Listen to the cries for God's involvement in war, and you will realize that those prayers cannot all be answered to the satisfaction of the petitioners. They conflict with each other, as has been true since Cain killed his brother, Abel.
Do you ever ask yourself what God is thinking, as He hears the songs and the prayers?
Passionate voices belt out "God Bless America," as U.S. troops depart their home areas for postings in the Iraqi war theater. Along Highway 80, which runs due north from Kuwait City to Iraq, a banner reads, "God Bless USA Troops" just outside Camp Coyote, temporary home to approximately 100,000 U.S. military personnel.
Boone, Iowa, Mayor George Maybee sent off the soldiers of National Guard mechanics unit, Company D with: "God speed to you. God bless you and hurry home."
Hannibal, Missouri's, hometown newspaper ran a series of responses from readers who wanted to submit names of men and women deployed for war under the headline, "Keep Service Personnel in Thoughts and Prayers" (Feb. 25, 2003).
Mrs. Toni Bloom wrote a sober editorial in The Oregonian, having received in the mail the last will and testament of her 25-year-old son, Cpl. Jason Eric Bloom.
Preparing and sending one's will to the next of kin is standard operating procedure for a soldier headed off to war. The way she calls on God is deeply moving.
"Help me to believe this is necessary and just-not merely the arrogance and self-righteousness of the mighty. Help me have faith that this is truly a fight of good against evil.
"And more than me, help the thousands of soldiers who are today on their way. God bless them, God protect them, God help them all" ("In My Opinion," Feb. 23, 2003, emphasis added throughout).
Diverse religions and diverse views
Not every American thinks of God the same way-or makes the same requests of Him.
The Chicago Tribune asked local ministers, rabbis, priests and Islamic leaders how they answered questions about the impending war. The minister of the Pilgrim Baptist Church said they were against war, but their "prayers are for Colin Powell, especially" (Staff Reporters, "Mixed Messages," Feb. 25, 2003).
(He didn't say what they asked God to do for Secretary Powell.)
Rabbi Asher Lopatin said of his Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel congregation: "One of the things that we do that is very important is we say a prayer for the soldiers of the United States and Israel...We also say a prayer for the government of the United States...and we pray that God helps them make the right decisions" (ibid.).
Praying to God for soldiers means asking that He grant them success and safety in battle. Of course, "success" for soldiers on one side of a conflict means defeat or death for those on the opposing side.
Imam Mohammed Amin Kholwadia is the director of an institute for higher learning for Arabic and Islamic studies. Of prayer, he said: "During prayer time, we will mention [the politics of war]...to develop the spirit of the Muslim community towards prayer-and that they should turn to God for advice and comfort, strength and patience...[Prayer time] will not be something where we make any sort of radical judgment for or against any government in the prayer. It'll just be for the well-being of every human being" (ibid.).
That sounds nice, but what does it mean? With one war ongoing and another pending, opposing sides seek to defeat each other. What request does God hear from this group and what can He answer?
Generalities, mixed messages
Pastor John Buchanan of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago relates: "I think that every Sunday since the crisis has emerged and heated up we have continued to pray for peace, and in addition prayed for the president and his advisers and for the secretary of state and the important decisions they're in the process of making. We have prayed every Sunday for the men and women in our armed services and their families, and we have prayed for the Iraqi people and their leaders and we have prayed for the United Nations" (ibid.).
Let's break this down. God hears a request for peace. And, He hears a request that He give insight and judgment to the national leaders of the United States, as well as the national leaders of Iraq. But these want the defeat of each other. He also hears a prayer for the American soldiers. The men and women in the armed services of the United States are trained and prepared to kill the enemy until his government surrenders or is destroyed. War is not "nice." A prayer for the American armed services is a request that God guides their weapons straight and true.
Morris Taylor, a member of the administrative body of Evanston's Bahai community, says of his group: "We hope and pray that all conflicts like this will be resolved quickly and as peacefully as possible" (ibid.). Several other denominations were similarly general in their responses.
"Conflicts like this...resolved...peacefully" makes it sound like we're talking about a minor dispute or misunderstanding between people in their community. Is that how God views the ongoing and pending conflicts? It's not how radical Muslims view it.
"Righteous" viewed differently
From another perspective, a message believed to be from Osama bin Laden called the impending Iraqi war, "the war of infidels led by America and its allies" ("Bin Laden's Message: Fight the 'Crusaders,'" Reuters, The New York Times, Feb. 15, 2003.)
Being completely clear, bin Laden and company say this is a religious war, the godless versus the godly. Only, in their perspective-and their prayers-the godless and the godly are reversed from those the Americans and their allies are praying for.
Continuing, "We stress that the loyal intentions that the fighting should be in the name of God only... We remind that victory is from God alone."
God is on our side, is what radical Islam claims. He is not on your side, they say to the Americans and "the Coalition of the Willing." The objective of extremist Muslims is plain. They want to fight, terrorize, kill, destroy and defeat all who are not Muslim-unless or until they convert.
The tape continues: "We say to honest Muslims that they must move, incite and mobilize the nation amid these great events to liberate themselves from the establishment of these oppressive, unjust, apostate ruling governments, which in turn are enslaved by America, and to establish the rule of God on earth."
To the radical Muslim, the Iraqi question is only a part of the great cause, the great war of Islam vs. Christianity.
Read his words: "This crusade war is primarily aimed at the people of Islam regardless of the removal or survival of the socialist government or Saddam."
By using the word crusade, bin Laden (or whoever recorded the tape) invokes the historical Christian crusades against the Ottoman Empire-ruled Jerusalem. He defines all Western interest in the Middle East as a crusade of Christians vs. Muslims.
"The Muslims as a whole," he continues, "and in Iraq in particular, should pull up their sleeves and carry jihad against this oppressive offensive and to make sure to stock up on ammunition and arms. This is a duty for them [implying, a religious duty].
"It does not hurt that in the current circumstances, the interests of Muslims coincide with the interests of the socialists in the war against the crusaders, taking into account our belief and declaration of the apostasy of the socialists."
Clearly, radical Muslims involve God's name not only to defeat whatever nations eventually go after Saddam Hussein's regime, but to defeat Christianity and replace it with Islam worldwide.
"God, be on our side"
So, how does God hear the prayers of the radicals? Most readers of World News and Prophecy would be startled by the very suggestion that God would hear their prayers at all. But, it's important that we understand the Muslim radicals are certain theirs are the only prayers heard and answered.
Over 90 percent of Americans believe in God-in some form. The above mix of religious expressions gives a small insight into how scattered and nonspecific American religious views are. Nonetheless, Americans freely call on God to bless the cause of the "Coalition of the Willing" in the present war against Islamic terrorists and the pending war against an Islamic nation, Iraq.
Is this a war of Christians against Muslims? No, but it can be interpreted that way. That is, only the radical Muslims put that forthright label on the war on terrorism, but the peoples set to face off against each other in the pending Middle East war are in fact largely Christians and Muslims. Muslim extremists would love to sell the Christian vs. Muslim concept to all Muslims.
Does God take sides?
Does God take sides in wars? We have to turn to the Bible for the answer, but it's an absolute yes, He does. We know the David and Goliath record, and there are many other events like it when God's participation gave the poorly armed and outnumbered the victory. Not that there always had to be a David vs. Goliath scenario, for there were other wars when God's people were the better armed and in greater numbers than the enemies they defeated.
The American-led "Coalition of the Willing" is anything but a shepherd with a sling vs. a heavily-armed giant. There's absolutely no reason whatsoever that the coalition would fail to defeat and overthrow Saddam Hussein-is there?
There may well be reasons for getting bogged down in protracted small-arms street fighting, establishing a new government and caring for Iraqis whom Hussein poisons with chemical or biological weapons. Then, there is the aftermath of how Arabs, particularly Muslims incited by radicals, interpret the act of crushing Saddam.
Words no one wants to hear from God
I titled this piece, "Words No One Wants to Hear From God." They are: "I am no longer on your side; I am now against you."
The book of Amos tells of a time when ancient Israel was relatively strong with every reason to expect that they could defeat any enemy that attempted to overwhelm them. But God, for cause, withdrew His blessing.
How would you feel if you heard God speak those words to you? How would you feel if He spoke those words to those going to war, now, the sons and the daughters, the fathers and the mothers in the armed services of the American-led "Coalition of the Willing"?
Are we prophesying a defeat for the West and a victory for the Iraqi dictator? No, but we want you to think. God, for cause, withdrew His blessing from ancient Israel. What cause?
The shocking reality is that conditions in Israel at the time were similar to what they are in America today. There was a mix of religions. People generally believed in God, but they altered most of the ways He initially laid out for their worship. They had religious holidays and church services, but they lived what we would call "liberal" lifestyles-and they still prayed for God's blessing.
But the day came when He said, "No, I can't give it to you anymore." When that day came, no amount of arrows and spears (precision-guided missiles), no deftness in wielding sword or sling (marksmanship), no superiority in spies (intelligence) made any difference. Israel-who always counted on God to be on their side-lost.
Why do we bring this up? First, we learn how God thinks by reading the history of the Bible. The lesson should sober any people of faith who count on God to grant them safety and success in war. More specifically, the mantle and the name of Israel now sit primarily on the shoulders of the United States and Great Britain. They are the inheritors of the blessings and the responsibilities.
The book of Amos is more than a history; it's a prophecy. The day will come when God says to modern Israel, for cause, "I am not with you anymore; I am against you."
We've told you often in the pages of our publications how our peoples turned away from God. Our purpose is to stir you to think, as war is again imminent, that unless people change, the day will soon come when God will tell America and Britain the words no one wants to hear Him say. -WNP