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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

It would be nice to be able to claim that the heading to this post is original! It isn't - but it surely sums up the results of Thursday's General Election from a Conservative Party perspective. When Mrs May(be; maybe not) decided (having constantly said that she would not do so) to go to the country, the Conservatives had a substantial lead, in the polls, over Labour. During the campaigning period, the PM seemed to work hard at reducing that lead - and, in that she did have considerable success! The result is that we have a minority government in Westminster, dependant upon the DUP to survive! Now, if "the big fella" (aka the Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley, decd.) was still in charge, that would be, in my opinion, a much more interesting situation!

So what went wrong? Well, political pundits have been speculating on that for more than 24 hours and, from the perspective of most (all?!) of them, their conclusions may have much validity. One could say, fairly, that the PM was badly advised. It might be claimed that she ought not to have called the General Election in the first place. Many believe that she is as dithering, and useless, a PM as she was Home Secretary. "She was a dreadful Home Secretary, she has been a dreadful Prime Minister and dreadful election party leader who ran a dreadful election campaign." (Melanie Phillips). There are those who claim that the Labour campaign was much better than anyone had expected - and, of course, the sudden "illness" of the Shadow Home Secretary, and her immediate replacement, was certainly a master-stroke!

However, if we step back, and seek to look at the situation from a different perspective, is it possible that we are simply seeing the hand of Almighty God in all of this? I believe that this is most certainly the case. The big question, in my mind, is: "Is it the hand of judgement on a nation that has turned its back upon Him, and departed so far from His ways?" As I read that the Episcopal Church (ought that word to be placed within quotation marks?!) in Scotland has joined the Kirk in its acceptance of so-called "marriage" for homosexuals and lesbians - with the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow stating that: “it's time for the church to celebrate what is celebrated in secular society” (rather than seeking to challenge secular society with the full Gospel of the Lord Jesus, the Christ); as I see the increasing marginalisation of the Judaeo-Christian heritage that has shaped so much of our nation's history; as I watch, with great sadness, the deliberate corruption of children with "transgenderism" being introduced to even primary schools; as I am aware of the way in which Islam is constantly deferred to (not least by the current PM, especially when she was HS!); I am inclined to answer that question positively. 

So what do we do in such a situation? Thankfully, it is not without precedent. As we read the pages of the Tanakh (the "Old Testament") we discover that the nation of Israel often came under the judgement of Almighty God. (see, e.g. Isaiah 5:5-7). This should not have surprised them! Words that are often quoted out of context are "... if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (II Chron.7:14). But, as always, context is important! So we read in the previous verse, the words of YHWH: "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, ..." In other words, the promise is a response to a nation that has suffered judgement. 

The following verses are also important: "... if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from the land which I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which is exalted, every one passing by will be astonished, and say, ‘Why has YHWH done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they forsook YHWH, the God of their fathers, Who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this evil upon them.’” (vs.19-22).

In days past, we had leaders who were neither ashamed, nor afraid, to call for a national day of prayer for the nation. I know that, in a number of church buildings, on Thursday, people were gathering to pray - not for any particular party or individual, but that God's will might be fully accomplished. I choose to believe that His will is, indeed, being fulfilled in this day and age, as in any other.

In my personal devotions, every day, I pray for this nation and its leaders. I pray that the Lord will raise up men and women of faith and integrity to positions of secular power, and influence, and authority. I pray that the nation will be hauled back from the brink of godless disaster. I pray that it will become a nation in which the Name of Jesus is respected by all, and honoured and exalted, by many.

Will you join with me in praying in such a way? Perhaps, if we do, we will discover that the Lord Who judges is also loving and merciful and gracious - and be, once again, the recipients of that love, and mercy, and grace. It will be for our good - and for His eternal glory.

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