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“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

In this passage, the Apostle John tells us that we can be confident in our faith. We can go to the God who created the universe, and ask him to help us. John makes an important note, though: We should ask according to God’s will. If we ask within his will, our prayer will be heard. So how do we know God’s will? Studying the word of God, and through prayer. Jesus, who was God and yet also a man, prayed that God’s will be done, but he also expressed his anguish and physical desire that he not have to endure the torment that was coming. So, prayer is aligning our will toward God’s will, and seeing what he desires come to fruition within our lives.

 

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In working on the final history weekend article for my series on Russian colonialism, I realized that I will not be able to complete it in time. I need a break, but will be back next week.

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘”After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”‘” Acts 15:15-18

When David was king, he commissioned musicians to constantly be performing music for God surrounding the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. The prophets Isaiah and Amos looked forward to a time when constant celebration before the presence of God would be restored.

In Acts, we learn from the Apostle James that these prophecies have been fulfilled: The church is for what the prophets searched. We, the believers in Christ, are the singers constantly worshiping God. And this worship is no longer confined just to those of Abraham’s lineage, those who are ethnically Jewish: It is for all, Gentile and Jew alike. I, someone of mostly Northern European ancestry, can participate in this celebration. All in Christ are part of the rebuilding of God’s Kingdom, are part of the grand festivity.

This is the penultimate post in my mini-series on Russian colonialism. Last week, we examined the colonization of Alaska. Next week we’ll learn about Russia’s expansion into the Caucasus, a conflict that is still ongoing today. For this week, we’ll revisit the Crimea and Siberia – we’ve discussed both of these regions previously, but week’s post will see the later periods of expansion into those areas.

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Catherine the Great. By Fyodor Rokotov. Public Domain. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Concerto

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“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
This past Sunday, one of the elders at my church preached on Micah 6:8, and referenced Zechariah 7:10. It was a very convicting sermon.
In both of these passages, we see that God is very concerned about what is commonly called “social justice” – that everyone in a society be treated fairly, justly, and equally. Much of the Old Testament prophets and much of Jesus’s sayings and the apostles’ writings in the New Testament strike home the importance of taking care of the disadvantaged in society. Zechariah gives one of the most complete lists – orphans, widows, the poor, and immigrants.

As a Christian, I am commanded to care for those who are disadvantaged, to bring them justice and relieve their suffering. So the thought for Thursday is, how can I do that? What can I do in my life, with my social position, talents, and experience, to help achieve justice?

No, this is not a post about the recent and now former U.S. National Security Officer Michael Flynn. It is the latest installment of my series on Russian colonialism. Last week, we saw the consolidation of Russia under Peter the Great. So far, the imperial and colonial spread of Russia we’ve looked at took place on land. For this week’s installment, we will learn about Russia’s maritime colonial efforts, specifically those in North America. While the three previous posts have been relatively in chronological order, this post will break away somewhat from that format, and look at the entire history of Russian America from 1732 to 1867.

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Map of Russian America (present-day Alaska, United States). Public Domain. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Angusmclellan

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For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:20-21

This fall, I will be going to graduate school in the field of historic preservation. Historic preservation is the protection, conservation, and restoration of object, buildings, and other things valuable to the human story. Thus, the idea of restoration is an important one for me. And, according to the passage above, it is important to understanding human destiny.

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The past two weeks have looked at the rise of Russia and its colonial expansion across the Urals. As explained last week, though its drive eastwards was immensely successful, Russia’s efforts to combat other European rivals proved less fruitful, apart from its conquest of much of what is today the Ukraine. But, even as it continued to expand its territory, Russia stagnated politically. That is, until the rise of the Romanovs, and, especially, the rise of Peter the Great.

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Peter the Great, as depicted posthumously by Paul Delaroche in 1838. Public domain. Current version uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Trzęsacz.

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On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom  and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11

I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29

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Last weekend, we looked at the rise of the Russian state. This weekend, we will learn about the early expansion of Russia and its colonial efforts, up until about the time of Peter the Great. Before we proceed, however, it would be useful to explain what “colonialism” actually is. “Colonialism” is more than just a particular state extending its power over another – imperialism does that as well. The terms are related, but colonialism is particular form of imperialism. The key difference between “colonialism” and “imperialism” in general is the method of control: Imperialism tends to control another state or people group directly – it may grant the subject country significant autonomy, but it still holds direct control. Colonialism operates similar to this, but it does it chiefly through colonies – groups of settlers from the parent state who settle in a new region.

When discussing the history of Russia and its conquests, defining Russia as a colonial power is controversial and complicated. Russia used colonial methods, but melded these with more traditional style imperial conquests. Also, typically colonial empires expanded across oceans and along coasts, whereas Russia expanded almost entirely across land (and expand it did – every year from 1551 to 1700, the Tsardom gained roughly 35,000 square kilometers). But, they settled areas with populations tied to the home state, and so, even though did not actually call these settlements colonies, they functioned in a similar enough manner that they can be defined as colonies. With that taken care of, let us now explore the history of Russia’s early colonial efforts.

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