How to push back against the chaos (part 4)

Unsplash/ Joshua Fuller
Unsplash/ Joshua Fuller

In 1984 in China’s Tiananmen Square, there was an iconic moment captured on film by Associated Press photographer Jeff Widener. During student protests against growing authoritarianism, the Chinese military not only fought the youth and their supporters with armed troops but also, in desperation, unleashed a herd of massive tanks against the young men and women.

Then something amazing happened: A spindly young student stepped in front of an advancing tank. Widener snapped the photo that should endure in our thoughts. The tank halted.

“Tank Man” is the way history remembers him. There is speculation that his real name was Wang Weilin. No one knows for sure, nor do we know what happened to him ultimately—it is assumed he was arrested and executed,

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Whatever his name, the image of the young man captured through Widener’s lens makes the student the poster boy of push-back.

In the present moment, some would say that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy also should be included with the “push-back” men and women in history since he has refused to yield himself and his nation to surging attacks from mighty Russian forces.

All of this is a vast parable of the most essential of push-backs—that which resists the assaults of demonic chaos on humanity and the boundaries that make for a world of cosmos rather than chaotic madness.

The aim of the evil spiritual forces is to push the world back into tohu and bohu—the “formlessness” and “void” state described in Genesis 1.

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In that regard, Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, reveals a major aim of Apollyon, the destroyer and prince of chaos whose goals include destroying the “cities”—in the ancient world, the havens of cosmos and safety within sturdy walls and hefty gates. (Isaiah 14:17)

Pew Research finds that 39 percent of American adults believe we are living in the end times. The Pope himself spoke of this recently. He said he has a “dire vision for the world, with omens of 'even greater destruction and desolation’.”

Whatever one’s opinion, push-back, as gutsy and determined as that of Tank Man in Tiananmen Square is needed urgently and energetically,

But what does “push-back” mean, and to whom has the Creator and Lord of the universe designated with authority to carry it out?

Tohu and bohu refer to desolation and emptiness, as well as chaotic madness. Push-back fills the world with strength, meaning, purpose, and order that fills the holes from which the enemy launches the assaults on the boundaries.

The Bible speaks often of this “push-back” in passages that evoke the idea of the earth being “filled” with that which resists and dethrones chaos. So, here are push-backs against chaos and desolation that can drive out chaos and provide powerful push-back in a world whose boundaries are under constant assault. So, to push back against the powers of darkness and chaos:

  • Fill the earth with biblical truth, the Word of God. Isaiah prophesies that “it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established… and all nations shall flow into it” and the Lord will teach us of His ways (Isaiah 2:1-4)… “for the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God” (Habakkuk 2:214). A prime strategy of the powers of chaos is propaganda, but the message of God provides push-back against lies and distortions.
  • Fill the world with reverence and praise for God.  “The whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God." (Psalm 22:27)    A major crisis the world faces, especially in the age of the exponential development of artificial intelligence is the loss of the sense of God’s transcendence. Humans made in the image of God are hard-wired for transcendent worship, and If we don’t worship the true and living God we will make idols of ourselves and the works of our hands, leading to more chaos. (I discuss this issue in detail in my book, Who Will Rule the Coming ’gods’: the Looming Spiritual Crisis of Artificial Intelligence).
  • Fill the earth with intercessory prayer… pray (“always,” constantly, with all supplication, in the Spirit,” writes Paul in Ephesians 6:18, where he regards prayer as a weapon in the spiritual warfare that presses in upon us.
  • Fill the earth with proclamation of the Kingdom of Christ.  “This Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world, as a witness to all the nations (Greek: “peoples or “people groups),” and then the “end” (Greek: telos, “purpose” (of all creation and all history) will come.” (Jesus, in Matthew 24:14)

All of these and more are powerful means of resistance and push-back against chaos. But to what or whom does God give the authority to use these means of push-back? We explore that question in Part 5.

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Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest  book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming  spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.

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