Is our world in a hopeless condition? The indications that it is are multiplying. The nations are too self-centred to take any effective action over global warming and the weather is getting more extreme. The United Nations are more disunited than ever. Money woes of the nations increase and move from crisis to crisis; efforts to achieve disarmament are useless as the economies of some nations depend on making and selling weapons. And above all, efforts at moral reform no longer exist. Instead laws are relaxed to allow many unnatural kinds of behaviour, ways of living God deplores.

Regarding that last point we note the prophecy of Nahum against Nineveh. The city had repented at the preaching of Jonah, but the following generations had gone back to their old ways; doom is now pronounced by God. Nahum’s concluding words are – “upon whom has not come your unceasing evil”. Through Zephaniah God said, “I will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert” (2:13). And it happened.

As we start reading Peter’s letters we see how appropriate they are for us. His urgent message is for believers to have a strong faith, to remain steadfast as trials increase. He writes of “the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:7).

The whole chapter is a powerful message, but note verse 13, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. No half measures will be adequate; as the world becomes even more hopeless,

Peter tells them, “you have been born again” (verse 23) and then explains how. “Born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” The seed of God’s message must abide in our hearts if we really want to prepare our minds for action. Jonah’s message to Nineveh had proved to be perishable, the children did not learn the lesson as their parents had. If we are to succeed where the Ninevites failed how vital it is for us to feed on and digest God’s word every day.