WAR! Its Blessings (?) And Its Curses

he tragic Persian Gulf War now underway has brought out many interesting things.

First, I read that President Bush "turned to prayer and preachers in the hours surrounding the January 16 commencement of hostilities in the Middle East. "He" attended services" at Camp David on both the Sunday before the 16th and the Sunday after. As the U.N. deadline was about to expire, it is reported that he telephoned Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning of the Episcopal Church and U.S. Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson and told them he had been praying for peace. Both prayed with him on the phone. It is interesting to observe that in times of great crisis that men seek God's blessings and approval in the decision and action they already have taken or have decided to take.

On Wednesday, the 16th, it is reported that Bush "sent out a call" for Billy Graham, with the message that "I need you." Graham arrived at the White House about 5:15 p.m. It is reported that "Graham prayed four or fives times," both with Bush alone and with other members of the family. Graham spent the night.

The next morning, with the help of the chaplains and others, a "service" was hastily organized for the Memorial Chapel. Many of the high government officials "attended the service". "Security was tight," so we are told. Military chaplains prayed for the quick success of the nation's "just and righteous cause." In a 17-minute sermon, Graham spoke about the world's troubles and peace ("there come times when we have to fight for peace," he said, which to me sounds like a contradiction of goals) and democracy, and about how the Word of God applies to the mix. He told how adversities had beset previous presidents and quoted Abraham Lincoln's prayer "that we have God on our side." That is quite a claim and is made to give assurance to all the people on "our side." I wonder how he knows that for sure. Saddam Hussein claims in no uncertain terms that God is on their side as he leads the fight against the 'Infidels'! The real question is "Is God on either side?" in the sense of exercising His power to help that side win the war? Both sides claim to be right and justified in this war. At least one side is wrong in that claim; maybe even both sides are wrong in their claim to have God on their side.

At the "service" mentioned above, an Army chorus sang, "God bless America". Don't you think that Iraqis sing some such song for their side? Also those gathered sang "Amazing Grace." Perhaps that is to show clearly who's "side" God is on. After all the "services" were over, Mr. Graham returned to the White House with the President for lunch and another prayer before leaving town. It is interesting to note how "religious" and "prayerful" people can become "in times like these."

The President told congressional leaders during a meeting at the White House, "There's a lot of prayer going on both here and on Capitol Hill and across this whole country." It is sad that it takes a war or some other terrible tragedy to cause some people to "turn" (?) to God and seek His guidance and approval in their actions.

We are told that "Bibles and New Testaments were not among the items left behind or mailed home when many of the U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia packed up to move closer to the Kuwait and Iraq borders in preparation for combat." These seemed to be priority items for most personnel. Why? Probably most of these precious people before the Crisis had little use for the Bible and little time for God. The old saying is no doubt true: "There are no atheists in a fox hole." When people face possible death or horrible injury and suffering, they feel the need for something greater than what this world has to offer. And at this time most of them come to "believe" (?) that there must be a God and some form of life after death. It is tragic that so many wait till such a time to turn to the living God for help. Let us pray fervently for all involved in this terrible war. Lincoln said: "War never proves who is right, only who is left." How true.

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA arranged and paid for a special printing of pocket-sized Jewish Bibles for Jewish troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon's limited supply, dating from the Vietnam era, had been exhausted! What the Pentagon was doing with Bibles of any kind is a big question. I thought that the government was NOT to be involved in religion in any way, shape, or form. Of course, we all know that our government gets involved in whatever it wants to.

It is reported that there are 550 chaplains serving in the Middle East; nearly 30% are Southern Baptists. Reporters have complained about being banned from covering religious meetings. Military leaders claim that the ban is to help prevent Saddam Hussein from using the reports to stir up trouble with the Muslims. But why should this concern drive our people in an "undercover" or "covert" religion? The Muslims certainly exercise their full rights and openly practice their religion. Is the primary concern to not "offend" the Muslims or to please God? Which? Somewhere I read: "Let your light so shine before men (even Muslims who desperately need the true light - Jesus) that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. "The U.S. Government has certainly put a "cover" over the one Who is the real light of the world. How sad.

In my view, reporters are NOT banned from nearly as many things as they should be. Iraq can watch the television programs and keep up with about everything the USA has done, is doing, and apparently much of what is planned to be done. In media the competition is fierce to be the first with the most of the latest happenings.

Capt. James O'Connor, a Lutheran and chief Chaplain aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, is reported to have said: "Foxhole religion is quite valid" among the service personnel.

As in every war since Jesus returned to heaven, wars and even the rumors of wars bring out all the clergy who have a fixation with the second coming of Christ and the end of the world events. This war is no different - they are at it again. Even before the war began Jerry Falwell had predicted that Jesus will come during the 1990's. I heard him when he made the statement. He does not have any information at all, from the Scriptures or any other source, as to when Jesus will come the second time. Neither does any other preacher. They all get involved with this sensational, emotional subject for their own purposes.

Perhaps there is no other subject about which religious people are more concerned. It is an attention-getter and it is used to grab attention and to sell their books on the subject and to draw crowds when they speak on the subject.

Many books have been and will be written on the subject of the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. Many of the clergy will spend a lot of time preaching and teaching on it, even declaring that "the signs" are on every hand to indicate that the second coming of Christ is near; even though most of the preachers differ from one another in their basic positions on the subject. But that does not matter to those clergy who get caught up in all the emotional fervor that maybe this time this war portends the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. The clergy, and some others, have proclaimed this same erroneous doctrine, with every war through all the centuries. It appears that these preachers believe that the only time Jesus can return is if there is a big war going on. They have been wrong through all the ages and they are just as wrong today. People who truly know and believe what Jesus taught do not become victims of this erroneous error. Jesus said: "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32). Do you believe Jesus? Won't you take His word as the truth on this subject? There are no "signs" given anywhere in Scripture that relate to His second coming. In view of this fact, we should heed His warning: "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming" (Matt. 24:42). We should be ready to meet Him anytime and all the time.

There are about as many "versions" or contradictory teachings about the second coming of Christ and the end of the world as there are preachers proclaiming this premillenial false doctrine.

"War! that mad game the world loves to play." - Swift

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace." - Franklin

"Who has ever told the evils and the curses and the crimes of war? Who can describe the horrors of the carnage of battle? Who can portray the fiendish passions which reign there? If there is anything in which earth, more than any other, resembles hell, it is its wars." - Albert Barnes

May God bless all involved in the war and all those who wait, hope and pray for their safe return. Don't forget: God is still in charge even when men rebel and evil abounds. - cah