War In Iraq - God Is Still In Control
|Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005 - All rights retained by author|
Free elections in Iraq. Babylon is no longer controlled by a king or a dictator. Within the country a people freed of a tyrannical government vote for their own leaders. For a few, it will cost them their very lives as terrorists attempt to seize back power for themselves using random violence and murder to frighten and manipulate.
Yet, the people voted. No one yet knows who the official winners are for the various government seats. Of course, as cliché as it might be, we know that the people themselves are the ultimate winners.
If only the fight for holiness were quite so overt. What if within one area of our lives we found ourselves under persistent and violent attack by our own sinful desires and we could petition the government to rally as many troops as needed to crush the onslaught? Still, we know that no amount of military hardware can free our spirits from the forces of sin. Christ alone does that with His own blood, renewing our hearts and minds by means of His Holy Spirit. Once saved, we are free from damnation, but not free from the struggle against sin.
As in Iraq, the next step for the newly freed Christian is education. Once freed from tyranny, to stay free requires the efforts of study. How can one avoid falling into sin if one does not know what sin is? How can one be righteous if one does not study the Word to learn what is holy behavior? Just as the Iraqi people must study democracy to understand how to use it to advantage to stay free, so must we study the Scriptures to understand how to stay free from sin.
Congratulations to the allied troops that did the difficult, costly, and dangerous job of liberating Iraq. Congratulations to the Iraqi people who risked their lives to exercise their new freedom from tyranny and voted. Congratulations to the new Iraqi leaders, who themselves are yet unaware of their new responsibilities and obligations to the people who elected them. May God free the hearts, minds, spirits, and souls of the Iraqi people in the same way He has freed their country.Update: April 13, 2004 -- The True Nature of Mercy
This past week an acquaintance of the family lost a son in Iraq. He was a marine. The mother confided to friends that she had prayed that God would protect her son and she was confused as to why God chose not to honor her petition with a positive answer. We share her grief. At one time or another, we have all shared her confusion as well.
God tells us He is the potter. We are the clay vessels molded by the potter. We were molded to reflect His glory. And our lives are appointed to demonstrate His loving attributes to a world dead set on committing itself to sin, warring in opposition against its creator. Often the question ought not to be "why was this young life cut off so early?" but rather, "why is God so merciful that He forestalls His judgement against all the lives on this world?"
Sadaam Hussein has been captured. His brutal and openly sociopathic sons are dead. Iraq, Babylon of old, has fallen. Its infrastructure is now more stable than it has been in recent memory; more water, more electricity, more food available to the population. In a very short time a new constitutionally directed government will assume control away from the hands of the temporary American caretakers.
Yet, even as freedom increases, the violence and bloodshed continue. Why is it that those who have been freed and have benefited from the American conquest of a brutal and oppressive regime take to the streets to shoot at those who put their lives on the line for their sake? Often this violence is done in the name of religion or some political end.
Violence against Americans and other foreigners in Iraq in the name of political ends makes no sense and rings hollow. These same Americans will turn over the countryís government to Iraqi hands in just a few months. When the government is stable, that is, when the internal violence subsides, the Americans will return home. In other words, the sooner the violence ends, the sooner the country will become governed and policed by Iraqis again. Violence in the streets just keeps Americans in control of the streets. Political ends? No, that reasoning carries little weight.
Violence as a tool for religious motivations? More likely. Those who hate Christianity will hate those civilians and soldiers who come from countries heavily populated by Christians. This hatred of Christ and His followers fuels the unrelenting terror, just as it does for those who also hate Judaism and the sons of Abraham. It matters little whether these people from "Christian" nations are in Iraq for noble reasons or for the mundane. Fanatics, terrorists, have a larger goal in mind, to spark a broad armed conflict between themselves and all "Christians" that will sweep along with it all those who share the same general religious convictions as themselves. It is my prayer that these fanatics fail.
Some ask, "why is America so constrained in her response to these terrorists? Why not just go in with an iron fist and cut off all those who throw rocks, point guns, or raise an angry fist at her soldiers?" The answer is: America, however imperfect her people and leadership, ostensibly stands for righteousness, mercy, kindness, and tolerance, not genocide. America wants all people to experience the blessings of freedom, not to mention the responsibilities that go with it, and for this reason she is tolerant and patient toward this new nation that is just being born.
Perhaps this is a poor analogy, yet, God is much the same way toward all the people of the worlds. He delays His return and His judgement of the world, being patient so that more may come to embrace freedom in His Son and the blessings of salvation. Still, we war and sin against God, mocking Him, and all the while He restrains His wrath calling on those few who will, to come to repentance and new life.
We mourn with those who have lost their children in Iraq. We are also mindful that God has a larger plan for us and for all the world. Had He removed Christians from this world 30 years ago and judged the world decades ago, that young marine we spoke of would never have been born, would never have repented, would never have been saved, and would not now be with the Lord in heaven. That this young man was ever born at all and then became a Christian speaks boldly about the true nature of Godís patience, mercy, and love.
What pain the nations feel when they hear about the persistent attacks on coalition peace-keeping forces in Iraq. It seems that daily a new attack kills another soldier.
As Christians, what should be our response? Hatred? Calls for retreat? Street protests?
Our response can be no different now than when we went to war. The military goal is to arrest the evil that runs rampant in parts of Iraq, and we Christians must support our fine citizens-in-uniform who dare to take on this dangerous job. What form does this support take? Prayer and courage at a minimum.
Hatred is not an option. We must love our enemies. We pray for their conversion to the Lord of Hosts.
Retreat is not an option. With the war all but won, retreat or early withdraw negates the sacrifices of all who went before. Iraq would merely fall back into the hands of extremists who survive on hatred and who thrive on subjugating their fellow countrymen. Still, we wonder how long it will be until the Iraqi people stand up and take notice of this remarkable opportunity to be free which they have been given?
And as we ponder about the future, let us continually remember that Christ commanded us to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness"--that means, "make it your priority to make God king in your life and to show others how to do the same through the life-long pursuit of living righteously."
For the Earth, and Iraq, are under Godís sovereign control, and it is our responsibility to live this truth and to declare it to the world. God reigns even now.
Congratulations to the men and women of the US and coalition forces for acts of service far beyond any ordinary job. Reports of the personal acts of sacrifice and mercy you exhibited in Iraq have become the stuff of break-room discussions. Our special sympathies and appreciation to the families of those who died or were wounded during the liberation and re-building of Iraq.
It is said that Benjamin Franklin responded to the question, "Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?" with the rejoinder, "Madam, we have given you a democracy, if you can keep it." The US and the coalition nations have given Iraq the opportunity to build a new nation, a new government, and a new way of life. I wonder what kind of government they will give themselves--and I wonder if they will be able to keep it?
Please pray for an Iraq that will be a peaceful world partner. More importantly, please pray for Iraq and her citizens that they will be open to the message of the gospel as the massive rebuilding efforts will require the assistance of numerous foreign nationals, some of whom by virtue of who they are will carry with them the message of Godís mercy.
God is still in control.
All Christians should recognize the intervention of Godís hand in this war. To date, the death rates for all armed participants has been much smaller than the analysts had predicted. The shooting war (which is still not entirely completed) has been far less intense and appears to be far shorter than the analysts had predicted. The civilian reaction, while mixed, has not been very overtly anti-coalition forces, indeed, increasingly the peoples have been embracing their liberators with gratitude. So far, no chemical weapons have been used, limiting military and civilian deaths. And the apparently shortened shooting war will result in far fewer Iraqi civilian deaths and injuries.
Where did all these good outcomes originate? Consider the millions of prayers that have been prayed by Christians on behalf of the Iraqi peoples and the military participants. God has chosen to give His world a new Iraq and to give His people a lesson in His generosity. How should His people respond? With prayers of thanksgiving. Gratitude--the attitude of joyful thanks--is quite appropriate.
Praise be to God who reigns over all victorious!
Let us be continually before God, asking for the safety of the troops intent on liberating a people oppressed by evil. Let us also thank God for the awe inspiring answers to prayer we have already seen. While the war is apparently far from over, today we have seen Baghdad take a giant step closer to becoming a free city without the catastrophic fighting and use of chemical agents that are unable to discriminate between civilian and soldier. Thanks be to God.
We have also seen many of the peoples of Iraq cheer their new found freedom, tossing flowers and words of appreciation to the liberating armies. While the foot soldiers themselves are reluctant conquerors, they are proud champions of freedom and have used the sword judiciously to restrain the evil that has endangered so many innocent lives.
That this is the ancient land of Babylon should give Christians reason to pause and ponder the history of mankind and the story of how God has dealt with man over the centuries. Like the war itself, the story is not finished. Please pray for our nation, and for our fellow Christian brethren, that we draw ever closer to God and to His Word--for it is only by the hand of God that this nation is spared the fate of Babylon.
War is the sad result of mankindís original sin. Men desire what they do not have, and often should not have, so they go to war. Men war against God and men war against each other. And sometimes, men go to war to preserve the innocent against those whose desires have gone too far and led them into uncontrolled sin.
The need for war, and the desperation that calls upon war as a remedy for modern ills is a testimony to manís sinful state. However, not all war is sin. God called upon the nation of Israel to wage war in His name on numerous occasions. And God gave the governments of the world the right to use the sword against those who sin against Godís laws; those very laws that are designed to restrain evil on the earth.
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
Our present war with Iraq is unfortunate. And while it may be oneís personal opinion that this is not a war that is grounded in the best of timing, none can deny the utterly depraved nature of a government that would use poison gas on its own people, torture civilians on a routine basis, wage war on its own citizens simply due to differing ethnic heritages, and periodically select governors for execution just to keep the power base stable.
War? I genuinely wish we could live in a world without it. But since it has fallen upon us yet once again, let us pray for safety for the forces that are intent on restraining evil, safety for those troops who have put down their arms and abandoned their support for a governmental structure based in evil conduct, safety for the civilians in harmís way, and a rapid end to the hostilities.
A soldierís pay is far less than his worth. May God please bring back with all speed those sons and daughters of our country (and of those countries who have joined with us) in safety and success. May God grant wisdom to our president. Following this war of liberation, may the peoples of Iraq find the will and the opportunity to live in peace. May God be glorified by the conduct of those who name Him as Lord and call upon Him as Savior.
Was it not God Himself who told us how the world began when there was none there to see it, who told of the coming Messiah over the course of thousands of years before His arrival, and how world history will finally conclude? Nothing is hidden from God and no course of events too great for Him to control. Let us take comfort that our God reigns over all the earth and over all human history.