It seems as if an endless stream of disasters is hitting Britain. What is the Christian to conclude from all that is happening? Randall Hardy seeks to set recent events in the context of Biblical history in this personal reflection.
An Unclear Note
On Easter Sunday, ITN news selected a comment on the Foot and Mouth outbreak from the Archbishop of Canterburyís sermon as their sound-bite. In it he said he preferred to focus on the love of God, and not His judgement. During the period the disease spread, there have been several calls from Christians for national days of prayer and repentance. As usual these have been ignored outside the Church. It is easy to be left with the impression that apart from Christians, no-one is asking, "Why are these things happening?" Even within the Church we seem able to come up with a wide variety of answers to this question. Is the Holy Spirit sounding an unclear note?
Perhaps one reason for these varied answers is that as Christians we commonly fail to understand our own situation in the context of all that The LORD is doing. In recent articles I have sought to emphasise that our Creator is also the God of history. He orders the affairs of men and nations whether they acknowledge Him or not. He divided mankind into nations that we might seek Him and to preserve us and the earth from continued global judgements. Today, as we see the nations moving back towards world-wide concord, we see the signs of His wrath rising in not one but many nations. Though less spectacular than floods, train crashes or epidemics, impure lusts, degrading passions and depraved minds (Rom. 1) are the sure signs that God has given people up to their own desires. These signs of judgement are widespread around the world.
Is There a Remedy?
I heard of one prayer meeting where someone read Hosea 4:1-3 in connection with the Foot and Mouth outbreak. Though not originally intended for Britain, this chapter does contain important principles which help us understand why our defences have been breached. The LORDís complaint is "There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. Therefore the land will mournÖ" I have previously argued that readiness to believe and teach evolution has led to a situation where people have failed to honour The LORD as God. It is also a major reason why today there is no knowledge of God in the land. How can we expect our politicians to humble themselves before God, when they have been taught that He does not exist? Christians must face up to reality - todayís generation is the first for many centuries in which the majority lack even the faintest recognition of The LORD.
I read the whole of Hosea 4, in the hope that I would find a ray of hope, some encouragement that things could change. I did not find it. Instead I read, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." and "Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled." If these principles apply to Britain today, have we been singled out for special attention? Or is ours to be an experience which will become increasingly common across many nations - just as we have seen the international acceptance of homosexuality? It is indeed important for us to understand the signs of the global times, if we are to understand what the will of The LORD is where we live. We must pray with wisdom and not our emotions alone.
Not Our Will, But Yours
Daniel poured his heart out in prayer for the restoration of his people to their homeland. Daniel was dearly loved by The LORD and He sent Gabriel to explain to Daniel what had yet to happen. Danielís prayer (Ch.9) is often used as a model prayer: he knew the Scriptures and prayed in accordance with them; he recognised The LORDís righteousness; he confessed his sins and those of the people; he wanted Jerusalem restored for "Your own sake, my God". Yet from what Gabriel told him we learn that this was not Godís intention. He is told, "The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times." and "even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined." We are witnessing the continued fulfilment of this last promise in almost every news bulletin. Daniel learnt that it is not always Godís will to bring peace and prosperity. We too must be careful not to look for blessing when the hands on The LORDís clock are pointing elsewhere.
In recent years prayers for revival and initiatives for reconciliation have become prominent. Behind many of these is an expectation that a strong Christian influence will be exercised upon all nations before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This I believe to be a false hope, one which lacks a solid appreciation of the overview of history provided through the Bible. However, success is more attractive than the failure of judgement, and we all prefer to look forward to revival than to persecution. About five years ago I watched a video promoting a particular reconciliation event. There were several scenes of street crowds in countries where Islam is the dominant religion. Quite unexpectedly I sensed The LORD ask me, "If it meant many of these people being saved would you be willing to pray for judgement to come upon your nation?" I did not require Him to explain why He asked me this. Britain and most Western nations are known as "Christian nations", and yet they are overflowing with extreme godlessness. This is indeed a stumbling block to many in non-Christian nations, obstructing them from receiving the gospel.
Love Your Neighbour as Yourself
The LORD has not yet asked me to fulfil the commitment I gave Him. However, as the Foot and Mouth crisis deepened I developed an awareness that this was part of His righteous judgement which needs to be seen by people who are at present held captive by false religions and blinded to the gospel because of the depravity of nations which are known by His name. If we can lift our eyes above our own desires for this life and fix them on Godís eternal purposes; if we can see our generation and our nation in terms of His rule over world history; if we can recognise the signs of the times all around the earth; perhaps we can also begin to pray for His righteousness to be revealed to many as He judges the nations which bear His name in vain.
This article was first published in Prophecy Today magazine. Subscription information and back copies are available from www.prophecytoday.co.uk
This study is intended as a stimulus to personal bible study. Every effort has been made to be accurate, but the reader should test everything (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess 5:21). Please report errors and omissions, and queries unresolved after consulting The LORD to the writer: Email Randall Hardy
© Randall Hardy, May 2001. This paper may only be copied
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