Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Blessed Syria?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Devotion VIDEO here

In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.  For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will say, “Blessed be Egypt, my people.  Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made.  Blessed be Israel, my special possession!”   Isaiah 19:24-25(NLT)
With all the heated debate going on in America concerning Syrian refugees, ISIS, and the rampage of mass shootings, I think it may be next to impossible to entertain what Isaiah suggests – that Assyria, (blessed Assyria according to Isaiah), along with Egypt and Israel are three parts of a blessing for the whole planet.  But I’m also wondering how many of us are thinking straight these days; you know – thinking with the mind of Christ[2]

Isaiah is obviously remembering, looking back to a time when there was more harmony between Israel, Egypt and Syria (in his day that was largely due to the influence of an expanded Assyrian empire during the 9th – 7th centuries B.C.).  But Isaiah also points to the future; after all his predictions of judgment, there is always a window left open towards restoration and reconciliation.

Look at the map showing where Syria and Egypt are located; notice particularly that Israel stands right between the two – the position of the intercessor!  If ever there was an image of the ministry of Christ, it is this.  Egypt had held Israel in bondage before there was an “official” Israel.  Later Syria held Israel AND Egypt under its empirical thumb.  In Isaiah’s future the pathway to Syria and Egypt flow through Jerusalem!

And, who knows, perhaps ours is a time that is ripe for change.  The question haunts me; is America and the west positioned and ready for just such a time as this?

Whatever God’s plan is at this time for the middle-east (and the rest of the universe), it is certain for all times that we must be about the business of the Kingdom of God; we must be much more about open minds and hearts than borders and weapons.  Gun control issues aside – let the talking heads have ears – killing is birthed in the heart.

Christian people must remember that Christ gave up all of His rights to accomplish His ministry.  And that ministry has precious little to do with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  (Before the vitriolic cards and letters begin, please note:  I do own a handgun to protect our home, and I served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam).  I am not against the rights we enjoy, including the right to bear arms.  What I AM saying is, for Christians we make too much of those rights, and too little of the ministry of the Prince of Peace.  His coming divided households; his resurrection was to draw all people together. 

Having served in the military, and in the Lord’s army, I think I’ve earned an opinion on this issue.  I understand that peace-loving and peace-keeping can be almost antithetical concepts at times:  the former requiring conditions of settled souls enjoying calm freedom; the latter demanding raised weapons.  But I have more of a cautionary response toward my friends who want to raise the weapons first, foremost, and ever.  Gandhi wasn’t even a Christian and he understood that with war you create more war, which means death and devastation.  It is only with peace-making in our hearts, and on our minds that we may appropriately take up war with sadness and resolve.  Anger to retaliate never passes the bar of righteous anger, no matter whose flag you wave.

For You Today

Jesus’ friend, Peter has the right words for Christians worried about Syria (or anything):

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.  We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.  These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises.  Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.   2 Peter 1:3-9(NLT)

Think about that out on the Rocky Road today…and have a great day!

[1] Title image:  By Empire_neo_assyrien.svg: *Middle_East_topographic, via Wikimedia Commons
[2] 1 Corinthians 2:16

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