Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people have been asking, ‘Where is God in all of this? What does it mean …?’ And even, ‘Is it judgement?’ It is extraordinary how a life and death crisis can turn people’s thoughts towards God – though equally it has to be admitted that some die-hard secularists have taken what’s happening as vindication of their prejudice. ‘This just proves there isn’t a God,’ they say contemptuously, ‘because if He really did exist, He wouldn’t have let this happen!’
Let us explore this a little. From the first verse of the first chapter, the Bible says that God created everything – the heavens, the Earth, and all that is in it, including men and women, whom He charged with the duty of looking after the rest of creation. But Adam and Eve sinned. In wilful disobedience they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge that had been forbidden to them. And thereby they ruptured their relationship with God, placing themselves under subjection to Satan and death. In such a state, alienated by their own choice from God, the pair could no longer live in Eden – so God expelled them into a hostile world, where they would have to struggle for their existence. But God expelled them in grief, not rage, and from that moment He began to plan how to win mankind back, and restore us to that relationship with Himself for which we had been created.
God accomplished this in Christ, who by his death on the cross broke the hold Satan had established in Eden, and won our salvation, restoring those of us who accept His gift and repent to direct relationship with God. And it is well said that Christ alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, because no other religion, teacher, or prophet can set us free and restore us to that fullness of being for which God created us, and which Satan has tried so hard to destroy.
But there are several lessons we can learn from this. First, God cares about, and will not accept, sin. In any size, shape or form. Period. Second, no matter what, God never ceases to love us, but works for our salvation and our good. Third, we have freedom of choice, which God will not over-ride, even when that choice so obviously leads to harm and death. To put it another way, because God has given us free will, we have to choose for ourselves. That choice, in a nutshell, is between good and evil – but we can’t follow both. And when we repent – rejecting and turning away from evil – Christ comes alongside us and helps us. That simple act of choice, of turning towards Christ and away from sin, is our salvation. Which doesn’t mean that we magically and overnight become perfect – because we don’t – but from that moment our salvation is assured, and the Spirit comes alongside us to teach and guide – ‘conforming’ us gradually to the image of Christ.
So where does that leave us now?
Globally, over the last seventy or so years, we have enjoyed a time of unparalleled prosperity and affluence, fuelled by scientific and medical advances that even a century ago would have been unthinkable. Communication across the world in the blink of an eye, for instance; travel to the stars and back; manipulation and reconfiguration of the building blocks of life… the list goes on and on. But it has made us complacent and proud, and in our hubris we have said we can control it all – we are masters of our own destiny. We are gods. So we have spurned and rejected the laws laid down by God in the Bible – for our benefit, it should be said, not oppression. And we have challenged Him, just as the peoples of the earth did long ago in their attempt to build a tower that would reach into the heavens. Thereby, if left unchecked, we have condemned humanity to hell. Let us make no mistake, in the choices we have made over the last century – making a god of sex and immorality, slaughtering the inconvenient and unwanted unborn, peddling the lie that we can ‘be’ whatever we choose, regardless of nature – we have chosen as our overlord Satan, and the worship we give him is death.
In all of this we have sinned – and our transgressions have become an abomination, because we say they are not sin, but are good. So we must ask ourselves, if God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden because of sin, how should we expect Him now to act towards ourselves? When our every action proclaims rebellion and the celebration of evil, how can we expect and demand his protection and care? We surely can’t … we are under judgement. Yet the truth is God still loves us, and has not given up on us. Our overweening hubris demands judgment – and without repentance that will surely come, and we shall be lost throughout all eternity… But God loves us, and His will is to save.
Covid-19 is warning of the judgement to come, but we should perhaps more properly regard it as discipline, providing opportunity for repentance and restoration to God’s love.
Repent, the Lord says, turn back to me and I will help you. I will deliver you. My love is still the same.
So now we have to choose, because God will not compromise with sin – He will not and cannot accept our worship of Satan. In the Day of Repentance and Prayer on 25th April, we were called as watchmen to stand in the gap and repent on behalf of our brothers and sisters, in order to open the door that would allow God to enter in love and not judgment – to ‘allow’ Him to help us.
As readers of this blog will know, a week after that I felt the Lord say, ‘The new has come. It’s here’. Let us be clear, however, that does not mean that everything is now okay. The reality is that we are in a spiritual battle, and evil has had a stranglehold on our land for a long time. The roots are deep, and it doesn’t want to let go. Why should it, when so many – including so many of our law-makers and religious leaders – worship it every day? But I think in those words, ‘The new has come’, there is a promise and a sign of hope.
Just as the Israelites standing on the borders of the Promised Land found themselves called to fight in order to take possession, so now we are called to redouble our efforts and prepare for battle.
Please join us on Saturday 30th May to proclaim the Lord’s sovereignty over our nation, and to pray for deliverance from the forces of evil stalking our land.