As this editorial is being written, the winds of change are blowing mightily across the nations of the world. They have always done so, but perhaps it has never been so true that "… the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa 57.20-21). Across the world, nations are on the move, borders are fluid, great powers vie for influence, and the toll of human misery, suffering and tears rises inexorably. In the Far East, China has woken out of many centuries of slumber, and ancient territorial claims now threaten the stability of the entire region. In the Middle East, millions of refugees are on the move as the Syrian crisis becomes increasingly a proxy war between Russia and the West. In the Americas, turbulence caused by great social inequalities threatens many governments in the south whilst, in the north, the effect on a great nation of their wholesale rejection of God and His Word is tragic to observe.
Here in the United Kingdom, and across the continent of Europe, the wind is chill, and the sky is growing ever darker, as political, social and financial instability increases. The tempo of debate and electioneering for the forthcoming referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union is becoming more and more frantic and, on Thursday 23rd June, the British people will make a far-reaching decision. Or will they?
The Word of God tells us "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" (Prov 16.33). Do we believe that? Are our souls genuinely tranquil as we read "The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Ps 103.19)? The God who raised up mighty empires in past days, and the men who ruled them, has not changed, neither can He. Whether or not Britain remains in the EU will not be decided by an electorate, nor by their politicians: "… the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Dan 4.17). Gratefully, we rest in the infinite power of the eternal God, "… who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will …" (Eph 1.11).
Our confidence that God is still on the throne should not, however, make us complacent. As critical moments arise in a nation's history, there are two particular responsibilities that devolve upon us as the Lord's people. The first concerns our own stability; "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure … yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (Isa 46.9-11). What confidence, what stability such a Scripture provides! If our first responsibility is to rest in the sovereign purpose of God, the second is to attend to the part we must play in the political system. As Christians "… our citizenship is in heaven …" (Phil 3.20, RV), so we are not eligible to participate in the God-ignoring democratic processes of this world. But what we can, and should, do is to heed Paul's words to Timothy, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim 2.1-2). In such turbulent times as these, we need to spend much time with our Bibles, for "… thy word is truth" (Jn 17.17), and much time in prayer, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God …" (1 Tim 2.3).