I was particularly struck by the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that UK military spending would rise to 2.5% of national income by 2030.  We are “not on the brink of war,” he explained but he did go on to say that the extra money would put the defence industry “on a war footing”. 

The UK it seems, could be facing the most dangerous international environment since the days of the Cold War between the West and the former Soviet Union

I can readily concur with that assessment. The prolonged war in the Ukraine, serious concerns over Chinese interference and the ‘powder keg’ we know as the Middle East are all salutary reminders that we are living in an increasingly volatile and dangerous world.

As I’ve reflected on all of this, I can’t help thinking that the Old Testament prophet Isaiah would have no problem identifying with the current international situation. He was living at a time when the rising power of the Assyrian empire was presenting its challenges, so much so that his nation would lurch from crisis to crisis throughout his life.  But like his fellow prophets Isaiah was not daunted. He was convinced that in the final analysis God determines the destiny of nations. He is ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Lord of Lords’ and as such controls the course of history.

It was this conviction that gave Isaiah the confidence to predict the future, and accurately too, as the people of Jerusalem were to discover in 701 BC for example when, against all the odds the city did not fall. As someone has wisely commented Isaiah was convinced that rulers and empires may play their part in the drama we know as ‘history’, but it is God who writes the script.

It can be reassuring to know that God is in control but it can also prove challenging even disturbing too. Isaiah, for example had to tell his contemporaries that their spiritual disobedience would have tragic results and it did. They ended up in exile.  In the same way the apostle Paul has warned us that when people turn away from God it can have some very unwelcome social consequences. God, he said can ‘abandon’ us to our ‘foolish thinking’ and let us ‘do things that should never be done’. Now that sounds remarkably ‘up to date’ to me, given the current state of our society.

But let’s not finish this short thought on a depressing note. If God really is in charge of history it means prayer is not a futile exercise. It can have the most amazing impact on the world in which we live. Winston Churchill clearly understood this which is why he was able say in 1942 that there were times when he was conscious of a ‘Guiding Hand’ at work during the course of WW2. We certainly need that kind of ‘interference’ at the moment.

It also means He can give us a glimpse into the future if and when He chooses to do so. I was reminded of this while I was writing this column. A friend dropped in to see me and  told me that she can still vividly remember the moment God showed her the surprising direction her life would take. And guess what? He got it right!  But then He always does.