Defeating ISIS. It’s in every news report, on every politician’s agenda and on the mind of every person in the civilized world. What’s the solution? Air strikes? Boots on the ground? Intelligence? Sanctions? So far, many powerful countries have unleashed all of the above and haven’t been able to eradicate the evil of ISIS. There is a solution, and it can be found in the history books; but especially from one Book.
Around 1150 BC, China’s Chou Dynasty was just emerging. Egypt’s power was beginning to decline after the reigns of the Ramses kings and King Tutankhamen. Tiglath-Peleser I was ruling the not yet powerful Assyrian Empire. And the kingdom of Israel was busy fighting several enemies — namely, themselves.
We find historical accounts of Israel’s woes in the biblical book of Judges. There we read of war, servitude and victory, against neighboring enemies Aram, Moab, Midian, Shechem, Ammon and many more, ruled by kings whose names are nearly unpronounceable. The skirmishes, however, are not what is surprising. Look at the repetition. In Judges Chapter 2, look at Verses 11 and 17. In Chapter 3, Verses 7 and 12. Chapter 4, Verse 1. Chapter 6, Verses 1 and 10. And Chapter 10, Verses 6-8 and 13-14. They all say the same thing: “The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Immediately following those verses, we see the consequences of that “evil”: their nation conquered, residents captured, enslaved, and killed. And it happens over and over again.
What “evil” did the Israelites do to incur the wrath of God? What could so enrage a loving God that he would abandon his favorite people? We find the answer in Judges 2: The Israelites disobeyed God by intermarrying with foreigners and adopting their pagan gods. They broke God’s covenant. See, God is not only a loving God, but a jealous one as well.
What we learn from this is the key to defeating ISIS. The U.S.A. has enjoyed freedom and international esteem as the most powerful nation on earth. Why? Because it was founded on Christian principles. We had the support of the Almighty on our side! But things are changing. Christianity in the U.S. is fading. Mainline denominations have seen a steady decline in membership since the 1950s. Prayer is no longer allowed in schools. Public places are no longer allowed to display Christian symbols, like the Ten Commandments. Faith is giving way to personal enjoyment and instant gratification. Many in the “me” generation defiantly consider themselves in control; as god of their own world, they no longer need Jesus, and our “gods” are now Facebook, iPods, Wall Street and self-serving liberal lifestyles. Are we doing evil in the sight of our Lord? Is our jealous God about to turn his back on us? Are we about to be conquered, become enslaved and die bloody, savage deaths?
But it doesn’t have to be like this. In II Chronicles 7:14 God says: “… if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Therein lies the solution. We must change our focus. We must seek the presence of God again. Jesus Christ must be our priority, not money or control or friends or anything else. Our strength as a nation depends not upon wealth or a powerful army, but upon God. He alone is in control.
If you haven’t already, find a church that proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He is our only hope; for God alone, in his omnipotence and mercy, can defeat ISIS.
The writer is the pastor of the Sidney First Presbyterian Church.