"For Such a Time as This"|
Posted: February 20, 2007
The Bible tells us in Nahum 1:2, "God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies." In addition, Romans 12:19 says, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Now, let me ask you, how does God carry out His vengeance against His enemies? He could, and has, sent avenging angels from time to time. In 2 Kings 19:35 we read "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." However, I believe God chooses more often to use human instruments and agencies instead.
One classic example is found in Isaiah 45:1 and Jeremiah 25:13. Isaiah 45:1 says, "Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut." And, Jeremiah 25:13 says, "And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations."
These prophesies were fulfilled when God raised up Cyrus and the Media-Persian Empire to deliver the Jews from the hand of the Babylonians. Although the Babylonians defeated and removed the Jews from the land of Canaan, history and Scripture both reveal that the Babylonians were later conquered by the Medes and the Persians who allowed the Jews to return to the land and rebuild their temple.
In fact, Ezra records in Ezra 1:1-2: "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah."
Obviously, God used a human instrument (Cyrus) and a human agency (the Media-Persian Empire) to bring vengeance against the Babylonians who had done much evil to the Jews. They were, to paraphrase Romans 13:4, "...the minister of God to [Israel] for good. But if [Babylon] do that which is evil, be afraid; for [Cyrus] beareth not the sword in vain: for [Cyrus] is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon [Babylon] that doeth evil."
We have two more examples of God raising up human instruments and agencies to execute wrath upon them that do evil as recently as the twentieth century. Both Nazi Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics targeted Jews and Christians. The Nazis executed some six million Jews and quite a few Christians in death camps such as Auschwitz, Birkenau, Dachau, and Buchenwald. The Soviets rounded up even more, torturing and killing some 20 million Jews and Christians in the gulags.
Unfortunately for Hitler and his cronies, they did not believe the Word of God. If they did, they would have heeded God's promise to Abraham and his descendents, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee (Genesis 12:3)." This same promise was reconfirmed with Isaac's blessing to Jacob and his descendents, "cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee (Genesis 27:29). Just so that we do not miss this promise, God used Baalim to prophesy, "Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee (Numbers 24:9)".
Germany exterminated six million Jews, along with quite a few Christians. God, true to His Word, judged Germany and her Axis allies harshly. He protected Great Briton, while America mobilized and then used these two countries, along with the Allies, as revengers to execute wrath upon Germany. Churchhill and Roosevelt became ministers of God that bore not the sword in vain. The Nazies lost the war. Hitler committed suicide. Many of the Axis leaders were jailed or executed. The Allies occupied and divided Germany for over 40 years. God's promise to curse those that curse the Jewish people was graphically fulfilled.
Following WWII, the world entered the Cold War and the Soviet Union began to systematically persecute both the Jews and the Christians living within its borders. Heedless of God's Word, they killed and imprisoned millions. Like the Germans before them, they did not believe that "God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies (Nahum 1:2)."
Again, God used America and Great Britain. He raised up Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980's. The Cold War came to an abrupt end as the Soviet Union, torn apart by economic, ethnic, and external pressure from the United States, Great Britain, and the free world, collapsed in on itself in a futile attempt to keep up militarily. Today, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is not merely a divided country, it simply does not exist anymore.
Let's look at a more current example, the resurgence of fundamentalist Islam. It got its start with the demise of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century and the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948 and can be described as a return to the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam.
Freed from the constraints of the Cold war and fueled by oil revenues, fundamentalist Islam has declared Jihad, or Holy War, against the non-Islamic world. The various factions, whether Sunni or Shi'ite, have declared their intent to destroy Israel, bring America under Sharia (Islamic law), and subjegate both the Jews and the Christians.
Non-Muslims and moderate Muslims like to say that Islam is a religion of peace. They cite verses such as Qur'an 2:256 ("There is no compulsion in religion") and Qur'an 109:1-6 ("Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; nor worship ye that which I worship...Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion") They claim that Jews and Christians can live in peace with Muslims.
Unfortunately, they either ignore or are ignorant of the Islamic doctrine of abrogation. Unlike the Bible, where the older, Old Testament passages are fulfilled and completed by the later, New Testament passages, the later passages of the Qur'an abrogate or abolish the earlier passages. Or, as Qur'an 2:106 says, "None of our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?"
This doctrine teaches that earlier, more tolerant, "Meccan" suras or chapters of the Qur'ran such as Qur'an 2:256 and 109:1-6 are abrogated or abolished by the later, more violent and intolerant, "Medinan," suras like the infamous Verse of the Sword, Qur'an 9:5 ("slay the unbeliever's wherever you find them"). The Meccan suras were written at the early stages of the Prophet's career when he lacked the strength and numbers that he gained after fleeing to Medina. The Medina suras, where you find most of the more violent and intolerant passages, were written when Mohammand himself started to become more intolerant and successful in battle.
These concepts are born out in both the Qur'an and the Hadith, the traditions of Mohammad, which are considered nearly as authoritative as the Qur'an itself. They are also propagated widely by the Arab media and schools in the Middle-East and in Wahhabist literature provided by the Saudia Arabia Ministry of Religion to the majority of mosques and Islamic schools in North America.
Now, it would be great if we could coexist peacefully with Islam. After all, Romans 12:18 says, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." However, fundamentalist Muslims believe that the Verse of the Sword trumps Romans 12:18. They believe that Jews and Christians must either be subjugated as second class citizens under Muslim rule, convert to Islam, or die.
That, then, is where Romans 12:19 comes in. We are told, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." In other words, we are told not to take up personal vigilante attacks against individual Muslims and mosques.
Instead, we ought to remember that Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you". We should pray for all Muslims, fundamentalist or otherwise, and try to win them to Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, we are not expected to sit defenseless in the face of Islamic attack. Instead, we ought to trust God to raise up a defender of His people as He has done in the past. What's more, it is just possible that He already raised up minister of God, in the person of President Bush, as "a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" by wielding the sword of the United States military.
If so, that sure puts the war in Iraq and the overall war on terror (i.e. Islamic fundamentalism) in a different light. It could be that President Bush did not "bear the sword in vain" when he sent the military against the Taliban and destroyed al-Queda's base of operations in Afghanistan. It could be that President Bush, like Cyrus, was God's "revenger to execute wrath" on Sadaam Hussein and his cronies in Iraq who had attacked Israel in the first Gulf War. Could it then be, to paraphrase Esther 4:14, that President Bush has "come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"