Over the last few days, I have been in deep intercession over the crisis in Russia/Ukraine. As one who has visited and ministered in Ukraine,, I am familiar with many of the issues at hand, including some you won’t hear in media. But, I have heard ‘the hunters are coming over the past few days.
So, the question is: who are the hunters, and who are they hunting? Why are they hunting? What does that have to do with Russia and Ukraine? To answer these questions, we must turn the scriptures that outline God’s promise to return the Children of Israel to the land from where they were sent into exile. A couple of verses, in particular, will answer these questions.
Jeremiah 16:15–16 (ESV): 15 but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.
16 “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward, I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.
The Lord spoke to the prophets to tell the Israelites that they would be judged and sent into exile. He also repeatedly said to them that they would return from exile to the land from where He sent them. In the Jeremiah 16 passages, he mentions bringing them back from the north country where He sent them.
Initial And Subsequent Application
Many theologians and scholars will tell us that this verse was fulfilled back in the time of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel. Some say that the hunters and fishers were the Babylonians who overthrew the Southern kingdom and Jerusalem. They also destroyed the temple. They went looking for Jews to either send back to Babylon or other provinces are place them into subjection to the Babylonian empire.
Secondly, they believe this was fulfilled when the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the city and the temple. While this application fits the passages, we need to be careful and remember that prophecy can have multiple fulfillments and applications.
While many Jews returned to the land from exile, not all came back. Many Jewish groups have lived in places like Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan for many centuries. They were there when Christ came to the earth. So, not all Jews returned from exile before the temple destruction.
Also, after the temple was destroyed,, all Jews were scattered, and this time it was more than just Babylon or countries around the Middle East. North Africa, Europe, and the counties of the former Soviet Union all saw Jewish peoples arrive over the following centuries. With their arrival came persecution,, and once again,, they sought a place where they could live and worship freely.
So, we see that we can apply Jeremiah 16:16 to the first exile but the story does not end there, nor does this author believe that YHWH meant for it to. The destruction of the temple meant that the Jews no longer had a central place of worship and were scattered due to Roman persecution.
The Overlooked Jews of Ukraine
The land of the north obviously refers to everything north of the land of Israel. That would include the nations of the Caucasus mountains region, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and the rest of the Former Soviet Union. Turkey, Eastern Europe, and North Africa were also important regions where the exiles ended up. In later centuries Jews would end up in every country of the world.
But, of all the nations, Ukraine probably had more Jews than any other at the beginning of World War II. When WWII broke out the Jewish population of Ukraine was around 2.5 million, but in the end, it was around 100,000 or 150,000. The holocaust is well known in places like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, and France.
The Ukrainian holocaust has been highly overlooked. Often the local police in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova helped the Nazis round up Jews. I have been to Babi Yar (Grandma’s Ravine) outside of Kiev where 38,000 Jews were stripped down, shot, and piled into a ravine. In Odessa, it was much worse. The Romanian army was given governmental oversight over parts of Ukraine and Moldova.
I have seen where the Romanians shot babies or threw their bodies against a wall shortly after birth. But, for some reason, we do not hear about these stories or the significance of the Holocaust in Ukraine. Under Stalin, many Jews lost their land, or their papers indicating that they were Jewish.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the door was opened for the ‘fishers’ in Jeremiah 16:16 to begin helping Jews in the FSU return home in Israel. Organizations like Ezra International arose to help Jewish families who could not afford the trip to Israel. Many of them had incomplete paperwork and so through agencies like Ezra they worked with both governments to help gather all paperwork and to date have seen close to 100,000 Jews make Aliyah.
Aliyah literally means to go up, to go up to Jerusalem. Today it is applied to an Olim, or Jew seeking to return, to anywhere in the land of Israel. Of all the Jewish groups those of the FSU have had it the hardest. The language barrier and many do not circumcise or practice other covenantal rites making them more ostracized.
Nevertheless, there are still many Jews in Ukraine and all of the Former Soviet Union nations. The window has been open for many years, but it may be closing. As one who has been and ‘fished’ some of these people and helped them go home to Israel, I also know that many of them fear the day the ‘hunters’ might return. Some of them remember what happened under Stalin, or a few were alive during the Holocaust and somehow survived.
The Hunters Are Not Going To Help!
Perhaps in the original application, the hunters may have simply been looking for Jews to assimilate or send to Babylon. But, through the centuries the hunters have taken on many names and faces. Some were known as Haman from the book of Esther. Others were Sanballat and Tobiah, or Spanish Inquisitors. There have been many in the Church who were anti-semitic, like John Chrysostom, Martin Luther, and even the great St. Augustine.
Modern hunters include men like Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin. There were many under them who helped carry out the orders to hunt the Jews and terminate them. There are several reasons why the enemy has sought total annihilation of the Jewish people as a race. Mainly so that there will be no Jews in Jerusalem to say “Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord.” This was one of the conditions of Jesus’ return when He told the people they would not see Him again until they invite Him back with that statement.
Also, Paul promised Israel would be saved. We know God is not done with Israel and will fulfill her role as the chief of nations in the age to come. However, the enemy seeks to destroy them before any of that can occur. The hunters that are coming in these last days are not coming to help them. They are not like the fishers who are helping them return.
They Don’t Know They Are Hunters
As armies gather for invasion and the world speculates the various reasons, no one considers that the spirit of anti-semitism is working behind the scenes. Sure, wheat, gas, oil, apricots, sunflowers, and reserves of various metals and gems may be on the agenda but there is much more behind the scenes. To say it is all about NATO is a farce.
I doubt that soldiers join the Russian army saying, ” Let’s find some Jews. ” The leaders probably don’t have that in mind either, but we are dealing with a spirit. As we see anti-semitism rise around the world, it is only natural that it will escalate to be part of a hostile invasion. Why not? When Russia annexed portions of the Crimea a few years back and fighting broke out many Jews fled towards the west for fear of their lives.
So, we won’t hear the news say that Russia is looking for Jews in Ukraine, but we will hear stories of Jews being driven from their homes and land and many even killed.
What Do We Do?
As always our response is to pray for the peace and safety of these precious Jewish people in the land of the North. Pray for their salvation and hope. Pray for a safe exodus in the final exodus. This means they leave the lands of exile and return home, to Israel. Pray for the safety and health of workers helping them.
Currently, Israel is trying to get as many as 75,000 Jews out of Ukraine. Ukraine was the setting of the play/movie “Fiddler On A Roof,” and was the home of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. So, it is a very important part of the end-times puzzle. It is dear to the heart of God and Yeshua. None of us want to see war, but sometimes these events will take place as part of Biblical prophecy or cause God’s plans to be put into motion.
Either way, God desires His people to leave exile and go to the land of their patriarchal fathers. The time is now, so let’s pray for this situation from God’s heart!