READ: Psalm 29, Isaiah 46-48, Matthew 1, Acts 8
END FROM THE BEGINNING
Four air force helicopters just flew over our apartment, tanks are deployed around the city–another normal day in the Middle East where instability is the normal. In these last days it is futile to wait for the pristine moment to move, live, or speak if we restrict that moment to external peace. The gospel has ever advanced under pressure and our day is no exception.
God alone knows the end from the beginning, His counsel shall stand, and He shall do all His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). God continues to rule in the kingdom of men, and all that goes on around us is foreknown by God and determined for His purposes. God intervenes in the affairs of men for His own sake. God has mercy on us and refines us for His own name’s sake, not exclusively for ours (Isaiah 48:9-10)! What God ordains in the realms of men is not primarily for us. Man is not the center. It is for Him. Man’s advantages are but a byproduct of what God does for Himself. Millions can demonstrate in the streets, soldiers can posture, politicians can predict–but all of us must understand that we are pawns at best in the great battle of the heavens, a battle God has already won.
When Stephen was killed at the consent of Paul (Acts 8), a great lamentation followed. The church was widely persecuted, scattered, men and women dragged off to prison. “Therefore,” the text says, “they went everywhere preaching the word” (8:4). God, whose counsel will stand, who knows the end from the beginning, knows how each local and global conflict will end before it starts. We can take great comfort in conflict that God will ensure His own interests. Though we do not always know all God’s goals, there are a few that are consistent in scripture and redemption history:
God always glorifies Himself. The point of God’s intervention in human folly is not that He aligns with one side or the other. God is against every man (there are no good guys compared to God) and God is only for Himself and the defense and honor of His name. We do not pray for or against either rebels or regime; to do so constrains us to a soiled human perspective. We pray: “Father, glorify thy name,” and however You choose to do that is fine with us. By deliverance or death, by peace or by war, by us or without us, nothing matters save You are proved holy.
God always beautifies the gospel. I often wonder why God has allowed false religions to thrive and spread. The answer is yet a mystery but one thing is sure–falsehood cannot help but beautify the gospel. False religions serve as a foil to make the gospel shine. War, disaster, trouble, tragedy, all serve as spotlights which elevate the only hope for man: What God has done in Christ. Bad news makes good news all the sweeter.