(January 30, 1991)
“Our worst fears came true Wednesday...” began the news story.
The outbreak of war in the Middle East seems to be the “worst fear” of at least one journalist and perhaps many other people. Wars are continually being fought, why is this one war causing the “worst fear”?
Part of the reason for such fear is the attitude of Saddam Hussein. He apparently has no concern for human life, not even that of his own people never mind those who have combined forces to put him out of Kuwait. He has been compared to Hitler and himself says he will fight to the death.
Others are afraid because the war involves the superpowers. If Canada and the United States are fighting, are we not open to retaliation from fringe groups and Iraqi terrorists? Are airports, department stores, even the streets safe for us? War has not just invaded our living rooms via television, some fear that it will suddenly come into our back yards.
And what about the weaponry? The United States has clearly demonstrated the incredible power of their high tech equipment. Bombs have not only been accurately dropped, but cunningly directed through the doors of buildings to explode inside. The Iraqi missiles also put terror into hearts, at least the hearts of many Israelis. During one raid, some even died from heart attacks, not actual injuries.
Some are afraid because the war could be extended over a long time and distance, involving more soldiers and unimaginable casualties. No longer is it a movie that involves actors and ketchup but real people with families that love them and don’t want to lose them. Along with that is a fear that our own loved ones are at direct risk. Many have family members in the services, perhaps even at the front. Some fear conscription is a possibility. Who would want their young sons to be drafted and sent into battle?
Those fears are heightened because most of our generation has not seen war, at least directly. The conflicts in Korea, Viet Nam, even Iran/Iraq were far-away because WE were not involved. Now we are. We don’t know how to think about war, so fear governs.
Perhaps another reason this war is feared as the “worst” fear relates to Biblical prophecy. Even many who never read the Bible are aware of a final battle where nations gather together against the people of Israel. Then the Lord God intervenes in judgment, bringing the world to a horrible end and establishing a new heavens and a new earth. The place of this battle will be a valley called Armageddon, about 60 kilometers northeast of Tel Aviv.
Some determine not to fear Armageddon, dismissing it as myth. Christians wonder. Is the stage being set? Are these the last days of this age before our Lord will return? If so, should we be afraid?
The Bible says many things about war and about a final war, but none of them give my heart the assurance that comes from passages that speak of the power of God. The enemies may be great, the weapons may be awesome, but none compare to the power of God. Psalms 46:8,9 say: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations He has made in the earth. He makes wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder; He burns the chariot in the fire.”
Iraq and allies alike are no match for God. The kings of the earth may set themselves against Him but Psalm 2 says He laughs at them. He is the one that controls the destiny of the nations, not the one with the most guns and the biggest or most accurate bombs.
While today’s Israelites are wondering if the prophecies in Jeremiah 50 and 51 are what God has planned for modern Iraq (historic Babylon), God’s first concern is to give all men and women inner peace, the kind that endures threats and shelling alike. Psalms 46:10 invites each one of us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Anyone who has that knowledge through faith in Jesus Christ, can be confident amid fear, for in His time, He “will be exalted among the heathen, He will be exalted in the earth.”