the Winepress

Thus far, and no further!

It’s good for us to see that the Lord is working at the macro level as well as the micro: that His hand is on the tiller of the nations as well as on the controls of our daily lives. We read it, pray it and declare it, but it’s not often that we actually see the Holy Spirit at work through the lens of history

We know from Joel 2 and Acts 2 that the Lord promised to pour out the Holy spirit on “all flesh.” All flesh is what God says it is: all flesh, not just Christian flesh. On the night of 29–30 December 1940, the 114th night of the Blitz of London during World War two, the city was ablaze, streets were lined with hollow shells of buildings where smoke poured and fire blazed where windows and rooves had been, and proud buildings were reduced to piles of rubble. But in the square mile where the blitz had done some of its worst damage, stood a notable exception. Seen by many as the seat of Christianity in the UK, St Paul’s Cathedral rose out of the ruins virtually unscathed. A photograph taken by the British film director and producer Herbert Mason, called “St Paul’s Survives”, shows the building in what appears to be a pool of light, surrounded by the smoke and clouds and mayhem of war. That picture has become one of the iconic images of the Blitz, and of the indomitable spirit of the British people at the time. For the Christian, it is not just about the spirit of the people, but of the Spirit who dwells in the church of Christ saying to the enemy: “Thus far; no further!”

Fast forward to March 20th 2020, and the war against coronavirus. In the Times newspaper on that day a cartoon appeared entitled “Blitz Spirit.” It was a drawing of the St Pauls Survives photo, with all the details exactly the same except for one: instead of the clouds of war surrounding the church, there were clouds of coronaviruses. This might seem quite reasonable and of no spiritual significance but for the date on which it appeared. Unknown (presumably!) to the cartoonist, the 20th March was the culmination of a three-day global fast seeking God for the defeat of Coronavirus. We all know what God said in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.”  God’s people have done that, and still are, with various prayer initiatives that are continuing. We have fulfilled His conditions. He is a covenant God: He will fulfil His promise.

After three generations, the Holy Spirit again says “Thus far, and no further!” Just as He anointed Herbert Mason to take that photograph in 1940, He anointed the Times cartoonist 80 years later to use it on the very day that God’s victory was declared over Coronavirus, to show those who would see that He has heard from Heaven and will heal our land. This is a God we can trust with our national and our personal battles. We can say with Him today to the fears that threaten to engulf us, particularly but not exclusively to those surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, “Thus far, and no further!”

“To Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.” (Eph 3:21)

The quest for the Presence of God

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