What is the fourfold Ukrainian way of war?

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The fourfold Ukrainian “way of war” and three steps to spiritual victory

February 23, 2023 -

Ukrainian servicemen of 68 OleksaDovbush hunting brigade fire a rocket by SPG-9 towards Russian positions at the frontline near Vuhledar, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukrainian servicemen of 68 OleksaDovbush hunting brigade fire a rocket by SPG-9 towards Russian positions at the frontline near Vuhledar, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukrainian servicemen of 68 OleksaDovbush hunting brigade fire a rocket by SPG-9 towards Russian positions at the frontline near Vuhledar, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

When Russia was signaling its intention to invade Ukraine last February, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers that Kyiv could fall within seventy-two hours if a full-scale invasion were to occur.

Last Monday, President Biden arrived in Kyiv to remind the world how wrong this prediction was.

Yesterday we discussed some of Russia’s mistakes in committing to a “total warfare” strategy against Ukraine, an approach that has hardened Ukraine’s resolve and that of its Western allies while failing to deter its military response. Today, let’s pivot from what Russia has done wrong to what Ukraine has done right.

Make no mistake: this war has been devastating for the Ukrainian people. As the Associated Press notes, “Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are dead, and countless buildings have been destroyed.” Nonetheless, the Ukrainians have far exceeded expectations in standing up to Russia’s immoral aggression.

The Ukrainian way of war

Phillips Payson O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, explains the Ukrainian “way of war”:

  1. Contest air supremacy over the area of battle;
  2. Deny Russia control of cities, complicating the Russian military’s communications and logistics;
  3. Allow Russian forces to become strung out along roads in difficult-to-support columns; and
  4. Attack those columns from all sides.

Consequently, a war most observers thought would be over in days will be a year old tomorrow.

“A humility like no other”

The other story we’ve been following this week is the revival movement that began at Asbury University in Kentucky but has now spread to more than twenty colleges across America. An Asbury student said, “I’ve just seen a humility like no other and people just giving their life and that no matter who you are, what you are, when you are, when you’re in the presence of God, we’re all the same. We’re all the same under Christ.”

For many years, I have joined with many others in praying for a great awakening to sweep our secularized culture. I genuinely believe that our only true hope as a nation is for moral and spiritual transformation birthed by the Holy Spirit.

As we join hands and hearts toward this goal, let’s learn three principles from the Ukrainians.

One: Be courageous

When Russia invaded on February 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky turned down an offer from the US to evacuate the capital city of Kyiv. “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” he said. He added: “I am here. We are not putting down arms. We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this.”

Those who stand for biblical truth and morality need similar courage: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10–11).

Two: Seek help

From the outset of the conflict, President Zelensky recognized that his country would need the help of Western allies if it was to stand up to Russia. He has continued this push over the months following, including his impassioned speech to Congress last December in which he declared, “Your support is crucial” but added, “Is it enough? Honestly, not really.”

Similarly, in our cultural conflict today, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). This battle requires full dependence on God’s Spirit in unity with God’s Son. Jesus stated, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Three: Be persistent

When asked about the likely duration of the Ukraine war, analysts in the US and Europe offered timelines running from months to years to “indefinite.” Nonetheless, as President Zelensky told Congress last December, “Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender.” His statement echoed one of Winston Churchill’s most famous phrases and received a standing ovation.

In the spiritual conflict of our day, Scripture calls us to the same resolution: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Paul urged us, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

We are promised, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

“If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world”

One day Jesus will return as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). One day, Satan will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur” to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

Until that day, Anglican theologian Richard Hooker (1554–1600) advised us: “When the best things are not possible, the best may be made of those that are.” As we fight the “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12) while praying for spiritual awakening, let us be courageous in Christ, humble in seeking his help, and persistent in trusting him for victory.

And let us remember that our Savior knows us, loves us, and is with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Mother Teresa observed, “If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For God, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you.”

Why do you need her reminder today?

NOTE: I invite you to listen to the latest episode of The Denison Forum Podcast featuring an interview with Jon Erwin, director of Jesus Revolution, which releases in theaters tomorrow. He talks about the inspiration for the film, the true story behind the movie, how the Holy Spirit moved on set, and his hope for a new Jesus movement among Gen Z. As always, you may subscribe to The Denison Forum Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform. You may also stream this episode on our website.

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