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By Jim Killebrew

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[February 18, 2014]  "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." (Winston Churchill, BBC Broadcast, London, Oct. 1, 1939) That famous quote from Winston Churchill describing an "enigma" has been used by many during the ensuing years.

Enigma is a word the dictionary defines as something that is puzzling or inexplicable that happens that contains a contradictory character. It could be something with a hidden meaning or a riddle. In the Bible there is an example of enigma given to us from a wise king of Israel, Solomon. In the book of the Bible credited to him, in Ecclesiastes, we read the following:

"While applying my mind to everything that happens in this world, I have seen all this: Sometimes one person dominates other people to their harm. Not only that, but I have seen the wicked approaching and entering the temple, and as they left the holy temple, they boasted in the city that they had done so."  Ecclesiastes 8:9-10

This also is an enigma.

"When a sentence is not executed at once against a crime, the human heart is encouraged to do evil. Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes and still live a long time, yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people  for they stand in fear before him. But it will not go well with the wicked, nor will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God."  Ecclesiastes 8:11-13

"Here is another enigma that occurs on earth: Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve. I said, 'This also is an enigma.'"  Ecclesiastes 8:14

These are basic observations made by a wise King, Solomon, who sat at a vantage point to see causes and effects in relationships during daily commerce. While looking for the most obvious consequence to a situation or action, sometimes there is quite the opposite outcome.

It seems that we have perfected these three enigmas to the point that they are almost folded into one repeated process in our more modern, highly "evolved" society. In fact they are often woven together in such a way as to serve as the basis for a good television series or movie drama that may even win an award. Think again of the three enigmas: 1. Domineering manipulation of another to enhance personal standing, but bring harm to another; 2. Even when found guilty with a sentence given, prolong the execution of that sentence sometimes for years through a long, arduous appeal process; and 3. The suffering of victims being greater than the convicted perpetrator of the crime.

These enigmas are present in many forms these days. Think of the so-called Ponzi schemes. The individual manipulates others to invest money with a promise of much higher returns than normal. The investor's money is usually lost while the person initiating the scheme lives the life of pleasure and wealth sometimes for many years. Even when caught and convicted of the crime, the perpetrator may spend years in prison, but he leaves behind hundreds of broken lives for people who have lost everything.

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Another example is the politician who has national standing who engages in behaviors of immoral ineptitude by manipulating those around them as they seek personal pleasures. Even when discovered, they often only suffer "sanctions," while the other person loses all credibility and reputation for years into the future. From these examples come the so-called made-for-TV mini-series that sometimes win awards and make celebrities of people.

Ultimately, as in our society, the constellations of enigmas bring down the character and moral fortitude of the individual. It becomes expected behavior, almost rising to the "normal." People begin to lose respect for those in power or authority positions. Celebrities who practice such things become role models for the youth to emulate. It cheapens the fabric of the society and reduces the moral standing to an X-rated existence viewed by others from around the world.

Good King Solomon concludes that the person who respects God and His workings on earth should look for the joy in the short life on earth and accept the good things God gives as gifts because the temporal world around him is so full of sin. Much later the Apostle Paul writes that we should not live a life of sin, following the pattern of enigma, but to live in the Spirit of God.

The apostle wrote to the Christians at Rome that they should turn away from the darkness of sin and live in the daylight.

"Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires."  Romans 13:13-14

We need to seek out those who have yielded themselves to Christ and have made Him their Lord in life. Our associations should be those who encourage us to live lives of high moral character, turning away from the practice of enigmas that bring harm to others. From that strong association with the gathering of God's people, we need to share His love, mercy and grace with others who continue to be lost in a world of enigmas.


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