Put simply, which is the only way I can digest history, The English Civil War came about because King Charles 1 took idolatry to it's pinnacle, living and proclaiming that he alone heard, spoke and acted for God. Like many kings of the Old Testament ''he did what was evil in the Lord's sight'' 2 Kings 15-24. Against this oppressive rule the Parliamentarians defended themselves and much blood was shed across the land. In his book on the Lancashire leader John Bradshawe, 'God's Battleaxe', Richard Lee Bradshaw reminds us that in Manchester ''on the afternoon of July 5th 1642 the first blood of the English Civil War was shed.'' Two years later Bolton, the closest market town to the ancient Bradshaw manor, fell and 1200 Bolton defenders and four ministers were put to the sword. ''Farms and manors in the neighbourhood were devastated.''
That is history but what of God's mystery?
My research is incomplete but might it be possible that some of those farmlands soaked in blood under the rule of an idolatrous dictator were situated out across the moors above Bolton, the very lands currently in danger of being devastated again, this time by unprecedented fires.
But in His mercy and through His redemptive Love, I wonder, is the Lord revealing something of His mysterious ways?
God loves all that He created. The land is very important to the Lord. It can speak to us of his character and nature if we will look and listen from His perspective. God cares about the land and as we line up our hearts and understanding with His, the land which is precious to Him becomes part of our inheritance and blessing. What we do on the land and how we care for it matters to God.
While he was King, Charles 1 was in a covenant with God to protect,nurture,develop, rule and sustain God's dominion over the land through His people. In his humanity the King violated and broke that covenant and shed the blood of those created in God's image across God's land. The spiritual outworking of his human pride and lust for power, wealth and control was to bring defilement through murder and oppression onto the land. This defilement sank deep into it's roots. (Numbers 35:33-34).
In the shedding of Christ's blood and his death on the cross, the resurrection and the releasing of the Holy Spirit's power, God has demonstrated His desire to restore and renew all that has been defiled or died through man's self government and self justification and to bring new,true life. The healing of land is intimately connected with the healing of people in relationship to God and the power of the cross is sufficient to cleanse not only the human heart but also the land on which we walk, if we will walk with Him.
He gives us the power to walk with Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is frequently depicted in scripture as Fire and Wind.
Might it be that the moorland fires are the most encouraging sign and symbol of God's faithfulness and His presence with us that we could possibly be shown. He has heard the repentant heart prayers of his people and in a merciful and loving response is pouring out His Spirit by Fire, redeeming and cleansing the defiled roots of our land.
It is a deep mystery but God alone can fully redeem our history and give us new life.
For further reading I recommend ''Releasing Heaven on Earth'' Alistair Petrie.
Sara is on staff as an intercessory missionary at Manchester House of Prayer. Her desire is see the church in Manchester walking in unity and to see every believer experiencing deeper intimacy with Jesus. Sara helps shape and lead our Life Prayerwatch. She also serves in the prayer room as a singer and a prayer leader.