Welcome to Ken Ryland's Commentaries!


Does God Still Shape the Affairs of Nations?

by Kenneth V. Ryland

Throughout the Bible we see God acting in and shaping the affairs of nation states as well as individual lives. In spite of the scepticism of modern man, it is easy to see how God has intervened in specific historical events to shape the order of history. For example, an account of a universal flood is rooted in the cultures of most of the nations of the world, whether we are talking of the Aborigines of Australia, the Mayas of Central America, or the civilizations of the Middle East -- just to name a few.

Also, the most detailed prophecy in the Bible, Daniel chapter 11, gives blow-by-blow accounts of the rise and fall of four great empires. And, the details of this prophecy are so specific that it is impossible to attribute them to other nations at other times. The foreknowledge of future events written down by the prophet Daniel is truly astounding.

However, I don't want to dwell in the past. What I want to know is whether God is still directing the affairs of nations the same way he did in "Bible times." What do you think? Is God arranging the outcome of events here in the United States? Many believe that He is interested in the affairs of the nation of Israel. After all, that's a "biblical" nation. But, how about us, or Russia, or Canada, or Japan? I have one for you: How about Chechnya?

A couple of months ago I received a newsletter called Open Doors Newsbrief, a monthly publication put out by Open Doors ministry. Open Doors was started in the early 1950's by a Dutchman known as Brother Andrew. The Open Doors ministry is dedicated to taking Bibles into areas of the world where the Bible is forbidden. Brother Andrew was inspired by two scriptures to undertake the difficult and dangerous task of smuggling Bibles into countries where even to own a Bible could bring imprisonment or death. The two scriptures that motivated this undertaking were Matthew 28:19 and Revelation 3:16; to wit, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, ..." and "... I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name."

For all these years Open Doors has never seen a closed door. In Chechnya, despite the hostility of the Muslim majority toward Christianity in general and the Russian Orthodox Church in particular, the good will that Adventists, Baptists, and other protestants had built among the people had led to a certain amount of security for them in this semiautonomous Russian republic.

However, Open Doors reported recently that the good will had exhausted itself and that Christians of every denomination were being persecuted, burned out, and driven out of the country. The door had closed.

Many of us had prayed for the safety Christians in Chechnya, but the door to Christianity of any stripe slammed shut. The escape of the Christians has been a relief, but a sadness as well. However, few if any foresaw what loomed ahead for Chechnya. Even though Christians had suffered bitterly at the hands of the Chechen Muslims, God removed them from harm's way. If you have read the international news lately, you will see that the Russians have launched an all-out invasion of Chechnya and will probably reduce the entire Chechen Republic to rubble before they finish. Even though we don't often recognize the hand of our Almighty Creator in the affairs of nations, it appears to this writer that the Lord has marked Chechnya for destruction and has taken great care in extracting His people from the midst of the bloodbath -- whether they wanted to go or not.

If you believe that all this sounds pretty bizarre, please remember what the Scripture says: "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men." (Daniel 4:17)

Now ask yourself these two questions: What does this really mean, and do I really believe what the Bible says?

E-mail Ken Ryland at kvryland@yahoo.com!

To Ryland Family Home Page