Consider these propositions:
- As the world goes from bad to worse, people do what’s right in their own eyes like the days of Noah, and Satan, the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), solidifies his hold so no light can penetrate this darkness. People can get themselves into sin so deep they are unreachable by even the Spirit of God. They are beyond hope.
- The Middle East and North Africa is a region dominated by a religion that considers Jesus a great prophet but not the Son of God, Savior, and Lord. Middle Easterners who worship other gods will never come to faith in Jesus Christ. They are beyond hope.
What these illustrative propositions suggest is that people, countries, and maybe entire regions of the world are, in a word, “hopeless.” They are so far gone, so immersed in evil, so far under the sway or control of religious or political “Isms” or belief systems, they are doomed.
Clearly, such depravity exists. There is the mass murderer on death row, the hard-edged career criminal, the atheist, or even the narcissistic neighbor driven by nothing but his own greed and selfish definition of happiness. Diabolical autocrats rule countries where people are pawns and life is cheap. Entire regions exist in which religious liberty is suppressed, the people oppressed, and the Christian Church is seemingly non-existent. Spiritually dark. Dead. Hopeless.
I got a lesson early in life that my reasoning and God’s plan and power were not the same. When I was in high school, my mother encouraged me to invite a fellow I knew to church youth group. This was a non-starter for me because, in my weak, unbiblical reasoning, I considered him a “spiritual goner.” He was, in my view, hopeless. I never did invite him to youth group. A few years later, when he and I were in our 20s and I’d moved to another state, my mother invited him to church, and he came. Even more startling, he kept coming and soon accepted Christ as his Savior. In other words, he was not a goner, not hopeless, not beyond the reach of the Spirit of God. I relate this story to my shame but also in joy, for in God’s providence, this young man passed away in his 40s. Praise God, and thanks to my mother’s faithfulness, he is in heaven today.
Valley of Dry Bones
In Old Testament times, God told the prophet, Ezekiel, to speak to a valley of dry bones (Ezek. 37:1-14). How foolish is that? Bones? Dry bones even. Vitality had long since left. These bones were hopeless, were they not?
At the time, the people of Israel suffered in captivity under Babylon’s control without a structure, future, or hope. As far as the people could see, the nation of Israel was dead.
But Ezekiel obeyed God and prophesied to the bones, and they miraculously began coming together with muscle, tendon, and skin but no breath. Then God said to call the breath of life, Ezekiel obeyed again, and the vast number of dead became a living army. God restored them with life, and in turn, the nation of Israel with hope for a future God would provide.
This story illustrates God’s power—that nothing and no one is outside of His ability to call them unto Himself—to forgive, to redeem, and to restore.
Hope and the Breath of Life
There is nothing in which we can get involved; no depth to which we can sink; no addictive behavior; no immorality or brokenness; no sin so awful that we are beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing is impossible with God (Matt. 19:26).
A person may be captured by sin, but God loves them, and as long as the person lives, he or she is reachable by God’s power. Do not give up praying for them.
The Middle East and North Africa, humanly speaking, seems unreachable. “Closed countries” in these regions are dominated by a religious-political worldview where a suppressed or persecuted Christian Church is the norm, along with a mix of conflict, crises, and confusion. A valley of dry bones. Hopeless.
But God said, “I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live…Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it” (Ezek. 37:14).
God can give dry bones hope and the breath of spiritual life.
Dr. Rex Rogers
President, SAT-7 USA