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The Howl of the Wolf and the Hope of Christ

by Jake Roberts

During his days serving in the Mexican-American War, the future eighteenth president of the United States, Ulysses Grant, was riding with a compatriot in southern Texas.  In the course of their journey, the young soldiers heard an unsettling sound.  Grant later recalled in his memoir, “…we heard the most unearthly howling of wolves, directly in our front.  The prairie grass was tall, and we could not see the beasts, but the sound indicated that they were near.  To my ear, it appeared that there must have been enough of them to devour our party, horses and all, at a single meal.”

Grant was traveling with a man from Indiana, who was no stranger to encountering wolves.  The Indiana native fearlessly continued to ride towards the howling.  While Grant was clearly bewildered, his neighbor was unphased.  Presumably to show his bravery, and intuition in the wilderness, Grant gave his mate a guess of how many wolves were around them.  In Grant’s perception, the two soldiers were obviously surrounded.  Trying to not sound frightened, Grant estimated that there were about twenty wolves in the vicinity.  His companion smiled, as if to contradict Grant’s theory.  They continued.  Soon afterward, Grant discovered that there were only TWO wolves.  All the horrific howling had been caused by a pair of wolves – not a large pack.  Such an illusion of the wolves was no accident, nor was it an isolated incident.  While Grant was surprised, his riding companion was not.

Modern research has discovered the howling of the wolf is nothing short of God’s miracle of creation.  Wolves howl for a variety of reasons.  When there is a smaller group of them, they will purposefully change and shift the pitch of their individual howls.  Wolves will capitalize on the natural phenomena of echoes and reverberation to magnify the sound.  A small group of wolves will howl to give the illusion that they are a large group of wolves.  They are convincing potential enemies that there is more of them than what they are. 

As the church is entering the season of Christmas, celebrating the Incarnation, one should be reminded of the following eternal truth: the world has not (really) changed in the last two thousand years, the world still needs Jesus, it always has, and always will.  The enemy of the church may be crafty, much like a predatory wolf, but he will not fool the Good Shepherd.  

A major tactic in Satan’s tool box is fooling others.  Jesus did, in fact, refer to the evil one as a “Liar and the father of all lies” (John 8:44).  He is constantly trying to convince others that he is “winning.”  Many in the church are convinced that the status of the world is at an absolute, all-time low.  With sin running rampant, there is no difficulty in being convinced of Satan’s accomplishments.  Why, one must feel like the Prophet Jeremiah, when surveying the world: 

“Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush…” Jeremiah 6:15a ESV

          Many in the world today are, just as the people of Jeremiah’s time, incapable of feeling shame or sorrow of sin.  However, do not concede the belief that the world is as low as it ever has been; such a belief is incorrect, historically and Biblically.  Furthermore, while sheep may be led astray, the Good Shepherd will never be taken by surprise, or fooled.

When looking at the sexual immorality that permeates the United States in 2019, many Christians tend to believe the world is at its worst.  For instance, some modern psychological studies assert that pedophilia is not a severe mental (and spiritual) problem, it is a genuine sexual orientation or preference, like heterosexuality or homosexuality.  However, historically, the notion that the world is somehow at a new level of licentiousness is completely wrong. 

Affirmation and acceptance of sin is hardly new.  The prominence of pedophilia (or pederasty) in Jesus’ day is a widely acknowledged, historical fact.  Many conservative Christians were shocked in June 2015, when same-sex marriage was ruled constitutional and legalized nationwide.  Yet, the world has always been saturated in sin; dozens of Roman emperors were gay, or at least enjoyed homosexual relationships.  The point is, concerning any sin, Jesus’ world, in the first century, was not very different from the world in 2019.  Sin has existed since it was welcomed in by the first humans; no sin is “new.”  Many Christians are horrified at the gangrenous growth and expansion of the pornographic industry.  Yet, according to what archaeologists found in the ancient city of Pompeii, humanity has always perverted God’s gift of sex in the most sinful of ways.  No, Jesus and his peers had not the internet; still, sexual immorality (along with all sin) abounded.  The world (post-Genesis 3) has always been as sinful as it is now, though sin may increase.

Biblically, believing the world is now at the apex of abomination and apostacy is a misunderstanding.  If one truly analyzes the pages of the New Testament, particularly the writings of Paul (II Thess. 2:7; II Tim. 3:1-5) and the chilling words of Christ (Matt. 24:7-22), there are clear prophecies that sin will continue to grow, exponentially, after the Church is raptured.  When the Bride of Christ is removed and the Antichrist reigns, only then, could one argue the world is at its worst.  

In the meantime, the evil one is just like the wolves Ulysses Grant encountered in south Texas.  Those wolves howl to misrepresent their numbers; they change their pitch to fool their enemies.  In 2019, the devil has no more power over God’s ultimate plan than any other time.  Satan is changing the pitch of his howl to fool the Church.  His endeavor is convincing the world that God has abandoned everything.  His lie is that the world is at its worst, now, because Satan is reigning supreme and making progress.  The only thing worse than a wolf in sheep’s clothing is a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.  While the wolf is leading other astray with lies, the Good Shepherd will not be fooled.

As the Christmas season is under full swing, remember, the world has not really changed since Jesus ascended.  The world will still need Christ to come.  Just as much as God offered the solution to humanity’s sin problem two thousand years ago, with the birth of Christ, he offers that solution today.  The solution is Christ.   

The Good Shepherd is like Grant’s riding companion.  The Indiana native knew the wolves’ tricks, he saw through the illusion.  Similarly, Christ knows how to see through the wolf’s lies.  The Good Shepherd protects His sheep, He laid His life down to save them.  While disconnected and discouraged believers are succumbing to a saddening view of the world, nothing has changed – all need Jesus, just as they always have, and always will.  Sin will reign in the heart and in the world until   it is replaced by the Living Son of God.  Every other assertion is just a different howl, Christ is the only hope.

[1]Rickard, J (12 August 2006) The Memoirs of General Ulysses S. Grant, Chapter 5 http://www.historyofwar.org/sources/acw/grant/chapter05.html

[1] Kane, Laura. “Is Pedophilia a Sexual Orientation?” thestar.com. The Star, December 22, 2013. https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2013/12/22/is_pedophilia_a_sexual_orientation.html.

___–Jacob Roberts lives in Turkey Creek, LA and is the Preacher at Lecompte Church of Christ. He is a History Teacher in Ville Platte, LA

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