Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Syria, the United States ... and what to do now!"

The purpose of this blog is to share Biblical truth that reveals God's grace to those who come to Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, God-in-the-flesh, true man, true God, who died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again in victory over sin and death.  HOPE in this world and for the life to come is found only in relationship with the living God, the Creator of all things, the only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who has revealed Himself in His Word, the Bible, and in His Son Jesus Christ.

Those who are regular readers know that I refrain from commenting on merely political matters, believing that my calling is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it applies to every circumstance of life.  Because there are readers from many countries around the world, I seek to resist the temptation to address issues that are of interest only to those in the United States.  Therefore, I pray that what follows is not only faithful to God's truth, but also to His grace and His purpose in sending Jesus to bring life to all who believe in Him, from every people, tribe, nation and tongue.

Questions continue about whether the United States should engage in a military strike against the current government of Syria because of their use of chemical weapons against their own people.  Let me say to begin that there is little if any question that this has happened - on multiple occasions.  For those who want further proof, it is quite likely that nothing will satisfy.  It is probable that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but was given time to move them before the Gulf War - possibly even to Syria.  The debates rage on and Iraq has been brought up over and over, but the fact remains that these governments have killed thousands upon thousands of innocent people in their nations - both using chemical weapons (as well as others) to do so.

One more point needs to be made before I go on.  The United States of America stands squarely under God's judgment for its approving the killing of millions of unborn children through abortion.  We are NOT morally superior to other nations when it comes to our "standing" before a holy God.  The sin of abortion (as well as other sins) brings disgrace upon our nation.  If we approach the subject of Syria simply from a comparative moral perspective, it is difficult to make the case that we have the "moral right or duty" to respond to the atrocities in Syria.  God's truth makes it clear that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, where good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10), and "God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

So if the United States is not capable of responding solely on moral grounds, should we then do nothing as chemical weapons are used by leaders in the Middle East or elsewhere?  Having just listened to hearings in the Senate of the U.S. (one of our branches of government), I heard several different arguments, but one stood out:  Can we know whether military action will make things better or worse? Is it possible that things will be worse if we conduct a military strike against the people who are responsible for this horror?

Let me attempt to answer those questions.  EVIL exists!  The Bible says "There is none righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10).  God instituted laws and governments to control evil.  Romans 13:4 states that those who govern are "God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."  That is the purpose of human government.  In our day, since World War II, the United Nations has existed as a gathering of the nations of the world in order to attempt to maintain order by keeping EVIL in check, no matter where that evil comes from.  However, over the past decades it has been proven that the United Nations is unable and/or unwilling to keep evil in check; in fact, the nations assembled cannot even agree as to what evil is ... EXCEPT when it comes to something like the use of chemical weapons.  Here, at least, the nations of the world have agreed ("in principle") that such weapons should not, must not, cannot be used by any nation, either against its own people or the people of other nations.  Like the nuclear non-proliferation treaties, the nations of the world have attempted to restrain EVIL by agreeing that certain actions are not to be tolerated.

The present situation, however, is complicated by certain nations on the Security Council of the United Nations, specifically, Russia and China, appearing to either approve of the use of chemical weapons or being willing to ignore it.  The same is true with North Korea, Iran and other nations seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.  EVIL is present everywhere in the world and in every nation of the world.  And when governments are allowed to ignore even those agreed-upon restraints established by the nations of the world (Syria previously signed on to this agreement), it is up to the rest of the nations of the world to "enforce" these restraints.  To fail to do so allows evil to proceed unchecked and is not only a national security issue, but a world-wide security issue.

Having said all of that, if the world fails to act, as it appears it has and will (see even the vote of the government of the United Kingdom, let alone others), should the United States act on its own or with the support of very few others?  Should our government conduct military strikes in an effort to enforce international laws?  It is very interesting that those who say this would be contrary to international law say little or nothing about the use of chemical weapons - a clear violation of international law.  These appear willing to overlook the killing of hundreds and thousands of people by a government that claims to be part of the international community, while at the same time condemning the very punishment of this government, which IS the responsibility of the national community.

I am not trying to be a "good politician" by avoiding the answer to the question as to whether the United States should act, but am simply trying to point out the inconsistencies in the arguments against our acting.  Every time you ask the wrong question, you will inevitably get the wrong answer.  "Is there any guarantee that military strikes by the United States will make things better instead of worse?"    What Secretary of State John Kerry said to Senator Rand Paul was exactly right:  there is never a guarantee when it comes to military action.  However, he also stated that it was a guarantee that the government of Syria and other like governments would be emboldened to act without restraint in the future if this action is allowed to happen unchecked.  God's truth would agree with that.  Evil will continue until Jesus comes and the Bible says it will increase.  The often MIS-quoted verse, Proverbs 29:18 ("Where there is no vision, the people perish.") actually says, "Where there is no revelation (commandment), the people cast off restraint."  To allow evil to advance unchecked, whether on a personal level or a national level, leads to further evil.  The Word of God and history bear that out.

Many demand that we have a stated goal for conducting military actions against the Syrian government.  It is simply this:  To restrain evil.  Will it work?  There are no guarantees.  But to the question, "Is it any business of ours" (the United States)?  The answer is:  Yes.  In fact, it is the business of anyone who has the God-given capability to do something.   Questions of when to go to war are always difficult to answer and we often come up with the wrong reasons.  I grew up in the 1960's and could have very easily been drafted to go to Vietnam.  God spared me that horror and the "cause" of that war may have been just at the beginning, but it was clearly not fought with the intention of winning against evil.  It became a horrible, unjust, senseless and useless occupation.  We should have learned from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan that we cannot MAKE people act justly towards each other.  We cannot force people to stop sectarian fighting that has been going on for centuries and suddenly desire a democracy such as God has graciously given us.

BUT, when it comes to being used of God to attempt to restrain some of the worst evil ever to come on the world, we must be ready and willing to respond.  In this day we do not need to send in troops or occupy nations, nor should we.  We have been given the means to use our freedom to restrain evil where and how we can, and sometimes, perhaps now, that will require military action.  In the end, a "man of peace" will bring a counterfeit peace to the Middle East and all the world will follow.  The whole world is weary of war.  But this "man of peace" will be an instrument of Satan to bring the world to the brink of destruction, and then the end will come, when GOD pours out HIS wrath on the nations and upon all who have rejected His offer of forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus.

Since we are a "global community," the words of Romans 13:4 apply not only to individual governments, but also to those who have "signed on" to be part of the United Nations:  "He is God's servant to do you good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."  To do less is to decide that it's everyone for himself, or every nation for themselves.  Are we ready for the consequences of THAT?  We will eventually get there ... maybe in God's plan we're there now, but if not, then the only "reason" we need is this:  To restrain evil.  That's really what Secretary Kerry was trying to say ... which didn't seem to satisfy some of the Senators, but which is the best answer that can be given.

In all of this we must keep this truth in mind: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear. ... Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth.  The LORD Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress" (Psalm 46:1-2,10-11).  God offers His grace today to those who draw near to Him through Jesus.  One day soon, the time will come for God to pour out His wrath upon the earth.  Until then, His grace is still available.  Come to Him today and find true HOPE as you live in the joy of His presence!!

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