Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Debate on Syria

President Obama has launched the country into a debate on Syria and our response to the unleashing of chemical warfare there. Some will fault him for beginning this national debate and some have said he was too unsure of himself to make the call on his own. There will be critics no matter what course of action we choose. I think it is a good thing to involve our representatives and their constituents in this debate. As I have listened to the officials and the "un" officials, I have heard good points on both sides. One Senator said this is not the first atrocity nor will it be the last and we cannot police the world. It is true there has been no shortage of human atrocities across the world in our lifetimes. In this latest one it looks like Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, killing many hundreds including over 400 children. This atrocity may not be our business, indeed, as some say, a response will only lead to more dead. Needless to say, the blood of these dead Syrians cries out to God, as the Old Testament reminds us. There will be a response; there always is, and whether we will part of it remains to be seen.  In the book of Esther - which never mentions God - his unseen presence is on every page. It is there for the eyes of faith to see. To others the events that transpire may look like coincidences. The King's sleepless night, Mordecai's overhearing the conspiracy plot in the "gates", even Esther's rise to a position where she can influence the King; all of these coincidences assume God's involvement but only to those with the faith to see it. Old Testament scholar John Goldingay makes a good point when he says that sometimes the Old Testament shows God orchestrating events behind the scenes of our lives, but at other times God harnesses our decisions and actions after the fact and creatively uses them to fulfill his purposes. Either way, as the Psalmist says:  "YOU" judge the nations with equity and guide the nations upon earth." In Esther, God is sovereign but that fact does not excuse human courage and responsibility, in fact, it is just the opposite; it requires it.