“Who is this in royal robes,
marching in his great strength?
“It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation!
It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!
(from Isaiah 63)
On the morning before the slaughter in Paris, while I was still asleep, I heard a voice. It woke me.
This has happened before, so I asked, “Psalm 42?”
I looked it up. It’s starts with a prophecy about the Messiah, his character, his role, his manner and his purpose.
I looked up Isaiah 63. It has a similar theme of a Father who fights evil on behalf of his children.
Both passages end with a description of His sorrow when the people he desired to save turned to their own methods, even other gods, instead of calling on Him and responding to Him. In Isaiah’s time He left them to their own devices for a while, but continued to call out to them over and over through his prophets.
Many times in history God’s people have prayed crying “‘Anah!” to Him. “Hear us! Respond to us!” (A discussion of the word ‘anah here.)
Many times in history Yhwh has prayed to his beloved, “‘Anah!” “Hear Me! Respond to me!”
For a few days I didn’t understand why he would direct my attention to these passages. Since then I have seen many responses to the triumph of evil in Paris and Kenya and Syria and many other places in the world. Love them all! Kill them all!
Can we just admit that if there was a sure-fire method of solving this situation without exacerbating horrible actions or being captured by the evil spirits behind it ourselves, that it would have been done by now? We have lost our innocence about both the nobility of armed conflict and the consequences of doing nothing when we hear the cries of victims of evil aggression.
In our own family, this very week, we are still fighting World War II. My mother-in-law barely escaped death or an internment camp as a young teenager when her family’s home in Rangoon, Burma was bombed by the invading Japanese. Their savings were in that house. They lost everything and fled on the last military transport to India. Now, as her short-term memory loss requires us to take measures to protect her she feels like her own family is confiscating her savings and threatening her freedom by sending her to an old person internment camp. (She refuses to live with us.) In her mind history is repeating -or perhaps the war has never ended- and that which she feared most has come upon her.
I remember my mom describing the beatings she and her brothers suffered on the way home from school as ethnic Germans living in Canada during the war. No one took the time to understand that they were running from both the Russians and the Germans. No one noticed that their older brother was fighting for the Canadian army in the Netherlands. When Hitler’s troops arrived in my grandfather’s village they killed 1/3 of the population in one day. Stalin had already killed my grandmother’s family. I see the Syrian refugees fleeing violence as unjust as the pogroms of Russia a century ago also being met with rejection from all sides.
Some of our extended family were still in Germany when the battle lines were drawn up. Let me tell you no one hated Hitler more than a German boy drafted to the Russian front! But if you were Ukrainian like my husband’s grandparents and saw a German boy in a tank coming toward you, it was not a good time to offer hospitality. It is not easy to love your enemy and love your children at the same time. We desperately need wisdom and discernment.
I am a grandchild of refugees who still lives with the consequences of war. I am so grateful that Canada took my family in! I am grateful Canada heard the cries of the victims of injustice and made room for them. I am grateful that many were willing to lay down their lives to fight injustice. Now I am even more grateful to those, like the intercessor Rees Howells, who fought the war on their knees. We will never know this side of heaven how much intercessors, those who war in the heavenlies, did to bring peace.
Now it is time for those who hear his voice to respond.
What am I saying? History has proven that our methods of solving problems like ISIS are horribly inadequate. I have heard people say, after they have tried everything they can think of to save themselves in threatening circumstances, “Well, all we can do now is pray.”
I hear my heavenly Father say, “Make Me your first response! It is I, the Lord! It is I, who has the power to save!”
“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”
(from Isaiah 42)