Neil MacKereth, author of Signs, the Significance of Bible Prophecy, emailed saying, “I continue to be amazed at your prolific output…I am adding to your reading load with the attached – a bit longer than recent docs, but I felt urged to write it. Hope you can find a moment to read it.” Running off a hard-copy I mulled it over at leisure but was brought back to it a few times in view of its thought-provoking content. Therefore, you too may find it of noteworthy interest…
A TRUMPET CALL
Can Covid-19 Change the Nations Values?
“If you ask me what I think to be the design, I believe it to be this—to waken up our indifferent population, to make them remember that there is a God, to render them susceptible of the influences of the gospel, to drive them to the house of prayer, to influence their minds to receive the Word, and moreover to startle Christians into energy and earnestness, that they may work while it is called to-day.” (Charles Spurgeon, ‘The Voice of Cholera’ sermon, August 1866)
INTRODUCTION – THE SITUATION (April 2020)
Covid-19 is a virulent and pitiless virus which is sweeping across the world. So far, it is an uncontrollable pestilence: it is a law unto itself. It advances like a desert wind, ignoring those in authority and all the usual constraints that govern inter-national relations. It destroys people and livelihoods, undermines governments and economies and is testing the very foundations of our way of life and our values.
It is not localised, or in some way compartmentalised, as Ebola was, or forest fires are, or tsunamis, or earthquakes. It cannot be ignored, ridiculed or responded to half-heartedly, as global warming has been.
I pose some questions for your consideration:
1. I have little doubt that nearly all of us will admit to feelings of anxiety and concern, when reading, watching or listening to the news. Should we skirt round the very difficult questions that the Covid-19 pandemic raises, because to do otherwise might challenge the liberal agenda, be politically incorrect and offend non-believers?
2. The easy answer might be to advocate prayerful intercession for an immediate end to the pandemic. So, what should we pray: “that must not happen or this should not be”? But what if there is a reason why the contagion is being allowed to run, should it be lifted before its purpose has been fulfilled?
3. Why are some Christians indignant at the suggestion that God either allowed or sent this pestilence?
4. Is it right to expect God to continue to bless a nation or nations that take issue with His Word and dismiss those aspects that run counter to an “enlightened” liberal agenda? Has there been enough degradation in our Nation to justify God being angry with us?
5. Is there any level of conspiracy or intrigue that can be hidden from God?
6. In a democracy, if 60% of the population vote that God does not exist (or is wrong), does that require God to stand down? Or does it mean He does not exist (or is wrong)?
7. Is Great Britain a Christian Country? Does our Christian Heritage have value?
8. The most challenging question: would it not be better for Christians to die rather than non-believers, that the non-believers might have more time to be convicted and repent? (For meditation not for action!)
The answer to Question 1 must be that Christians should address the issues head on; and do our utmost to preach the gospel in our actions and, where appropriate, by some form of communication.
Q 2. I am convinced that God has allowed this pestilence, and that He has a purpose in so doing. Furthermore, it is a Christian’s duty in this crisis to seek to understand the spiritual significance of the pandemic, and to draw people’s attention to the lessons God would have us learn. It would be a tragedy to go through so much hardship and distress without completing the course that will see the fulfilment of God’s plan and objective. Whatever message God has for the world in allowing this epidemic, I sincerely hope and pray that we hear and understand it. And react to it in a way that does not require Him to have to speak to us even more forcefully.
Q 3. There is little doubt that this is a man-made pestilence. Whether by inappropriate practices in the food chain, or as a result of an accident in a laboratory, the virus is a consequence of our failure to recognise, honour and obey God’s providence. If the view that God wouldn’t send or allow this pandemic were correct, it would mean that God is not omnipotent, i.e. that He has no control! over such things. There is a dichotomy here. If God gives us freedom of choice, and man chooses to ignore His ordinances; and then things go wrong, should God step in, or should He leave us to reap the consequences? As a nation, we want His blessing while seeking to avoid accountability for ignoring His precepts.
Q 4. It seems to me that our Nation has been blessed by God over many centuries and has prospered under His guidance. However, and certainly since World War 2, we have moved further and further away from His will and law, and have descended into perverse and unwholesome practices. Our behaviour as a nation has been so wicked and offensive that I tremble at the thought that we might have reached the end of His patience. My limited vision and understanding cannot conceive that a just God would be right to continue to bless the United Kingdom. How could He be seen to be in agreement with a nation that has made the choices that we have made?
It is very painful to realise that havoc, chaos and disease are necessary to bring us back to our senses.
What the Bible has to say about moral standards and behaviour is very challenging. In recent years a form of humanitarian liberalism has grown, by incremental steps that each seemed reasonable, which has undermined fundamental moral values. Fear of offending encourages us to water down any view that appears contrary to perceived political correctness. We are subtly encouraged to compromise in the cause of peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic society and, invariably, finding the middle ground sounds both reasonable and sensible. Luke-warmness is the order of the day and, with clever packaging and gentle coaxing, immorality is made to sound as though it is enlightened tolerance.
The State condones what is clearly called unwholesome behaviour in the Bible, and calls it “an alternative life style” or “preferred orientation”, and condemns anyone who suggests that it might actually be, unwholesome!
Unborn babies are killed in the name of freedom of choice and convenience. We dumb down our Christian heritage in the name of broad-minded pragmatism and multiculturalism. We use elegant language to conceal our move away from the fundamental truths that have been given to us for a purpose.
I am convinced that this suppression of the values we once held dear is undermining our spiritual well-being.
Surely, God has every right to be angry with us!
Q 5. I have heard a number of conspiracy theories in relation to Covid-19, and will probably hear more. They can’t all be right! I believe we should ask God’s advice on now to tackle the problem we have, rather than worrying about how it came about. Suffice it to say, God is omnipotent, He knows the end from the beginning and nothing is hidden from His gaze.
Q 6. This is very much a “Greek Mindset” versus a “Hebrew Mindset” question. Do we have the man-centric view that logic and intellect, democracy and self-interest should be the guiding factors to how we live? Or do we believe that our God reigns? I am convinced that we need to return to a God-centric way of life.
The safest place in the world is on our knees at the foot of the cross.
Q 7. As a nation, we worship other gods: the god of self, of rights, of money, of materialism, of humanism, of sex, of greed, of exploitation. We allow power to be abused and accept it as political astuteness, the way of the world, or not our problem. We pollute the air with profanity, pornography, and the portrayal of extreme violence; all in the name of freedom of speech. We contaminate the environment with chemicals and pestilence, fumes and waste, in pursuit of short-term gain. We see the banks, once bastions of our economic wellbeing, managed by gamblers who use our collective High Street deposits for speculative trading, without any interest in the people or products of the companies and ventures in which they “invest”. We ridicule the values of the past in the name of enlightenment. If we object to this move away from Christian principles we are accused of fundamentalism, or prejudice, or fanaticism, or narrow-mindedness, or bigotry, or discrimination.
It is difficult to see how we can claim to be a Christian Nation.
However, we have an amazing heritage of Christian heroes, from Alfred the Great to Smith Wigglesworth, and far too many in-between to list here. We were once a favoured and successful God-fearing Nation. But now the candle of the gospel burns dimly with a remnant trying hard to fan the flame back to life. Is this virus the trumpet call that can rouse a sleeping and disinterest people? Only by His amazing grace and mercy can we have a glimmer of optimism. Let us hope and pray that Covid-19 is the catalyst that leads to revival.
Q 8. I was challenged with this question, on waking on 4 April 2020. It goes to the root of our faith. If we truly believe in heaven and eternal life, why do we cling so tenaciously to this life? If you were to ask, “what if you are wrong about life after death?”, my answer would be that I can see no point in living a life where there is no purpose, or expectation beyond its earthly term.
I am sure we will look back on this life and wonder why we did cling on; the proviso is that God has created us with an instinct for preservation. I am meditating on this question and its relationship to Jesus having laid down His life for us.
I am not suggesting that we should take any risks. We must all do our utmost to comply with government guidelines, to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19.
Click to continue reading Neil’s Conclusion & Prayer of Repentance >>