14/7/11 Isaiah 19-21; Hebrews 11
S: Isaiah 19:24-25 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
O: In the midst of Isaiah pronouncing God's judgement on the nations, suddenly we see here this passage. Two of Israel's big enemies are promised that they will turn to God and be saved, and God shall call them His people as well.
History in fact shows this to have already happened, at least to some extent. The Coptic church in Egypt and the Chaldean church in Assyria have existed since the early centuries after Christ.
A: This is a timely reminder. Even as we are busy fighting for democracy here in Malaysia, and we've witnessed the atrocities that the Malaysian government has committed on its peaceful citizens at the BERSIH 2.0 pro-democracy rally, and over 180,000 people have already petitioned for Prime Minister Najib to resign, we must keep in mind that God doesn't take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their wicked ways and live. (Ezekiel 18:23)
I recently read the classic novel Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero1. One of the side stories is of this scoundrel named Chilo. He had earlier in his life betrayed a Christian named Glaucus to bandits, causing the death of his family. Chilo thought Glaucus also died, but he survived.
When, in the course of a private-investigator-type-job, Chilo had to infiltrate the Christians in Rome, to his horror, he discovered Glaucus there. He was afraid that Glaucus would expose him, so he tried to convince Ursus, a big and strong but not very smart Christian, to kill Glaucus. He told Ursus that it was a secret mission from the bishops, that Glaucus was actually an agent of Nero and was going to betray the Christians to death.
As I read that passage, I was so filled with righteous indignation at Chilo, and I wanted to see him found out and punished or killed.
Fortunately, before Ursus could carry out the deed, he found out the truth. Chilo then was afraid that the Christians would now kill him. But the attitude of the Christians was not revenge, but rather, a desire for his salvation! I was ashamed of my own reaction.
The people who are against us are not our enemies – they're the victims of our true enemy, the devil. They are people for whom Christ died.
So we need to pray for Najib, for Muhyddin, for Hishamuddin and not against them. Jesus called us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48)
P: Father, in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, You told us to pray for those in political authority. In Ezekiel, You told us that You would rather the wicked repent rather than die. Help me keep this attitude and to love them rather than to hate them, even as I oppose their evil deeds. In Jesus' name, amen.
1. Its copyright has expired, so you can download it for free here. I highly recommend this novel – it's a bit slow getting started, but gripping once underway.