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How to Defeat the Terrorists

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:53 PM
by Rev Donald Geddes

AssyriansAtrocities committed by terrorists in the Middle East are nothing new. They were operating in Old Testament times.

The Assyrians were the Old Testament equivalent of the Islamic State terrorists. They were cruel, arrogant and brutal, waging war with shocking ferocity, uprooting those who opposed them and deporting them to other parts of their empire. They waged war on surrounding nations between 1,500 and 1,100 BC.

Their capital city was Nineveh located near modern Mosul in northern Iraq — the very area in which modern Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists are fighting. As is the case with ISIL, the Assyrians engendered great fear in all surrounding countries.

They attacked the Kingdom of Israel in 733 BC and carried many of its inhabitants into exile. Later in 721 BC the Assyrians besieged Israel’s capital city Samaria and captured it three years later. Thus Israel came to an end and the ten tribes that made up the country disappeared from the pages of history.

It was prior to this calamity that God called the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the need for them to repent. This would be like going to the headquarters of ISIL telling them to turn to Christ! No wonder he ran in the opposite direction! Yet, when God rescued him from the sea through a great fish and Jonah obeyed God’s call, the godless Assyrians heeded his message and repented. This did not stop Assyria from threatening other nations.

The tiny southern Kingdom of Judah was left very vulnerable. The prophets warned that if they broke God’s Commandments and worshipped idols as Israel had done, they too would face God’s judgement at the hands of the ruthless Assyrians. Eventually the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem and godly King Hezekiah led his people in a prayer for deliverance. The huge Assyrian army had Hezekiah “shut up like a bird in a cage” in Jerusalem but, in answer to prayer, God sent a plague that killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night and Jerusalem was saved.

This was the beginning of the end for Assyria. In 612 BC Nineveh was so completely destroyed by the Medes, Babylonians and Scythians, that its location was unknown until discovered by archaeologists in the 19th century.

The story of the Assyrians is instructive for our present-day situation. Bombing the Islamic State will not stop them: it will only encourage more Muslims to join their ranks. Only the Gospel will stop them because what is needed is for hearts to be changed.

King Hezekiah learned that when he led his people in prayer, God answered in a spectacular way. We need godly leaders to lead us in prayer for deliverance from terrorism both abroad and at home. We need to pray that God will bring the Gospel to the Islamist terrorists perhaps via radio. After all, their actions are making many Muslims very uneasy—leading them to listen to the Gospel broadcasts and to respond in repentance.

God thwarted the terrorists once. Do we really believe he can do it again?