Over the next two months, the world will watch an angry old man and an angry old woman stand on a stage and make blanket statements about what should be done with millions of people from another country. That wouldn’t be such a big deal were it not for the fact that one of those angry people will (likely) be president of the United States. Now all of a sudden it’s a very big deal.
Below is text taken from a post on the r/Reformed subreddit, created by one of its stellar posters, Pastor Jeremy Horneck (Grace Baptist Church in Wisconsin):
“Let me share some quotes from the leaders of Assyria some 3,000 years ago.
I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land [and] draped their skins over the walls.
In strife and conflict I besieged [and] conquered the city. I felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword … I captured many troops alive: I cut off of some their arms [and] hands; I cut off of others their noses, ears, [and] extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I made one pile of the living [and] one of heads. I hung their heads on trees around the city.
I cut their throats like lambs. I cut off their precious lives (as one cuts) a string. Like the many waters of a storm, I made (the contents of) their gullets and entrails run down upon the wide earth. My prancing steeds harnessed for my riding, plunged into the streams of their blood as (into) a river. The wheels of my war chariot, which brings low the wicked and the evil, were bespattered with blood and filth. With the bodies of their warriors I filled the plain, like grass. (Their) testicles I cut off, and tore out their privates like the seeds of cucumbers.
Surely these wicked people were worthy of the most brutal of punishment. Certainly God would command his people to do whatever they could to secure their borders from raiding Assyrians. Of course, God would expect his beloved children to do whatever they could to avoid contact with them.
Here’s what God said about the Assyrians:
Jonah 1:1 “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.'”
[Some pretty fantastic attempts by Jonah to preserve himself can be found in the rest of the chapter and the next one.]
Jonah 3:1 “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,a three days’ journey in breadth.b 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.”
Jonah 4:1 “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,a and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Do you know where Ninevah and Assyria were? Modern day northern Iraq and Syria. Can you think of anyone who operates up there with a penchant for beheading and mutilation? You can even forget about the perpetrators of this violence. How about the masses who are forced to flee from them? How should we respond to them? What would God desire?
Be less afraid of welcoming terrorists to our country than you are excited about sharing the gospel with them.”
As the Lord has worked in my heart over the past year, one revelation I had was how contradictory it was for Christians in the West to have such drastic self-preservation tendencies. I’d never really thought about it before, but after a while it was blatantly obvious:
IF we as Christians believe that our souls are secure in Christ by grace through faith (both in life and in death), AND those who are not in Christ are therefore separated from Christ (both in life and in death), THEN why do so many American Christians (myself past self included) feel their desire to kill/keep out non-Christians is justified because of their fear of death?
Perhaps it’s because we don’t truly believe the things that are said about the place to which we’re going upon death. If we did, self-preservation would seem, well, illogical. I mean, for non-Christians like the two mentioned in the beginning self-preservation is the only hope they have, so it’s completely logical. But for the covenant community? Not at all. Let’s look at some verses.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. –1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The modern American obsession with (the illusion of) freedom stems from a sinful desire that’s been around since Adam & Eve ate the fruit: the desire to be equal, and therefore separate, from God. Even after constantly rejection by His people, God sent His Son to pay debt created by our sin. So that price is paid, we’re released from the debtors prison, and we’re free to go on our merry way, right? Well, not exactly.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin,have become slaves of righteousness. –Romans 6:17-18
Whether it’s in modern worship or teaching or Christian sayings, people tend to think that Jesus moved us from slavery into freedom, when that’s not totally accurate. Jesus moved us from slavery to slavery (Paul clarifies his analogy in verse 19, making sure we don’t picture the human practice of slavery). We don’t belong to ourselves. We belong to the Father, and we eagerly await our full unity with Him. But what do we do while we’re here?
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. –Philippians 1:21-23
It’s good Paul clarifies that we are to live for Christ while in our current state. Otherwise we’d have the world’s biggest suicide cult going on. But then he says that “to die is gain”. That’s pretty clear. Not a lot of explanation needed there. So then why the fear of death if death would be even more beneficial? Shouldn’t the thought of millions of Musilm refugees COMING TO US be way more exciting than any sort of fear of death?
Peace and love. Thanks for tuning in.