Wednesday, June 16, 2010

His Servant Vasili

During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the world was closer to nuclear war than at any time in history. Documents declassified in recent years indicate that a Russian submarine off the coast of the United States was literally minutes away from launching a missile armed with a three megaton atomic bomb on an undisclosed American city. The vessel was under an indirect depth charge attack by an American destroyer seeking to enforce the quarantine of Cuba ordered by President John Kennedy. The captain and political officer of the Russian sub believed that a war had already started, and determined to launch the weapon. However, unanimous consent of the three chief officers of the vessel was required. Second in Command Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov would not agree to launch.

Some historians refer to Arkhipov as "the man who saved the world from nuclear destruction." Personally, I would love to shake his hand, pat him on the back, and hug the daylights out of him because I agree that, if the story is true, Arkhipov is a genuine world hero. However, he is not the man who saved the world. It was God who did that, and Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov was His servant (in the sense that he served the Lord's purposes in the incident mentioned. I do not know if he was a believer).

Obviously, God allows great wars in accordance with the mystery of His purposes in world history. However, such a war as would have taken place in 1962 would have altered the world to a degree that the Bible's prophecies concerning the future could not be literally fulfilled. Thus, our Lord directed His staying hand upon the heart and mind of an officer in an obscure Russian submarine, causing us to give our thanks to Vasili, and our THANKS to the living and true God who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).

As we see the world trending ever downward, great comfort fills the believer's heart who has, as the saying goes, "read the last page of the Bible." History is His Story, and while much conflict is allowed by God (and perhaps sometimes determined), the truth of the matter is that our Lord's eternal purpose in Christ will be completely fulfilled in His perfect time and way. All things will work together for good to those who love the Lord, and throughout eternity, the history of time will bear witness to the truth that "as for God, His way is perfect" (Romans 8:28; II Samuel 22:31). Whatever the news of the day brings, and whatever the challenges we will face in times to come, this is the solid ground into which believers joyfully and tranquilly plant the stakes of our tent. As usual, the Psalmist beautifully depicts our security, and we close with the bedrock assurance that we have committed our hearts to the safekeeping of Hands scarred by nails, and resurrected by the power of almighty God...

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah."
(Psalm 46:1-7)

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