Thinking well as war looms

February 24, 2022

It can’t be ignored. Even if the tanks haven’t rolled into our backyard, we can’t overlook what is happening on the world stage. We need to think about it–but the challenge will be to think well about what we see unfolding in the world. 

Three voices can help us navigate through this current conflagration: two voices from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.

Daniel lived in Babylon under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. He was a powerful king with an expansive influence. Daniel was in Babylon because this king had brought him, and others, as captives from Israel. Even though Nebuchadnezzar gave a nod to David’s God, he still thought it a good thing to build a golden image of himself and to have others bow down to that idol. Hardly an ideal king. But Daniel understood something, from the Lord, about this king.

Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings.” (Daniel 2:19-21) 

Recognizing this, Daniel was clear about what was happening in his world when he later addressed this king.

“You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beast of the field, of the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all.” (Daniel 2:37-38)

This first voice tells us that our God is sovereign over the rulers of the world no matter who the ruler is. 

Habakkuk is a prophet who ministered before Daniel ended up in Babylon. He wrestled with what was going on in Israel in his day as well as what was going to happen when Babylon increased in power. The Lord let him know that Babylon was going to invade Israel. Habakkuk knew how cruel those Chaldeans were and what that invasion would look like (Habakkuk chapters one and two). Anticipating what was about to happen, Habakkuk prayed. 

“I heard and my inward parts trembled . . . because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flocks should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

The second voice tells us that even if great trouble comes upon us and we suffer loss, we can still rest in and trust in and exult in our God who is our strength. 

The last voice is Jesus and we need to hear clearly what He said. After He was betrayed by one of His followers and given into the hands of the religious leaders who were opposed to Him, He was brought before the local Roman ruler, Pilate. After having Jesus scourged, Jesus and Pilate met face to face. 

Pilate entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had be given to you from above.” (John 19:9-11)

This last voice tells us that even in the face of death, even the most wicked of rulers can only do what God allows them to do. 

These three voices do not answer every question we might have about what is going on in our world. They do not speak to what governments might or should do in the face of the violent aggression carried out by a foreign power. They do not speak to what individuals might or should do when they are personally confronted by an aggressor. But these three voices do provide a foundation for thinking well about what we are seeing going on in our world. 

Regardless of what is happening on the world stage, God is the one who is sovereign over all the rulers of this world. If we were to suffer loss at the hands of some world ruler, we can still exult in our great God. If life is lost at the hands of some world ruler, we can know that even that is under the watchful and sovereign hand of God. 

Let us rest. Let us exult. Let us affirm. Our God reigns. 

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