The epitaph on the tombstone of a snooty and snotty head waiter who would ignore customers except for the rich and famous is:
By and by, God caught his eye.
The other day while cramming for finals
at 79 you tend to do that more than ever
I was reading about Tisha BAv, which in the Jewish calendar is noted as a day of calamity. By happenstance two horrors to befall the Jews occurred on July 23, my birthday. On that day the first and second temples of Jerusalem were destroyedthe first in 586 B. C. and the second in A. D. 70. Jewish rabbis say that such disasters occurred because the Jews did not obey to the letter Gods commands. And what were the commands?
To wipe out the Amalekites. Thats right: not just their warriors but also women and children.
They were descendents of Esau who were the ancient equivalent of the al-Qaeda. Israels first encounter with them came at Rephidim near Sinai. Moses stood on top of a hill and held up the rod of God until Israel won the battle. (Ex 17:1,8-16). The Amalekites attacked stragglers during the wanderings in the desert (Dt 25:17,18). Moses in his farewell address reminded the Israelites that they had been harassed by Amaleks descendants and pronounced that the will of God was that the Jews should blot all all remembrance of the name Amalek (Dt 25:17-19). He said that the Israelites were to kill civilians as well as combatants. And that meant the children.
In other words, God wanted the Jews to follow His words and not worry about the details. When He said get rid of the enemies down to the last woman and child, He meant it. When the Israelites did not and shrank from the duty, they were punished.
How do you interpret this admonition from a supposedly loving God
and the fact that when the Jews failed to carry out the order they were punished twice on July 23rds? God was saying that the terrorists were so bad that what was required was to do what you ordinarily shrank from doing.
For that matter, how do you rationalize Passover? It is of supreme theological importance for the Israelites since it marked one of the most momentous acts of divine intervention in their history. It was the beginning of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt when, in the final plague, God destroyed the first-born of the Egyptians but spared those Israelites whose homes had blood of sacrificed pure lambs smeared on the doorframes (Ex 12:11-30)?
Our initial reaction is to slam the book shut and say that this is a blind God, motivated by anger and hence un-God-like. But God cannot sin or be tempted by sin of any kind so Gods anger is not an unreasonable, unjustified or arbitrary passion but the conflict between His holiness and sin.
What do these passages tell us? That the God of all life sees a transcendent importance beyond life since He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. In that context, we Christians know two things: first, His sovereign purpose in calling a peoplethe Jews--out of paganism and establishing for true faith among the nations and of Gods sovereign power in protecting them, of his sovereign power in dealing with their departure from holiness. And secondly of Gods sovereign grace in forgiving their sins and restoring them to Himself by providing through them a Savior for the entire world which is where the bonding of the Judeo-Christian faith comes in.
Who are the implacable enemies of Judeo-Christianity? Islam, without doubt. The Koran commands Muslims to make war on Jews and Christians and the jihad continues today as Europe could well be Islamic by the end of this century.
What about the (to us by todays standards) draconian order to the Israelites to kill the Amalekites? What it tells me is this: God has always from the outset taught that our destiny does not end at the waters edge, which our death. As a matter of fact, death is not supposed to be very terrifying at all. He who sent his Son to triumph over Satan and over death may well expect us to stand up to the al-Qaeda as the Israelites were supposed to
stand up to the current day Amalekites. This will spur some angry comments to this article I knowbut thats what I believe.
All of this is within me when I say that we must not believe that Islam is a religion of peace but must win this struggle with itin the same way we won over the USSR. No, I have not heard the command that we must eliminate Islam but I am not sanguine enough to doubt that it is Gods intention. We have already received one catastrophe which came as result of our failure to appreciate the Islam threat. It is the task of our political leaders to see that we will the ultimate battle, so help us God.