Summary: Reformation Sunday 2001--Some of Martin Luther’s Biblical insights on the "war against the Turk" are amazingly fitting for our own situation!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
It began with the attacks with passenger airplanes on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon. Now there are letters carrying anthrax-causing microbes that have, in a few causes, even caused death. One weapon was so big. The other is so small. We feel so helpless. What can be done?
Much information is being presented to us constantly on TV, radio, the internet, and in newspapers and magazines—but how can we make sense of it all? Many commentators are giving their own opinions—but what, if any, can God’s Word make to this discussion? How can average Christians, like you and me, inform themselves for an appropriate response?
First of all, it is important for us to realize that our country is not attacking people because their religion is different from ours—that would deny the very freedoms we want to fight for and protect! There are many who practice Islam in our own country, and there are many Muslims around the world who do not hate America. Also, as Christians, we seek to spread the kingdom of God not through violence but with the good news of salvation and the love of Christ for those around us, including our Muslim neighbors.
Nor should our country be attacking people out of a desire for revenge, although what they have done is an outrage! Even if the terrorists had some legitmate reasons for not liking our country, they were not right to attack us. They were not fighting to protect their land in peace, which would be the right of any good government. Instead, they have behaved more like murderers, theives and robbers, trying to pick a fight. They profess to serve Allah, but they have really served the devil with their evil and unjust acts of terror. What they have done is wrong—and two wrongs never made a right. Revenge can’t bring back the victims or ease the pain of those who loved them.
God says in Isaiah 10:5-7 “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.” We can be sure that God is not pleased with the terrorists who have done such terrible things. But we must also ask ourselves a chilling question: is there a message in this for us? If even Israel was dealt with in such a way, could this be the way that God is also dealing with the United States of America? Is he allowing these things to happen so that a godless nation might be brought back to its senses, brought back to its knees, and brought back to its God?
There are only two people who can and should fight against the terror that has invaded our land. These can only be the Christian on the one hand, and our government on the other! Only these two may fight the war on terror with the assurance that God blesses and approves of what they are doing.
Christians are so important in this battle because it is not just a war against Osama Bin Laden or the Taliban. It is a war against the devil—with all his evil plans and schemes. If we can’t first defeat the devil, how then can we hope to defeat those who serve him?
Now, the devil is not so easy to defeat. He can’t be beaten with airplanes, rockets, bombs, or machine guns. These things can’t hold back God’s anger, either! It says in Psalm 33:16-18, “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.”
As Christians, our only hope for defeating the devil and turning back God’s wrath is God’s unfailing love—the love that took Jesus Christ to the cross for us, the love that raised him from the dead. In Jesus we are promised forgiveness. For that reason, the fight must be begun with repentance! God said in Jeremiah 18:7-11, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’”