I had just turned twenty years old a couple of months earlier when I watched and heard John F. Kennedy say live on TV something like: “The United States shall consider any missile launched from Cuba to be a direct attack by the Soviet Union upon this nation, which will bring a full retaliatory response by the United States upon the Soviet Union.”
The president’s famous smile had been wiped away and a grim expression had taken its place. Even at only twenty, I knew there had never been such a critical moment in human history, so far as potential for war was concerned. The missile crisis of October 1962 had brought mankind to the brink of all-out nuclear war.
Many years later, it was learned that only the refusal of one Soviet submariner to agree to launching a missile prevented initiating a conflagration. The sub’s command was under the mistaken impression that Soviet military assets had been attacked with nuclear warheads.
The Soviet naval officer was the third vote required to send the nuclear missiles toward their targets. Two of his fellow officers, one of them being the sub’s commander, voted yes. He voted no, so the missiles weren’t launched. It was the right decision, and, after days of tense standoffs and negotiations directly between Kennedy and Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev, the most dangerous nuclear confrontation in history dissolved back into less-threatening cold-war status.
Both Kennedy and Khrushchev–particularly Khrushchev—have been credited with and lauded for showing great restraint in preventing all-out atomic war. This, because the Soviet dictator started dismantling the nuclear missiles on the Cuban island.
I knew little about the details of Bible prophecy at that age, although I had been taught prophecy from the pre-Trib viewpoint since I was very young. I can remember vividly, as a six-year-old, hearing Pastor Harris in the Seventh Street Tabernacle in Pekin, Illinois, preaching on the Rapture of the Church. The belief that the Lord knows the end from the beginning was never a point to question in my thinking. But when the Cuban missile crisis was in full bloom, I admit I didn’t think about all that. I was very worried–as was most every American who kept up with the unfolding events.
My naïve understanding was that these geopolitical leaders had indeed been responsible for applying the restraint of common sense in preventing the world from being blown up. I even found a modicum of appreciation for Khrushchev, who had, a year or two earlier, boasted that he would bury us.
And now, in 2022, some are saying we are facing the greatest threat to world peace and of nuclear annihilation since the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962.
These six decades later, I have no fear whatsoever of nuclear world annihilation. Thus, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin has just said something to the effect that if anyone tries to interfere with his going into Ukraine, they will experience something that they have never faced in all of history. By this, the diplomats of the world began thinking Putin meant he would unleash nuclear attacks against the US if American forces tried to intervene.
At this moment of writing, it seems there is no restraint whatsoever from the Russian side. And many, including yours truly, believe that America’s current leadership either doesn’t know how to restrain the nuclear demon, or is using the attack on Ukraine in a wag-the-dog move to distract from all this presidential administration’s failures at every level.
Despite the seemingly out-of-control movement toward possible nuclear conflict, like I say, I have no fear of the world ending through atomic warfare.
I’ve learned much since I was that naïve youth of 1962. I have learned to trust, without reservation, our God’s ability to restrain even the most horrific of man’s proclivity for self-destruction.
I now know the end from the beginning, because my Father in Heaven has told those who believe His prophetic Word that there will be “wars and rumors of wars,” and He has said that we should look for them. But He has also foretold that “the end is not yet” when we hear of those wars and rumors of war.
Our Heavenly Father has also told us that particular developments must take place as the end of human history plays out. That process does not include all-out nuclear destruction prior to the Rapture of the Church.
Following that great event, the red horse of war will indeed ride. As much as three-fourths of humanity will be killed by the judgments; most of the destruction almost certainly will come from nuclear weapons being unleashed. The black horse of famine and the chloros horse of death and Hell will quickly ride upon a planet of rebels deserving of God’s wrath.
Since the atomic bombs fell in 1945 on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear demon has been restrained. Not one such weapon has been allowed to be released in warfare, only in testing. This, in itself, is a miracle of God.
It won’t be any human leader or other human agency that will restrain the nuclear demon. The demon about which physicist Dr. Robert Oppenheimer remarked upon witnessing the first atomic explosion at the site called Trinity might be referenced obliquely in his following statement: The explosion brought to Oppenheimer’s mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
I believe that it is God’s mighty hand that will continue to restrain the nuclear demon–and all other wickedness—until the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit who indwells believers in Christ—is removed when we are called into the clouds to be with Jesus for eternity.