I am currently reading the book of the great prophet Jeremiah. He lived in the time when the Babylonians conquered the nation of Israel. While his contemporary Daniel was taken in captivity, Jeremiah was allowed to stay with the poorest of the land. He kept prophesying and encouraging the people, but he was eventually dragged into Egypt, where he most likely died.
The great theologian and doctor of the church, Augustine (354-430 AD) wrote works that shaped Christian thinking, among them Confessions, Trinity, and The City of God and the City of Man. Like Jeremiah, Augustine died while barbarians were destroying Hippo, the city where he was a bishop for a long time.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) came to scene believing that the power of God would transform the Holy Roman Empire and the Turks who attacked Vienna would be converted. He died after excommunication by the Roman Catholic Church and without seeing any conversions among the Turks, who continued to conquer parts of the Southern and Eastern Europe.
I find that watching the events that are besetting the world today has become a major test of faith. After the breakaway from the USSR, Ukraine became one of the strong evangelistic bastions of the world. One of the largest English speaking churches was in Kiev under the powerful preaching of an African pastor. The Orange Revolution was welcomed by millions of people who felt that they had more in common with the West than with the East. Then Putin annexed Crimea and now is seeking ways to annex Eastern Ukraine. He will be able to do that in the winter, due to the fact that Ukraine is receiving most of its oil and gas from Russia and will have to accept the Russian terms.
President Obama, in his famous Cairo speech, hoped that the Islamic world will become more democratic and the various political springs and governmental changes seemed to move in that direction. However, in that particular vacuum and for many other reasons, the Jihadists moved into the vacuum instead. Their actions, which they widely circulate, are some of the most brutal acts of violence that the world has ever watched unfold in real time.
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In the book of Proverbs, one reads that there are people who do not desire to do any good – they constantly do evil. The Bible mentions many evil men who manipulated religion for their own good. Among them is Ahab in the Old Testament, who is regarded as the most wicked king Israel ever had. In the New Testament, we encounter Herod, who killed anyone who he thought threatened his rule. He was despised by the Jews and the Romans, yet played the religious card and the architectural card so well that he received that moniker of Herod the Great.
The book of Proverbs also tells us that when the evil are ruling in the city, the righteous people are in danger. Yet, the same book assures that the span of the wicked is short. People will look around and the wicked will disappear like the blades of the summer grass.
Blessed is the man, who in the midst of all these tensions, entrusts himself to God’s sovereignty and protection. God will walk with us, God will protect us, and if like Jeremiah, we will be dragged in places where we do not want to go, we know that God will always be there – He will be there before we arrive.