Who Would Have Thought it?

KESWICK is a small town in England’s beautiful Lake District. The area is rich in graphite, and the world’s first pencil was made there. Keswick was the home of the world-renowned Derwent pencil factory. This factory played an unexpected role in the Second World War: a select few workers (bound to secrecy under the Official Secrets Act) made pencils concealing secret tissue paper maps and tiny compasses, which were issued to RAF pilots as navigation aids should they find themselves in enemy territory. It’s likely that many lives were saved by these pencils. They’re so intricate and their manufacture was so secret that we’re not sure now how they were made!

Israel is a small country at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Bethlehem was small, but the birthplace of Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:1–6). Nazareth, where he grew up, was looked down on by his contemporaries (John 1:46). But Jesus turned the course of history. Details of his life and death are no secret, because Bibles are now available in many languages in most parts of the world. While Israel was not at war during the Lord’s life on earth, it was in subjection to the Romans. However, when Jesus was on trial before the Roman governor Pilate he testified that his followers did not fight physical wars (John

18:36). Nonetheless Jesus won the hardest and most important war of all time—the battle against sin (John 16:33, Hebrews 9:26). He was tempted just like us but never, ever, did anything wrong (Hebrews 4:15). The Bible refers to this phenomenal achievement as ‘destroying the devil’ (Hebrews 2:14). We are utterly incapable of doing anything like this.

As a result of Jesus Christ’s supreme conquest we are offered eternal life in God’s Kingdom. So his actions offer life to anyone prepared to follow him. And this is not just 70 or so years of life—it is life for evermore. Countless people have been and will be truly saved by him.

It is a mystery how the wartime pencils were made, and most of the pilots will by now have died. For centuries it was a mystery precisely how God would bring salvation to this world of trouble. This has now been revealed (Romans 16:25–27) in the work of Jesus who is now alive for ever (Romans 6:9). There are many marvellous and quirky things in the world. We should not only marvel but we should respond positively to God’s offer to us of eternal life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Anna Hart

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