"I can only see the decline and fall of the US and the West as part of God's just judgment. Our time in the limelight may well be over. We may well be entering into a new dark ages. Should the Lord tarry, we may be witnessing the collapse of the West, and the rise of heaven knows what – but it is looking very grim right now." Bill Muelenberg wrote that last month. (billmuelenberg.com, October 20,2016)
His comment is stark, maybe be confrontational, but I believe he is right but there's more. This from Macolm Muggeridge: "If, then, all the signs point to the decline and impending fall of what we continue to call Western Civilization, to be followed by another Dark Age, this no more represents any finality in human history than other such developments have in the past.
"I think of St. Augustine when in A. D. 410 the news was brought to him in Carthage that Rome had been sacked. It was a sore blow, but as he explained to his flock: "All earthly cities are vulnerable. Men build them and men destroy them. At the same time there is the City of God which men did not build and cannot destroy and which is everlasting." – (The End of Christendom, Malcolm Muggeridge0
We are living in Days of Arrogance. Politicians proudly proclaim what they can do to change our circumstances. Sadly they come and go and the newcomers make even more boastful claims. Preachers too, make bold so-called prophetic proclamations that prove to be false. How many times have we preached on the Second Coming or the Last Days? In the midst of it all, the world has grown weary.
The power to overcome is found in faith, in what Muggeridge called 'The City of God.' Despite the ugliness around us, God is in control. He will work all things together for good. He has prepared a mansion for us but it is in His Kingdom not ours.
There is an enlightening lesson in the Book of Daniel. It has to do with King Nebuchadnezzar who ruled the mighty Babylonian Empire. He rejected the authority of God and instead relied on his own arrogance and ego.
Nebuchadnezzar was driven from his throne to live with animals in the field for seven years. Daniel chapter 4, verse 17 says in part 'the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will, and sets over it, the lowliest of men.' (The King James version says 'the basest of men.")
My thoughts go out to the people who had to suffer under such a selfish King. Even now when I hear preachers tell me how God is going to provide comfort and luxury for all believers, I argue, tell that to our brothers and sisters in Aleppo, Mosul or Sudan. The Bible is rife with stories of Christians who suffer. The circumstances highlight how awesome the promise of our heavenly kingdom really is.
In 2002 Richard F. Ames wrote "There is a God in heaven who is working out a great plan here on earth. He is giving human beings and human civilization six millennia to experiment with religion, science, government, business, education and social institutions. God is allowing human beings to go their own predictable, carnal way of selfishness, war, and violence, but He often intervenes in order to teach lasting lessons of life and death." (Rise and Fall of Nations, Richard F. Ames, tomorrowsworld.org)
Contrast that comment to another Malcolm Muggeridge classic quote: "So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct."
The Chinese theologian Watchman Nee lived with brutal persecution. In his book 'The Spiritual Man' he said: "Man's head damages people more than man's heart! Were believers to learn how to distinguish the renewal of the heart from the renewal of the head, they would not commit the mistake of believing in man."
Nee draws an important line between the Burdens of the Spirit and the Weight of the Spirit. I want to address the difference because I sense there are many faithful believers who feel the weight in these difficult times.
First of all differentiate between the Burden and the Weight. Jesus will give us the Burden but the Weight is from the enemy. "Any weight on the spirit has no other objective than to oppress it; it therefore usually serves no purpose and produces no fruit," Nee says. That same Weight can cast you down, quench your vitality and lead to a sense of hopelessness, certainly Satanic domain.
On the other hand a Burden of the Spirit will lead you to pray, to intercede, to gather with friends and to seek the Lord. A Burden may lead you to preach or teach. You may have guidance to share, to worship, to proclaim the almighty power of God into a specific situation. (I am constantly burdened to pray for the innocent who suffer under the brutality of terrorism.)
Then having given that Burden to the Author of our faith we can enter again into His glorious Joy!
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html