Summary: Keeping our trust in God despite the tragedy in New York City.
TURN, TURN, TURN
Biblical Text: 1 Kings 18: 24 and 37
“And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, ‘It is well spoken.’”
“Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”
War is dirty business. As America prepares to wage war against terrorism, the media and the Internet are flooded with opinions as to whom we will be fighting and how this war will be won. But on one thing they do agree….This "war" we intend to wage will be a very costly affair in terms of human loss, both American and Afghani.
Some say that the only way to prevent the wholesale destruction of innocent Afghani’s is to send in our ground troops to root out Osama Bin Laden. And there is little we can expect in the way of help from those in Afghanistan who oppose the Taliban, for they have no weapons with which to fight. They are a poverty-stricken people still recovering from wars waged by the Soviet and Great Britain, without success. They live in mud-dried homes interspersed in the hillsides, with scarce food, no healthcare, and no organized army or infrastructure…save the Taliban. They live in a barren wasteland, clinging to life by a thread, while the Taliban feast before their eyes. It’s no wonder that the Taliban army is growing. They are the symbol of life, freedom and victory for those helpless young lives that grow up around them. The Taliban are the role models to a suffering Afghani generation.
As we watch facts unfold and flags unfurl, the Christian community….those of the household of faith….pray, not just for innocent American families and military troops, but for the innocent in Afghanistan and other Arab nations, who will also be dragged into war.
And with whom are we at war? Contrary to a sector of public opinion, this is not a war between Islam and the West. Islam is IN the west…and the east, the north and the south. No, this is definitely not a war against Islam, and we must be careful not to classify it as such. This is a war between GOOD and EVIL. And in the end, “GOOD” will prevail, because God will prevail… But at what cost?
As our news media broadcast the widespread destruction in New York and Washington, D.C., thousands fell on their knees in repentance and prayer. Prayer vigils, once thought to be the foolishness of religious zealots, have become the hope of millions, while in Afghanistan, far from our shores, the Taliban prepare for a holy war.
The stark contrast between the prayers of the masses of Americans and the street dancing, chanting Taliban of Afghanistan, parallels another old historical account of major significance, with far too many striking similarities. In this ancient confrontational account, the ruling infrastructure shows striking similarities to the ways of the Taliban. And if America is to defeat this enemy, we pray that our nation will demonstrate lasting similarities to the followers of the One True and Living God.
We read the biblical account of Elijah, the Tishbite, in the days of King Ahab’s rule in Israel, as a story of great promise. It was there that the first showdown between the gods of the world and Elijah’s God took place. Then, as now, the world was “halting between two opinions.” King Ahab had led the Israelites into idolatrous worship of false gods, constructing great monuments and altars. For 22 years, King Ahab rebelled against God and “did evil in the sight of the Lord, above all that were before him.” (1 Kings 16: 30)
The people of Israel became divided in their worship….some followed after the custom of the King, while others remained faithful to the One True and Living God. Severe drought drove animals from the land, brooks dried up, and no rain fell. Yet, the remnant of Israel remained faithful to the One True and Living God, while King Ahab continued to lead his followers in the worship of Baal.
Calamity and trying times bring out the best and the worst in humanity. On the one hand, the world is full of King Ahabs, who outwardly profess belief in God, while inwardly, they construct their own personal altars to unknown gods…gods of position…gods of power….gods of wealth…gods of influence.
On the other hand, the voice of the One True and Living God can be heard in sermons from a thousand pulpits, and on the lips of a hundred million praying Saints. Their altars are not of influence or wealth, position or power. The altars they erect are holy altars that belong only to God.