Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, 3/9/03
"The Lord will settle international disputes. All the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. All wars will stop, and military training will come to an end. Come, people of Israel, let us walk in the light of the Lord!" (Isa. 2:4).
For the past six weeks, we have continued our discussion of Second Hand Religion, by which I mean that "Old Time Religion," passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, dating back to the Law of Moses. Religion adds Christ to the mix, but as the Apostle Paul indicated would happen when you try to mix law and grace, the end result is a dismal failure (Rom. 4:13; Gal 2:21). Only those born on the "good" side of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, can keep up appearances, but like all the rest, they fail miserably to find unconditional love, peace, joy and anything else resembling life in the Spirit. That brings me to today's topic: I have been extremely troubled in my spirit about the seemingly inevitable war with Iraq. I wrote this on 03/03/03, an important date to some. I had half a dozen e-mail exhortations to pray on this date. Prayer is good, as a conversation with our Father always builds us up, but the e-mails didn't stop at that. There was a long laundry list of things to ask for, the upshot of which was that we, the good guys, get victory over the bad guys, anyone who opposes us. It reminded me of a humorous comment I read recently, "The only time I talk to God is as a consultant." Does He really need me to tell Him what to do? And if millions of people tell Him to do something, i.e., subjugate our enemies, will He do it? No! The Kingdom of heaven is NOT a democracy. It is a Theocracy where our God reigns! It is ludicrous and insulting to tell our Father to move over, because we want to sit on the throne.
And while I'm at it, let me say that I am extremely distressed at the inference that those who think war is not the answer, therefore, do not support our troops. That is illogical thinking by any standards you care to name, because it is not the troops who decided to go to war, but the Commander in Chief himself who has remained adamant that we will go to war whether any other nation joins us or not. This is not a foray into politics, because that's not where I'm coming from. It is a way to ask the question, so beloved of many, "What would Jesus do?"
For starters, He died for the sins of the whole world, and yes, that would include Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Here's what Jesus actually said: "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:44-48, NIV).
A phone conversation with a friend last week proved to be a burr under my saddle, the catalyst for this writing. After telling me what a bad man, Saddam Hussein is, as if anyone would not know that, he asked, "If we don't get him, then who will?" The question astounds me coming from a devout bible believing man like this friend, for it really means, "If we don't take care of him, then God is powerless to deal with him." Talk about putting man on the throne, rather than God. Perhaps my friend and some of you have forgotten about Nebuchadnezzar, the original Bad Boy from Baghdad, to whom Daniel said by the Spirit, "Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth" (Dan. 4:22). Unlike Saddam Hussein, a modern day Babylonian thug in his own country, Nebuchadnezzar really did have power over the known world at that time. He was "the lord high everything else" in the region. There was no USA to send troops to subdue him; no United Nations to reign him in.
God did NOT wring His hands about what to do there. First, He gave the king a dream about a tree which grew clear up to heaven and was so big it could be seen throughout the earth (Dan. 4:20). When his magicians, enchanters and astrologers were asked, they had no clue what the dream meant. God gave Daniel the interpretation, which frightened him, as it would anyone who had to deliver this bad news to such a ruthless and cruel potentate: He said, "This is the sense of it, O King, and it is the decision of the Most High which has come on my lord the king: That they will send you out from among men, to be with the beasts of the field; they will give you grass for your food like the oxen, and you will be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven times will go by you, till you are certain that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men, and gives it to any man at his pleasure" (Vs. 24-25).
It happened exactly as Daniel said (Vs. 33), and I think you'll agree that God's solution to the problem of a cruel and dangerous pagan dictator far surpasses tanks, guns, smart bombs and even diplomacy. No Israeli lost his life in this regime change, nor any Babylonian either. God made His decision, carried it out, and as always happens when He goes into action, the result was exactly what He intended.
After it was over, Nebuchadnezzar said of the experience, "And at the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifting up my eyes to heaven, got back my reason, and, blessing the Most High, I gave praise and honor to him who is living for ever, whose rule is an eternal rule and whose kingdom goes on from generation to generation...."Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give worship and praise and honor to the King of heaven; for all his works are true and his ways are right: and those who go in pride he is able to make low" (Vs. 34,37).
If we do what Jesus would do, should we not then pray that Saddam Hussein would see God as He is? Nebuchadnezzar spent years totally insane, beyond Prozac, beyond Paxil, and way beyond St. John's Wart. Saddam Hussein, probably suffers from megalomania, a delusional exaggeration of his own importance. He told Dan Rather in a recent CBS interview that he had won the Gulf War! Hello? He is a thoroughly rotten slime bag, but, is he too tough for God's love to conquer?
As the saying goes, "in for a penny, in for a pound." I have been trying to suppress this writing for days now, but it has to come out, so here goes.
It comes to me that those who want to annihilate Saddam Hussein and his supporters, are firm believers in hell fire and eternal punishment. They may not all agree on the rules for getting saved (part of the problem), but they all agree on what happens to the unsaved, a category which surely includes Saddam Hussein and most of the Arab world as well.
Many of you have had the revelation of God's ultimate reconciliation of all, of the overwhelming, unsurpassed power of His unconditional love, and it is only with this revelation that we can possibly love our enemies, and only then by the indwelling Spirit. Those who believe in Eternal Torment are living by law. No, they don't sacrifice bulls and goats, but they live by rules, doctrines, and creeds, believing that anyone who fails to follow these rules is bound for hell. They have pushed the kingdom of God into the future, waiting for some eschatological event to begin Christ's reign on earth, thus missing His power and glory in their lives, available right now! All who live by law have fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4), and only God can restore them to intimate fellowship by divine revelation of His unconditional love. Christ has set us free from the yoke of bondage, the elemental spirits which held us captive until Christ came (Col. 2:20; Gal. 4:3,9; 5:1).
Jesus died for our sins, "... and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2). Some still think He died only for those in their church, and no one else will get to glory. But if you really believe that all sinners will burn in an everlasting hell, shouldn't you spend your energy and resources leading people to Christ so they could gain heaven, rather than bombing them into hell before their time? Our dear friends, Bettie and Marvin Cope, sent me an article by a preacher and author, Tony Campolo, which confirmed the unction I felt to write this journal.
He made the statement that a war with Iraq will set mission work back 1000 years. He wrote, "I was asked quite simply, in a debate, "What do you suggest as an alternative? I mean, Saddam Hussein is a crazy man, he is a threat to civilization, how do you stop him?" Has anybody ever thought about doing things the way Jesus told us to do them?
"We've embargoed Iraq for the last 10 years. A half a million children in Iraq under the age of 12 have died as a direct result of that embargo, either from malnutrition of from lack of medicine. Here's the foreign policy I would suggest: end the embargo! The Bible says if your enemy hungers, ...what? ....feed him. If he's naked, clothe him, if he's sick, care for him (Rom. 12:20).
"Nothing would destroy the authority of Saddam Hussein more than if we Christians provided a massive relief program of food and medicine to the people of Iraq. And if we are going to pave the way for missionary enterprise, we have got to do that. I don't know who's going to do it; but somebody's got to organize the Christian community, and say we're going to load up freighters with food and medicine, and we're going to send them to Iraq, and we dare the US Navy to stop us.
"When we try to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, you say "You can't overcome Saddam Hussein that way." I believe in Jesus, and Jesus says, "Overcome evil with [good]" (Rom. 12:21). End Quote.
The friend I mentioned earlier, inferred that I am a "bleeding heart Liberal," which I did not much like, until I realized that Christ was the original bleeding heart Liberal! Think about it! He was "soft on crime," (if they take your coat, give them your cloak also, Matt. 5:40); He was against the death penalty (He canceled our death sentence, nailing it to the cross, Rom. 6:23; Col. 2:14), and He gave His life for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). Religious Conservatives never approved of Him, and even now, only give lip service to what He taught, but what I am saying goes far beyond Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, Christian or Muslim. It goes beyond the debate over whether we should go to war, or not. This is why I call this writing, The Kingdom Option. John the Baptist came to announce that the Kingdom was at hand (Matt. 3:2). Jesus said, "The Kingdom comes not with observation for it is within you" (Luke 17:20). Then, as now, neither guns, nor tanks, nor bombs, smart or stupid, will bring the kingdom of God to earth, nor peace to the Middle East, for none of these weapons has ever brought peace to anyone, anywhere. Only love, peace, and the glory of God reflected in His sons will draw men and women into the Kingdom.
The Crusades, organized religion's war on Islam, set Christianity back more than a thousand years, and in fact, is a big part of the problem in the Middle East today. Christ admonished us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Lk. 6:27), which surely includes the Iraqi people and the Palestinian people.
Tony Campolo goes on to say, "Let me lay it on you: You don't get rid of terrorism by killing terrorists, anymore than you get rid of malaria by killing mosquitoes. You get rid of malaria by getting rid of the swamps that breed those mosquitoes. You don't get rid of terrorists by killing terrorists, because it only creates more terrorists, does it not? You get rid of terrorists by dealing with the poverty and the humiliation that Arab peoples have had to endure. It's time that we stand up and speak as peacemakers in the world. We are called to a ministry of reconciliation . .." End Quote.
About our call to reconciliation, Paul wrote, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (II Cor. 5:18-20, RSV).
All the world longs for peace, but as Ezekiel said so long ago, "...because they have misled my people, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace; and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets daub it with whitewash" (Ezek. 13:10). Today, not only the prophets, but also the politicians daub the walls with whitewash, i.e., political spin. A prime example of that is the term, "collateral damage," with which our military leaders whitewash the slaughter of innocent civilians.
Sons of God, do we believe what we proclaim, or are we, like the Pharisees, merely whited sepulchers, hiding dead men's bones?
The Kingdom of God is wherever our God reigns. Can you think of a place where He does not? In spite of duplicity, betrayal, power mongering, lust for control and greed, our God reigns from Baghdad to Washington DC, from Pyongyang to the Cape of Good Hope.
When the Sons of God are manifested, Zechariah proclaimed, we will be speaking peace to the heathen (Zech. 9:10). Do you believe that, or do you think it is just religious rhetoric? Religion depends on our actions, our faith, but the Kingdom depends only upon the zeal of the Lord of Hosts (Isa. 9:7). Whether or not you believe it, our God reigns, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed so that all flesh will see it together (Isa. 40:5). I will be the first to admit that I have had to speak peace to the heathen within Jan, before I could speak peace to the ones out there. I had a vision once, where I saw the mighty hand of God, holding a fire hose, cleansing the temple (myself) of all the debris and "dead men's bones." When He finished, the back wall fell away and I beheld a beautiful green meadow, with the River of the Water of Life flowing through it. He invited me to get into the water, which I did; it was peaceful, life-giving, and serene as it flowed toward the Throne of God . This is the same living water that flows from the Throne, through us, and out to the hungry world. Come join me in this River as we speak peace to the heathen, wherever we find them: in ourselves, in our family, in our church, in our school, in all the world. Choose the Kingdom Option, because, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). God is on His Throne and everything is under His control. And all God's sons say, "Amen." Jan Antonsson To be continued......
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO, 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Second Hand Religion, Part I"
"Statement of Faith, Second Hand Religion, Part II"
"Beyond the Veil, Second Hand Religion, Part III"
"Risen from the Dead, Second Hand Religion, Part IV"
"Anointing the Lord, Second Hand Religion, Part V"
"All things under His power, Second Hand Religion, Part VI"
"My Father's House, Second Hand Religion, VIII"
"Connected to the Vine, Second Hand Religion, IX"
"Chosen by God," Second Hand Religion, X"
"Labor Pains, Second Hand Religion, XI"
"Coming Home, Second Hand Religion, XII"
"A New Beginning, Second Hand Religion, XIII"
"Declaring the end from the beginning, Second Hand Religion, XIV"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 3/7/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/21/08.