Rapid Alter[c]ation

Change comes quickly and unexpectedly

The remarkable speed with which the recent changes have taken place in Afghanistan reminded me of words spoken 2500 years ago in Israel:

For indeed I am raising up a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. Their horses also are swifter than leopards, and more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; their cavalry comes from afar; they fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. They all come for violence; their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings, and princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, for they heap up earthen mounds and seize it. Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; he commits offence, ascribing this power to his god.

The description of the warfare may be different, but the swiftness with which the forces moved is described for us quite vividly. It is also to be noted that the same attribution for their success is made.

The prophet was speaking about the shortly to follow invasion of Isreal by the Chaldeans, whom perhaps I should mention came from an area, at least in geographic Asian terms, not far removed from Afghanistan, though in historic and cultural terms quite distant.

It is a fascinating prophecy. The prophet goes on to say about the victors: They (the victors) take up all of them with a hook, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet; because by them their share is sumptuous and their food plentiful.

Of course the victors rejoice and are glad. Their victims see the matter quite differently however.

But there is much more going on than the prophet can see. And in our days too there is much more going on than we can see. I shall come back to this. Did you notice the opening words? I am raising up. This was preceded by: Look among the nations and watch – Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.

The Chaldeans thought that they were in control. But no, it was God, the Lord who had raised them up, and it would be an astonishing work. Indeed it was as history records for us. The Chaldeans came across the land as if they were locusts devouring everything. But look at what the prophet said about them: O Lord, you have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, you have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity! You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also (they had made others drink their wrath) – drink and be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, and utter shame will be on your glory.

When the Lord stood before Pilate, having been asked whether he was a king, replied: My kingdom is not of this world. Those whose kingdom is of this world fight for it. They go to war. They attribute their success to their god, but their gods are false gods. They fall under the judgement of the God who made the heavens and the earth.

The King of kings does not command his people to fight in this way against flesh and blood, but rather commands all men to repent and believe the Gospel and in this way, through the blood of Jesus Christ, to enter the kingdom which is not of this world, for he intends that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

In the meantime there will be wars and rumours of wars, for the end has not yet come. But one day it will come, and the kingdom which is being built, as it were invisibly, by the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed and his glory shall fill the earth.