Decent discourse, and a case of "What if …?"

WARNING: slight profanity– quoted — below.

In the comic novel, Through the Fields of Clover, by Peter de Vries (1961), one of the sub-plots involves Harry Mercury, a comedian who hosts a TV variety show. His “people” and those of another TV host, Lew Pentecost, devise a plan where the two comics would “feud” with each other over the course of the season. The idea would be that both shows would benefit, because audiences would tune in every week to see what insults each comic would hurl at the other.

(People of an older generation will recall that Jack Benny and Fred Allen did the same thing, with remarkable success. A typical insult would be Fred Allen, “When Jack Benny plays the violin, it sounds like the strings are still in the cat!”*)

“WELL!”

Alas, the wheels fall off the plan when one of Harry Mercury’s writers writes some jokes that make fun of Lew Pentecost’s obesity and the size of his nose. Pentecost hits the ceiling when he sees the jokes. As Mercury’s two writers try to decide how to salvage the deal, one of them says, “It stands to reason that you can’t have a feud with a goddam sore-head!”

That line keeps coming back to me when I look at the level of discourse in our society these days. Not just in the things people say, but in the reactions.

A few days ago, a female member of Canada’s parliament was speaking about the recent murder of a prostitute in Montreal, making the case that the government needs to do more to protect sex workers. A male MP from another party asked her if she had considered sex work.

In the uproar, the male MP apologized unreservedly, and tried to explain what he meant, but his meaning was lost in the controversy of the way he said it.

As I understand it, the MP was not asking the other member if she had considered going into sex work, but was leading to a point that “sex work” is not something any woman or girl should be forced into.

This is not about that discussion. It’s about the fact that there are a whole lot of complex issues in our world, and people are so divided and entrenched in their views, that anyone who tries to have a conversation about these issues needs to be really careful how they broach the subject.

Point One: we need to lighten up. Just because someone disagrees with us doesn’t make them evil or even inferior to us. And let’s try to grant someone the grace to realize they’re saying something with the best of intentions.

In other words, don’t be a ****** sore-head.

But my main point is, the male MP could have put his point better, if he’d paused to consider Jesus’ words.

“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.

“For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you should say.”

– Luke 12:11-12

Does that apply to parliamentary debate, or even everyday conversation? I’d say it does: if we can rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the words we need when our faith is on trial and our lives are on the line — as Jesus says it would be, in front of the synagogues, magistrates and authorities — how much more can we rely on Him to give us the right words in everyday conversation?

We need to do more of that. The Holy Spirit is about responding to a situation, not reacting to it. Humankind has been all about reacting since The Garden, and look at the state we’re in now. Time and time again, God calls us to suppress our animal instinct

The case of “What if …?” is this. What if that MP had taken the time to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in making his point about prostitution? What if the MPs who shouted, in a knee-jerk reaction, “Shame!” across the floor had prayed for understanding as to what he was getting at?

What if … when we share our views on any subject, whether it’s known to be controversial or no, we stop, drop and pray, asking the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance we need? And then listen, as He tells us what to, how to and even (dare I say it?) whether to speak.

What if … we were to do the same when someone comes at us with a view we don’t agree with?

Eldridge Cleaver once said, “Too much agreement kills a chat.” We’ll probably have a lot better chats, and get a lot more done, if we learn to engage the Holy Spirit before we put the mouth in motion.


*In olden days, violin strings were made of cat-gut. Do not despair, fellow cat lovers: “cat”-gut was actually taken from sheep. Why it was called cat-gut probably has a very good reason, but I don’t feel like looking it up.


Truth on fire

NB: this is about the ongoing bushfire situation in Australia. If you, like many of us, want to contribute financially to relief efforts, here is a piece about some legitimate organizations that are raising money. And, at the end of this post, I’ll give you the link to an effort particularly close to my heart.


Having spent the last two months in Australia, I can tell you this: the bushfire situation is BAD. The story is the lede on every newscast and the front-page of every newspaper; the word “unprecedented” comes up almost as much as “quid pro quo” in the US media this past fall; and there is hardly a person in the country who is not, in some way, affected: they’ve either experienced the fires first-hand or they’re within four degrees of separation of someone who has.

People are praying, and praying mightily, for rain and God’s intervention.

“Our hearts cry out to you for those who have lost loved ones, and those who have lost properties in the wake of these ravaging fires. Father we pray, in your mercy, restrain the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damage; in your mercy protect human life.” the prayer reads. “Guard those volunteers, rural fire service personnel and emergency services who selflessly step into the breach to fight these fires. Guide police and authorities who help evacuate and shelter those who are displaced.  Bring comfort and healing to all who suffer loss.”

— Special prayer by Most Rev. Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney

Part of our human nature is to look for an easy answer to a complex problem that appears to be out of our control. Blame the Australian government, which has a hard time acknowledging that climate change is real. Blame the environmentalists, for the unfounded reason that they opposed the practice of “back-burning” — burning off potential fuel for fires in order to prevent bad ones from happening. It doesn’t matter what the truth is: find someone to blame, and you’ll feel better.

Rev. David Robertson, in his blog The Wee Flea, has done a masterful job of dissecting the arguments all around, with a follow-up piece on truth in general. It’s timely, since people can be left crying out, “What is truth?”

When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”, how little he knew that he was staring The Truth in the face.

And now is the time to remember the truth that we Bible believers are privy to: Jesus warned us there’d be days like these.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”

— Matthew 24:6-7

He doesn’t refer to “catastrophic bushfires” in as many words, but He does talk about “tribulation” like we’ve never seen before (Matthew 24:21), so I think we can say pretty confidently that what we’re seeing in Australia fits into that category.

And then what?

Jesus returns. Exactly when, we don’t know and aren’t supposed to: but the fact remains that these things are happening, the Bible “called it” thousands of years ago, and our “marching orders” in light of this are to point people to Jesus Christ so that no one is lost when He does come back.

Sorry: let’s change that perspective. We are to point people to Jesus Christ so that as many people as possible join Him when He returns, bringing with Him the New Jerusalem.

Fires, famines, earthquakes, incurable diseases, terrorism and struggles between “tribes” all look like bad scenes to be lamented. But they are all precursors of unimaginable glory, and we have to keep that in mind.

And that is the Truth. In that Truth is the Hope we so desperately need.


The Australian bushfire fundraising effort that is particularly close to my heart is one my daughter has taken on: all proceeds from one of her songs will go to three charities that are helping with bushfire relief. Read more about it here.

And God said, "I'm still here! Really!"

It’s Saturday morning as I write this, sitting on the balcony of an oojah-cum-spiff hotel in Surfers’ Paradise, Australia. Not even 6am, and the sun is already high in the sky, glistening on the Pacific Ocean. Palms sway their fronds along the beach, flowers are in bloom, and little lorikeets with their colourful plumage flutter through the trees. We are headed for a glorious day.

And I use the word “glorious” deliberately. Here’s why.

  • Bushfires are still doing incredible damage to property, homes and wildlife not too far west of us: recently, the city of Sydney was under an air quality warning because of the smoke from those fires.
  • There is a lunatic in the Australian Senate who claims climate change is due to the Earth being closer to the sun.
  • The President of the United States is turning his wrath on a 16-year-old girl.
  • Boris Johnson has been handed a huge majority in the UK Parliament, suggesting people in the Auld Sod are prepared to “go it alone”.
  • I’ve lost track of the number of multiple shootings — terrorist and otherwise — in the past couple of months.
  • Hatred, racism and other signs of inhumanity are increasing, in spite of the publicity campaigns telling people to stop.

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?

Why do You hide in times of trouble?

The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor;

Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

— Psalm 10:1-2

And yet … there is still incredible beauty all around. Babies are being born, trees are bearing lovely fruit, people are going out of their way for others and the sun is glistening out of a clear blue sky over the Pacific Ocean.

Maybe God isn’t hiding.

Maybe God is saying, through the beauty and the continuation of life and love and the earth that He created, along with all that is in it, “Hi! I’m still here!”

Haven’t we strayed away from God long enough? I mean, we’ve been doing so for centuries — in fact, millennia — and the question we need to come back to is, “How’s that working for us?”

God is still there. He hasn’t moved. And He is waiting for us with open arms, waiting for us to turn to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

That’s why I say, “glorious”.

The Lord is king forever and ever:

The nations have perished out of His land.

Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;

You will prepare their heart;

You will cause Your ear to hear,

To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

— Psalm 10:16-18

If you don’t like the weather …

It’s been a balmy springtime in Melbourne, Australia, so far: mercifully removed from the bushfires savaging New South Wales and Queensland. The other day, though, a rogue high-pressure system moved in and the temperature rocketed up to 40 C. — 103 F.

Added to that was a dangerously-high wind. Walking outdoors was like walking through a hair dryer. Not funny: a tree came down over one of the commuter rail lines and another crashed into my son-in-law’s sister’s backyard.

Then, just before 3pm, the temperature started to drop. You could actually feel the change: literally, one moment, it was blazing hot and the next moment you thought, “Wow! It’s suddenly cooling off!” Within an hour an a half, the temperature had dropped 20 Celsius degrees.

You’ve probably heard the old witticism, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes: it’ll change!” In Melbourne, this is It.

Now ordinarily, that witticism refers to unpredictable weather: weather you don’t like can change into something you do like. But what if we considered how God operates?

Then God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.

— Genesis 1:3

See, God brought change. He is always bringing change, even though sometimes, we human beings don’t like the change. In fact, since we’re fallen human beings, there’s no “sometimes” about it. We resist change. That’s Satan at work, trying to get us to see the bad side of what’s new and different; to assume that if something changes, it’s going to be bad for us.

Instead, the “trick” in life is to consider change and newness and seek God through it. Change may make things difficult for us at the time, but God works with the long-term big picture, and what we need to do is wait on Him and expect that as we do that, the change will be for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

— Romans 8:28

“Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert. “

— Isaiah 43:19

So if you don’t like a situation, give it a little time and ask God where He is: the situation might not change, but your attitude will.

A Very Convenient Truth – Judge Not …

The other day, I was driving from my home into downtown Victoria, a distance of about 40 kilometres — 25 miles. Along the way, I passed (and was passed by) several large pickup trucks, some fairly new, some quite elderly.

When you live on the outskirts — or, as we do, in a quasi-wilderness unincorporated area — you pretty much need a private vehicle to get around.

But I couldn’t help thinking that people in the environmental movement would have a field day, pointing at those trucks (and even at me, in our Toyota RAV4, which isn’t exactly stingy on gas) and vilifying the owners for destroying Mother Earth.

And that, friends, is one of the signs that Satan has been stirring the pot when it comes to the controversy over climate change and the environment: judgmentalism.

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

— Luke 6:37

“Judge not, that you be not judged.

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

— Matthew 7:1-2

In my book, A Very Convenient Truth, or, Jesus warned us there’d be days like these, so stop worrying about the planet and get with His program!*, I point out that there are signs that Satan, and not God, is driving the debate. He has no interest in protecting God’s creation, but if he can keep God’s people at one another’s throats, that’s all he cares about.

The judgment that is poured out by one group of people on another is one of those signs. People in the environmental movement vilify those who don’t follow their prescriptions for combating climate change. They, themselves, get vilified for wanting to force their world view on others. (And they say Christians are bad for that!)

The judgmentalism cuts both ways, and divides cities, communities, neighbourhoods, even families. Generations are set against each other, with the previous generation being accused of ruining things for future generations — a specious accusation that flies in the face of reality. As I’ve said before, the past 70 years have seen concerted action to save humankind from itself: at least three generations have been aware, concerned and working to head off disaster. If that action has failed, it’s not because they’ve “let down future generations”.

Why should I worry about the future? What did the future ever do for me?

— Groucho Marx

Actually, isn’t that “[our generation] has let down future generations” attitude kind of a slimy? (There are other words I could use, but they’re not polite.) It’s like a basketball player who hogs the ball until there are two seconds left on the shot-clock, then passes it to someone else and expects them to make the play. Think about it.

I digress. The division in society that we’re seeing is actually another sign that Satan is running this discussion: a counterfeit (as opposed to an imitation) of Christ.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

“For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;

“and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

— Matthew 10:34-36 (Micah 7:6)

The conflict we’re seeing now is an attempt to replicate that. Yes, Jesus does talk about bringing division and “war”; but the war is the New Covenant against the Old, and the “sword” is the Word of God, Straight, no chaser. This conflict is manufactured, with fingers pointed at any convenient enemy, rather than the real one.

The fact that there is so little understanding, acceptance that circumstances are different from person to person (why does someone live in the outskirts? Why do they need a pickup truck?), and grace tells you one thing: God is not being invited into the discussion.

What if we did bring Him in? Think about it.


*A Very Convenient Truth is currently going through yet another revision, and will be re-uploaded as an e-book in the next couple of months. But the message of the book is too important to delay.

A Very Convenient Truth – The 11th Commandment?

Without question, one of the hallmarks of the concerns over climate change and the general destruction of our environment is fear. It has been for a good twenty years, or so, and if you’ve ever thought that the whole “discussion” — shouting match, really — is un-Godly, consider this.

The continual presence of FEAR is a sign that Satan is pulling the strings.

I don’t mean Godly fear or the wise-as-serpents/keep-your-stick-on-the-ice kind of fear that heightens our awareness of circumstances. I mean the paralyzing, out-of-control kind of fear that makes us dread getting up in the morning and lash out at anyone we think is responsible.

That’s the sort of fear that Satan loves. Here’s another passage from my book, A Very Convenient Truth – or, Jesus Warned Us There’s Be Days Like These, So Stop Worrying About The Planet And Get With His Program!

Another sign that Satan has his hands all over this issue is the amount of fear. The debate is filled with fear of either destruction of the planet or economic collapse.

Fear is not of God. You could say it is the Eleventh Commandment – as Psalm 92 says,

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,

“Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

“Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness”Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”

(Psalm 91:5-6)

That being said, look at the number of times in the Bible that people are told “fear not”, just before an amazing move of God takes place:

– God first tells Abram “fear not” (Genesis 15:1) before announcing he will be the father of many generations;

– the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah “fear not”, before announcing that Elizabeth will have a baby (Luke 1:13) ;

– he tells Mary “fear not”, as he tells her she has found favor with God (Luke 1:30); and

– he tells the shepherds “fear not”, as he announces Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:10)

Think of it: a move of God is so awe-inspiring that people can be stricken dumb with fear. Indeed, when Jesus tells us about the events that precede His return — the effects of climate change among them — He tells us so that we will not be afraid, even though those things can — and do — cast fear into our hearts.

The fear we have of environmental calamity is really a sign that we are about to see a tremendous move of God.

Praise God, He has this all figured out and His plan is unfolding as He told us it would. When we let Him take control, we have nothing to worry about.

What’s really sad is, so many children are being shown to be scared of what’s happening and what could happen in their lifetimes. One wonders why their parents aren’t giving them that important message. Well, as we said yesterday, the god of this age has blinded people to the truth.

One more thing for us to pray about.

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation:

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life:

Of whom shall I be afraid?

— Psalm 27:1

FEAR NOT!


A Very Convenient Truth is currently going through yet another revision, and will be re-uploaded as an e-book in the next couple of months. But the message of the book is too important to delay.

Remember the mis-direct!

Here’s one for you: what do the current impeachment investigation in the US and the current spate of climate change activist actions have in common?

Here’s a clue:

“Keep your eye on the roses, ladies and gentlemen! Never take your eyes off the roses!”

When so much attention is focused on so little, it’s fair to ask, what are we not seeing, and why? Climate change and the actions of the President of the United States are important issues, in their way, but while we’re looking at those roses, we’re supposed to miss the rabbit and doves coming out of the magician’s hat. Why do you suppose that would be?

That’s not really a rhetorical question. Consider this:

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

— 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

While the world is focusing on flashy things like worldwide protest marches or one country’s politics, the fact that we are looking at the greatest “come to Jesus moment” ever is getting overlooked.

We need to be “woke Christians”, looking past the “magician’s mis-direct”, the arguments over climate change and even our own Schadenfreude at seeing the mighty fall; we need to keep our eyes fixed on the Gospel and remembering that our job is to “unveil” the Gospel to the ones Paul says are perishing. It’s our responsibility. It’s our duty.

“For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.

“And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it.

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

“But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.”

— Mark 13:19-23

A Very Convenient Truth – a challenge and an opportunity

Another major action is planned for my city today (and others around the world, apparently): environmental activists plan to shut down the Johnson Street Bridge, except for bicycles, pedestrians and transit buses, to demand action on climate change. It’s hard to say whether they will win the hearts and minds of the general public by inconveniencing people, but they will certainly get to show off their eco-righteousness, all the while ignoring a key point.

The universe is unfolding exactly the way God says it will. He warned us 2,000 years ago and He’s been warning us since long before that. The events we’re seeing are the things Jesus said would precede His return … the thing is, He doesn’t say by how much they’re preceding His return … that is, His return is imminent, but there’s nothing to indicate that it will be tomorrow, next year or next century …

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them, a sign from heaven.

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’;

“and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.”

— Matthew 16:1-3

The fact is, we need to be awake and aware. This is not a time to roll over and wait for the Rapture: the events we’re seeing are a wakeup call not simply about climate change, but for us to get our act together in all areas of our relationship with Him.

Racism, violence, hatred, tribalism, terrorism, wars, earthquakes and climate change are all related. They’re not about CO2 emissions, fossil fuels or international accords: they are a result of our falling-away from God; our refusal to consider His word, and our preference to “do it our way”.

And so these problems escalate. Is anybody asking, “how’s that working for us?”  

God’s word makes it clear that if we turn to Him, He will heal the physical stuff.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”

— Matthew 6:33

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal the land.”

— 2 Chronicles 7:14

This leaves me wondering something. Why don’t the leaders of the environmental movement point to Scripture and the promises it holds — like 2 Chronicles 7:14, above? It seems like that is the one area that gets ignored by the movement, unless it’s to say, “Well, of course we have to take care of God’s Creation!”, and then run off to make more demands of politicians, businesspeople and ordinary folks.

So here’s the “challenge”. Two of them, in fact:

1 – to those who deny there’s a problem, and tend to be associated with the Religious Right, are you willing to take your head out of the oilsands long enough to see that all the signs Jesus told us would precede His return are happening in front of our eyes, and use this opportunity to share the Gospel far and wide?

2 – to the environmental movement, are you willing to consider the word of God above the words of David Suzuki, Al Gore or even Greta Thunberg and lead the call to general repentance for the sake of the Earth you love?

It’s not about taking care of creation: it’s about restoring our relationship with Him. If we do that, He promises to do the heavy lifting, and everything falls into place.


My book, A Very Convenient Truth, or Jesus Warned Us There’d Be Days Like These, So Stop Worrying About the Planet and Get With His Program!, is going through yet another revision. It will be ready soon. I’ll let you know.

Too important for humans

The International Panel on Climate Change has released yet another report, proclaiming environmental doom if big changes are not made in the way we live. This past Friday, in my city and around the world, people took to the streets to demand those changes and castigate governments of all stripes for not “doing more” to combat climate change.

There is an underlying implication that nothing is being done to combat climate change, but that is ‘way off-side. For the past half-century, people, organizations, private corporations and yes, even governments have taken action to save humanity from itself. Look at the neighborhood recycling programs, the lobbying for tighter pollution and emission regulations, the cleanup crews hauling trash off shorelines and out of waterways.

Look at the reams of treaties, accords and solemn promises that governments have made over the past 30 years. Heck: let’s go back more than 60 years, to the “ban the bomb” movement and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

Look at the human cost: the thousands upon thousands of jobs lost — and families put into turmoil — due to industries closing.

(I remember hearing an Australian friend gush about the decision to close the Holden car-manufacturing plant in Australia: “That’s great for the environment! Maybe not so good for people losing their jobs — but great for climate change!” Hmm.)

Don’t tell me “nothing has been done”.

But have the actions taken been the right actions? They’ve certainly seemed like good ideas at the time, but as I mentioned on Earth Day earlier this year, even plastics recycling — that most basic of home-environmentalist actions — has not done what it was supposed to do.

The thing is. the IPCC reports — both the one specifically on rising sea levels and the one released just before Earth Day — are classic cases of science confirming the Bible. We’ve been warned about all of the events predicted in those reports — nearly 2,000 years ago and more. And you don’t need to be an end-times wonk (which I’m not) to see that.

Throwing people into a blind panic and stirring up anger because “someone else” isn’t “doing enough” to ameliorate the situation only distracts attention from what’s really going on and what we’re really supposed to be doing in this situation.

And what are we supposed to be doing?

  • Turn to God (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
  • Repent for our personal failure to “tend His garden” (Genesis 2:15) and move forward with new life (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Love others unconditionally and stop pointing fingers
  • Minister hope to the poor
  • Keep asking God where He is in this (Matthew 7:8)
  • Learn more about what He says we should to for His creation. His Word actually has practical instructions, which we all can follow

Hope that human intellect, science and technology will save the earth is a false hope. This is too important for humans to tackle alone.

Climate change, racial tension, violent crime and earthquakes, are all products of human intellect. But more importantly, they are the symptoms, not the disease itself. The disease is the falling-away from God. Praise Him, there is a Cross-shaped door that is always open for us to come back.


Starting next Monday and over the next few weeks, this blog will run excerpts of a book I first published in 2008, and am now revising. A Very Convenient Truth — or, Jesus Warned Us There’d Be Days Like These, So Stop Worrying About the Planet and Get With His Program! is what you might call a “Bible Journey” through the issue of environmental trauma — not denying the situation, but suggesting that we re-focus our attention on the root of the issue, rather than the symptoms. Edition #4 will be ready soon.

21st Century Cyrus?

My post the other day, that a certain president might be today’s version of Nebuchadnezzar — unrelentingly prideful and taking credit for things that were really God’s work and provision; heading for a fall of, well, Biblical proportions — ended with the Great King rebounding to even greater power and blessing. Nebetc. essentially declared The One True God to be the “state religion”, and lived out his life without much further problems. His son, Belshazzar, succeeded him.

But Israel was still in captivity. Even when Darius, whose kingdom conquered Babylon shortly after, saw the power of God through Daniel and again decreed the “state religion”, the Israelites were still weeping “as they remembered Zion”. It wasn’t until Cyrus came along, that the Israelites were released, more or less, to go home and re-build Jerusalem.

And this should offer a new hope for Jesus Followers today. Because even if history repeats itself and Biblical history plays out again in our times, Nebuchadnezzar’s rehabilitation only leads to a worldly form of peace and security. Declarations of “righteousness” mainly amount to lip service: spiritually, people are still captive and there are still forces like the “officials” whose accusations led Darius to send Daniel into the lions’ den.

But eventually, along comes Cyrus, someone whose spirit is stirred by God (Ezra 1:1), who releases God’s people to rebuild the foundation of their faith. And that’s the source of hope. I have no idea if any of the players on today’s stage is that “Cyrus”, but it gives us cause to take a step back and remind ourselves that God is in control. Even when things don’t look so good as we define “good”, we need to keep looking for Him; and when we find Him — which we will — get onside.