The Spreading War on Terror
Trouble in Gaza, India and Lebanon.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
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This is another edition of the Bible in the News with Paul Billington of the Bible Magazine.
And of course, there is plenty of News for us to talk about--and the problem for us each week is in choosing which news story to focus on--because many of them in one way and another can be related to the Bible. This week for instance it had been my intention to comment on the visit of Pope Benedict to Spain, seeing this as part of the Vatican's overall strategy to coax Europe back to its Catholic roots.
As papers were being shuffled in preparation for THAT story a terrorist attack in India killed railway travelers--the numbers climbing up to somewhere around 200 people. That story would have followed on logically from our comments last week about India and her relations with Israel. While we were still trying to decide which of the two stories to go for--we were watching Israel's operation in Gaza, especially against Hamas; and then the next thing we know there is this attack by Hezbollah against Israel, as they operated from Lebanese territory--and the swift military response that is following from Israel, as they send in a of force warplanes, tanks, gunboats against Lebanon, and commence calling up reservists.
Well, with top news stories changing their focus daily like that, and sometimes even more quickly than that, you can understand that in a time of trouble like this--WHICH trouble do you focus on?
But there is a link that we become aware of--and that link is summed up by the word “Terrorism.” In most cases this is Islamic inspired terror--though the Indian blasts might be a little different, and seem to be concerned with a different issue.
Wherever we look today, there seems to be small militant groups who are determined to press their cause through violent means, and so we have a situation that parallels that concept spoken of by Jesus Christ, and recorded in Luke 21:25, 26. when he talked about:
"...distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken."
Those are words which fit most of these events. There was 9/11 in New York, the Madrid train bombings, the London train bombing, Iraq, and of course the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But there is no question that much of this terrorist violence has its roots in the Arab-Israeli dispute, and in the reaction of Islamic fundamentalists to the perceived support of the West for Israel. But in reality, the roots run deeper than that. Historians will trace the Islamic grievances against the Christian West, not just as far back as the collapse of the Islamic Ottoman Empire during World War I, but right back to the Crusades. And the Crusades--in case you have forgotten--were all about the control of the Holy Land, and its "Holy Places."
Who should administer these Holy Places and this Holy Land? Should it be the Orthodox Christians championed in later history by Russia? Should it be the Moslems of ISLAM-DOM? Should it be in the hands of the Jews--of the a Zionists and championed by the USA?
All this is below the surface of Islamic terrorism today. And it all contributes to the pieces of a complicated picture. The penetration of the so-called Christian world by Islamic peoples and their ideology today, is bound to bring about a reaction--especially from Rome.
A recent article in the Jerusalem Post, under the headline QUEST FOR RECIPROCITY, pointed out how the Catholic Church is now demanding that Islamic countries allow the same degree of tolerance to Catholics, as Catholics do to Muslims in Europe. The article said (quote)
"CATHOLIC DEMANDS for reciprocity have grown, especially since the accession of Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005, for whom Islam is a central concern. In February, the pope emphasized the need to respect "the convictions and religious practices of others so that, in a reciprocal manner, the exercise of freely-chosen religion is truly assured to all." The article went on:
"The widening disparity (in the exercise of tolerance) has caught the attention of the Church, which for the first time is pointing to radical Islam, rather than the actions of Israel, as the central problem facing Christians living with Muslims.
"Obtaining the same rights for Christians in Islamdom that Muslims enjoy in Christendom has become the key to the Vatican's diplomacy toward Muslims. This balanced, serious approach marks a profound improvement in understanding that could have implications well beyond the Church, given how many lay politicians heed its leadership in inter-faith matters. Should Western states also promote the principle of reciprocity, the results should indeed be interesting."
In short, the patience of the Vatican--and incidentally of both Russia and the West--towards Islamic fundamentalism and its violence, is showing signs of wearing thin. The Vatican has confronted Islam before, and is quite capable of doing so again if it is judged to be in the interests of the Church.
So as the world watches Israel's military operations in Gaza, and now in Lebanon, there is of course the customary call for 'restraint,' but at the same time many leaders are blaming Syria and Iran for this violence, rather than the usual outright condemnation of Israel. One other interesting voice worthy of note in this, is that of the Egyptian President.
According to an Associated Press Report: "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also indirectly criticized Syria, suggesting it disrupted his country's attempts to mediate a deal for Shalit's release" (That is the Israeli soldier now held in Gaza).
Criticism of Israel's actions are notably mooted, compared with the usual reaction to her military moves against terrorists--and one wonders just how far Israel will go this time. After an emergency meeting of the Israeli cabinet on Wednesday night, there was little being said, except that Israeli citizens would have to be resilient, and that this was a "new situation." There is speculation of Israel forming a national unity government, and it is reported that Israel is planning massive air raids over Lebanon. Certainly the atmosphere is sounding very war-like! So we will have to wait and see.
We have suggested more than once on this programme that something must happen in order to change the circumstances that have existed in Israel and the West Bank. Prophecy is quite clear about this. A different scene must eventually emerge, and this is discussed in the forthcoming issue of the Bible Magazine. The conditions described by Ezekiel must come eventually. We wonder, and we hope, that the present crisis may lead in that direction. It may be that we have to see a broader and wider confrontation with Islamic militants and their regime's first. Many situations are on the boil so to speak: Iran, Korea, Iraq and so on.
As we keep our eye on the news and relate it to the Bible, let us be prepared for that great event of all time--the coming of Christ. That is where all these things are leading, and it is our wisdom to prepare for that.
God willing we will talk more Bible in the News Next Week.
Printed: Wednesday, July 12, 2006
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