Pastor's pen for Sunday 2nd August - Progress at hyper-speed...

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I read with some dismay of President Putin boasting about his new hyper-sonic Avangard glide vehicle, capable of carrying a 2 megaton nuclear missile traveling at 27x the speed of sound. Apparently this is next-level technology which nobody can match at the moment.

In the 18th Century, enlightenment thinking dared to believe that by science and reason, progress would be made toward a better, more enlightened future. Yet many 21st century presidents and dictators continue to put the lie to this vain hope. Like archetypal schoolyard bullies; populist, nationalist, macho types parade their new toys like a bunch of boy racers trading burnouts on the outskirt of Hamilton. Presumably you can do a lot more more damage with a nuclear loaded Avangard than you can with a lowered, turbo-ed BMW.

It's difficult to hold to the hope of human progress raised by the enlightenment and to profess biblical hope at the same time. Technologies and knowledge have increased beyond measure, but in the biblical worldview, the condition and tendencies of the human soul remain quite predictable. The The Psalmist certainly grasps this, particularly in relation to the use of power by nations. The psalmist asks; 'Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?' (Psalm 2 NIV) The people of God understand that human progress alone is not enough to ensure human flourishing. The misuse of power by human beings results in empire, greed, imbalance and war. The kingship of God and his Son Jesus Christ is the only thing that will, in the end, bring restoration to the heavens and the earth.

This is the sort of talk we come to in the second section of Revelation 11 where the sovereignty of God becomes plain. There is not the mystery we have been wrestling with the last couple of weeks,but exudes a sense of finality.

In a world seemingly ruled by by despots and dunces, the global bullies wave their nuclear toys just as warlords clattered shield to spear in times past. Yet, we take stock calmly of the kingship of God, whose Spirit still moves over the waters. Revelation teaches us that evil has its limit, and in the end, God reigns.

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