Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Revelation 20:1-3, Jeremiah 4:23-26, 1 Corinthians 4:5, Revelation 20:7-15, Philippians 2:9-11, 2 Peter 3:10.
March 26, 2016
It’s known as “El Bloqueo,” or “the blockade.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower imposed the sanctions on October 19, 1960. El Bloqueo officially ended this week with President Obama’s visit to Cuba. Obama and his family flew into Havana on Air Force One last Sunday, the first visit to the island nation by an American president since Calvin Coolidge sailed into Havana harbor aboard the battleship USS Texas in1928.
The quarantine was more of an embargo than an actual blockade (other nations are free to trade with Cuba). The ban on U.S. goods and services began when Eisenhower ended weapons sales to Cuba during the conflict between Fidel Castro and the Batista government in 1958. After the U.S. quit importing Cuban sugar and exporting oil to Cuba, Castro turned to the Soviet Union for an economic partnership. The close ties between Castro and Soviet Premier Khrushchev—including a new arms deal—prompted the Eisenhower administration to begin planning the Bay of Pigs invasion. Relations between the nations completely disintegrated during John F. Kennedy’s presidency with the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Missile Crisis of October 1962. 
Obama’s visit is more than just symbolic; it brings the hope of economic revival to destitute Cubans. The engagement featured cultural highlights such as joining Raul Castro and a crowd of baseball-crazed Cubans for a game between their beloved national team and Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays. It also included meetings with Cuban opposition and human rights leaders. Though there is much work to do, it appears that the economic restriction between the two neighbors a mere 90 miles apart is coming to a meaningful and satisfying conclusion. 
Long ago, a conflict in heaven spilled over onto the shores of earth. When rebellion took hold here, God had to quarantine our planet. Though God didn’t fully blockade us from contact with heaven, He imposed an embargo that severely restricted our interaction.
In our lesson this week, we can envision the great conflict between rebellion and redemption coming to a meaningful and satisfying conclusion. We can see a future when the slavery of sin is abolished forever. Justice is finally served. Satan is bound, then ultimately destroyed. This old world is re-created into the home of the saved for all eternity. All of the questions that have tugged at our hearts are satisfactorily addressed by the all-wise and all-knowing God of the universe. And, in the greatest act of kindness we will ever see, the King of kings and Lord of lords personally soothes our grief by wiping the tears from our eyes—the last tears of sorrow that will ever be shed.
Harmony between all neighbors throughout the universe will soon be completely restored for eternity.