While the world apparently slumbered, the terrorist group ISIS rose up with increasing power, resources and resolve. Depraved and inhuman, defying even the base instincts given to man, gruesome beheadings, torture, and brutal human enslavement have become their trademark. Their movement is ghastly and historically unique in its ability to broadcast treachery through the media. Other gross inhumanities, such as Hitler’s death camps, the Turkish genocide of Armenians, or the forced starvation and death of millions under the oppression of Mao Zedong and Stalin, might parallel in terror. Most certainly man is capable of loathsome sin however, merciless brutality may be inspired and fueled by spiritual power.
“We must understand that ISIS is a demonic movement. This is not mere terrorism. These barbarians are making blood sacrifices to their god.” Joel C. Rosenberg
While embedded within ISIS territory, journalist and author Jurgen Todenhoefer observed the operation itself and interviewed ISIS fighters. Reporting to CNN on 1/4/15,
“When we stayed at their recruitment house, there were 50 new fighters who came every day,” Todenhoefer said. “And I just could not believe the glow in their eyes. They felt like they were coming to a promised land, like they were fighting for the right thing….These are not stupid people. One of the people we met had just finished his law degree, he had great job offers, but he turned them down to go and fight … “
Toward the progression of world conquest, ISIS freely admitted to Todenhoefer,
“…slavery is a great help to us and we will continue to have slavery and beheadings, it is part of our religion…“
The journalist concluded,
“ISIS is preparing the largest religious cleansing campaign the world has ever seen.”
Yes, they are richly armed, yes, they have increasing recruits and resources. But all that is nothing if not fueled by living fervor to conquer – they have answered a powerful call into a dark mission. They are spiritually and mentally prepared to take on barbarianism with steely satisfaction and pride.
Against this onslaught, the western world scrambles to manufacture resolve and strategies. Amidst the complaining, opining, and posturing, the deep void of conviction, mission, and sacrifice remains our greatest weakness. Defending ‘our way of life’ is not a strong platform since our ‘way of life’ has cultured a lifestyle of complacency, comfort, and tolerance for the very things that compromise our strength as a people. We have lost our moral compass and any sense of righteousness – how can we muster up the will to sacrifice and defend, to push back the enemy at great cost?
If we don’t acknowledge that ISIS is spiritually endowed, we can proceed to trust in our own defenses and wisdom, and strategies which have availed little in this battle. However, ceding that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood….but against powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6), what should our response be?
Many will exclaim, ‘Just bomb them and utterly destroy them!’ A spiritually endowed movement cannot be exterminated like a bug when it has most likely pervaded our land. God may employ man into the physical battle, but our readiness and call must start with an undergirding, a separation unto Him….
Head for the hills…. “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 121) If we are serious about a battle, we will get alone with our Commander, hear from Him and wait upon Him, with a willingness to obey His Word. Now is the time to prepare with repentance and renewal, to “Prepare our minds for action” (I Peter 1:13) as surrendered vessels given to Most High God, with resolve to align with Him and behind Him in every struggle. The smallest army, backed by heaven, will never fail.
Of the Bible, godly leaders admonish, “get into this Book and get this Book into you!” pleading with believers to study, meditate upon and accept the WHOLE counsel of God, resisting the will to conform His changeless word into our comfortable lifestyle. Surrendering to the whole counsel of God is the only assurance of His whole promises to us. There is no power nor promise – and every reason to fear – when we know the Way and the Truth but have a willing heart to adulterate His Word.
Encroaching enemies and dire threats expose our complacency and the sin that weakens and disqualifies us for spiritual battle. The Lord always raises up godly messengers to warn us, draw us, and prepare us. Yet admonishments, warnings, and calls to repent are as unpopular today as in the days of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 20, he is beaten and humiliated in stocks by Pasher the Priest.
Jeremiah’s message warned of God’s judgment, the rise of a powerful invading kingdom, to chastise those called by God’s name as they refused to repent of faithlessness and idolatry. Complacency and comfort led to a false security in self as Jeremiah warns, “This is what the Lord says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5)
ISIS calls us the ‘People of the Cross’ and the ‘People of the Book’ but are we? Do we represent the Cross of Christ and the Word of God? If so, are we endowed with the power of the cross and the living word of God?
Much of the western church is either weakened by willful sin or busy ministering to the wounds of sin’s victims. Perhaps only dire threat will quicken us to our knees before God, a position of readiness long forgotten by many. Godly churches who resist prevailing world culture to surrender and wait upon a living word from the Lord are dwindling in numbers. Obedience to God has become so unpopular, those who subscribe to the whole counsel of God are viewed as the ‘enemy’….mocked, derided, and marginalized….until a true enemy, armed with cruel hate, arises upon us.
Members of Congress, on the Capital steps, singing together, in itself is a surreal image. Yet this group, not known for honoring God, is singing God Bless America! A spiritual stirring, albeit hollow and temporary, ensued following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Perhaps an inner compulsion, a quickening for the ungodly to acknowledge God, evoked such cry after these horrific attacks.
How much more should the Body of Christ be prepared before a coming storm?
We are called to separate unto the Lord, come together in His presence, and break forth from spiritual huddles. The Lord calls us in to send us out; can we see ourselves, the Body of Christ, as ‘first responders’ on any front in this dark world? If we avail ourselves to the living God, surrendered with a willingness to obey, He will call upon us in times of darkness to be a light. The will of God has not changed, He desires to indwell believers as vessels for His Holy Spirit, to represent Him and bring glory and honor to His name.
A raging battle quickly exposes the nominal, the lukewarm, from the readied, red hot, vessel of God.
ISIS fighters are not lukewarm nor are they attracting nominal believers. They have availed themselves to spiritually dark forces and are displaying their conquests to the world.
Can ISIS win? They can achieve the domination measured by God as it serves Biblical prophecy, further spinning the world’s course into the coming judgment and return of Christ. The question for us is, can their rampage serve to quicken the Body of Christ out of slumber and frivolity, into His presence? Can we find power in prayer, in the Lord’s presence, and gain His burden for the persecuted, the desperate and suffering?
It is God’s will that He be glorified in this world. Jesus came as the Light of the World and passes this defining call onto His followers, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt 5:14) Through Him we can be that readied beacon, a point of refuge and hope, a conduit for God’s power, pointing to Him as the saving light through the coming dark storm.
“A lighthouse is only a tourist attraction until the storm comes…then, no longer a tourist attraction, its light is essential for survival for people trying to find their way home in the storm.” (Pastor Carter Conlon, Times Square Church)