. And since this is his goal, and since he is currently the President of Russia, this is ultimately about his leadership, his legacy, this will ultimately be a reflection upon him. And as he is faced with what can only be understood as a stunning defeat, in terms of strategic deterrence with the loss of Moskva, the the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, how then will he respond? This is the question we're wrestling with. Will Vladimir Putin see this loss? And will he then understand that he is beginning to lose significant military assets on the battlefield? And will he then pursue a course of negotiated peace? Sort of a form of agreement diplomatic solution, or will he continue to press the war,

as we see on Friday, with the arrival of nuclear armed bombers flying along the border of Ukraine, it is apparent that he intends to signal an escalation. This has been termed escalate to de escalate. This is the the terminology that has been used by a Russian military doctrine. It is terminology that has been identified by American military defense officials, and it is an interesting turn of phrase escalate to de escalate.

Now, during the 20th century, warfare brought a number of new terms to our lexicon. We understood warfare in terms of total warfare, we understood warfare in terms of nuclear warfare. These are terms which were invented in the 20th century to describe the conflicts of those years. We also understood the term unconditional surrender. This was the idea that the Americans believed was necessary to force a total and complete surrender with no conditions, with no negotiated agreements on the part of Japan and Germany at the height of World War Two.

As we look at Russia's terminology, as we look at the way that they're describing their pursuit of this war in Ukraine, they are beginning to use terms within Russian media and within Russian geopolitical conversations, that sounds something like escalate to de escalate, it has this veneer of peace to it. But when we step back and really evaluate the terminology, it becomes apparent that what we're really just talking about is absolute victory, total war, they are going to go as far as they need to go, in order to bludgeon the Ukrainian people into submission, they may couch it in fancy terms, they may employ interesting euphemisms to describe the brutality and the horror of what they are doing.

Nevertheless, what we're talking about is old fashioned warfare, to escalate the conflict. For the purposes of de escalating the conflict is really just a fancy way an interesting euphemism for saying, we're going to go even harder, we're going to fight even more violently, we're going to employ even greater force to destroy and annihilate our enemies, so that the remnants of them will be willing to surrender to us. This terminology, though new and interesting, ultimately doesn't signal anything new in terms of the history of warfare. And as we consider this terminology, we need to understand that as Christians, we're looking at something significant. The singing of the Moskva on Thursday, is one of those little linchpins of history, one of those little moments that gets reported on that captures people's attention for just a moment, but then is soon forgotten. And yet it might just be one of those little turning points in history in which the whole course of affairs shifted. What was considered to be a limited war in Ukraine, utilizing conventional military methods, is about to be escalated how far how fast to what level remains to be seen. But it is apparent that Vladimir Putin is not intending to lose this war, even though he is losing major significant military assets on the battlefield.

As Christian stepping back and looking at all of this, what are we to make of this? How are we to think of this. And ultimately, while we don't know what the outcome of this war in Ukraine will be, or the extent to which this conflict will escalate, we can still trust God regarding His sovereignty over the direction of world history. And trusting in God's sovereignty simply means for us as Christians, believing God, hearing him and trusting Him, and specifically what he says about his rule over the nations. We need to have a settled confidence and a peace in our hearts, that this is true. Whatever may be happening in Ukraine, whatever may be happening right now in this conflict. It is not happening in such a way that it falls outside of the sovereign control of Almighty God.

There are a few passages which we should consider, for example, Psalm 22. kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nation's or we can look at Psalm 66. God rules by his might, forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nation's Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. And again, Psalm 75, for not from the east or from the West, and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one nation and lifting up another, or the famous passage from Proverbs 21. The Kings heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, and he turns it wherever he will. We could go on and on and on. But the point is clear that God is in control of human history.

This is never more apparent than when ever a Christian tourists stands on the hills outside of Rome, looking down on that great and incredible city of millennia. This was a city that had ruled the known world for more than five centuries. Emperor's had walked upon the streets of Rome, armies had marched out from Rome and returned victorious laws had gone forth from Rome that governed many, many nations, and it was all under the sovereign and invisible providence of God, working out his own particular purposes and human history. And we see this most apparent in the birth of Christ. For indeed it was in the year four BCE, that the Emperor Caesar Augustus issued his decree from Rome from that ancient city. That was, though no one may have recognized it at the time, ultimately, under the control of sovereign God, it was from this city and for BC that we read in Luke chapter two, beginning in verse one, in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria, and all went to be registered each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and the lineage of David, to be registered with Mary his Botros, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth, and she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in swaddling claws and laid him in a manger. Because there was Luke tells us, no place for them in the inn.

Caesar Augustus in his palace in Rome, along with all the mighty Roman armies whose soldiers had begun to enforce that decree, had absolutely no idea that God in heaven was using them to fulfill his plan. So that, as Paul tells us in Galatians, chapter four, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, Caesar Augustus thought he ruled the entire civilized world, but far above him reigning eternally was the Lord who rules over the nations.

So it was throughout all ages. And so it is today, although God has allowed much evil to continue in the world. And as we consider events in Ukraine and Russia, it is apparent that God is allowing evil to persist and to flourish even today, though, despite this, we know that God is still ruling over the rulers, and he is still presiding over the destinies of nations. And though we regard the prospect of nuclear warfare with horror, we know that even this will be brought under the judgment of God.

So as we consider the course of human history, as we consider the events in Ukraine, as we consider the prospect of an escalating war that may even reach the level of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons, it is important to remind ourselves, dear Christian, that God is still accomplishing his good purposes on the earth. In fact, the Bible gives us multiple assurances that God is going to accomplish his good purposes, for all those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. As it says in Romans 828, we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose, God will build his church, and he will cause his church to grow throughout all the earth, further advancing his good purposes, and bringing blessing to millions of people and to many nations. As Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 16, I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Somewhere some famous General has said, that war is hell, indeed, war is hell. It is the fury and the wrath of man escalated to merciless conquest are driven to the height of bloodshed and terror. And yet, even though war is hell, there is one institution which God has established on this earth. And it is the church which Jesus Himself said, even the gates of hell shall not prevail over it. And why is this case? It is because at the head of the church stands the sovereign, holy King of Kings and Lord of lords, the one who will return at the head of his own incredible army on the day of judgment. And so as we reflect upon events in Ukraine, as we think about what is happening in Eastern Europe right now, dear friend, trust in Jesus Christ.

Thanks for listening to the observer. I'm Joshua Claycamp. And you can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com backslash Joshua Claycamp. The observer is a ministry of First Baptist Church where Christians seek to discern the news differently. For more information on First Baptist Church of Kamloops just go to first Baptist Kamloops dot O R G. Or for more information on first Baptist classical Academy, a private school where students are educated according to a Christian worldview. Just go to first Baptist class school dot o RG and I'll see you again tomorrow more on the observer view

Tags: god, peace, war, defense, nations, rules, ukraine, ship, russia, caesar augustus, rome, russian, moscow, terms, ukrainian, escalate, nuclear war, apparent, sank, german high command, black sea fleet