“What has Britain done to offend the heavens?” asked an American newspaper correspondent in London last month. He went on to explain: “A plague of Biblical proportions has descended upon the British Isles. Another train crash, the third in less than a year, leaves 13 dead. The National Parks, horse-racing and the Wales-Ireland rugby match are all closed, and the stench of funeral pyres rises above the bleak countryside as slaughtered sheep and cattle are burned by the thousand. Farmers, vets and the government are grappling desperately to save the national herd from a new outbreak of foot and mouth disease.”
The writer did not attempt to answer his own question. Many of the answers have been given in these pages over the years, and central to them all is the attempt to eliminate the Most High in British life. Where His authority is not explicitly rejected, it is largely ignored, both by Government and people – in a nation which was once richly favoured with spiritual blessings.
In the light of the current situation the Clerk of the Outer Isles Presbytery wrote to the Prime Minister: “When the Outer Isles Presbytery met yesterday [March 6] in Stornoway, I was instructed to write and request you to give consideration to the calling of a national day of humiliation and prayer.
“The need for this action is, in our view, very evident. It is undeniable that in recent times the nation has been passing through troublous times and we cannot but see the hand of God in what has been happening. The distress caused by inclement weather and flooding, train crashes, and, not least, by the present epidemic of foot and mouth disease and the slaughter of so many animals, leads us to believe that we are being chastised as a nation and that we, as the Bible teaches, should not harden our hearts, but rather ‘hear the rod, and who hath appointed it.’
“We, therefore, respectfully appeal to you to act in the interests of this professedly Christian nation and appoint a day of humiliation and prayer to be observed throughout the United Kingdom, in the hope that further judgements may be averted.”
Other letters from the Presbytery protested against recent visits to the Pope by the Queen and by Scotland’s First Minister. The letter to the Queen stated, “As loyal Protestant subjects, we cannot be other than grieved by the spectacle of our Sovereign Head, clad in penitential black, paying her respects to the person identified by the Westminster divines in their Confession of Faith as ‘the man of sin and son of perdition’, one who still blasphemously claims to be ‘Prince of the kings of the earth'”. When such respect is paid to an individual, and to his system, so forcefully condemned in the Scriptures, this nation cannot expect to experience God’s blessing.
Multitudes in Search of Salvation
Two multitudes of people, gathered for religious purposes, have recently attracted the attention of the world media.
One has been described as the “the largest gathering on earth”. It was the Hindu festival of Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad, held every 12 years, during which the people go through the ritual of bathing in the River Ganges. Hindus believe that to bathe in the Ganges on one of six “astrologically auspicious” days will wipe away the sins of seven lifetimes. It was claimed that Wednesday, January 24, was an “astrologically auspicious” day, and more than 30 million bathed in the Ganges, praying to “Mother Ganges” to bless them. They believed that they would thus be purified from sin, eventually die in peace, and achieve blessed immortality.
How unspeakably sad that millions of precious souls do not know the true God, are ignorant of the only way of salvation and the precious truth stated by the Apostle John to believers: “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). None but Christ, in His sufferings and death as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of His people, is the “fountain opened . . . for sin and for uncleanness” (Zec 13:1). Such scenes as those of the millions at the River Ganges call the Church of Christ to redouble its efforts to fulfill the great commission to preach the glorious gospel to every creature.
The other gathering was that of some 2.3 million Muslim pilgrims who congregated at the Grand Mosque in Mecca in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of March to take part in the annual festival of Haj. One of the rituals is the “the stoning of Satan”, when the people indicate that they resist Satan’s lures and drive him away by throwing stones at three giant pillars representing the devil. Sadly, 35 people were crushed to death when the crowd surged forward to throw stones at the pillars, and it was this tragedy especially which resulted in extra media coverage.
The Bible shows us that no one can overcome Satan or drive him away except by faith in Jesus Christ. Only Christ is stronger than “the strong man armed”, the devil. Christ alone is the conqueror of Satan, for He came to “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14,15). Those who trust in Him for salvation become, through Him, “more than conquerors” of sin and Satan.
How great therefore is the need of many millions all around the world of hearing – and believing – this great, good news: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15)! And great is the need of the world of having heaven-sent preachers of the gospel. Let us pray that many men be raised up by God to say, “Here am I; send me,” in response to His question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Is 6:8).