October 17, 2014
October 17, 2014
October 17, 2014
Bereisheet (In the beginning), the first word of Genesis, is framed by a
Star of David.
Welcome to Bereisheet (In the Beginning), this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion), which will be read in synagogues around the world during the Shabbat (Saturday) service.
Please read along with us. We know you will be blessed as the Word of God gives you a fresh start!
BEREISHEET (In the Beginning)
Genesis 1:1–6:8; Isaiah 42:5–43:10; John 1:1–18
“In the beginning [Bereisheet] God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
Isn’t it wonderful to feel that we have a fresh start? That we have an opportunity to begin again?
This is the precious gift we are given each year at the completion of the fall feasts with Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah), when we start our cycle of Parshiot (Torah study portions) all over again—from the beginning.
Weekly Torah portions adopt their names from the first unique Hebrew word that appears in the reading, instead of being given a name or title from a theme in the text.
Both this first Parsha in the yearly cycle of Torah readings and the first book of the Bible take their name from the first unique word in the text—Bereisheet, which means in the beginning.
In English, the book of Bereisheet is called Genesis.
Reading the Torah
A Good Creation
Parsha Bereisheet opens with a dramatic, awe-inspiring narrative of the creation of our world.
In as few as 31 verses and 469 words, Genesis describes how God created a perfectly planned universe that proceeds from confusion and emptiness (tohu v’vohu תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ) to a delicate balance of order and beauty.
“The earth was unformed and void [tohu v’vohu], darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.” (Genesis 1:2)
In this Parsha, the Ruach Elohim (רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים The Spirit of God) hovers over the waters (mayim) as God separates the light from the darkness and land from the water. He creates vegetation and creatures—fish of the sea and birds of the air, as well as land animals.
Sunrise on Israel’s Hula Valley in Galilee (Photo:
Go Israel, Itamar Grinberg)
God looked at everything He had made and declared it good; however, God was not quite finished.
On the sixth and final day of creation, God brought forth the first human—Adam (אָדָם)—out of the dust of the earth (adamah אדמה).
“Then the LORD God formed man [Adam] of the dust of the ground [adamah], and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)
Notice that it took the breath of God to transform Adam into a “living soul”—a being of flesh and blood with personality, emotions, and desires.
Contained within the name of the first “man” on earth is the Hebrew root word dam (דָם blood). This is not a coincidence, since God tells us often that life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23; Leviticus 17:11).
Notice as well that humankind—both male and female—were created in the very image and likeness of God.
Hebrew uses the word b’tzelmo (בְּצַלְמוֹ in His image). The Hebrew root word tzelem is used in modern Hebrew to mean taking a photograph or making a photocopy, and there is a very definite family resemblance between us and our Heavenly Abba (Dad).
“And God created man (Adam אָדָם) in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male (zachar) and female (nikeivah) He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
An artist at work in Jerusalem (Photo: Go Israel)
In the Image of God: Creativity
While we don’t necessarily resemble God in our temporary vessels made out of dust, we do resemble Him in our souls and spirit. One of the ways we resemble God is our capacity for creativity.
Just as God delighted in the creative process of earth and life, so is there an innate quality within each human being to also be creative, which can express itself as art, writing, music, business, strategic thinking, etc.
But how did God create the universe? The Bible says He spoke it into existence using words. For that reason, each act of creation begins with the phrase “And God said ….”
“And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
Although we are not gods, as some in the New Age movement claim, we have been given creative power in our words. Even the power of life or death is in the tongue! (Proverbs 18:21)
Yeshiva (Orthodox seminary) students in Jerusalem discuss Torah.
We see this principle at work when God tells the Israelites that He would give them that which they had declared with their own words, even if that meant that they would all die in the wilderness.
“‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness.’” (Numbers 14:28–29)
Keeping this in mind, let us carefully guard our mouth and watch our words—for they have the power to create good things in our lives and the lives of others, or to cause destruction.
As well, the Word of God spoken in faith is powerful and effective to create light in the darkness, and order out of confusion and emptiness.
Everything in God’s world worked perfectly and everything made perfect sense. He had spoken all into existence in faith, hope and love.
A young man at the Western (Wailing) Wall gets a little help carrying the
Six Days of Labor, One Day of Rest
After six days of an active creating process, God instituted the seventh day Sabbath, a time to cease from all of our labors and simply to rest and be refreshed.
“And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.” (Genesis 2:2–3)
This holy day of rest is so important that God included it in the Ten Commandments, chiseling these words onto the stone tablets:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8–11)
A Jewish woman recites the blessing over the Shabbat
(Sabbath) candles shortly before the Shabbat begins.
The Problem of Loneliness
“And the LORD God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.’” (Genesis 2:18)
When God placed man in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), He declared that it is not good for a man to be alone.
He saw man’s need for a helper, counterpart, and companion; therefore, God put Adam into a deep sleep and took from him a rib to create a suitable helper for him.
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from the man, He made into a woman, and brought her unto the man.” (Genesis 2:21–22)
A second century Jewish sage, Dosetai ben Yaanai, wrote that it is natural for a man to woo a woman. Why? Because he seeks for that which he has lost (his rib).
An Orthodox husband and wife take a few moments to enjoy the beauty
of nature together.
In Hebrew, a man is called ish and a woman, isha, the feminine form of ish. God uses this term when He woos Israel and promises a time when Israel will regard Him with fond affection, rather than stand at arm’s length from Him, viewing Him as a stern authority figure.
“It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi (my man) and will no longer call Me Ba’ali (my master).” (Hosea 2:16)
God wants Israel to serve Him out of love—like that of a woman for her husband. Likewise, His love for Israel is that of a devoted, tender husband.
Furthermore, God is utterly concerned with our intimate relationships—with Him and with one another. He wants our relationships to be borne of love and devotion, not relationships ruled through domination, control, manipulation, and coercion.
For this reason, Judaism has a sensitivity for finding mates for singles in a way that is uncommon in the non-Jewish world.
The Jewish concept of shidduchim (matchmaking), for example, attempts to bring Jewish men and women together for the purpose of marriage. Creating a successful shidduch (arranged match) is considered a great mitzvah (good deed) in Judaism.
An Israeli groom rejoices over his bride. (Photo: Go Israel)
In Hebrew, the word used for the role of a woman is ezer k’negdo, which literally means a helper against him.
Helping doesn’t always mean agreeing. Being placed in the role of a helper does not mean that a woman is less important or inferior to a man. After all, the Holy Spirit is also called The Helper.
A woman was not created to be a doormat. There are times when she must stand in opposition to her man if he is planning something that is ungodly or unwise.
We can look at the example of Haman’s wife in the book of Esther who tried to warn her husband that his attempts to destroy Mordechai would never succeed because he was of Jewish origin.
To his detriment, the anti-Semite Haman did not listen to his ezer k’negdo.
A Jewish woman comes to the Western (Wailing) Wall to pray.
The Fall in the Garden
Sadly, due to a crafty serpent’s trickery, which causes Chavah (Eve) to sin and drag Adam along with her, humankind went from grace to disgrace in a single day!
Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent, and men and women have been pointing the finger at one another ever since.
There, in the Garden, for the first time in human history, we see the emergence of shame. With shame came forth a fear of God’s wrath. In his utter humiliation, Adam hid amongst the trees, having become aware that he was naked.
From their Utopian, sheltered, innocent existence in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Chavah were thrust into a cruel and unforgiving world of hardship and pain.
Being cast out of the Garden prevented them from eating from the Tree of Life in their fallen state. To have eaten from that tree would have turned their temporary fallen state into an eternal fallen state. The barred door of the Garden actually opened the door for redemption in the fullness of time.
Torah and yad (Torah pointer)
How quickly the order and beauty of God’s creation deteriorated into moral degeneracy, even to the point of brother murdering brother (Cain and Abel).
With humankind spiritually separated from God and deciding for themselves what was good and what was evil, only six chapters into the book of Bereisheet, mankind descended to such depths of evil, depravity and violence that God’s heart is broken, and He regrets ever creating mankind.
The good news, however, is that none of this came as a surprise to God. Even before the foundations of the earth were laid, God had a plan for redemption. God sent His one and only Son, Yeshua, to pay the penalty for all of our sins.
“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)
A New Beginning
“By the word [davar] of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)
The New Covenant book of Yochanan (John) echoes the Creation story. The very first word of this book is the very same first word found in this Torah portion: Bereisheet (In the Beginning):
“In the beginning [Bereisheet] was the Word (HaDavar), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1–3, 14)
Yeshua was there at the beginning, and Yochanan describes Him as the agent of creative power, the power that made everything through the spoken word (davar).
It is also through Yeshua, who is called HaDavar (the Word), that we enter into a relationship with God and our true conversation with God begins.
When we accept Yeshua, HaDavar has a home in our hearts. This means we are born again and given a new beginning as a child of the Heavenly Father, the God of the Universe.
In these troubled last days, you can help give every Jewish person a new beginning by supporting our efforts to bring the Good News of Yeshua to Israel and the nations.
“You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)
“Hear the word of the LORD, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over His flock like a shepherd.'” (Jeremiah 31:10)
Shabbat Shalom from the Entire Bibles For Israel family!
“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” (Malachi 3:10)
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5
As in last night’s story, “The Argument,” a difficult day can quickly lead to an unnecessarily heated exchange between spouses. Fatigue, problems with the kids or job, illness, or financial worries can make anyone more susceptible to a fight. So can the condition I (JCD) call “differing assumptions.” For example, after a particularly grueling series of speaking appear‐
ances some years ago, I came dragging home on Friday night feeling I’d earned a day off. I planned to watch a USC‐Alabama football game on TV the next day.
That seemed like a reasonable plan for a guy who had been out earning a living day and night. Shirley, on the other hand, had been running our home and watching the kids for six weeks and felt it was time I pitched in on a few chores. It was entirely reasonable for Shirley to think that she deserved some help at home after doing “domestic duty” for six weeks. Our assumptions collided about ten o’clock Saturday morning. Harsh words froze our relationship for three days. It was a stupid fight, but understandable in light of factors like overwork, fatigue, selfishness, and very different views of what the other was thinking.
When we’re making our own plans we need to remember to consider our partner’s mental and physical state. During stressful circumstances, we should take extra care to communicate our expectations ahead of time.
Just between us…
Have differing assumptions caused us to argue recently?
How can I do a better job of being aware of your mood?
Do we communicate our expectations ahead of time?
Lord, by Your Spirit, help us to be aware of each other’s needs and to take care in our communication. Draw us together in unity and in love of You. Amen.
- Bible Gateway.Com
C.S. Lewis Daily
He had always disliked the people who encored a favourite air in an opera—“That just spoils it” had been his comment. But this now appeared to him as a principle of far wider application and deeper moment. This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards . . . was it possibly the root of all evil? No: of course the love of money was called that. But money itself—perhaps one valued it chiefly as a defence against chance, a security for being able to have things over again, a means of arresting the unrolling of the film.
- Bible Gateway.Com
“And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.”
/ 1 Samuel 27:1
The thought of David’s heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God’s anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted his servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many–yet in every case he who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, “Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me,” for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God’s help?
Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father’s goodness? Have not his lovingkindnesses been marvellous?
Has he once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head he has held aloft the shield of our defence. We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that he who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that he will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.
“He shall gather the lambs with his arm.” / Isaiah 40:11
Our good Shepherd has in his flock a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith, but he is impartial in his care for all his sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to him as the most advanced of the flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary, but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects them with his arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs, ready to perish–he nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; he finds weak minds ready to faint and die–he consoles them and renews their strength. All the little ones he gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye he must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far- reaching and potent arm, to gather them all! In his lifetime on earth he was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that he dwells in heaven, his loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below. How gently did he gather me to himself, to his truth, to his blood, to his love, to his church! With what effectual grace did he compel me to come to himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has he restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of his everlasting arm!
The best of all is, that he does it all himself personally, not delegating the task of love, but condescending himself to rescue and preserve his most unworthy servant. How shall I love him enough or serve him worthily? I would fain make his name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for him? Great Shepherd, add to thy mercies this one other, a heart to love thee more truly as I ought.
– Bible Gateway.Com
‘Encourage him.’ Deuteronomy 1:38
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 13:17–19
Why do you leave your own minister? If I see one come into my place from the congregation of another brother in the ministry, I would like just to give him a flea in his ear such as he may never forget. What business have you to leave your minister? If everyone were to do so, how discouraged the poor man would be. Just because somebody happens to come into this neighbourhood, you leave your seats. Those who are going from place to place are of no use to anybody; but those are the truly useful men who, when the servants of God are in their places, keep to theirs, and let everybody see that whoever discourages the minister they will not, for they appreciate his ministry. Again, let me say by often being present at the prayer-meeting you can encourage the minister. You can always tell how a church is getting on by the prayer-meetings. I will almost prophesy the kind of sermon on the Sabbath from the sort of prayer-meeting on the Monday. If many come up to the house of God, and they are earnest, the pastor will get a blessing from on high; it cannot but be, for God opens the windows of heaven to believing prayer. Never fail to plead for your pastor in your closet. Dear friends, when you mention a father’s name, and a child’s name, let the minister’s name come forth too. Give him a large share in your heart, and both in private and public prayer, encourage him. Encourage him, again, by letting him know if you have received any good.
For meditation: The apostle Paul was greatly encouraged by people who stood by him, like Onesiphorus and Luke (2 Timothy 1:16–17; 4:11). Are you faithful to your minister or do you leave him in the lurch, as Demas and others did to Paul (2 Timothy 4:10,16)?
N.B. This sermon was preached at Cornwall Road Chapel, Bayswater, to the congregation pastored by Spurgeon’s brother, James, since the opening of the chapel on 1 July 1863. For sermons assumed to have been preached for the first and third anniversaries, see readings on 3 and 1 July respectively.
Sermon no. 537 / 17 October (Preached 18 October 1863) — Charles Spurgeon
- Bible Gateway.Com
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:10-12, 22-25
I have heard many fanatical persons say that the Holy Spirit revealed this and that to them. Now that is very generally revealed nonsense. The Holy Spirit does not reveal anything fresh now. He brings old things to our remembrance.
“He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have told you.” The canon of revelation is closed; there is no more to be added. God does not give a fresh revelation, but he rivets the old one. When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, he brings it out and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one. There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived. It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts. He does so by telling us old things over again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasures hidden in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in which the truth has long lain, and he points to secret chambers filled with untold riches; but he creates no more, for enough is done. Believer! There is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon for ever. If thou shouldst outnumber the years of Methuselah, there would be no need for a fresh revelation; if thou shouldst live till Christ should come upon the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if thou shouldst go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend as David envisaged into the belly of hell, still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee without a supplementary sentence. But Christ says, “He shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.”
For meditation: The Spirit of truth who guides into all the truth (John 16:13) does not work independently of Jesus the truth (John 14:6), the only true God (John 17:3) and the word of truth (John 17:17). Otherwise “What is truth?”
Sermon no. 5 / 17 October (Preached 21 January 1855) — Charles Spurgeon
- Bible Gateway.Com
(Central Israel) — When my family and I moved to Israel in mid-August, we did so amidst a jihadist onslaught against the Jewish State. The third Gaza war was underway. Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza were firing more than 4,000 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians, including Jews, Muslims and Christians.
That said, Israel was (and remains) one of the safest places to be in the Middle East this year, and not just for Jews but for Christians, as well.
Christians are being persecuted and even slaughtered throughout the epicenter. Israel and Jordan are safe havens. But from Syria to Iraq to Iran and beyond, the Radical Islamic jihadist offensive against followers of Jesus Christ is fierce and unrelenting. Indeed, as I’ve written about in recent months, we are seeing genocidal conditions emerging in this region against the Christians.
Why then are so few pastors and Christians leaders in the West coming to the defense of our brothers and sisters in this region who are in such grave danger? Why aren’t pastors rallying their congregations to pray for the persecuted Church in the Mideast? Why are so few Christian lay people giving financially to ministries that are making a difference in the region in the name of Christ in the midst of the chaos and carnage?
The epicenter is on fire. Yet I’m stunned by how few Christians are paying attention, or trying to help. Some are, and may God deeply bless this wonderful, heroic remnant. But so much of the Church is asleep.
How about you? Are you moved by the suffering of our brethren? Are you and your congregation looking for a way to help in a practical way?
The Joshua Fund team is working hard to provide prayer, encouragement, funds, and other resources to Arab Christians fleeing from the ISIS rampage. We are doing this even as we continue to provide humanitarian relief and other help in Israel. The Bible certainly commands believers to love and bless Israel and the Jewish people, and this is more important than ever. But the Scriptures also command us to love and bless Israel’s neighbors, and even her enemies. Is it easy? No. Is it safe? Not always. But the Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to love everyone in this region and He set the example for us.
Would you like to join us? We need your prayers. We also need your financial support, especially at this time. You can learn more about what The Joshua Fund is doing by clicking here.
You can also learn more about what is happening to the Christians in the epicenter by reading this excellent article by columnist Kirsten Powers. I cite it here in full.
By Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast, September 27, 2014
Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.
As Egypt’s Copts have battled the worst attacks on the Christian minority since the 14th century, the bad news for Christians in the region keeps coming. On Sunday, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 85 worshippers at All Saints’ church, which has stood since 1883 in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Christians were also the target of Islamic fanatics in the attack on a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, this week that killed more than 70 people. The Associated Press reported that the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabab “confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free.” The captives were asked questions about Islam. If they couldn’t answer, they were shot.
In Syria, Christians are under attack by Islamist rebels and fear extinction if Bashar al-Assad falls. This month, rebels overran the historic Christian town of Maalula, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The AFP reported that a resident of Maalula called her fiancé’s cell and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused. So they slit his throat.
Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer and expert on religious persecution, testified in 2011 before Congress regarding the fate of Iraqi Christians, two-thirds of whom have vanished from the country. They have either been murdered or fled in fear for their lives. Said Shea: “[I]n August 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … The archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed in early 2008. A bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes …”
Lela Gilbert is the author of Saturday People, Sunday People, which details the expulsion of 850,000 Jews who fled or were forced to leave Muslim countries in the mid-20th century. The title of her book comes from an Islamist slogan, “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People,” which means “first we kill the Jews, then we kill the Christians.” Gilbert wrote recently that her Jewish friends and neighbors in Israel “are shocked but not entirely surprised” by the attacks on Christians in the Middle East. “They are rather puzzled, however, by what appears to be a lack of anxiety, action, or advocacy on the part of Western Christians.”
As they should be. It is inexplicable. American Christians are quite able to organize around issues that concern them. Yet religious persecution appears not to have grabbed their attention, despite worldwide media coverage of the atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
It’s no surprise that Jews seem to understand the gravity of the situation the best. In December 2011, Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, addressed Parliament saying, “I have followed the fate of Christians in the Middle East for years, appalled at what is happening, surprised and distressed … that it is not more widely known.”
“It was Martin Luther King who said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ That is why I felt I could not be silent today.”
Yet so many Western Christians are silent.
In January, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) penned a letter to 300 Catholic and Protestant leaders complaining about their lack of engagement. “Can you, as a leader in the church, help?” he wrote. “Are you pained by these accounts of persecution? Will you use your sphere of influence to raise the profile of this issue—be it through a sermon, writing or media interview?”
There have been far too few takers.
Wolf and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sponsored legislation last year to create a special envoy at the State Department to advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East and South-Central Asia. It passed in the House overwhelmingly, but died in the Senate. Imagine the difference an outcry from constituents might have made. The legislation was reintroduced in January and again passed the House easily. It now sits in the Senate. According to the office of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the sponsor of the bill there, there is no date set for it to be taken up.
Wolf has complained loudly of the State Department’s lack of attention to religious persecution, but is anybody listening? When American leaders meet with the Saudi government, where is the public outcry demanding they confront the Saudis for fomenting hatred of Christians, Jews, and even Muslim minorities through their propagandistic tracts and textbooks? In the debate on Syria, why has the fate of Christians and other religious minorities been almost completely ignored?
In his letter challenging U.S. religious leaders, Wolf quoted Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for his efforts in the Nazi resistance: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
That pretty well sums it up.
Chilling new headlines — and gruesome new photographs — from the Middle East increasingly suggest ISIS not only has chemical weapons, but may already be using them against its enemies in the region.
Thus, disturbing new questions are being raised:
· Are these reports and photographs legit?
· If so, where did ISIS get the weapons?
· How many WMDs do they have?
· What are their next targets?
· Could the U.S. and Israel bit hit with chemical weapons soon?
As readers of this blog know, these are fictional plot lines in my forthcoming thriller, The Third Target, which releases in the U.S. and Canada on January 6th.
In the novel, a New York Times reporter pursues rumors that ISIS has captured chemical weapons in Syria and is preparing a genocidal attack against an unknown target.
In August, however, it appeared the premise of my novel had been overtaken by events. The U.S. government declared that it had completed the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons. Thus, it seemed impossible that ISIS could capture such weapons.
But in September, officials in the Obama administration began to backpedal. They started to publicly express doubts that all the Syrian WMDs had been disclosed and destroyed. This raised fears that that Assad regime or ISIS or other Radical jihadist groups could seize such weapons and use them against their enemies. That led me to write a blog on September 11th headlined, “What If ISIS Obtains Chemical Weapons?”
Now, in mid-October, we are getting reports that ISIS has indeed captured chemical warheads, and may be using them against the Kurds in Iraq.
What’s more, we’re hearing reports that even though for more than a decade the Western media told us there were no WMD in Iraq, that such weapons were there after all. A newly published New York Times investigation this week reports the following: “From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
There are also reports that ISIS forces have captured a chemical weapons production facility in Iraq, and may be using Iraqi WMD against the Kurds.
At the moment, I’m not sure we can say definitively whether ISIS has such deadly weapons. But I wanted to bring the latest headlines to your attention.
For my part, I pray the reports are not true, and that The Third Target remains merely a work of fiction.
Oct 17, 2014 02:08 am | Robert Spencer
Just today some Twitter clowns (including a professor of Islamic Studies) were claiming yet again that Islam actually has no death penalty for apostasy. Funny how so many Muslims didn’t get the memo. Muhammad commanded: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57), and the alleged “numerous verses in the Koran” that “guarantee […]
Oct 16, 2014 12:51 pm | Raymond Ibrahim
Another Coptic female was kidnapped by Muslims in Egypt earlier this week. The 20-year-old Christian youth was on her way to St. George Church in Sohag governate during the early morning but never returned, according to her brother during a video interview. The family later received a phone call from a certain “Muhammad” who said […]
Oct 16, 2014 12:46 pm | Robert Spencer
This threat has nothing to do with Islam, of course. Everyone knows that “when you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (Qur’an 47:4) means “when you meet the unbelievers, engage in interfaith dialogue over coffee and doughnuts.” Only greasy Islamophobes think it means “when you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks.” Ask John Kerry! Ask […]
Oct 16, 2014 12:37 pm | Robert Spencer
Would CNN ever run an article entitled, “I’m a feminist, and I converted to Christianity”? Or “I’m a feminist, and I converted to Judaism”? You know the answer. As far as the mainstream media is concerned, proselytizing is only acceptable from one religion only. Anyway, as for feminism in Islam, here is a small sampling: […]
Oct 16, 2014 12:18 pm | Robert Spencer
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are a massive human rights abuse, used to destroy the lives of countless numbers of people, including Asia Bibi. But the world takes little notice. After all, no “Islamophobia” is being committed, so what’s the big deal? “Pakistani Christian loses appeal against death sentence for blasphemy,” by Mubasher Bukhari, Reuters, October 16, […]
Oct 16, 2014 12:00 pm | Robert Spencer
“Even if we accept everything else – what kind of religion allows the capturing of a Muslim woman, and on top of that, allows her to be sold to a Jew?!” Good question! Anyway, this repulsive little imam demonstrates that Jew-hatred is not limited to Sunni Muslims, but is found among Shi’ites as well. After […]
Oct 16, 2014 11:29 am | Robert Spencer
“When officers pulled up they were greeted with cries of ‘infidels’ according to French media reports. The leader of the group told police they were training to ‘avenge the deaths of their Muslim brothers’…One of the men involved later denied the men were trainee jihadists and insisted they were just taking part in a self-defence […]
Oct 16, 2014 11:15 am | Robert Spencer
The Times hastens to assure us that these chemical weapons do not constitute a vindication of the Bush Administration’s claims regarding Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and that is probably true: if these weapons really did validate the Bush claims, then it would have been suicidal for the Bush Administration to have kept them […]
Oct 16, 2014 10:55 am | Robert Spencer
Islamic scholars Reza Aslan (a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside) and Mia Bloom (a professor of security studies at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell) are rudely contemptuous of anyone who would dare question their knowledge of Islam, but both have just made the same spectacular error — the kind of error […]
Oct 16, 2014 08:37 am | Raymond Ibrahim
In a new video interview, Shiekh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most respected clerics in the Muslim community and spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood, confirmed that the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was once a member of the Brotherhood. But he was always “inclined to be a leader,” so after he […]
Oct 16, 2014 07:36 am | Raymond Ibrahim
[Via FrontPage Magazine] Once again, Islamic State Muslims are pointing to Islam in order to justify what the civilized world counts as atrocities. According to an October 13 report in the Telegraph, Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold […]