The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/13

Posted on | August 13, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/13

scripture reading: Ezekiel 2:1–7

Fire in the Belly

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)

In August of 2008 a prophet died and the world hardly noticed. Few individuals had a greater impact on the twentieth century than Alexander Solzhenitsyn ( 1918). Both lionized and vilified during his life, today he is almost forgotten. I guess that’s how it is with most prophets: they change the world and then simply disappear.

Many would say Solzhenitsyn was the greatest Russian writer of the twentieth century. But he did not write to entertain; he wrote to expose evil. His works, especially The Gulag Archipelago (1973), exposed the dark underside of atheistic socialism. He showed the world the real face of Communism by revealing the truth about the labor camps of Siberia and their millions of victims. His writings undermined the moral legitimacy of the Soviet regime. Perhaps more than any other single figure, Solzhenitsyn brought about the collapse of Communism. With words alone he accomplished what armies never could.

But like every true prophet, Solzhenitsyn played no favorites. His rhetoric could be directed against the apathetic materialism of the West as well as the socialistic militarism of the East. No one was safe from his pen. Solzhenitsyn not only exposed the ugly barbarism of communism but also the harder-to-detect evils of the more sophisticated West. In his acceptance address upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature (1970), he spoke about the “sickness of the will” of those in the West who have “given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price.” And in a commencement address at Harvard (1978), he attacked the spiritual laxity of the Western world. Warning that moral relativism is a prescription for the triumph of evil, he pleaded with his Western audience to stop their obsession with “human rights” and begin to emphasize “human obligations.”

Where do prophets come from? How are they formed? Part of the explanation for Solzhenitsyn is his conversion to Christianity (Russian Orthodoxy). When he went public with his Christian confession in 1972, the humanistic establishment responded with contempt. But this only heightened his resolve and deepened his passion for truth. “Unless we recover the gift of repentance,” he once said, “our country will perish and will drag down the whole world with it.” In 1983, in a Templeton Address in London, he gave a simple and succinct explanation for the trauma Russia experienced during the twentieth century: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Farewell, dear prophet. Thank you for telling us the truth. Thank you for helping us to understand that bitter truth is preferable to sugar-coated lies. As you said so well, “One word of truth outweighs the world!” Though your labor is finished, the truth marches on!

The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.  —Alexander Solzhenitsyn

point to ponder • “One word of truth outweighs the world!”

prayer focus • For God to raise up prophets in this generation.


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