(Continued from page 430)Joshua's "Ethnic Cleansing"!
The Peaceful 'Sword of the Spirit'
For two thousand years (from Abraham to the beginning of the New Testament), the message was "stay separate!" In order to do that there were bloody wars. But contending that the Old Testament had a version of jihad - holy war or "struggle" - is far from the truth. We repeat - the "ethnic cleansing" required of Joshua by God was a very specific command, limited to a precisely defined geographical region and an equally specific time. In contrast, the Qur'an's "holy war," according to careful examination of the Qur'an, hadith, and history, is both endless and global.
For the long Old Testament period God revealed Himself to the Israelites, although they repeatedly broke the covenant He had made with them and never fully obeyed Him and kept thoroughly separate. They should have been looking for Him when He came in the flesh as The Incarnate God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Covenant in His blood (Jeremiah 31:31; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; 9:15; 12:24) commanded the opposite of "stay separate" - now believers were to go peacefully "into all nations!" The Great Commission was to 'Go and disciple the nations, preach the Gospel of the Good News and the coming Day of the Lord, to heal, evangelize, deliver, set the captives free, and help the poor.' In the distinctly Christian ethic of the New Testament, the sword is never used to "evangelize".
However, by contrast, the Qur'an never states that the violence (kill the "infidels" - Jews and Christians) was for a previous, or set, "dispensation," and would ever be stopped. There is nothing close to the analogy of the Old Testament/New Testament distinction, thus the command to kill 'infidels' has not ended. Nowhere in the Qur'an does it state that it must be stopped because we are in a "new era." In fact we know that the later writings of the Qur'an are the most violent for the writings became more violent, not less violent. The Qur'an, in its late Medina-based texts, called for death to those who are not Muslim - and even more graphically to any person who apostatized (left Islam for another belief system).
Jesus gave His followers spiritual weapons, including the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God (the Bible alone!) to use in the world as described in Ephesians 6:10-18:
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
This spiritual sword is described in this powerful way in Hebrews 4:12-13:
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
These are the instructions Jesus gave His disciples to distribute His Gospel - notice how they are described (compared to the wolves the prophet of Islam sent out!):
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. LK 10:5 "When you enter a house, first say, `Peace to this house.' 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. LK 10:8 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, `The kingdom of God is near you.' 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 `Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Now notice how, at the Last Supper, Jesus gathered all the apostles and gave final instructions. Compare how two swords were now to be 'enough' when they went out into the world preaching His gospel - two swords were hardly going to be enough to defend the group, hardly acting as more than a mild deterrent! Jesus never told His disciples to go out armed to the teeth or ever to kill those who refused to accept His Word. No, the reason for two swords being 'enough' is to fulfil the prophecy from Isaiah 53 (verse 12: 'Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors') that Jesus was to be 'numbered among the transgressors':
Luke 22:35 Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. LK 22:36 He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: `And he was numbered with the transgressors' ; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment." LK 22:38 The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.
This non-violence was exemplified by His behaviour when He was arrested in Gethsemene:
Matthew 26:50 Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. MT 26:52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"
The account is strengthened by the fact that Jesus healed Malchus (re. John 18:10-11), the servant who was struck, as we read:
Luke 22:48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? 22:49 And when they that were about him saw what would follow, they said, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 22:50 And a certain one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his right ear. 22:51 But Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye [them] thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
John 18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus) JN 18:11 Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"
Jesus also made it clear in Gethsemene, that violence was not His way for His disciples to bring His kingdom to this earth:
Matthew 26:55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Unlike Muhammad, Jesus was not 'leading a rebellion' or trying to establish a religion by violent means, but laying down His life as a ransom for all those who would accept this free gift!
Jesus first coming was as the Suffering Servant, the Prince of Peace (who brings a peace to the believer that the non-believers of the world can never know!), but He will return to finally deal with His enemies as the all-conquering King of kings and Lord of lords, as described in the Book of Revelation when He comes with a very different kind of 'sword':
Revelation 1:12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
Revelation 2:12 "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live - where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city - where Satan lives.
Revelation 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rami, don't get caught dead without Jesus because there is a colossal difference between animal sacrifices which cannot save and our utter inability to keep any law completely (100%!) and the final perfect complete sacrifice Jesus made, as Hebrews makes clear:
Hebrews 9:23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. HEB 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; HEB 10:6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. HEB 10:7 Then I said, `Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God.' " HEB 10:8 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. HEB 10:11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest (Jesus! Read the whole book of Hebrews, Rami) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Notice this conclusion - 'by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy' - only on this earth before death will any man get the chance to choose life and holiness in Jesus! No more animal sacrifices, no more failures to keep the law!
So we find that there is really no case at all for the claims you make. Clearly, you either fail to read carefully, or fail to understand what you have read.
(Continued on page 432)