Unless one has had their head in the sand in 2014, no one can deny this year has been a perilous year and the horizon isn’t looking any brighter. With all that has happened in recent months, there is no greater threat to peace and no greater manifestation of evil than the establishment and spread of the Islamic State. One commentator identified IS as the “antichrist of terrorist organizations.” I agree.
With no regard for the sanctity of life, IS savages employ barbaric tactics as they abuse, mar, enslave, rape, gun down, and behead image-bearers of God. The spirit of antichrist controls these brutal beasts, who will stop at nothing to bring the globe under their black flag of terror.
Americans are outraged at the beheading of American journalist James Foley. But the heinous murder of Foley is only the latest of war crimes committed by the Islamic State. Thousands of Syrians and Iraqis have been slaughtered by IS as these Muslim fundamentalists continue their march to conquer desert lands to re-establish the Caliphate. But Americans, especially American Christians, need to know that IS will not limit their terror campaign to the Middle East. This is not merely a civil war in Syria or Iraq. We can’t just “let them kill themselves” as isolationists espouse. They have a global vision, and have promised to attack Americans everywhere.
IS has promised us bombs and explosives, to divide America in two, to drown Americans in our own blood, and to fly the black flag over the White House. And, according to the propaganda statements in the Foley video (here’s an edited version sans beheading provided by Herman Cain), they threaten to murder another journalist and make good on their attacks against Americans if the U.S. does not stop its air strikes in Iraq. Just check out this 5-part documentary if you want to be better apprised on the Islamic State and their re-establishment of the Caliphate: The Spread of the Caliphate: The Islamic State
When I say the horizon isn’t looking any brighter, I am not being an alarmist. There are treacherous waters ahead indeed. The way I see it, there are really only a couple of possible scenarios worth considering for the near future. Either the United States continues to be weak in our response to the IS savages and they will continue to succeed in bringing nations into subjection of the Islamic State (including the United States and its allies); or, the United States with its allies will “extract this cancer” (to use President Obama’s language) by waging full-scale war against the easily-identifiable Islamic State.
With the above two scenarios, each results in terrorism on the U.S. homeland – the first due to complacency, the second due to waging war against the Islamic State. Either way, the threat of terrorism is high in the coming days, and the potential for the world to totally spin out of control is very real.
I actually believe the Islamists are baiting the United States into war. They want nothing more than to provoke the U.S. to war against the Islamic State. War will embolden IS, now formally supported by Al Qaeda, to attack Americans for any U.S. war on Muslim lands (as they see it). So one might argue we don’t need to provoke the Islamists in fear of retaliation. However, it would be cowardice not to act swiftly and relentlessly to destroy the carriers of the black flag.
I take this position because I believe in justice and the protection of innocents. I believe my government is to protect its citizens and punish evildoers. The Islamic State is an immediate threat to men, women, and children everywhere, and they must be stopped. Although it would be very costly to wage war against the Islamic State, it will be more costly not to do so.
So what can American Christians be doing in the face of dangerous days ahead? We need to take this threat seriously, and we need to be praying for our leadership. We need to firstly pray for the salvation of our leaders, but also to do what’s necessary to defend Americans and others in their care. It is a matter of righteousness and stewardship that our government protects its citizenry.
Secondly but not inferiorly, American Christians must awaken from our slumber to be the strong Gospel witness we are called to be. Now is not the time to be complacent in our faith. It is not the time to be caught up in the things of the world, to be distracted by things that waste our time and energy, or to turn a blind eye to the world’s problems. We must pray for God to give us boldness that we would shine brightly in the dark world around us. We need to seize every opportunity to boldly proclaim the Gospel and to point people to Jesus through our daily walk and acts of mercy. We need to expose the works of darkness and declare righteousness in the face of evil. We need to encourage one another to be steadfast in our hope in Jesus Christ, to keep pressing on toward the Prize, and to resist every temptation that would lead us to sin. We must wage war, dear Christian, putting on the whole armor of God each and every day. And as we put on the whole armor of God, let us remember to pray for our brethren who are being threatened by the sword because of their allegiance to Jesus.
Thirdly, we need to remember that God is in control. He is working all things for the Christian’s good. Even as Christ’s people are being persecuted around the world, the Lord is with them and will be their Avenger. This fact compels me all the more to pray Jesus would return to set all things aright. Christ will answer the prayer of His people, and He will execute justice against all who have persecuted His children.
Fourthly, pray for our enemies. Even these Islamic terrorists are not beyond the merciful hand of God. Pray the Gospel would reach their ears, that they might be set free from the power of Satan and the bondage of sin. While they deserve earthly justice for their crimes against humanity, let’s pray there might be some who humble themselves to the God who offers mercy to even the greatest of sinners, lest they face the eternal wrath of God and receive the justice they truly deserve for their crimes against their Creator.
Finally, I encourage the reader to be sure that you are in right standing before God. These are precarious days, and none of us know the day we will face the Judge of all the earth. Do not play games with your eternity, and make haste to know how you can receive God’s merciful salvation by visiting DoYouKnowHIM.info. For Jesus will not only take vengeance against those who afflict His people, but He will also inflict eternal destruction upon all who do not know God and have refused to obey His Gospel:
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
There is no doubt the days ahead will come with great uncertainty. American Christians have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to be a faithful witness to those in our immediate sphere of influence. The Lord will providentially place people in our lives who will be scared and looking for answers. Be strong in the Lord and anxious for nothing. Always be ready to give a reason for the Hope that is within you, and pray you might have many opportunities to do just that in the coming days. Whatever evil we face, we have nothing to fear for God is our strength and the Rock of our salvation.
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!