Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Year Of Our Lord, 2009

"Anno Domini", words with a lovely ring to them. At least, in the
believer's ear! They remind us of some precious truths: that history
belongs to the Saviour, and the event that has defined time for all time
is his long-awaited arrival. The year of our Lord, 2009 is dawning.

Atheists and unbelievers of all stripes may (should they think too much
about it) deeply dislike the daily and hourly reminders - it's probably
down there in the corner of the screen you're reading this on - but even
in this another Biblical truth is confirmed. Whether you love Christ or
hate him, you can't avoid him, because, well, he is Lord! You never will
be able. To him every knee must ultimately bow, whether it's in the
submission of loving delight, or of resented final defeat. We know that
some have tried to get us to re-label the next year "2009 C.E.", but I'm
assured this really just means the 2009th year of "Christ's Empire." At
least, whatever C.E. stands for, we all know there's only one event that
we're counting 2009 years on from regardless of what terms it's labelled
with. Love it or hate it, it is what it is.

Thousands of years ago, the obscure prophets of an insignificant nation
proclaimed day in and day out that one day, through the coming Messiah,
all the nations of the world would worship Israel's God, Jehovah. This
was a remarkable vision, and likely proof of early insanity, as the gods
of the nations in those days were routinely local deities, expected to
protect this hill or that nation but no more. The seers of this apparent
non-entity of a nation, though, ridiculously declared that their God
made the universe, and would one day have his rule (which had been
apparently overthrown by man's sinful rebellion), restored, on an
appropriately world-wide scale. Well, that's a good joke, one ancient
Near-Easterner might say to another, especially if he belonged to one of
the more important regional powers, such as Egypt, Babylon or
Medo-Persia (depending on your century).

Except that it wasn't a joke. The good news that Jesus Christ came into
the world to die for our sins is today being spread comprehensively
throughout the nations, just as the prophets announced it would. The
most obscure and unlikely tribes and peoples have, as they foretold,
turned to the God who was worshipped in those days as the God of Israel,
Jehovah or Yahweh, now more fully revealed as the Triune Jehovah,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whichever continent you travel to, and
whichever country (even those where Christianity is outlawed and
punishable with death), you will at least find small gatherings even if
only of secret believers. In other places you will find the whole
direction of entire cultures and continents which were defined (however
much the late-comers are trying to undo it) at their foundations by
faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the New Testament which tells his

This story will continue, like it or not. So why not decide to like it?
Jesus is Lord, and his Lordship is a wonderful thing for those who bow
to him. It is the Lordship of a loving Saviour who suffered and died to
bring us back to God, to redeem us to the uttermost. It is the Lordship
of a heavenly Friend who cares for his own people like a shepherd for
his sheep, and will at last bring every single one of them to heaven and
eternal glory. On the other hand, you can go on despising it or
rejecting it. If you do, it will only ever be the Lordship of a supreme
Potentate whose empire will spread much to your chagrin, and to whom one
day you will bow even if ultimately it is only as your terrifying and
hated judge. Whichever way you cut it, Jesus is Lord, and this new year
is marked as the 2009th year of his glorious kingdom.

I remember speaking once in a Christian old peoples' home, for the
morning devotions, and afterwards one of the resdents repeating to
himself in delight over and over the Bible verse which we had looked at:
"Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Amen, and amen, and
may his kingdom come!

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