Germany Begins Rearmament: A Turning Point in History?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set off a chain reaction of events that few foresaw, including the rearmament of Germany. How does this relate to prophecy?
The sun has set on peace in Europe.
The hopes that Russia would back down and not invade Ukraine ended on Feb. 24, 2022, after the Russian army began attacking on multiple fronts—including from Belarus to the north, from pro-Russian enclaves in the east, and from Crimea and the Black Sea to the south.
Russia’s unprovoked aggression has shocked the world, with world leaders voicing their loathing of what has occurred:
- French President Emmanuel Macron described the invasion as a “turning point in the history of Europe and France” that “will have lasting, profound consequences on our lives. They will have consequences on our continent’s geopolitics.”
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “President Putin of Russia has unleashed war in our European continent . . . This hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.”
- U.S. President Joe Biden said, “The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
Mr. Putin seems to have launched his attack sensing weakness in the United States, NATO and Europe. But he probably didn’t anticipate that his action would trigger the united response from the West and other parts of the world that it has received. In fact, the consequences of his actions could also have bigger prophetic consequences.
The beginning of sorrows
In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky called on able-bodied citizens to join the fight. Men are tearfully saying goodbye to their wives and children who are fleeing, while they remain to defend their country. The past week we have seen horrifying images of bloodshed. But we’ve also seen images of the courage and strength of the Ukrainian people.
We need only recall World War I to be reminded of how a localized war has the potential to expand and drag the entire world into conflict. With that in mind, we have to keep a close eye on Ukraine and recognize that the situation is perilous, especially when we consider that Russia controls the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. In a move that sent shock waves throughout the globe, Mr. Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert on Feb. 27.
Many commentators are declaring that the events of the past week mark the end of the post–Cold War era that began in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, many believed the world had entered a new era that would see the permanent expansion of Western democratic values throughout the globe. But those rosy predictions have been replaced with the grim reality of the resurgence of autocratic rulership and warfare.
Students of Bible prophecy have long known that the world would not enter a permanent era of peace and security before Jesus Christ returns.
Jesus warned of a period He called “the beginning of sorrows” that would be marked by “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6-8).
This period would be followed by an even worse time. Jesus referred to it as “great tribulation.” It would be so terrible and dangerous that if God Himself didn’t forcibly end it, human beings would annihilate themselves (Matthew 24:21; compare Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7).
To learn more about this coming time of trouble, read “What Is the Great Tribulation?”
Germany awakens and begins to rearm
Initially, Germany was reluctant to get involved in this conflict, refusing to send any weapons to aid Ukraine. Since the end of World War II, Germany has been reluctant to take part in military conflict. It also has strong economic ties with Russia. However, Germany’s initial passive response to the crisis was heavily criticized since Germany is the strongest economic power in Europe.
But since the invasion began on Feb. 24, Germany has taken a different stance—making what many are calling a “historic shift.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has made a U-turn in the German approach to Russian aggression. He sent out a tweet saying, “The Russian invasion marks a turning point. It is our duty to support #Ukraine to the best of our ability in defending against #Putin’s invading army.”
In response to Russia’s invasion, Germany is making three major policy reversals:
It seems that after nearly 77 years, the era of German pacifism is ending.Germany now supports removing Russian banks from the SWIFT banking system.
- Germany is suspending the Nord Stream 2 project, an undersea pipeline meant to directly link Russian gas to Europe via Germany.
- Germany is sending Ukraine weapons to help it oppose Russia’s military, including 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles and 1,000 anti-tank weapons.
The significance of Germany getting involved in a major military conflict should not be lost on students of history. It seems that after nearly 77 years, the era of German pacifism is ending. After starting two world wars and orchestrating one of history’s most bloody genocides, Germany wanted to avoid the stigma of militarization. Likewise, the European community went to great efforts to keep Germany militarily weak and interdependent with the rest of Europe.
The economic unification of Europe was partially driven by the goal of keeping Germany militarily dependent on and economically integrated with the rest of Europe. This started with the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the European Union.
But the unprovoked attack by President Putin has thrown off the shackles of Germany’s pacifism, and the stigma of rearming seems to be melting away. In an emergency session of the Bundestag, the German parliament, Chancellor Scholz announced that Germany is allocating 100 billion euros to swiftly upgrade its armed forces. In addition, he has committed to meeting NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. To lawmakers, he called it a “turning point in the history of our Continent.”
The Wall Street Journal has declared this the beginning of Germany’s “rearmament.”
While the world is focused on the violence in Ukraine, we should not lose sight of how significant Germany’s rearmament is. What is happening now may have major prophetic ramifications.
The prophetic significance of Germany’s rearmament
In Daniel 7 we read a prophecy of four kingdoms, represented by four furious beasts. The four kingdoms represented were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greco-Macedonia and Rome.
The beastlike nature of these empires shows their brutality and fierceness. The Roman Empire is described as “iron,” which “breaks in pieces and shatters everything”—meaning it destroys anything that gets in its way (Daniel 2:40).
The Roman Empire is pictured as the “beast” with “ten horns,” which are “ten kings” to come out of this kingdom (Daniel 7:23-24). Unlike the other empires that eventually fell and never again had a resurgence of their former glory, the Roman Empire would be revived 10 times after its fall.
As of this point in history, the Roman Empire has been revived nine times by different groups and individuals:
- The Vandals (429-533).
- The Heruli (476-493).
- The Ostrogoths (493-554).
- Justinian (554).
- Charlemagne (800).
- Otto the Great (962).
- Charles V (1520).
- Napoleon Bonaparte (1804).
- Garibaldi through Mussolini and Hitler (1870-1945).
The 10th revival hasn’t arisen on the world scene yet, but like the above revivals, it will rise from the heart of Europe.
Germany is Europe’s strongest military, economic and political power. With a deep history of militarism and aggression, it is likely that the political leadership of the final revival of the Roman Empire will arise from Germany.
Considering Germany’s history and the words of prophecy, the world should not take Germany’s rearmament lightly. It is one of most significant developments coming out of the Russia-Ukraine war and should be watched closely. The testimony of history is clear: when Germany rearms, the world should tremble.
To learn more about these prophecies, read “Who Is the Beast?”
The eastern powers in prophecy
The book of Daniel refers to the final revival of the Roman Empire as the “king of the North.” This title shows us that “the beast” will be located north of Jerusalem. Daniel’s prophecies reveal the “king of the North” will go to war with another power called the “king of the South” (likely a confederation of Muslim nations). The “king of the North” will conquer the Holy Land and decisively defeat the “king of the South.”
The Bible reveals that Europe will once again rise to prominence as the cradle of a revived version of the old Roman Empire. This European power will establish a headquarters in Jerusalem, end daily sacrifices and set up what the Bible calls the “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:41; 12:11).
To learn more, read our article on “The King of the North.”
The Bible tells us that a power from “the east and the north shall trouble” the European “king of the North,” and a massive battle will ensue between them (Daniel 11:44). These nations will be to the north and east of Jerusalem and will likely be an alliance that includes Russia, China and possibly other Asian nations. The book of Revelation calls this alliance “the kings from the east” (Revelation 16:12).
We could be witnessing the early days of the alliance of the “kings from the east.” Both India and China have avoided acting and speaking strongly against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
- “China Refuses to Condemn Russian Attack, Deflects Blame to U.S.”
- “India Abstains on UNSC Resolution That ‘Deplores’ Russian Aggression Against Ukraine.”
To learn more about this important prophetic trend, read “China and Russia Forming an Alliance in the East.”
Watch Europe, Germany and the eastern powers
The Bible reveals that Europe will once again rise to prominence as the cradle of a revived version of the old Roman Empire. This European superpower will be challenged by an alliance of Asian powers. The seeds of those end-time empires and alliances have existed for years, but it seems as if recent events are accelerating the pace of their development.
Continue to watch Europe closely as its nation-states strengthen themselves and push for deeper economic and military integration. Also continue to watch the rise of the eastern nations—particularly Russia and China—as they become more autocratic and hostile to the West.
We should also keep a close eye on the Middle East—because developments in both Israel and the Muslim world will play a major part in the final world war of the end times.
Thankfully, beyond all the war and doom, there is good news! Jesus Christ is returning to this earth to establish the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15). When we see these events happening, we will know that God’s Kingdom is drawing near.
“So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place . . . Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:31-32, 36).
Continue watching and praying!
You can learn more about these events, as well as the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, in our booklet The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm.