What does the Bible say about Russia?

Russia has blasted it’s way back into the front of everyone’s mind. The world is intent on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The sudden invasion of Ukraine has caused some to wonder what the Bible says about Russia and if this war is anything to do with Biblical prophecy.

One thing the Bible does not say about Russia is its name. The word Russia does not appear any where in Scripture. Instead, the Bible mentions a political power named Magog that attacks Israel from the north. Magog is believed to be the region north of the Caspian Sea. Russia is the largest, most powerful nation in that section of the world. As a result, most Bible students connect Magog with modern day Russia. The connection with Magog leads students of Biblical prophecy to believe Russia is going to be a major player during the end times.

The Bible says in Ezekiel 38 and 39 that Magog will lead a coalition of nations against Israel. God will direct Magog to attack Israel so, “that the heathen may know me.” (Ezekiel 38:16) When Magog attacks Israel, God will rise up in great anger against them. He will destroy the majority of Magog’s army with only one-sixth surviving God’s wrath. Israel will be saved from it’s enemies. Magog’s attack of Israel will probably take place during the Tribulation, before the return of Jesus, but the Biblical information does not allow a precise identification of when the events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will happen.

In Genesis 10:2 and 1 Chronicles 1:5 the Bible also briefly mentions that Magog is the name of one of Noah’s grandson’s. The only other significant mention of Magog in Scripture is in Revelation 20. The events of Revelation 20 take place after the one thousand year reign of Jesus. Satan is released from prison and immediately begins to con the nations of the world to rise up against God. Revelation 20:8 mentions only one nation by name, Magog. This could be because of the importance of Magog in Biblical prophecy or as an indication of how Satan brings even distant nations to battle against God. People will travel from Magog to assault the city of Jerusalem where they will be destroyed by God.

The Bible says little about Magog except that it will suffer the wrath of God when it attempts to destroy God’s chosen nation, Israel. Magog will play a significant role in end times events, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not the fulfillment of any Biblical prophecy. The future Magog may not even be Russia as we know it today.


Should Christian’s Call God “Father”?

Mark Silk authored a recent essay in which he declared that the terms for God are metaphorical and can be easily replaced. Mr. Silk suggested calling God “they” to avoid patriarchal language. “A phrase such as ‘God the Father’ should be treated as a metaphor- and for those concerned about the embedded misogyny of the tradition, to say nothing of post-binary folks– a deeply problematic one.”

This is not a new suggestion. For many years some preachers and teachers have been using feminine pronouns to speak of God. For example, some have rewritten the Lord’s prayer to begin, “Our Mother which art in Heaven.” Is this an acceptable change? Given the many abuses that have been perpetrated by male church leaders, should Christian’s avoid masculine and fatherly terminology to describe God?

Mark Silk is accurate when he says the references to God as Father are metaphorical. God is not male in any biological sense. God is not a Father in any reproductive sense. God did not sire any children. Jesus is God the Son but that title speaks only to how members of the Trinity relate to one another. The name God the Son does not indicate that the second person of the Trinity is somehow the offspring or product of God the Father. God the Father and God the Son are equally eternal. Neither owe their existence to the other. Likewise, the description of the Christian as the child of God is a reference to a relationship that exists by adoption, not to any physical procreation on God’s part.

Since much of the Biblical language used of God is metaphorical, can we therefore replace problematic terms with ones less troublesome? No, Christian’s cannot call God by any extra-Biblical title or description they find most Biblical. God has revealed Himself in certain terms. Man dare not devise new descriptions of God. Biblical terminology about God is not literal, but it’s non-literalness does not imply inaccuracy. Rather, the metaphorical nature of many descriptions of God suggests truths greater than any one can understand.

The Bible is not the product of the mind of deeply religious men. The Bible is the product of God. Scripture was given directly by God the Holy Spirit through holy men of God. The human authors of the Bible wrote exactly what God intended. Every Word of God is true and accurate. Because the Bible is the Word of God it is the Christian’s authority. Because every Word of God is pure the Biblical language used to describe God must be submitted to. While God is not male in the physical human sense, He is undoubtedly masculine with a masculinity that transcends biological maleness. God is the Father of all creation and the Father of all saints in a way that transcends siring children. These terms are descriptions of God that accommodate the limitations of the human mind and they are also the only authoritative guides to understanding God.

Consider, not one time in the thousands of references to God does the Bible speak of God as “she.” Even in situations where mothering analogies are used, like the image of a mother hen sheltering her young under her wings, the pronouns for God remain masculine. “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.” (Psalm 91:4) Past experiences may cause some to be uncomfortable with fatherly terminology, but the corrective is not a change of the way we describe God. The corrective is to develop a right understanding of God that we may think rightly about God our Father.

Does the greater good justify using aborted fetal cells to develop vaccines?

Andrea Gambotto, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said about the controversy over the use of aborted fetal cells in the development of the coronavirus vaccines, “It’d be a crime to ban the use of these cells.” He added. “It never harmed anybody — it was a dead embryo so the cells back then, instead of being discarded, they were used for research.” Is this argument valid? Can the use of aborted fetal cells in medical development be justified by the good it accomplishes?

Before answering this question, a few disclaimers need to be given. This article is not about the morality of the use of aborted fetal cells in the use of vaccines or any other medication. This article is not about if people should get vaccinated or about the various vaccine mandates in America. The question at hand is narrow and regards the perception that the greater good justifies wrong behavior.

Another repsonse, similar to Mr. Gambotto’s, protests that if it is immoral to use products developed wth aborted fetal cells, then say good bye to modern medicine. Is this a valid argument? Does the great good accomplished by vaccines or other modern pharmacology outweigh any harm that may have been caused in the origin of the fetals cells?

A simple illustration may make the question more clear. Doctor’s discover that a young man has a an enzyme in his blood which immediately stops the spread of any cancerous cells in his body. Even more amazing, this enzyme is reproducible and can quickly be made available at low cost to cancer patients around the world. This one man’s blood could end cancer for everyone. This hypothetical scenario has two difficulties. First, to get enough of the enzyme to assure success doctor’s will have to drain his body of blood, killing him. Second, he does not want to die and will not consent to the procedure. Is it ethical or moral to take that man’s life so cancer can be completely cured?

Of greater importance than our feelings about the justification of certain ethical and moral decisions is the Bible’s evaluation. What does the Bible say about judging immoral actions by the good they produce. Two examples from the Old Testament should be sufficient to show God’s perspective. The first example involved King Saul. In 1 Samuel 13 King Saul was preparing to lead the army of Israel against the Philistines. Before the battle they waited for the prophet and priest Samuel to offer a sacrifice to God. But Samuel did not show up at the appointed time, and the army of Israel began to drift away. The Philistine army approached and it seemed the army of Israel would be routed. So King Saul called for sacrificial animals to be brought to him and he offered sacrifices to God. The problem is, Saul had no right to offer sacrifices. Only the priests could do that. Saul did wrong in order to maintain the army of Israel and gain the victory in battle against the Philistines. Considering that God had commanded the Israelites to defeat the Philistines, this is a good result. However, God was not pleased. Through Samuel God told Saul, “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: Now thy kingdom shall not continue.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)

On a later occasion, during the reign of King David, God shows again His view about doing wrong to accomplish a greater good. The Ark of the Covenant had been stolen by the Philistines, but was returned to Israel. Because the Ark of the Covenant was the center of Jewish worship and the place where God’s glory rested in the Tabernacle, King David went out to bring the ark to the capital city of Jerusalem. However, David made a serious error. He had the ark hauled on an ox cart instead of carried by priests as God had commanded. At one point in the journey the cart shook and the ark began to fall off. Uzzah reached up and held the ark on the cart. God had specifically commanded no one was to touch the Ark of the Covenant and warned that whoever touched it would die. (Numbers 4:15) God struck Uzzah dead. Uzzah’s action accomplished great good, keeping the ark from falling to harm. But God requires obedience, not pragmatism. He punished Uzzah for disobedience.

God is not impressed with human justificaitons and rationalizations. He requires obedience to Him above all else. Any good that may come from doing wrong never justifies the wrong done.

What is justice?

Justice continues to be a major concern for Americans, and rightly so. All citizens have good reason to be concerned that we live in a just society. Americans should lawfully oppose and correct injustice. Americans should pursue justice. God requires His people “to do justly.” To do justly the Christian must first have a right understanding of justice. To pursue justice, the citizen must have a correct understanding of what he is pursuing. How does the Bible describe justice?

This article will not examine everything the Bible says about justice. The aspects of individual justice will be untouched to focus instead on governmental and legal justice. The starting point to understanding justice is the character of God. Justice must conform to the character of Him who is Just. Any law or judgment that does not conform to the character of God is inherently unjust. For example, the laws which decreed blacks to be 3/5ths of a person were unjust and laws which decree homosexual relationships to be moral are equally unjust.

Only one nation has received its laws and jurisprudence directly from God. That nation is Israel. As a result, Israel is a case study in Divine justice in a society. However, not all of Israel’s laws are directly applicable to modern day nations. Few would suggest that it would be just for any nation today to impose penalties on those who eat shellfish. Nor can it be said that Israel’s system of laws is the absolutely perfect ideal. Jesus Himself declared that portions of the law were given as an accommodation to the sinfulness of men. (Matthew 19:8) Despite these limitations, principles of governance that transcend cultures are found in God’s instructions to Israel.

Certain of the universal principles found in the law of Moses are restated in the New Testament. God specifically ordained governments to oppose evil and promote good. (Romans 13:3) Governments are ministers of God for the good of their citizens. Governments are to execute wrath on those who do wrong. (Romans 13:4) The role of government is retributory, bringing consequences on those who do wrong. This includes execution of certain criminals. (Roman 13:4; Genesis 9:6) How the government is to exercise this responsibility is not directly addressed in the New Testament, but it is modeled by Israel in the Old Testament.

Israel’s laws reveal that God’s justice is concerned with equal treatment of all individuals. Equal treatment is founded on the truth that all people are created in the image of God. No person is a lesser being because of their position in society. All are equally bearers of God’s image. Biblical justice treats all equally, regardless of citizenship, power or wealth. (Deuteronomy 27:19)

Justice is also concerned with the protection of the weak. Governments are to ensure that the powerful do not take advantage of the weak (Exodus 22:22; Leviticus 19:14) and that the seller does not take advantage of the buyer. (Deuteronomy 25:13) The government should take care to protect the weak from being wronged by the powerful, but in criminal matters it is never to give special consideration to a person’s financial status or social condition. (Leviticus 19:15) In general, Biblical justice is about protection of individuals, equal treatment under the law and judgment of evil that is exacted without regard to the status of the person.

However, the Bible also teaches that injustice will persist in this world. This is not intended to produce apathy towards injustice in this world. Instead, the Bible points Christians to the future that they may be faithful to perform and promote justice now. The Christian can continue to pursue justice in this world because in the end justice will be perfectly and fully executed. When Jesus returns He will judge the world in righteousness. He will punish all sin with perfect justice. He will establish righteousness across the world. He will judge all people based upon full and exact knowledge of all sin and without favor towards their status, wealth, ethnicity or culture. In the end none will escape justice, and none will be cheated the justice they deserve.

Is Social Justice Biblical?

Social justice is defined as “the redistribution of resources and advantages to the disadvantaged to achieve social and economic equality.” The aim of social justice is to tear down all distinctions between social classes and income disparities so that all are financially and positionally equal. Another has defined social justice as “the ability of people to reach their full potential within the societies in which they reside.” Notice, that definition says “ability” not “opportunity.” Some versions of social justice seek to redistribute resources, but not equally. Those in the lower classes would be given more to help them reach the level of the upper classes. The redistribution of resources by taking more from the wealthy and giving more to the poor is a key component of social justice.

God is deeply concerned with justice. God is described “a just God” (Isaiah 45:21) who requires His people to “do justice.” (Psalm 82:2-3; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 56:1; Micah 6:8). However, Biblical justice is far different from social justice. In short, the Bible is not concerned with equal outcomes, or even equal opportunities. Income inequities are a non-issue in Scripture. Biblical justice is concerned with protecting individuals, especially the weak, from abuse (Leviticus 19:11-14), fairness in business (Proverbs 20:10, 23) and punishment of evil doers (Proverbs 18:15; Leviticus 5:17).

The Bible holds every person responsible for their own decisions. Social justice treats people as a group. It assigns group guilt and looks for group solutions. Personal liberation is achieved through group liberation. The Bible teaches that each person will stand before God and be judged according to his own works. (Revelation 20:12) Condemnation and salvation is individual. “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezekiel 18:20) The salvation God offers is not the salvation of a system or a group. Salvation is personal. Romans 9 denies that any person is condemned for being a member of a particular group or is saved by being part of a particular group. Instead, God puts no difference between any people group. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

The Bible does not teach forced equality of outcomes. Instead, Scripture teaches charity and generosity, but not financial or positional equality. In Israel God provided compassionate means to care for the poor. He gave the Jews certain laws that required charitable actions. The Israelites were commanded to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so the poor could come in and harvest food for themselves. This practice should be significant in the discussion about social justice. The landowners were not required to evenly distribute their profits to the poor. The government did not confiscate the land’s produce to distribute it equally to all citizens. The poor did not receive a gift of grain. A small portion of the fields were left for the poor to labor in so they could earn their food through their own efforts. Those who did not labor were not given food. God commands His people to be compassionate (Deuteronomy 15:7) and He shows special care for the poor (Proverbs 14:31), but the Bible does not teach that inequalities in condition or income are wrong.

Biblical justice does not insist upon equal outcome but upon equal treatment of all under the law. Israel was to have the same laws for foreigners as for those born in Israel. In other words, immigrants and citizens were under the same law. This same law put equal responsibility on the immigrant and the citizen. Immigrants were not exempted from obedience to the requirements of Israel because of their immigrant status. (Numbers 15:30) They also were not denied justice because of their status. (Exodus 12:49) Immigrants were protected from harassment and oppression. (Exodus 22:21) Everyone in Israel was to be treated the same in punishment and protection, regardless of their national origin.

Social justice believes the social status of the individual should be taken into account and benefits given to members of the lower classes. The laws of Israel make a specific point of teaching that wealth and status must never be a factor in dispensing justice. Judges can not take bribes. They must not rule in favor of the rich because of their influence. Judges must not show favoritism toward the poor. The difficulties of a person’s situation never justify their breaking the law or gain them advantage in the eyes of the law. The poor ought not be awarded a judgment because they are poor. To give preference to one because of their financial condition is injustice. (Leviticus 19:15)

The laws of Israel are an excellent case study on God’s views regarding justice in a society. Since all the laws given to Israel were given by God for the governance of His chosen nation, then the reasonable conclusion is that Israel’s law is God’s definition of social justice. God’s justice does not match modern conceptions of justice. This does not mean God is unjust. God is perfectly just. His instructions on justice ought to be considered justice, not the definitions of critical theorists. We need to correct our definitions of justice to bring them in line with God’s justice. “Shall mortal man be more just than God?” (Job 4:17)

The Bible is generally unconcerned with income and class distinctions because the wages of sin is death. The reality is that every person has a brief life on this earth. What matters most is not that poverty be eliminated. What matters most is that God has provided everyone the same opportunity for forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The greater need is salvation. That has been provided. Jesus gave up the vast riches of His glory to become a man and suffer the penalty of sin for humanity. His gift of forgiveness is available freely to all who believe Him. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The redistribution of sin and righteousness is the redistribution we should be most concerned about.

For more on social justice tune in to 92.7 FM on Sunday, September 26 at 9:30 AM to hear Everlasting Truths Radio.