The Arab Spring, the Euro-crisis, the US debt problem, the European debt problem, the terrorist attack in Norway, the riots in England, the world seems increasingly instable of late. All that was thought certain and secure is being rendered worthless. We built our lives on the ‘certainty’ of economic growth, on the ‘security’ of our house prices but the god of money now lies in ruin. Who would have expected a year ago that Norway would have been the victim of terror? But one of the countries with the highest Human Development Index rating is now no stranger to the evil of terrorism. Riots happen in Greece, Spain or France, in foreign places, not London, not in our own backyard, so we thought. The US was unassailable in its economic position; it would never lose its credit rating, this we knew for sure.
But no, in the last six months much or we thought or wanted to think is now revealed to be wrong. Greed, hatred, looting, corruption, lying, violence and sexual immorality have come to light in every circle of society. Those in power, those not in power, we see that all are guilty of evil. This should be a profoundly humbling experience for us as we watch the world around us. It has not been.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction”
Galatians 6 v 7 – 8
We were deceived, we thought God could be mocked and now we see that he cannot. So watch, watch as we reap what we have sown. Watch carefully. As a society we have turned our backs on God and his law, we neglected to discipline children as they should be and we act surprised when they loot our cities. We broke God’s law on finances, borrowed excessively and debased our currency and then we act surprised when our economy goes bust and states face crippling debt problems. We dared not criticise the religion of Islam and its bloodthirsty ways and we act surprised when their countries revolt against their totalitarian leaders. In short, we mocked God, taunting him, he will never notice, he does not exist, he can do nothing, we can sin without consequence, his laws are archaic and without value in this modern world, we deceived ourselves.
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
Psalm 2 v 1 – 3
Weep, for this is what we did, we banded together against God and said to ourselves: let us break his chains and throw off his shackles.
“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
Psalm 2 v 4 – 6
We were fools. We pitted ourselves against the One enthroned in heaven and thought we could win. Think on this, God has installed his King in Zion, Jesus Christ, who rules over all. The events we see today are not out with his control, the things that surprise us do not surprise him, they cannot for he planned them. The riots that make us feel so helpless are in his hand, the debt problems are under his sway, the Arab Spring is still under his dominion.
As his Word says:
“The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honour.
“For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; on them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.”
1 Samuel 2 v 6 – 10
Look around, can you not see that no one knows what to do? There is no one with the solution, no one with the understanding, no one who is in control! Our leaders are clueless, impotent and generally rather weak. The experts are cofounded, our wisdom is not enough, we know so much and yet there is so little we can do. Who can tell where this is all going? Every week brings fresh evil and fresh surprises. We totter on unknowing and in the dark. And yet as these verses say, God is in control, nothing is outside of his sovereignty.
All the events we see today are from his hand, he is not the author of evil but he limits it or permits it as he sees fit so that all things are under him. What then should our response be? As we reap what we have sown and as God sends judgements our way how should we react?
“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Luke 13 v 1 – 5
Jesus here warns against judging others for the suffering they are going under, bad things don’t happen to some people and not to others because some are worse sinners than others for all are equally condemned before the holiness of God. No, we are all in this together, all equally guilty, all equally condemned, so as we face the events of this world we should not climb onto some moral high horse and look down on those suffering or but admit that there but for the grace of God go we. Yet we must also still remember that:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness”
Romans 1 v 18
Through the events in the world today God is working in judgement against our society and our sin but in his mercy, which is rich and deep, it is also a warning and the warning is as Jesus said: repent, or you too will perish. Take heed, look around you, see the evil that is the human heart, grasp the shortness of life, the vanity of material things, the insecurity of everything in this life, see that nothing but Christ can save you, understand that no human wisdom can help, watch as all the wisdom of the wise fails, please, take the warning! Repent or you too will perish.
We have no grounds for complaint. We deserve only to perish. Were all the suffering in all the world to be heaped on our backs it is only what we deserve and nothing compared to an eternity in hell. And yet God is patient with us, so patient, though we despise him, though we reject him, his offer of salvation is always there.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3 v 9
So heed that warning: repent least you too perish. And of course do not forget the most important bit of the warning: repentance is possible.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5 v 8
See the tenderness of God, be enchanted by his sweet compassion and rejoice in his abounding love. For judgement is his strange work and he delights in mercy and he sent Jesus to die in our place for our sins so that we might have life. Ah, words are so weak to tell of the love and glory of God. Oh what a God who even in judgement uses it to warn people to repent, turn to him and find forgiveness. Oh what a God who blessed us for so long despite our rebellion against him. Oh what a God who is so patient with us and longs that we turn to him and are saved. Oh what a God who holds everything in his hands and everything under his control. Oh what a God who is just, punishes evil and judges the wicked. Oh what a God who overflows with all love and joy.
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God”
Romans 11 v 22