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A Call to Spiritual Action that Should Lead to ‘Ceasefire Now’


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A Call to Spiritual Action that Should Lead to ‘Ceasefire Now’

Commentary by Andy Pope | FāVS News

Having never served in the military, I have not personally engaged in combat. The streets gave me a sense of what it means to be constantly in danger. But they were not tantamount to war.

Not having a direct experience of what war feels like, I imagine it being a highly stressful situation where everyone is on edge. I picture people becoming hypervigilant like we were on the streets. I would never conceive of war as being enjoyable.

But when I saw videos of soldiers in the Israeli Defense League (IDF) blowing up mosques and slaughtering innocent civilians, they did not appear to be stressed in the least. In fact, they appeared to be happy.

While members of the IDF committed horrendous atrocities, they laughed, cheered, made sarcastic comments and gave each other high signs. They looked as though they were overjoyed that the Oct. 7 attack had given them the opportunity to kill innocent people.

While dancing, they chanted, “There are no uninvolved civilians!”

Through a megaphone, they shouted, “Don’t say you’re not Hamas! We know who you are!

I won’t link to these videos. I have seen a lot of violence in my day, but never have I witnessed such inhumanity as what I saw the other night.

In fact, this column has come about because of it.

I am reminded of Genghis Khan. When asked what made him happy, he described what it felt like to capture a village, murder all the men and rape their wives. His soldiers shouted the word “Joy!” repeatedly, while they slaughtered people.

As I’ve written before, there are people who are into evil. They enjoy it — they get off on it. But can we not all find something more humane to enjoy than the wanton destruction of innocent lives?

Responding to Evil

I know the Oct.7 attack was a horrendous atrocity. I know Israel has the right to defend themselves. But for civilians to be taken out by snipers as they tried to escape Gaza far exceeds the bounds of self-defense. Whatever the proper response to Oct. 7 ought to have been, what is happening is not it.

While I could enter into a political diatribe at this juncture, it’s not really the purpose of this column. The political emphasis in Christendom these days is a distraction from all things spiritual. But I do want to make a statement concerning our culture.

In reaction to the reality of a frightening new war in the Middle East, naturally some Christians are proclaiming that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent. For many, the words “wars and rumors of war” have become a catch-phrase.

But what do those words say in context?

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come.” —Matthew 24:6

It’s not a big deal to hear about wars and the rumors thereof. I’ve heard about a war every day this year. According to the rest of Matthew 24, the end will not come until certain specific events take place. But the average believer doesn’t read that far. They only repeat what they’ve heard from the pulpit.

All over Christendom, people are googling keywords in a misguided effort to determine the exact date of our Lord’s imminent arrival. While I don’t feel we should be concerned about such things, I do feel we ought to all be concerned about our personal standing with a God who could reappear at any moment.We ought to be a people of maturity and decency, merciful to our neighbors and to ourselves. We ought not to be kowtowing to the corrupt standards of this present world, but embracing the incorruptible values of love, joy and peace that will entail forever in an eternal realm that transcends the trappings of time.

For this reason, Jesus sends us out into the world “like sheep in the midst of wolves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Would a person of such decency respond to the atrocities in Gaza by declaring that the Lord is coming soon? And register no compassion for the victims of this brutality? Is to proclaim that Jesus is coming a decent or proper response to genocide?

Of course not! It’s insensitive as well as biblically flawed. We should be deeply concerned about the murders of thousands of Palestinian civilians. We should not exploit these horrors as an opportunity to declare that Jesus is on his way.

It also strikes me that in all the proclamations about when and where the Lord is going to show up, I don’t often hear a call to believers to repent.

And this is where the self-proclaimed prophets of this day differ from those of old. Yet could it possibly be that there is a reason the massive increase in horrible world events we all have witnessed recently? Could it possibly be that we are being called — not only as believers — but as a people — to change our ways? 

Tear Down the Wall

Flash back to 1989. The Berlin wall comes crashing down after a monumental handshake between Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush.

And what was the spirit that prevailed in those days? It was a spirit of extreme love and good will such as I had not seen since the Sixties.

But what is the spirit that prevails today? A far cry from that of 1989. Political enemies barely regard each other as human anymore, let alone exercise love and good will toward each other.

Now consider what is similar between today and 35 years ago. A relative handful of individuals are controlling the matters of nations. It just happened that in the late 80s we had enough sane and halfway decent such people in place to end the Cold War — for that season.

And now, who do we have in place? Putin, Trump, Carlson, Biden, Bete, Xi, Kim and a number of other dignitaries and dictators. Power-possessed warmongers and megalomaniacs, for the most part.
These men do not truly represent their people. They only represent their own desires, which by and large amount to a craving to remain in power. 

This relatively small number of highly powerful people did not just “happen” to come together in a beautiful way in 1989 and a terrifying way in 2024. God is continually about shuffling the key players in the balance of global power. God is the one who “puts down one, and lifts up another.” (Psalm 75:7)

While I don’t personally support Donald Trump, I have no doubt God put him in office for a reason. To think that God did not know Trump would be elected is to deny the omniscience of God. Same with Putin, Biden and Netanyahu— all of them are there for a reason.

And that reason — unlike 35 years ago — is not looking good. It looked great 35 years ago when it seemed we were all loving each other. But are we loving each other now? 

I ask us all to consider the concepts of sin and repentance in the classical Judeo-Christian sense. What would happen if we all were to turn from our wrongdoing? Or more universally, from our hatred? What if we all turned to God instead?

Or if you can’t bring yourself to believe in a “god,” can you find it in your heart to turn it toward the power of love? Would love not beget more love? After all, God is Love. (1 John 4:8)

Maybe if we all show a bit more love and a bit less hatred, God’s heart of compassion will be moved. Maybe then a few dangerous world figures will be put down, and replaced by those more promising. God does have the power to do this — and he has done it before.

Power over Plagues

Someone asked me during quarantine if COVID was one of the plagues referenced in the Book of Revelation.

Turning to Chapter 16, where the plagues are announced, I noticed a reference to something like a pandemic in verse two. But since it referred to “loathsome sores” appearing on people’s bodies, it does not describe COVID.

Verses four and five struck me differently.

“And the second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it turned to blood like that of the dead, and every living thing in the sea died.And the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood.” — Revelation 16:4-5

Sounds like climate change to me — but I don’t presume to know the true interpretation of those verses. But what if they do reference climate change? What if we all get stricken by the plagues? How should we respond?

“And the people were scorched with intense heat, and they cursed the name of God, who had power over these plagues; yet they did not repent and give Him glory.”  — Revelation 16:9

As the plagues engulf the earth, there will be people who curse God in response. Yet God is in control over those plagues, and if anyone can put an end to them, it is God. To deny this is to deny his omnipotence.

We might as well all change our ways right now — and maybe the plagues won’t come. Maybe God’s heart will be moved. Maybe then he will put new players on the team.

“For exaltation comes neither from east nor west, nor out of the desert,but it is God who judges; He brings down one and exalts another.” — Psalm 75:6-7

Maybe once God is again pleased with the behavior of his children, he will see to it that the end will once again be delayed. After all, he has delayed his promised coming for over two thousand years now.

Then again, maybe not.

Maybe we will never repent.

Repentance Is not a Dirty Word

Maybe we will all keep looking at world events and feeling outrage over it all, and yet we will not look within, we will not change our ways, we will not live as righteously as lies within us — and as a result, God will not provide reprieve from the plagues that are almost certain to come.

The entire nation of Nineveh repented when Jonah called them on their stuff, and God in turn had a change of heart. The mind of God does not change — but his heart moves with that of his people. As we act, God acts accordingly.

But as far as the timing of his coming, that one is way out of our hands. (Matthew 24:36).

“But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and its works will be laid bare.” —2 Peter 3:10

That’s right. Like a thief. We don’t know when the thief comes, and we don’t know when Jesus comes.  So once again, how are we to respond?

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to conduct yourselves in holiness and godliness, as you anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God, when the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat.”
2 Peter 3:11-12

While words like “sin” and “repentance” may not be popular or even common in the modern lexicon, their meaning is still applicable to the present day.

We may not be as inhumane as the IDF soldiers I watched on those videos. We may not think of ourselves as particularly evil or depraved. But inside each of us there is the awareness of what is right and what is wrong. (Romans 2:14)

We attained that awareness in the Garden. Since the day when our original progenitors ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that knowledge has been indelibly implanted in our genes. We know right from wrong — and we have the power to choose.

I say, let us use that power to the fullest degree. Let us each look within ourselves, and see if the choices we are making tend toward love and peace — rather than hatred and war.

Ceasefire Now

I wondered as I began this column if people would think I was leading up to “Ceasefire Now.” Obviously that has not been the thrust of this column. But I will say it anyway.

Ceasefire now.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength.

And the second law is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

So let us all look inward and get ready for widespread spiritual transformation to consume the planet — before it is too late. In my view, the God of Israel in days of old is the same God today. These time-honored words still hold:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14

Again, the Mind of God has not changed. The response of that mind varies according to the behavior of his people.

I say, let us act in such a way that God’s heart will be moved — for the better, for the sake of his humanity. For we are the last and finest of all his creations. Let us all act in such a way that glorifies the Spirit of God. 

The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Andy Pope
Andy Popehttps://edeninbabylon.com
Andy Pope is a freelance writer currently residing in Moscow, Idaho, where he is a member of Moscow First Presbyterian Church. His work on social justice has appeared in Classism Exposed in Boston, Berkeleyside in Berkeley, California, and also in the Bay Area newspaper Street Spirit, where his regular column, Homeless No More, encourages those making the transition from homelessness to housing. An accomplished pianist and lifelong musical theatre person, Andy is also the author of "Eden in Babylon," a musical about youth homelessness in urban America. He recently started a new YouTube Channel, which you can find here.

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Walter A Hesford
Walter A Hesford
1 month ago

Thanks, Andy, for this well-informed and disturbing commentary, especially for your call to repentence. What is happening in Palestine/Israel illustrates what happens when evil is repayed with evil. Meanwhile the people of Gaza are being starved if not bombed to death. It’s on our hands that we don’t intervene to at least prevent starvation. Concerning end-time prophesies, they’ve already been fulfilled over and over again and those who wait for the return of Jesus have, in my opinion, missed his return in our life every day.

Chuck McGlocklin
Chuck McGlocklin
1 month ago

Beautifully stated.
I pray that those calling themselves Christian would be just or more concerned about saving those souls for eternity that they now want to destroy, jail, outlaw.
God does not force; He draws. May we become the people of God that would draw people to become better people.

Andy Pope
Andy Pope
1 month ago

Thanks Chuck. I agree with you 100%.

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