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Doomsday – God's Checkmate



King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 1:11, “he makes everything work out according to his plan.”


Nothing lies outside the purview of God’s sovereignty, not even the current unrest in the Middle East. He will never be surprised or unsettled. No one can throw him a curve ball he cannot manage. No one could toss a monkey wrench into the “cogs” of his plans for humanity, no matter how many machinations of governments, nations, or individuals. God will always be in control and his plans will never be thwarted.


Magnus Carlsen, of Norway, is one of history’s greatest chess players. He earned the title of grandmaster when only thirteen and became a World Chess Champion in his early twenties. His good looks led to a modelling career on the side. Carlsen claims he can see fifteen moves ahead and sometimes twenty. If so, he must be a genius, for that many moves involves a lot of possible variations.


Thankfully, God is the “Grand Chess Master” of our world. He can see an infinite number of moves ahead. He knows what will happen every time a prime minister is elected, a king is crowned, a leader is assassinated, or a war is started. Every single event—large and small—is simply moving this world closer to his prophetic checkmate – a finale that’s exciting for Christians but terrifying for unbelievers.


Sometimes we can’t imagine why God places certain people in positions of power, or why he uses such unlikely people to accomplish his will. It’s puzzling. Just ask the prophet, Habakkuk. He was confused about this as well. He couldn’t understand why God would use such a wicked nation like Babylon, and its King Nebuchadnezzar, to bring judgement upon Israel and lead them into captivity for seventy years. He thought Israel was not as wicked as Babylon, and therefore, was not deserving of judgement at the hands of the Babylonians. And let us not forget the biblical characters of Pharoah, Jeroboam, Jehu, and Herod. They were all just mere chess pieces in the hands of the Grand Master of history. God always has the final word.


If you are a Christian, you don’t need to panic like the world does. You have the Divine assurance “that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). You can stand amazed at God’s providential care. If you are not a Christian, it’s likely that you’ll see impending doom everywhere – for without God in your life, nothing you place your hope in will ever feel secure. You will tremble at the thought that our world could be destroyed with just a push of a button.


The Doomsday Clock is one of the most recognizable symbols of the past 100 years. It has permeated not only the media landscape but also culture itself. It was designed to warn everyone about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies.


It has been maintained since 1947. But at the beginning of 2023, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. Now with the tensions in the Middle East will they move the hand closer to midnight again?


Should we be alarmed? Well, people who are not Christians will probably find this alarming. Their only hope is to save this planet from destruction – they see no other hope but the preservation of this temporal world.


But Christians are not to be alarmed – no matter what time is displayed on the Doomsday Clock. They are strangers and aliens here; this world is not their home. They are looking forward to their eternal home with Jesus (See: 1 Peter 2:9). They know this world will one day be destroyed and a new heaven and earth will appear (See: 2 Peter 3:12-13). They also know that Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6).


But how easy is it to follow Jesus’ advice? What does it mean to not be alarmed? When we hear of wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and other tragedies, what should be our reaction as Christians? When Jesus says these things will happen, are we not to see these situations as falling under God’s sovereignty and providence?


Isaiah reminds us that God didn’t stop his work after creation. He remains very much involved in the affairs of this world:


I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. “Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them. “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:6-9)[1]


There are a lot of things that happen in our world, and if we could change them, I am sure we would like to argue our case before God – like clay to the potter. Job is a prime example of this in the Bible. After all that Job suffered, after all his arguments he had with God, after all the terrible advice from his friends, he concluded, “I know that you can do all things, and that no plan of yours can be ruined (See: Job 42:2).”


As terrible and indescribable as human suffering is during a time of war, we mustn’t think, “What is the world coming to?” or “What kind of future could I possibly have?” We may wonder, does God know what he is doing? Instead of reacting with dismay, let us respond with compassion to those affected by the ravages of war, but also keep our faith and trust in Jesus at the same time. Eternity beckons all Christians to a better life someday?


We need to remember, Jesus created all things, including “thrones and dominions, rulers and authorities”. They are all held together in him (See: Colossians 1:16-17). We may not understand his plans, but he does, and he executes them with precision. Daniel said, “ He controls the course of world events, he removes kings and sets upo other kings, he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars" ( Daniel 2:21).


Because we do not know the hour of Jesus’ return, or when that final “doomsday” will come, let us apply our hearts to what Jesus said in Matthew 24:42, “Stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).


In other words, we need to always live as if Jesus could come back at any moment. Jesus is coming back someday and there is nothing that will stop God’s agenda from unfolding. Even as I write this blog, he is executing his moves and leading our world to that inevitable moment when he will declare, “checkmate”. Mankind will have run out of all moves, all options, all plans to further reject God’s agenda. Until then, nations may try to give the impression that God and his ways are unimportant. They may even try to outwit him or gain an advantage over him, but it will never happen.


The Psalmist spoke about the futility of those who would try to divest themselves from God and his sovereignty: “Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. [2]


Is there a doomsday coming? Yes. It won’t be a nuclear bomb, or climate change. The Bible depicts it as an act of God: “For see, the day of the Lord is coming— the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it. The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light. “I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin” (Isaiah 13:9-11). [3]


Don’t fear the doomsday clock; fear God instead. The psalmist said, “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.”


Oswald Chambers gives all of us some very important advice, “The remarkable thing about fearing God, is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”


 

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. 2015. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. [2] Tyndale House Publishers. 2015. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. [3] Tyndale House Publishers. 2015. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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