Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.” Daniel 10:18-19 (NIV).
Perhaps this it the most pervasive theme in all of scripture in how God deals with man: peace, be strong. Even in the difficult passages where God metes out harsh judgment, He also gives freely of Himself so that His people might know His peace, His strength, His rest.
Yesterday, I taught a Sunday school class to our church’s middle school kids. We discussed two main themes: are there things worth fighting for, and does God endorse violence. I’ve known most of these kids for most of their lives; they’re a good group.
And when faced with those two questions, they all enthusiastically said “yes” that there are things worth fighting for, but struggled to identify what some of those things were. Most of them knew some of the more prominent stories from the Bible where our God brings hard judgment on the human race through violence. The great flood, deliverance from Egypt (we watched part of “The Ten Commandments”), how God commanded Israel to slay the unbelieving pagans of Canaan: throughout history, God has used violence to punish unbelief and cleanse it from His creation. We looked at a scene from “The Return of the King,” when the armies of men (of God and peace, actually) battled “for Frodo” against the armies of Sauron (of evil and Satan). The kids hadn’t seen this before, and they enjoyed it.
After that, I read them an excerpt of my grandfather’s diary, when his ship sailed into Nagasaki in September 1945. We discussed how we, the ‘good guys’ who believed in God, dropped two atomic bombs in a week and killed a quarter million pagan Japanese, using harsh brutality to restore peace. And we discussed Jesus’ crucifixion, how God allowed unspeakable violence on Himself so that we might be able to come to Him, one on one, again.
It’s because God saw mankind was worth fighting for. Not for the fighting, but for His peace. So that we, undeserving sinners who chose sin instead of God, might experience His peace both now and in eternity. Think about that today and, like Daniel, you’ll be overwhelmed. It’s like Max Lucado said: He chose the nails. He chose the justice of purging horrors and evil from the world by choosing the excruciating torture of the cross. So we might know peace.
For further reading: Joshua 1:9, Judges 6:23, Isaiah 6:1-8, Isaiah 35:4,Daniel 10:20
Lord God, I don’t understand violence, or why people choose it. Forgive us our violent sins, and remind us that You fight for us to save us from ourselves.
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