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May 14, 2011

Unbelieving Servants As "Whips of God" Against Believers

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant" (Jeremiah 25:9).

Is not this a difficult saying? Who can be fed by it? The pagan king, the idolatrous king, the Lord call him His servant? If the servant of God is one who knows the True God and who adheres to the law of God, how then can one be a servant of God who does not know the True God and who does not adhere to the law of God? Truly, the true servant of God is he who knows the True God and who keeps the law of God but when he, to whom God has given the knowledge about Himself and His law, perverts knowing into unknowing and law into lawlessness, then God takes as His servant that ignorant one so as to punish the apostates. For, an apostate from god is worse than a pagan and an apostate from the law of God is lower than an idolater by birth.

Therefore, when Israel, as the ancient Church of God, alienated itself from God and the law of God, God chose Nebuchadnezzar for His servant to punish Israel, the Apostate.

Therefore, when the Christian peoples in Asia and Africa through numerous heresies alienated themselves from God, God took as His servant the Arabs to punish Christians in order to bring them to their senses.

And when the Christian peoples in the Balkans alienated themselves from God and God's law, God invited the Turks as His servants to punish the apostates that by punishment to bring them to their senses.

Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.

But God takes the unbelievers only temporarily in His service against the believers. For the land of Nebuchadnezzar, the same Lord says, He will visit it for its lawlessness and "make it perpetual desolations" (Jeremiah 25:12), then will a servant against a servant be found? For God did not take the Babylonians for a servant because of their goodness and faith, rather because of Israel's wickedness and unbelief.

O Righteous Lord, help us by Your Most-High Spirit to always adhere to You, the One True God, and Your saving law.

"And the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall burn with fire" (Jeremiah 43:13).

Who will burn them? Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon my servant, said the Lord. This prophecy came true. Nebuchadrezzar conquered Egypt and he destroyed the houses of the false gods by fire; the idols of the Egyptians. He burned them but he did not destroy them forever. For after that came the destruction of Babylon, again according to the prophecy of the holy Prophet Jeremiah and Babylon became and, even until today, remains "heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant" (Jeremiah 51:37). But, in a tradition which was recorded by St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, there remained the other prophecy of Jeremiah about the final destruction of the idols of Egypt: "All the idols will fall," says this prophecy, "and all that is made by hand will be destroyed at the time when the Virgin Mother comes here with the young Child born in a cave and placed in a manger." And this prophecy was preserved by the pagan priests themselves who, from the time of Jeremiah, introduced the custom of depicting the Virgin as she reclines on a bed and her young Child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

Nebuchadnezzar, the servant by God's permission, could only have mowed evil but not pluck it out by the roots. But mowed evil, like mowed grass, grows again. When the Lord came to earth, He plucked out evil by the roots. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, burned the temples and the idols but the temples were also rebuilt and new idols were made for they were not plucked out from the souls of men. When the Lord came and began His reign in the souls of the Egyptians, the temples and idols fell forever. So it is the same with the disobedient Jews who waged battle against God. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, had taken them into bondage for seventy years and the offended Lord scattered them throughout the entire world where many of them find themselves in dispersion today even after two-thousand years. This scattering of the Jewish people throughout the entire world was clearly prophesied by Jeremiah. And so, time justified the prophet of God in all his words.

O All-seeing Lord, grant us that we adhere to the words of Your true prophet. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.