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Max Hastings, author of ‘All you need to know… World War 2: A brilliant account of the most terrible event in human history’, describes the awful plight of the Poles who were invaded at the start of the war by the Germans, only to be rescued at the end of the war by the Russians. He says: ‘The Poles had a dark joke in 1944, about a bird which falls out of the sky into a cowpat, only to be rescued by a cat’.
I think that the prophet Habakkuk would have had a good dark laugh at that. He had lamented about his own people, the Israelites, who by their persistent idolatry had fallen into a spiritual cowpat, only to find that their rescuers were none other than the cruel Babylonians. To the prophet’s horror, the prophecy was fulfilled. The Babylonians pounced, and the Israelite bird was duly plucked from the mire, and promptly plucked and eaten.
That’s why the Gospel is such an amazingly good and radical piece of news. The Book puts it beyond doubt that our sins put us right in the middle of the cowpat. But the Book also says that our Rescuer is no cat who plucks us out and paws us in some prelude to consumption, but an incredible Saviour who graciously lifts us from the mire, washes off the muck, sets our feet upon the perch, and fills our mouth with songs of deliverance.
DM 16th October 2018