FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 15, number 50, December 15, 2016
“For behold, darkness with cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples.” -Isaiah 60:2a
But the Lord Will Rise Upon You
Fidel Castro, the Communist dictator of Cuba, who recently met his maker and judge, sent Communist troops from his country to Angola in 1978 in hopes of overrunning that nation and eventually making his way into South Africa to dismantle that country’s democracy. On September 12 of that year, Cuban communist troops entered the Chilleso Evangelical Church in Angola, desecrating the church with heads of cattle and murdering Pastor Aurelio Saunje before the eyes of his congregation. When church members fled the Cubans mowed down one hundred and fifty of them. On another occasion Cuban soldiers brought a lamb into another church, slit its throat and then smeared the lamb’s blood on the parishioners, mocking them with, “Worship the lamb. The blood of the lamb sets you free.” The Cubans then taunted the believers, “You have committed idolatry. You are lost. Your souls will be condemned to hell with us for eternity. You can never be saved now.” When Angolan believers had been imprisoned and tortured for months, they finally asked their captors, “Why don’t you go ahead and kill us and get it over with?” They responded, “Oh no. We do not want to kill you and send you to heaven with God. We want you to curse Christ and come to hell with us for all eternity.”
For the past five years in the greatest atrocity you have never heard of, the militant, Jihadist government of Omar al Bashir in Sudan is practicing an atrocious, unmerciful brand of ethnic cleansing. Sudan is almost exclusively Muslim but in the Nuba mountains is an island of Christian believers in a sea of Islam. Over one-third of the 1.4 million people living in the Nuba mountains have been killed or displaced by daily bombings from the Sudanese government. One town has a mass grave of one hundred and fifty children who were killed in one bombing attack. When the Russian made bombers are heard overhead, the children, in seeking refuge, rush into caves infested with cobras.
“Behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples.” My friends, we live in a dark world. It has been this way, of course, since Adam’s fall into sin which brought death upon himself and all his posterity. Very quickly the beauty, peace, and tranquility of the Garden of Eden went south. Cain murdered his brother and Lamech boasted of killing a man for wounding him and a boy for striking him. If Cain was to be avenged seven times (if revenge should be taken seven times on the evil committed by Cain) then Lamech’s revenge was seventy-seven times. Historians often wax poetically on the beauty of life in the Roman Empire at the time of Christ’s birth (the good roads, the beautiful buildings, the Senate) yet the average person there lived in abject slavery and poverty. Life was cheap, easily discarded both on the battle field and in the Colosseum in Rome. The King of Judea, Herod the Great, was a blood thirsty ruler appointed by the Roman Senate. He was responsible for the slaughter of the innocents in Matthew 2:16 as well as murdering two of his sons, his wife Mariamne I, and many other people who threatened his rule.
People also live in fear. Everyone fears something, some time. A devoted believer, who receives the bad news from his oncology doctor that he has stage four cancer and has only a short time to live, will be struck with fear. It is only natural. He may surely be able to “get himself together” and trust the Lord with great peace until the very end, but he will still have times of fear and doubt.
Into this world of darkness, pain, sickness, sorrow, injustice, and death came the Lord Jesus, born in the fullness of time, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive our adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
Isaiah was preaching to both the Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel, both of which eventually faced destruction by foreign invasion. He was promising a better day in this marvelous prophetic word. They would suffer devastation and destruction. They would be living in darkness, but the glory of the Lord was to appear upon them. Nations would stream to their light, and kings would run to the brightness of their rising. The light of the glory of God in Christ Jesus would indeed be upon them.
Are you experiencing darkness at this present time? Are you fearful, depressed, bitter, angry, distraught? Remember, my friends, the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a time of dramatic darkness and palpable fear, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. He was born in utter obscurity and poverty, but His coming changes everything. It led eventually to His death on the cross and the victory we now have over sin, death, and Satan. Christmas is a wonderful reminder of celebration, of festival, of joy inexpressible and full of glory.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
1. As reported by Dr. Peter Hammond, Frontline Fellowship, December 2, 2016 <www.frontline.org.za
2. I urge you to watch this ten minute video on what is presently going on in the Nuba mountains <www.youtube.com> The Worst Atrocity You’ve Never Heard Of: Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.