Christmas draws near. That time when we remember and celebrate again the birth of a baby in a stable in Bethlehem. But this was no ordinary baby. This was Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, sent by the Father to break Satan’s hold and ransom us from sin; to restore us to that relationship with God for which we had been created. Never in the history of all creation has there been a greater sign of love – of God’s total and unquestioned commitment to sinful humanity. That love is still the same today, and God is still the one and only, all-powerful, Creator God. For a little while, Satan remains free to spread his malign influence over the earth, seeking to destroy humanity’s God-given birthright and separate us eternally from our Father and Creator. But though he has permission, until the Lord returns, to spread his poison, God remains Sovereign. Nothing can happen without the Lord’s permission. Yet He is constrained from action by our choices – because goodness cannot co-exist with evil, and to ‘act’ to overturn the choices we have freely made without repentance, could only result in our destruction.
The nation now – in common with most of the rest of Europe – faces another lockdown. It is imperative, we are told, that we get the virus under control. But the truth is, as the situation now stands we will not get the virus under control. God, however, could stop it in its tracks in a heartbeat. All we need do is ask Him to intervene.
Some weeks ago, Parliament refused VfJUK’s request to put a petition on the Parliamentary website, humbly asking the Queen and Her Majesty’s Government to call a national day of repentance and prayer – as His Majesty King George VI did in the second world war, when Britain – totally alone and outnumbered – faced what looked to be certain defeat at the hands of the Nazis. Most famously, the King called for prayer when virtually the entire British army was stranded on the shores of Dunkirk, with no hope of rescue. Prime Minister Churchill was told at the time that of the 350,000+ soldiers caught on the beaches, it would be a miracle if 30,000 could be rescued (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/765004.stm). In the event, 338,226 allied troops were evacuated from the beaches (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkirk_evacuation ; https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/dunkirk ).
Because the nation prayed. Thousands upon thousands of men and women flocked to churches across the land and, in response, God sent fog and a miraculous calm across the Channel. The big naval ships, sent as part of Operation Dynamo to try and evacuate the troops, couldn’t get close to the beaches, but the unprecedented weather conditions allowed hundreds of ordinary men – and a few women – to set off in their small boats to pick up the soldiers from the beaches, under heavy bombardment from the enemy, and bring them home.
That same divine and yearning power that seeks our rescue is promised to us today – if only we repent and ask His help. Yes, God can deliver us come what may – but we have first to repent, because He will not permit evil to maintain its hold and so destroy us.
The truth is, God has not sent this virus to destroy us. But He has permitted it to bring us back to Himself, because He knows that if humanity continues on its present course, those who have been beguiled and ensnared by the lies of the evil one will be eternally damned, and there will be no way back. Men and women will be lost for all eternity.
But why look at this in terms of sin? How have we sinned, people ask?
It is simple. Over the last years men and women across the globe have denied God, and rejected His commands as set down in the Bible. Even worse, we have attempted to rewrite God’s law and the laws of creation. We have, for example, rejected as old fashioned the prohibition against all sex outside marriage, and we no longer see marriage as a covenant, but simply a contractual convenience, to last only so long as both parties want. We say that same sex relationships are good, because all you need is ‘love’, and that we can choose our gender, because who we are doesn’t always match our biology – God got it wrong! We say pregnant women have an absolute right to choose whether or not to have their baby. And while we concede we mustn’t execute wrongdoers, because it infringes their human rights, increasingly we see nothing wrong with taking the lives of the sick, the elderly and infirm, children with incurable conditions, and those who seemingly are tired of life (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/17/assisted-dying-euthanasia-netherlands ; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54538288 ). In sum, in our arrogance, we have taken to ourselves the powers of God, attempting to rewrite creation – and, as result, we are reaping the whirlwind.
God can deliver us, finally and forever, from this deadly pandemic. But first we need to acknowledge His Lordship and repent where we have treated His laws with contempt.
This is the only way the virus will be decisively stopped. God stands ready and wants to deliver us – the question is, will we live in accordance with His word and let Him intervene, or will we persist in going our own way?