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The Lord God omnipotent reigns!

Following their latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, there is growing concern around the world about North Korea. Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, claims that the entire US is now within striking range of his missiles. The North Koreans are also working on a project to miniaturise a nuclear warhead to fit on their long-range missiles. The leaders of South Korea, Japan and the USA are not sure how to respond. China is a key player in influencing Kim Jong-un, but is reluctant to act.

Throughout history there have been leaders who have been ambitious to extend and display their power. The Bible tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that was the world super-power of that day. One night Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that deeply disturbed him. He saw a large tree in the middle of the earth that reached high into the heavens for all the world to see. Then a messenger shouted, “Cut down the tree and lop off its branches! But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the wild animals among the plants of the field. Let him have the mind of a wild animal instead of the mind of a man.”

King Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret his dream. He told Nebuchadnezzar that the tree represented him. Nebuchadnezzar had grown strong and great; his rule reached up to heaven and to the ends of the earth. Through the dream, God was telling Nebuchadnezzar that he would be driven from human society and would live in the fields with the wild animals until he learned “that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.” Nebuchadnezzar would receive his kingdom back when he learned that heaven rules. Then Daniel gave the King some advice, “Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor.”

The dream God gave Nebuchadnezzar came to pass. After his sanity returned he praised and worshipped God and said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honour the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.” Today the leaders of the nations, and those who aspire to great power, should humbly remember that heaven rules. All of us can also find great comfort in knowing that the Lord God omnipotent reigns!

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God is working his purpose out

North Korea is in the news. Kim Jong-Un, the new, young leader of North Korea is flexing his muscles. The North Korean people are isolated from the outside world. Many of them are poor and hungry, yet North Korea is developing missiles and nuclear technology. The United States is committed to defending South Korea and is also aware of possible threats to their own country. There is real concern that one rash action could start a very serious conflict.

Jesus was once asked by his disciples about the signs of the end of the world. He replied, “Wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. Then you will be arrested, persecuted and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me.”

The words of Jesus certainly have a contemporary ring. There are tensions and conflicts between nations. International terrorism has become part of our lives. Natural disasters are common with devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people. Intolerance of Christians is also now more common and in some countries Christians experience serious persecution.

Yet the teaching of Jesus gives real hope. He clearly taught that the history of the world is guided by God. We are not at the mercy of the whims of political leaders and dictators. The end of the world will come in God’s time. He will deal with all evil and will usher in a new heavens and new earth where righteousness, not evil, will pervade everyone and everything.

In the midst of the traumas of history the message of God’s love for the people of his world is also being proclaimed. Christians have sent sacks of rice into North Korea with the words, “With love from Jesus” printed on them. Those who received the food, who have never heard the name of Jesus, realised that he loved them. Against the background of all the bad news, a message of good news is being proclaimed to the nations, by word and deed. Jesus said “The Good News of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.”