A Time To Fight
By: Jim O'Brien
There are conversations that can remain etched in one's memory for years. The words, intonations, and even the silence can stay with you, resurfacing long after time and events have passed. For me, one such conversation was a luncheon with a Holocaust survivor. He was born in Holland during Hitler's rise to power, and at the tender age of five, he woke up to find his country occupied by Nazi soldiers. Being Jewish, he was separated from his father, never to see him again. He and his mother were sent to a concentration camp where he spent five years before being released and sent to a Kibbutz in Israel.
As we sat across from each other at an elegant restaurant, he recounted his life story, leaving me mesmerized. We were surrounded by the luxuries of liberty and aware that his children and grandchildren were beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by previous generations.
Then he said something that astounded me. He believed that it would be better to let the Muslims have their way and stop fighting them. He said, "After all, there are synagogues in Iran today where Jews can worship." I was speechless. Here was a man whose father was murdered by Nazis, who had been uprooted from his home and loved ones, lived in a concentration camp, and a Kibbutz, now advocating for appeasement. I was torn between compassion for his suffering and anger at the lack of passion to preserve freedom for future generations.
I shared this experience with my Thursday morning coffee group, and a member who grew up in France offered her perspective. She said, "You Americans don't realize how protected you are. You don't understand what it's like to live in Europe. I grew up during War World 2, the Korean War, and the Algerian War. There was always war for us! We (the French) warned you not to get involved in Viet Nam. We were there first. And then Muslims began invading our country, so life has been a never-ending fight. America has been insulated from war by two oceans, and you don't comprehend the frustration with always fighting."
Her words reminded me of conversations I had with rape victims during my time in ministry. In some cases, the attackers viciously beat the women until they reached a mental stage where they said, "I'm going to die anyway. Do what you want but stop beating me and let me live." My friend from France was describing the emotion of an entire nation that has seen too much death and destruction. When will it end? Is there anything that can bring an end to the pain?
It brought to mind the Garden of Eden. God knew that there was an adversary who would relentlessly attack, never stopping. He put the first two humans in a place of protection, but they chose to listen to the enemy. They thought he was the enemy of God, but he was their enemy. They believed he wasn't that bad and that showing him kindness would change him. But he was far worse than they could have imagined.
So, these two humans chose slavery to the enemy, and the human race was consigned to the same fate. Eventually, some humans cried out to God for relief, and God, who is merciful, offered protection to the sons of Israel. It worked for a while, but they too listened to the adversary, and protection was lost, and they became slaves. This cycle repeated itself for Israel.
I sense that the United States is about to go through a similar experience. Our nation was founded as a place of protection for various religious groups, such as the Puritans, Quakers, and Huguenots. Almost without exception, those who came prior to 1750 were looking for a New World.
The concept of a New World is not only a recurring theme in the Bible, but also a core principle of the Christian faith. This promise will be fully realized when Jesus Christ returns to the earth, and ushers in the millennial reign of our true King, establishing the Kingdom of God.
The Bible concludes with a glorious vision of this promise, as revealed to the Apostle John: "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God'" (Revelation 21:2-3).
This verse is not coincidentally placed in the second to last chapter of the Bible. Rather, it represents the culmination of God's Plan—to create a place of refuge where man can live in peace and worship the God who created us.
Until next time,
March 17, 2023
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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