“The battle against ISIS”
This past week I have read some Christian blogs and listened to Christian people who have made some suggestions on what would be an appropriate response to the events that have occurred in Paris. Some say that the only response we as Christians should be making is one of prayer.
Of course we should pray, after all Jesus did say we should pray for our enemies and those who persecute us (Mat 5:44). Many people are grieving as a result of the evil that has been perpetrated by ISIS. Let us pray that the Lord may even use this tragic and evil event to win people for Himself. It’s hard to imagine anything more frightening then seeing gunmen shooting innocent people so that they can promote their flawed cause and ideology.
Of course our prayer shouldn’t end there. We can be thankful that our God is sovereign, almighty, and able to do marvellous things. We can thank God that He is a God of justice as well as mercy. We can thank Him for the relative peace we enjoy in this land. We can thank him for the mercy He has shown to us in Jesus Christ. We can pray that God would bring evil doers to justice. We can pray that God would change hearts so that they would leave behind this evil ideology and flee to Christ.
We should also be praying for the leaders of the nations to be wise and measured in their response to this evil. We should pray for the protection of the armed forces who are engaged in battle to restrain and defeat this evil. So without doubt, it’s an appropriate response for Christians to pray, but I am not convinced that this is where our involvement should end.
Some Christians suggest that it is never right for Christians to take up arms to fight evil. I disagree and I would suggest it is even unbiblical to make such a suggestion. It would be ridiculous to suggest that the only avenue Christians have to fight this evil is to pray and love their enemies and not do any more. It is not either, or, but both, prayer and take up the sword if need be, for this evil needs to be eradicated.
There are many instances in Scripture where God’s people were also called upon to take up arms and fight the enemy. Yes, God fights the battle for us, but he generally uses people and we would certainly pray that He goes with us into the battle.
When God redeemed His people from Egypt, God raised up leaders and brought terrible plagues upon the Egyptians until finally they let God’s people go. Throughout the wilderness wanderings, God’s people were often at war, sometimes as punishment for past sins and at other times to defeat enemies who would try to impede God’s plan. God instructed His people to defeat the tribes remaining in the Promised Land as they entered. One only needs to read the book of Judges to know how the Lord raised up Judges to lead his people in war against their enemies. When the Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem they appointed people with swords, spears and bows to fight should the enemy attack (Neh 4:7). One could even argue that the positive of the sixth commandment is to protect your neighbour’s life.
It seems to me that the ‘free’ world will not allow this evil to go on indefinitely. France has already responded militarily and have vowed to continue the fight until this evil is defeated. America, Russia and several other nations are already involved and I cannot help but thank God we have people and nations with this resolve.
I don’t doubt that over time, the ISIS movement will be defeated. However, I am not sure whether there will ever be peace. Some suugest that there are socio-economic reasons that may have contributed to this evil. Perhaps there are and who of us would claim to have clean hands! But it goes deeper than that. ISIS claims they are more ‘exegetically pure’ in fulfulling the demands of the Qur’an than any other group that has come before them, even al-Qaeda. So when ISIS is defeated, another extremist group will probably start for they will want to be more true to the Qur’an than those who have gone before them. Thankfully, many Muslims are not like the extremists that make up ISIS. However, it is the interpratation of some sections of the Qu’ran where the trouble stems from and it needs to be addressed by the Muslim community at large.
Will there ever be an end to this conflict? One end I can see is when these extreme elements have their hearts changed by the Holy Spirit, and may the Lord use us in a winsome way to bring that about. Another way and more lasting way, is when we see the glorious return of our King. Then will there be everlasting peace. Come quickly Lord Jesus, come quickly. JZ
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.