Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Hammer on the Horizon

No your eyes do not deceive you, yes I really am writing a post after so long. Where have I been for so long? A question for another time I think.

The reason I am writing this latest post is with regard to the coming election. When I consider all the probabilities and potential outcomes, and the current fractious and fragmented state of the electorate... I have deep concerns. Who do I think will win? Well, in some ways I don't think it will matter.

"What?" You cry. "How can you say something as important as this won't matter?"

Let me try and put some flesh on the bones I am dangling in front of you with that odd statement.  There are two instances in the Old Testament that have been on my heart of late.  The first is from the prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah's calling was a hard one.  He was born into a time when the people of Judah were spiritually and morally going astray... and yet, the same people buoyed by recent blessings received under a prior godly king, believed they were on the cusp of a revival. Those appointed as prophets engaged in backslapping and proclaimed how in the dreams that they had experienced, everything was going to be rosy.

But God - the only person who mattered, saw things *very* differently. And into the midst of this mutual appreciation society, he sent Jeremiah... to stand against them and say that far from a revival, a hammer was coming to the nation of Judah...a hammer that when it fell, would bring ruin and exile.

In the final analysis, it was Jeremiah who was proved right and his opponents who were revealed for who and what they are.

The second instance in the Bible that came to mind, was an incident in the reign of King David. David - the man after God's own heart, had an uncustomary blip in his confidence and decided to tot up the number of fighting men in the land -he took his trust away from God and placed it in mortal strength.  Pretty soon after this, his conscience nagged at him and he sought to make amends... in doing so, he received God's discipline:

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer. ‘Go and tell David, “This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.”’
So Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.’
2 Samuel 24:11-13 (NIVUK)
The reason these two moments resonate so deeply with me at the moment is because I feel that Britain is in a similar position. We have false prophets on the hard left and hard right, who promise great things if we but follow and endorse them... and yet they remain wilfully oblivious to the great harm their respective trajectories hold in store for us. Yet we have vast swathes of the country who are ready to sign up wholesale to them... just because of vague unrealistic empty promises and falsehoods.

And this is why I feel it "doesn't matter". Of course what happens to the country matters... but if something is rotten at the core of our society, then that has to be dealt with first. We became proud and arrogant as a whole... but a hammer came and broke the whole... yet the arrogance and pride remain - in opposing factions. They still need dealing with... and that requires humility.

Fortunately for David, he was equipped with that quality. His response was as follows:

David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.’
2 Samuel 24:14 (NIVUK)
Though he feared for his own well-being, he decided to let God determine his fate. God subjects David to the briefest of the punishments, but many people die. God even relents when plague reaches the borders of Jerusalem. Shortly after this, David finally accepts the need to make amends falls solely with him, because the burden of his mistake is his alone.

And are we not in a similar situation. The three outcomes - Tory majority, hung Parliament and Labour majority. Each have a heavy price to pay if they come to pass.

Yet we as a nation don't have the humility to prostrate ourselves before God and admit how our pride has harmed us internally, and now that we are at loggerheads... cuts us openly too.

There is a crumb of comfort in this though.  Should we accept what we have done to ourselves, our nation and one another and seek God's help... the seeds of true renewal and revival can be sown.

God instructed David to buy some land in Jerusalem, build an altar there and make a sacrifice of repentance. It ended the crisis... but more than this, that altar became a deposit for something greater.

It was on that very spot that the great Temple that represented God's presence among his people, was eventually built.

My hope and prayer is that if we turn our eyes away from our own arrogant ambitions for the country, and acknowledge our collective need for God again, that when the mess that is coming our way subsides, something unimaginably far greater will grow and stand in its place.

Whichever way you vote on Thursday, do keep in mind the need to tend this nation's deeper wounds... the ones that can only be healed by God.

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