We Worked in Jerusalem
Aunt Beatrice was a fund of folksy proverbs that she tried to
teach us as children. 'Every cloud has a silver lining,' she'd say. 'Least
said, soonest mended,' she'd tell us. She was wrong about other things as
Which reminds us of George W. Bush. 'Islam is a religion
that preaches peace,' he stated. As one George to another (George A. writing
this bit), sorry pardon, but you should sack your script writer. Okay, we know
you were in damage control mode, trying to discourage lynch mobs from taking out
law-abiding Moslems across the US of A.
But Islam preaches peace?
Perhaps we missed something.
The other quote from George W. was calculated to raise our
hackles and cause us to emit low growls. (We learned the gesture from Lucy, our
hyperactive huntaway; it speaks volumes.)
He said: 'If you're not for us, you're against us.'
For the United States or for terrorism.
Okay, that's the stuff headlines and sound bytes are made
of. (Can't you imagine the Jerusalem Post headlines after the Sermon on
the Mount: 'Doing Good Beats Being Bad' Local Rabbi Advises.)
And if we stop to think - (if!) - we'll realise that
speeches are mere morale boosters. The real negotiations, trade deals,
sweeteners, threats, are in secret, behind closed doors.
But we're the man in the street. We're not encouraged to
think. Except that this time...
...the question dangles: how can one be 'for' America?
Sure, we can partially understand being 'against' terrorism. (Until we
ponder the toleration of terrorism that allows Arafat, Gaddafi and Saddam
Hussein to ply their trade. 'Acceptable risk' is the phrase diplomats use in
For America? Define 'America'.
The land mass? The political system? The breakaway people who
described their anarchic repudiation of British rule as 'a new nation,
conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created
What about its media manipulation and dumbing down of news?
What about the mind-corroding effect of its entertainment? What about the way it
has made covetousness an art-form?
How would God see the package deal that is labelled 'America'?
Now we're getting somewhere.
Remember Joshua? No, this isn't a change of subject. This
is spot-on relevant.
Remember Joshua? On the eve of his carefully planned assault
on Jericho. Always a tense time for commanders. It's a quiet night, so he
leaves his tent and picks his way carefully through the boulder-strewn moonlit
wadi for a final look at tomorrow's battleground.
Suddenly he is confronted by 'a man with a drawn sword'.
Joshua's challenge rings out: 'Are you for us or against us?'
And the reply is a laconic 'No'. It's not either/or.
Read the story in Joshua chapter 5. This man - (man?) - is captain of the Lord's
army. If Joshua wants to stay healthy, he'd better align with him, not the
other way round.
So what's all that to do with America?
Simply that when disaster struck on that fateful 11th of
September, countless Christians felt that Revelation 18 - the destruction of
Babylon - was being foreshadowed, if not fulfilled.
What is Babylon?
Boil down all the books and sermons on Babylon and its
significance into one simple little sentence:
Babylon is where the Jews were held captive.
And where is the greatest concentration of Jews outside of
the state of Israel?
In America. Specifically in New York.
Don't try and tell us they aren't captives, that they're
free to go anyplace, anytime.
They are captive to the American Dream. The almighty dollar.
The next million. The ultimate in materialistic and humanistic seduction.
And God's purpose is to move them on.
'Hold on,' somebody will say. 'Aren't you just
jealous of their success?'
Possibly. It's easy enough to condemn something that's
out of reach for ourselves. But either God has a specific destiny for his people
or he hasn't. If he has, then what is it? If he has, then learn from the
events in Germany during the Thirties.
And perhaps America isn't exactly where God wants his
people to be, as of now. Perhaps 'come out of her, my people' is a command
that should be taken seriously.
We can almost hear the protests from the sentimentalists. 'But
what about the fate of all those six thousand innocent victims?'
We're fundamentalists - if that isn't a swear word. We
believe that events in the Bible happened the way the book says. So go back and
read some of the stories. Happily ever after is the stuff fairytales are made
of; real life is blood and guts - especially when God gets in on the act. There is
a happy ending up ahead - read all about it! - but there's some shocking
drama prior to that.
Because God is playing for high stakes. And catastrophes and
plagues and massacres are all part of the plot.
And look: don't be too quick to bewail the fate of innocent
victims. 'Innocent' isn't a term that God throws around much. Read some of
the sheep and goats parables, the judgement of the nations. What got some folk
sent off? Being in the wrong nation.
Consider the times when God ordered the destruction of every
last man, woman, child and animal - just for being part of the wrong community.
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can mean we're tainted. Jericho was
probably a neat place for a holiday; then came the day when God ordered its
destruction, and only the friendly Ms. Rahab and her family survived.
No, we don't approve of the dark mischief of those who
planned and carried out the attack on the United States. But we're old enough
to remember the universal excuse to justify all manner of inefficiency and laissez
faire during WWII: 'Don't you know there's a war on?' In other
words, we're so busy with the national emergency, there's simply no time to
put right any lesser problems.
We just hope - and pray - that America will realise that the
Arab world can justify much of its dislike of the U.S., and make a genuine
attempt to clean up its act both at home and in what it brashly purveys to the
rest of the world.
And may God's people, Jews and Christians alike, take
serious thought to their environment and its pressures, because this might - we're
only saying might - be the start of something big.
There's always just enough time to change. But only just.