The Protected Place
There are conversations that can stick with you for years. The words, even the voice inflections are permanently implanted and easily resurrected to the surface of memory long after a flood of events should have erased it. For me it was a luncheon with a holocaust survivor. He was born in Holland as Hitler was rising to power. He awoke one morning at five years of age to find the country invaded by Nazi soldiers. Since he was Jewish he was separated from his father, whom he never saw again. He went with his mother to a concentration camp where he spent five years before being released and sent to a Kibbutz in Israel.
We sat across from one another at an elegant restaurant as he mesmerized me with the story of his life. Here we were enjoying the blessings of liberty, surrounded by the trappings of wealth, aware that his children and grandchildren had been given a gift resulting from the sacrifice of previous generations.
Then he said the most astounding thing. He believed that it would be better to just let the Muslims have their way. "Just stop fighting them," he said. "After all," he continued, "there are synagogues in Iran today where Jews can worship."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This man whose father was murdered by Nazis, whose home was stolen, who was torn from both parents, lived in a concentration camp and later a Kibbutz, now asking, "What's the use of fighting?" I was speechless, torn between compassion for his suffering and anger for the lack of passion to preserve freedom for his progeny.
"I don't understand his reaction," I said to our Thursday morning coffee klatch. One member who grew up in France volunteered, "I can understand! You Americans don't realize how protected you are. You don't understand what it's like to live in Europe. I grew up during War World 2, the Korean War and the Algerian War. There was always war for us! We (the French) warned you not to get involved in Viet Nam. We were there first. And then Muslims began invading our country, so life has been a never-ending fight. America has been insulated from war by two oceans and you don't comprehend the frustration with always fighting."
It reminded me of conversations with victims of rape. During my years in the ministry I have listened to more than one woman describe an attack by a rapist. In two such stories the women described a similar mental stage reached after initial resistance. The attacker was lying in wait and attacked without warning, viciously hitting, strangling and kicking until both came to the stage of saying, "I'm going to die anyway. Do what you want but stop beating me and let me live."
My friend from France was describing the emotion of an entire nation that had been raped. They've seen so many sons and daughters die. When will it stop? Is there anything to bring an end to the pain?
It brought new meaning to the concept of the Garden of Eden. God knew there was an adversary who attacks relentlessly. He will never stop. The fight won't end. So God put the first two humans in a place of protection.
One would think they would have listened to God, but they chose to listen to the enemy. They thought he was the enemy of God but he was THEIR enemy. They wanted to think he wasn't that bad. He was misunderstood. "If we show kindness to him he will change," they thought. But he was far worse than they could have imagined.
So these two humans capitulated to slavery-to the enemy-and consigned the human race to the same fate. Eventually some humans cried out to God for relief, and God, who is merciful, once again offered protection to the sons of Israel. It worked for a while but they, too, listened to the adversary. Protection was lost and they became slaves. This occurred over and over for Israel. The United States is about to learn the same lesson.
This nation was founded as a place of protection for various religious groups such as the Puritans, Quakers, Huguenots, etc. Donna has done extensive genealogical research. The inescapable conclusion is that our early ancestors came to this country to find religious freedom. Almost without exception, those who came prior to 1750 were looking for a New World.
Belief in a New World is a common theme of the Bible and central to the Christian faith.
Maybe the most overlooked concept is that God offers a place of protection to His people. In fact, the fulfillment takes place in the future when Jesus Christ returns to the earth. The resulting millennial reign of our true King will usher in the Kingdom of God. The Bible ends with a promise Jesus gave to the Apostle John, "Then I, John, saw the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:2-3)
It is no accident that this verse occurs in the next to last chapter of the Bible. It is the culmination of the Plan of God-to create a place of protection for man to live at peace and worship the God who made us.
"Come Lord Jesus!"
Until next time, Jim O'Brien