Russian bomber pilots recently flew within 40 miles of the California coast. Their planes were capable of carrying nuclear missiles. When intercepted by U.S. fighter jets, the Russians delivered this message: “Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day.” The bombers then retreated.
If only all Russian military intentions were so benign.
According to The Daily Beast, Russia recently sent three satellites into orbit that are capable of spying on, hijacking, or destroying other satellites. Since our country depends on satellites for navigation, communications and surveillance, this development is ominous. Of the world’s 1,200 active satellites, half are American. As a result, we are especially vulnerable to space attacks.
This news is not a surprise to American military leaders. We have already launched maneuvering satellites that can do what the new Russian crafts are apparently able to do.
Are these developments a prelude to war?
Geopolitical analyst George Friedman predicts that the next world war will start in space. In The Next 100 Years he states, “Blinding one’s enemy . . . would mean destroying the space-based systems that allow the enemy to select targets. In addition, there are navigation systems, communications systems, and other space-based systems that must be destroyed if an enemy’s capability to wage war is to be crippled. Therefore, the destruction of enemy satellites will become an essential goal of twenty-first century warfare.”
Satellites shooting at each other sounds like the plot for a summer blockbuster. It is a bit eerie, however, to think of weapons orbiting overhead, preparing a surprise attack on our country. But there’s a Power much higher than the highest satellite, a Mind that sees a future we cannot begin to imagine.
On my recent trip to Oxford University, I picked up Colin Duriez’s new biography of The Inklings, an informal writing group that gathered around C. S. Lewis. I have been a student of Lewis for many years, but learned much from Duriez I didn’t know.
For instance, when Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien decided that they needed to write Christian fiction, Lewis suggested that one should write on the theme of time, the other on space. They couldn’t decide who should do what, so they flipped a coin. The result was Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis’s space trilogy.
God is sovereign over satellites and coin flips. Even though our society sees him as peripheral and optional, our opinion does not change his reality. God is present at every place in every moment. However, while he is close to us, we can be far from him. Jeremiah described his people to God: “You are near in their mouth and far from their heart” (Jeremiah 12:2). What would the prophet say of our culture?
One day at Oxford, I slipped into the chapel at Keble College where Holman Hunt’s masterpiece is displayed, Christ the Light of the World. Hunt brings Revelation 3:20 to life, picturing Jesus as he knocks at a door. The details are amazing—the weathered door on its rusted hinges, overgrown foliage on the ground, a lantern in Jesus’ left hand. But one item is left out: the door has no handle.
That’s because Jesus cannot open it. Only you can.