Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi claims to be “Caliph Ibrahim,” and here are some of the words from the Quran he is implementing in his kingdom in the Middle East. “Those that make war against God (Allah) and His apostle (Mohammed) and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternative sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world, and in the world to come grievous punishment awaits them: except those that repent before you reduce them. For you must know that God is forgiving and merciful.” Quran, The Table 5:33-34
In the Jewish and Christian Scriptures near the end of the Psalms we read words that have this same “Holy War” tone,
“Let the devoted delight in glory, sing joyously on their couches. Exulting God in their throats and a double edged sword in their hand, to execute retribution upon the nations, punishment upon the peoples, to bind their kings in fetters, and their nobles in iron chains, to exact from them justice as written—it is glory for all His devoted ones. Hallelujah! Psalm 149: 5-9
Many in our culture simply put the Quran and the Psalms side by side and declare that both preach the same out of date, Bronze Age, primitive violence. Before buying into this naïve equation between the Bible and the Quran, keep reading and tracking the real life story of justice and grace actually told in the Bible. When we get near the climax of the Gospel of Matthew, the part where Peter draws his sword in the Gethsemane to defend Jesus, unlike Mohammad or Abu Bakr, Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
Then after rising from the dead, Jesus didn’t choose to immediately initiate His Kingdom on earth. Instead, He told all of us who worship Him to go into the entire world with the most powerful Gospel on earth. Abu Bakr might laugh at these swordless soldiers, but before he mocks those who are willing to get their heads cut off for Jesus, he might want to take a look at what Jesus has to say about those who mess with His children.
“And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of Him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” - Revelation 19:21
“And those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God…they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” - Revelation 20:4
LORD, You began Israel’s hymnbook laughing at kings and rulers who made plans against You and against Your Anointed (Psalm 2). Thank you for reminding me again here at the end of the Psalms that You and Your Son will overcome the raging sea of violence in the world and Your Son will execute true justice against evil. This week empower me to pray and to boldly tell the truth about Jesus and the gift of forgiveness that only He can give through His death and resurrection.
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