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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Promises, promises, promises!

Having arrived back in Wishaw late last evening, I was able to listen to the 'Today' programme, on the radio, this morning.   There was an interview with the leader of the Conservative Party, Mr David Cameron (I confess that I am not always as polite as that when referring to him!).  It was, as one might expect in the run-up to a General Election, all about what the Coalition Government had achieved, and what the Conservatives would achieve in the next Parliament, if they were given an absolute majority.

There was, for me, a problem.  All that I can see that the Coalition Government achieved - with the support of almost all of the other Parties in Westminster - was the redefinition of marriage (in spite of the overwhelming opposition to it throughout the country); an increase in the numbers of immigrants (illegal, and legal); an increase in the national deficit; and the run-down of the military.   In fact, I cannot think of anything positive that was achieved by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government in their five years of office.

However, the next five years will be different, Mr Cameron assured listeners.  He made one promise after another - on job creation; on housing; and, of course, on the deficit!  He is not alone.  All of the political parties that made up the last parliament are making their promises - promises that, in my experience, are forgotten no more than thirty seconds after they gain power!

This time, however, there is a genuine "new kid on the block".  I refer to UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party).   Obviously, I have no way of ensuring that, given even the balance of power in a 'hung' parliament, they would produce the goods any more than the current parties.  It's just that they have about them what J.B.Phillips might refer to as "the ring of truth"!   I look at Nigel Farage; I listen to his words; and I have that gut-feeling that this is a man who is not out to produce carefully-crafted (by 'spin doctors'!) sound-bites, but who actually means what he says!  That, I would suggest, is refreshingly original in modern British politics!   Disciples of Jesus often ask about which political party best represents Christian values.  I am no expert in the field, but I would say that UKIP is streets ahead of the others at this time.  When Mr Farage, or any of the other UKIP spokesmen/women make a promise, I actually believe them!  As far as the others are concerned, I see only attempts to convince the gullible to continue to support them!

The Bible, too, is full of promises/prophecies.  Indeed, someone has counted more than 3,500 of them!  Many of these have already been kept (fulfilled).  For example, the prophet Isaiah informs us that the Messiah would be conceived and born of a virgin (Is.7:14).  Of course, some non-Christian scholars have challenged this interpretation. They say that the Hebrew word 'almah', which is the word that English-language Bibles often translate as 'virgin', actually means no more than 'young maiden' or 'young woman'. It should be noted, however, that the Old Testament uses the word to refer to young, unmarried women, and that unmarried women were, culturally and religiously, expected to be virgins.  It should also be noted that the Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew writings into the Greek language (the Septuagint), used the Greek word 'parthenos' - which can only mean 'virgin'!    A later prophet,Micah, also revealed that Messiah would be born in the relatively insignificant town of Bethlehem (Mic.5:1-2).

In this Holy Week, as we anticipate the special remembrance of the crucifixion, and the resurrection, of the Lord Jesus, we may be encouraged by the fact that those events, too, were prophesied.  Read Isaiah 53 - it foretells the suffering of Messiah, and even His death by crucifixion - some 700 years before the event! Jesus, Himself, assured His first disciples that, although He would be killed, He would rise again from the dead (Mk.9:31).   In Acts 1:8, the coming of God the Holy Spirit is promised - a promise that was fulfilled on the first Day of Pentecost of the Christian era.

There are also promises that have yet to be fulfilled.  After Jesus had been taken from the disciples, Dr Luke records that "... while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven'." (Acts 1:10-11).   As one studies the signs that, we are assured, will precede and accompany that momentous event, we may easily come to the conclusion that His return is imminent.  The promise will be kept, of that we need have no doubt.  Politicians may easily, and thoughtlessly, make and break their promises.  But the Word of God is settled and sure, and He is faithful!

So, however you decide to vote on May 7th (if you are eligible to do so!), be sure that you have cast your personal vote for Jesus - by confessing your sinfulness, and sins; by repenting of those sins; by accepting the salvation that He won for you, at Calvary; and by telling others of His great sacrifice, made for each one of us.  He has promised that, if you do, then He will stand beside you before the Father - the only Advocate you need; the only Advocate there is!  

And He keeps all of His promises!

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