With an eye on the emerging humanitarian crisis in Gaza, I expressed, in a previous post, the conviction that “It is so important for followers of Christ to rise above partisan alignments and to pray and speak out for some measure of justice, mercy, and relief for both Jewish and Arab families…”
In response, one of the friends of this blog wrote, “The Bible tells us about a certain charismatic political leader… who will work for some kind of solution that will result in peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors… a peace that will enable the Jews to rebuild their Temple. Should we, the Body of Christ value his attempts? Sounds very scary to me…”
So, let’s take another look. While sounding like science fiction to some, and troubling others, it is an issue that was important to Jewish prophets (Daniel 9:27; 11:36), Jesus (Matt 24:14), and his apostles (2Thess 2). (pic from TV commercial spoof)
As many of us know, the church is divided in opinions about whether real followers of Christ will be around when the “man of sin” brings a false peace to the Middle East.
So in an effort to come together around an issue that divides us, I find it important to see that, as the New Testament warns its readers to be ready for the promised return of Jesus, it also offers reassuring words to followers of Christ who, already in the first century, were confused and alarmed about where they were in relation to “the last days”. Instead of writing in a way that increased their sense of fear, the Apostle Paul asked in his second letter to the Thessalonians, “Don’t you remember what I told you when I was still with you?” (2 Thess 2:5)
Reminding them of what he had already explained, he wrote,, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2Thess 2:2-3).
The Apostle went on to talk about the great deception that will come upon those “who are lost” and who have refused the truth that could have saved them (v 10).
Then, and I think this is so important to see, Paul encouraged his readers to take great confidence and comfort from their relationship with Christ (v 13-17). He contrasted them with those who had rejected the truth and who would therefore be vulnerable to the great lie of “the son of destruction” who will come.
The chapter ends with Paul’s “blessing”, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”
Seems to me that these words were written to calm unnecessary fears and prompt us to acts of faith and love rather than giving us an excuse to take sides and join in the inflamed rhetoric of a tragic, international conflict.
Worst case would be for us to use our own prophetic scenario either to divide us against ourselves, or to lure us into a self-protective partiality and detachment from the plight of anyone in the Middle East… or anywhere else.
Best case, I’m thinking, would be for us to be known as a people who find the kind of security in Christ that enables us, as we have occasion, to show love and good will to all.
When you get a chance, wish you’d indicate whether these thoughts resonate with your own thinking– or not… You can do this either with a thumbs up or thumbs down… or by registering and adding your comment to the end of the string. Don’t have to say a lot. Am just real interested in hearing where you are in your own thinking when it comes to your faith and the Middle East…