Monday, October 20, 2014

When Assassinations Become Entertainment

"I watched an assassination today,"  she said.

My head jerked upwards in shock, but she continued calmly swirling her spoon through the steaming bowl of soup as if she were merely speaking of the weather.

"It's not that I wanted to," she continued.  "It was just on Face book, and I couldn't believe the video would be of an actual assassination, so I clicked......and I just watched.

I sat astonished, not really knowing what to say.  Earlier in the day, I had prayed through an email from missionaries I know personally in the Middle East.  This couple reported how in a particular village where the UN has withdrawn, ISIS is methodically going house to house to all Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus.  So far, he said, "not one child has.  And so far all have consequently been killed.  But not the parents." 

This missionary couple begged prayers for courage, for the grace to be able to minister to those families whose children have been martyred for the cause of Christ, and for the faith to accept their own martyrdom if called to do so.

A militant Islamic group is beheading children.  Assassinations are being posted on Facebook alongside videos of cat tricks.  And I sit here helpless, asking the Lord for deliverance, for Him to be jealous for His name.  I ask the Lord, "who can make a difference?"

Lately, I have noticed a pattern in Scripture wherein a hopeless situation presents itself.  Then, either man or God, Himself, seeks for a righteous man to stand in the gap.

This happens when the prophet Isaiah receives his initial calling.  When he is transported into the presence of the Lord seated on his throne with the angels proclaiming His holiness, Isaiah is confronted with his sinfulness and the sinfulness of his people: "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips,And I live among a people of unclean lips" (Is. 6:4).  Yet, in the midst of this hopelessness, the Lord seeks one to go to the people of Israel with a message of both warning and of hope: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" (Is. 6:8).

Here, the Lord seeks and Isaiah responds as a willing man of God to stand in the gap for his people.

Later in Isaiah, though, the Lord seeks one righteous enough to stand in the gap--not to merely warn or offer a message of hope, but to be hope itself, to reconcile Himself to mankind...but He finds no one: "Now the LORD saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.  And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede" " (Is. 59:15-16).

This is very similar to when the Lord told Jeremiah to look for a righteous man in Jerusalem but found no one: "Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, And look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, If you can find a man, If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, Then I will pardon her" (Jer. 5:1-3).

In Isaiah 59, though, God provides a solution: "Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him" (Is. 59:16).

A few chapters later, God's search for one righteous enough to redeem His people occurs again in much the same language: "I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me" (Is. 63:5).

In the two verses above, there is none righteous enough, none just enough, none who seeks truth enough to intercede for the people, so God says his "own arm brought salvation," a reference to Messiah who alone is able to bring salvation for His people.

There was none righteous to deliver mankind from the sinful mess and devastation he has made of this world.  And so, God sent His son because He alone is "mighty to save" (Is. 63:1). He is the only mediator worthy enough to bridge the great divide between a holy God and sinful man.

In John's vision in Revelation, he witnessed this same search at the end of time: "I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals' And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders *said to me, 'Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.' And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain"  (Rev. 5:1-6, 9).

The response to this lamb is immediate worship: "And they *sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation'" (v. 9).

This lamb, this Messiah--He is our only hope for deliverance both from our sin and from the evils of this world.  Our response should be to worship Him, to seek Him for salvation, for deliverance both on this earth and in eternity.

It is an understatement to say I am devastated at the daily massacre of Christians around the world--especially of children who profess the name of Jesus.  I feel helpless.  And so I do the only thing I can--I pray to the one who can intervene on their behalf.  

Join me this week in concentrating your prayers on the Middle East.  Pray that God would keep our hearts from being desensitized just because this is happening on the other side of the globe.  Pray for God to work in a miraculous way to deliver His people.  

Pray for God to be jealous for His name.

No comments:

Post a Comment