For Such A Time As This
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast
This morning wasn’t one of those Lord’s Days where going into Church, anticipating the meeting ahead and the message to be preached was one of steady peace. Usually, the children provide the greatest distraction in trying to prepare the mind and heart for preaching. This morning was very different and I knew I wasn’t alone.
Probably like most, upon waking up there was that realisation that something awful had happened in our country the night before. We hadn’t been allowed enough time to move on from Manchester. Barely had we readjusted to Westminster. London Bridge hadn’t fallen down but instead our hearts had collasped because blood had flowed in our streets again.
When praying with one of our Church members before the service he mentioned in prayer ‘ Lord our minds are confused’. I knew exactly what he meant. The confusion consists in feeling unable quite what to say. Tragically, we are getting used to these occurrences and are entering into something of what other countries have been experiencing for a long time now. It is no longer a sense of shock to hear of multiple people being mown down by vehicles or stabbed with knives but the dark depression that follows it is where we struggle.
So I felt it was only right, considering our church is in the Capital and in an area that is predominately Muslim, that during the morning service something was said. It wasn’t possible to be prepared as desired but it was necessary to say something. My conviction as a Christian and Minister of the Gospel is to never be someone who reacts impulsively and thoughtlessly. I’m still learning quite how to do this. Those thoughts contributed towards this post.
I have to admit that part of my dread that accompanies these atrocities is the reaction or fallout that spreads across the social media newsfeed. Some of it I find myself agreeing with, most of it I don’t. But then I check myself in the process - because there is such a thing as righteous indignation and that means allowances must be made. It is right to denounce wickedness and pity those in great need. But how as God’s people do we go on or move on from that initial feeling of pain, anger and sorrow? We could take the route of fixating upon the immediate cause i.e. islamic extremists or else Muslims being true to what the Qur’an actually teaches. You take your pick. We could return to the Political saga and which party would best deal with these matters. No one tends to agree here of course. From the Biblical perspective it is clear that Governments are powers appointed by God and carry a solemn obligation in respect to the punishment of evildoers and the reward of good. Powers appointed by God are accountable to God irrespective of whether they believe this or not. But surely there is more and there is more. There is an overarching truth not often admitted or consulted in such times.
I hope that most, if not all, Bible believing Christians accept God’s Sovereignty. I do fear that many don’t follow it through and apply it to all areas of life. Under this critical doctrine is the indisputable fact that God does restrain evil in this world. Likewise there are occasions when that Hand of restraint is lifted and we see the depravity of man not just for what it is but how far it can be manifested. Furthermore, Biblical history testifies to us that God uses various means to chasten HIs own people - even to chasten nations. Israel, as a nation knew this both at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Those nations were also punished for their wickedness.
So then, what have the recent terrorist attacks and legislation for same sex marriage got in common? Not a lot you might initially think. However, they share in common the likely reality that these are examples of God removing His restraining hand and showing just how corrupt people can be when given over to their sin. We are suffering not just from the direct acts of wicked people but the consequences of heaping sin upon sin. The law of harvest is upon us.
Sin will always be sin wherever we go and sinners will alway be sinning whatever generation we are in. But when the people of God have lost their way with God and when nations, previously recipients of such Gospel blessing, harden their hearts to God and trample on His Gospel then such are ripe for judgment. Part of the judgment reveals itself when God removes His restraining hand.
Therefore, what is our reaction not just to last night, the other week, and the time before that but tomorrow, next week and the time after that? Surely the Biblical directive is that this kind (i.e. our great need) cannot be resolved without prayer and fasting. It is easier to be righteously angry and not pray than it is to be fervently praying as a follow on from righteous anger. Neither one should be excluded but prayer should always prevail. Pray not faint is our mantra at all times especially in these times.
God calls His people to mourn for sin, not just their own but national sin. God calls us to repentance. Has it not occurred to Christians that our very longing for revival may well be answered but in a way we never anticipated? Quite possibly we may be brought to our lowest point first before we are lifted by His mercy and grace.
Child of God, go into your chamber because God calls to you! Shut your door. Close yourself in. Not in fear, not in despair but in believing prayer. In an earnest seeking of God. We are called to the Kingdom for such a time as this.