Monday, 13 August 2012 07:31:00
Have you heard this one? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in addition to telling everyone he plans to wipe Israel off the face of the map, is, for the first time, telling his people to prepare for war—which he claims will be within the next 24 months—and to prepare for the end times. This doesn’t surprise me. But what does, is how few people are actually taking him seriously. They just don’t believe the guy. Is this history repeating itself? Wasn’t there a man named Adolph Hitler who not so long ago tried to conquer the world after ranting and raving about it for years? And wasn’t his ranting and raving ignored by most of the free world until it was too late? Then look what happened.
Personally, I’m weary of political correctness, that mindset that refuses to call a thing by its name. We need to start speaking the truth in love. What good is political correctness in the face of a world that might soon be in flames? It’s time to face the facts. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is serious. Why do I say that? Because, though he’s obviously a madman, he’s a religious madman, a deeply religious madman, and totally convinced he has been commissioned by Allah to bring forth the return of the Muslim Messiah, Mahdi, who supposedly will rule a globally Islamic-controlled world, and who, interestingly enough, resembles the Antichrist of Revelation. But first Ahmadinejad must annihilate Israel and bring chaos to the world (read war and destruction), and both of these he’s more than willing to do. The thing about religious zealots, no matter how misguided, is that they are sincere, and no amount of polite détente has the slightest chance of changing their minds. So if anyone thinks that Ahmadinejad will suddenly change his course just because a handful of heads of state congregate in a pleasantly furnished air-conditioned room, and smile and make-nice as they throw out a few half-hearted threats of more sanctions, you can forget about it.
“But what can we do?” you might ask. We can prepare. Get our spiritual house in order; and while we’re at it, our financial one as well, because when this happens it could change the face of the world by starting a cataclysmic chain of nuclear wars. Does this sound farfetched? I hope not. Does it sound like scare tactics? I hope not. But what I hope it does is show that the time for pussyfooting is over. We, as Christians, need to open our eyes and really see what is happening in the world, and then prepare ourselves so we can help others when the time comes.
We must also choose sides. Israel is already hated. And whether Israel strikes Iran before they can further harden their nuclear facilities or whether Iran strikes them first in the next 24 months, it is sure to start a serious Middle East conflict for which Israel will undoubtedly receive the lion’s share of the world’s scorn. And we, Christians, need to stand up and be counted on their behalf. God clearly promised Abraham, the patriarch of Israel, that He would bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him (Genesis 12:3). Let me say this as clearly as I can: anti-Semitism, whether in the Church or out, is demonically inspired. It is not Godly, but a malevolent force that has been trying to destroy the people of Israel for centuries. It would serve us well to remember that the Jews are the covenant people of God, the very bloodline of the Son of Man. So will the Church stand when the time comes? Or will it do what it did so often when that other madman tried to set up his Third Reich?
I only pray the former.
Until next time,
Monday, 16 May 2011 11:04:00
I was surprised to find Abraham in another valley, the Valley of Shaveh (Genesis 14:17-20) right after his victory over King Chedorlaomer. Why was he there and not back up in the mountains since valleys are taken as low points in our lives? Only after giving it some thought did it seem reasonable. God had given Abraham a great victory, but the victory came with a price. The Bible calls what happened in the last valley, the Valley of Siddim, a “slaughter”. Abraham had been at war. He had blood on his hands. He had killed many. And he had made enemies. Would the sons or relatives of those enemies seek revenge? These things had to weigh heavily on his mind. No wonder he had no peace.
But here’s the good part, while he’s lingering in this low point, Melchizedek, priest of the most high God and King of Salem, the very King of Peace—for Salem means peace—comes to Abraham bearing bread and wine, and blesses Abraham. And by this blessing he assures Abraham that God was still with him, thus restoring his peace. And who is this Melchizedek? The pre-incarnate Jesus, the ever-existing One, who appears many times in the Old Testament. In Hebrews 5:6, speaking of Jesus, it says, “Thou are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec”, and Hebrews chapter 7 goes into more detail.
Oh, there is so much in these passages of Genesis! It would take a proper Bible study to lay it all out. But suffice it to say, that after we have been in a valley of conflict, and the conflict is now over, it still may be difficult to regain our peace. So many unpleasant things happen during a conflict. People are wounded, relationships may be destroyed, and this could leave us still trapped in a valley of remorse, despondency, or fear of the unknown. But praise God! Jesus is willing and able to meet us there like He did Abraham. And if we commune with Him (symbolized by the bread and wine brought by Melchizedek); if we spend time in fellowship with Jesus, He will restore us back to a place of peace, and bless us going forward. What a gracious God we serve!
Until next week,
Monday, 09 May 2011 12:22:00
We have left the valley of rebellion (Shinar) only to find ourselves in the valley of strife. And as I mentioned last week, it is reasonable to assume that if we are not at peace with God, we will not be at peace with our fellowman, either. So, is it any wonder that in the very next valley named in the Bible, the Valley of Siddim, the first recorded war in scripture takes place? Many years have passed since the Tower of Babel and people have spread out in all directions. In this particular area there are now nine kings with the head honcho being King Chedorlaomer. For twelve years the other kings have been serving Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14). Finally, in the thirteenth year five of the kings rebelled, including the King of Sodom and the King of Gomorrah, and within a year, Chedorlaomer marched against them with his army and the army of his three allies. So it was four kings against five.
The four kings were able to vanquish the others and took them as spoils of war along with their goods, livestock, children, and wives. Among those taken was Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had, some time before, left Abraham to live in Sodom.
And where was Abraham all this time? Safely by the mountain of Mamre. Abraham, called by God to separate himself from the world, is the fountainhead of the twelve tribes of Israel, but he’s also a wonderful picture of the believer. We too are called by God to be separated; to refrain from the world’s sin and strife. 1 John 5:19 says “the whole world lieth in wickedness”. Romans 12:2a cautions us to “be not conformed to this world”. And 1 John 2:15 admonishes us to “love not the world neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” But James 4:4 goes even further and tells us that to be friends with the world is to be an enemy of God. But like Abraham, who, when he heard about Lot’s capture, was forced to take up arms and rescue him, sometimes we too are pulled into the war and conflict around us. There will always be someone who causes strife in our world, someone who wants to rule, to control, to subjugate. In the larger sense we can think of people like Hitler or Bin Laden, but on a smaller scale it could be that difficult boss or abusive spouse or impossible neighbor or co-worker.
So there will be times when we will leave our mountain of peace for the valley of strife, pulled there by war or discord not of our making. But in the end, Abraham and his men prevailed and rescued Lot and the other captives. And in the end, if we faithfully follow God’s leading, we will prevail too.
Until next week,
Monday, 13 December 2010 12:27:00
Recently, National Geographic aired a documentary made by two photo journalists who, for a year, followed the same detachment of US troops deployed in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. It was raw and poignant, and showed the face of warfare: its boredom, its filth, its danger, its courage, its casualties, its sorrow, its frustration, its injustice. Over forty men died there either taking or holding ground only to have our forces abandon these positions at a later date.
It broke my heart to watch it. Many of the men who made it back carried deep scars and claimed they had yet to reconcile everything they saw or did. And that’s when it struck me how similar spiritual warfare is to its physical counterpart.
Like in Afghanistan, we are all fighting a war, a spiritual war that generally thrusts us into combat, daily, and for which we need courage. And the causalities are many: broken marriages, drug addiction, loss of jobs and home, loss of health. And sometimes we conquer enemy territory at great cost only to relinquish it at a later date, like a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for years only to succumb, unexpectedly. And often we are left with scars. And Satan doesn’t fight fair, either. He, too, is not above using our children or spouse as shields or fodder. And he hits us when we least expect it. But unlike Afghanistan, where our soldiers never left their wounded comrades behind, we, in the church, tend to shoot ours or leave them bleeding and unattended. Instead of compassion, we judge. Instead of love, we ostracize.
When is the church going to learn we must stick together? When one falls, we must be there to pick him up, to encourage, to love, to nurse back to health; but never, never to abandon.
War is ugly, and dangerous, and hurtful. All war. And just as the “War on Terror” isn’t going away any time soon, so too, spiritual warfare is here to stay. The Bible says we have an enemy who hates us; one who seeks to “steal, kill and destroy.” No matter what our denomination, believers in Jesus must stick together like never before, and at all costs, care for our wounded.
Until next week,