Looking at Syria through a Prophetic Perspective

Regarding the situation in Syria, I find this passage from Jeremiah particularly apt:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:1-2)

God might as well be saying all this to Bashar al-Assad and to the leaders of Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia who amplified the civil war in Syria.  Bashar had a responsibility to lead his people well, but he has been and continues to use his authority for evil, even going so far as to wage chemical warfare on his own citizens.  Perhaps one day God will soon attend to Bashar for his evil deeds in one form or another.  Perhaps Russia will be effectively rebuked and Putin will actually pressure Bashar to stop using chemical warfare against his people. Perhaps the United Nations will be able to effectively call for a temporary ceasefire in the land so that much needed humanitarian aid can be given to the citizens still living in Syria. Perhaps the United States will find a way to intervene in the crisis to bring the conflict to an end sooner. Only God knows.

“Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:3-4)

God might as well be saying all this to the Syrian refugees, who like ancient Israel, are scattered throughout the world from their homeland.  I hope that one day, these refugees can come back to their homeland to leaders who look to their interests better than Bashar ever did.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

Ultimately, the best hope I can offer to Syrian refugees is the Lord Jesus Christ.  God already sent and raised up the Davidic King Jesus.  He is not the Savior of just ancient Israel, but the whole world as this passage in Isaiah greatly clarifies:

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

Therefore the offer of salvation and deliverance that Jesus offered to Israel is also available to Syrians and so if these refugees accept Jesus as their reconciled Lord and Savior, perhaps they may come back to their land filled with the peace, joy, and forgiveness that Jesus can bring.  In other words, they can experience the blessings of His reign in their hearts, no matter where they are, and perhaps, Lord willing, they will return to their land in external peace as well.

A Good Friday and Easter Sunday Meditation

What is Good Friday and Easter Sunday all about?

The God of the Bible is humanity’s rightful King.
All humans, no matter what background they come from, have rebelled against Him and forsaken Him.
We deserve eternal punishment for dishonoring a King of eternal glory.

There are many ways that we humans dishonor God, whether it be through misuse of authority (power-hungry leaders, police brutality, male abuse); our sexuality (finding our identities in something other than that prescribed by God), dishonoring others (racism, bullying, slander), injustice (calling guilty people innocent and calling innocent people guilty).

Good Friday: God the Son entered human history as Jesus of Nazareth to take the punishment that was reserved for us by dying on a cross for our sins:
“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

Easter Sunday: Jesus rose from the dead, demonstrating His power over sin and death:
“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” (Romans 6:9-10)

God is our King and we are His subjects. We committed high treason against Him and deserve capital punishment for our crimes. But the Crown Prince Jesus came and took our punishment on our behalf and was raised from the dead. With His new life, He offers us rebels an opportunity to have our crimes pardoned and more than that, to be reconciled to our King and be elevated with the Crown Prince to a new status.

Jesus does not simply provide the means for our forgiveness, He also elevates us with Him to share His royal status.

If we accept Him as our risen Lord and Savior, we shall be united with Him in a death like his, and we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Romans 6:5-7). If then we agree to be reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

Jesus is Lord because He is our reconciled, rightful King.
Jesus is Savior because He saved us from the penalty of our sins, namely death and separation from God.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday represent the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, historical events that have come to be the means through which humans can be reconciled to their Creator and begin a process of moral transformation that can bring blessings and renewal to the whole world. This inner transformation and reconciled relationship to God will begin to express themselves in the way that we interact with others.

Our identities will change, our laws will change, our culture will change, and our society will change for the better, and they’re at their optimal best when we humans, through Christ Jesus, are reconnected with the God from whom all justice and righteousness flow.