By Dr Foster H. Shannon
We cannot and must not ignore what is going on in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria. Isis, a radical Muslim movement is seeking to expand its control over Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and beyond. The movements have different names in Iraq (Isis) and Nigeria (Boko Haram). In the process of trying to control territory, they are especially focusing on Christians. On Monday of this week we learned of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptics (Christians) in Libya. Earlier as the Isis militants moved from Syria eastward and northward in Iraq, they sought out Christians and beheaded or otherwise killed them. They slaughtered several hundred Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered to them.
It is hard for us to not be distressed when we hear and see beheadings and mass executions. We are seeing before our very eyes the fulfillment of what the scriptures teach: that we are contending with the powers and forces of evil! In fact, we are seeing manifestations of evil, slaughtering, the kidnaping of young girls and making sex-slaves of them—a thirst for blood and a delight in the suffering of others, exemplified by cutting off heads and showing all of this on international television. We wonder if matters can get any worse!
The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death, and that those who resist the will of God, on the one hand, can do great harm and on the other hand will suffer for their evil, and be eternally separated from the presence of God.
We must not be downcast and crying that we do not know what to do! God has warned us against the powers of evil and their effects. These powers and forces of evil are formidable. Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Revelation 12:17, “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” I think of a passage in Genesis, before the Flood: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) Surely we are seeing a similar thing in our day: the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.
Now what do we do? Do we despair? Do we give up praying? Do we give up studying and discerning what the scriptures teach? Do we remember Psalm 23? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” (23:4) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” (I Timothy1:7) We must be in prayer that God will give strength to those who are opposing Isis. We must honor the promises of God found in the Psalms and many places in the Bible that God will watch over us and protect us. Our Lord said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12,13)