/ Friday, January 17, 2020
Genesis 1:2 uses Hebrew words tohu wa-bohu, “formless and void,” to describe the earth into which God spoke Creation. It may also denote a state of chaos, disorder, utter confusion and commotion. The only other biblical use, Isaiah 34:11, concerns God’s judgment upon Edom. I’ve been thinking of this word in relation to the Middle East.
The Bible is primarily set in the Middle East, recording histories and prophecies of great movements, mixings and massive dislocations of people groups across the region. Egyptians, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes & Persians, Greeks and Romans conquered biblical lands in their “set times” (Da 2:21, 7:1-28). After more than half a millennium of Ottoman (Turkish) rule, in the 20th Century European powers drew national boundaries that both solved and created problems (e.g. Kurds – the biblical Medes – were divided among four modern nations.)
Forty years ago, the last Iranian monarch was deposed in a very popular revolution that brought in an anti-Western theocracy under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. His vision of government was that leading Islamic jurists must guard the nation from deviating from Islamic, specifically Shi’a, law. Iranians had not foreseen the oppression they would experience and have regularly, unprofitably, rebelled. Now, Iranians are raging against their government for shooting down a civilian airliner and lying about it, and for demonstrating no compassion for the families of victims.
In addition, Iran’s Shi’a leaders have poured the nation’s resources into exporting terror throughout the Middle East. Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, killed by the US in Iraq, was chief architect and implementer of Iran’s foreign policy, extending its dominion by providing arms and expertise to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, Shi’a forces in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen. His proxy armies battle (Sunni) ISIS but resource (Sunni) Hamas to try to destroy Israel – an all-consuming objective for the Iranian state.
Meanwhile, another revolutionary movement is growing in Iran: converts from Islam are becoming Christian at the rate of doubling in number every five years despite intense government persecution. This movement has no buildings, denominational affiliations or centralized leadership. Led mainly by women, it is “aggressively pro-Israel” (Dalton Thomas, Fox News, Oct 06, 2019)! Jesus, the Word of God who promised to build His church (Jn 1:1, Mt 16:18), is again creating amid the tohubohu that is Iran.
Let’s join, through prayer, with Jesus’ creative work.
- Our Father in heaven, Your name is holy. Your will be done, Your kingdom come, in [Iran and the Middle East] as it is in heaven (Mt 6:9-10).
- Wisdom and power are Yours. You change the times and seasons. You set up kings and depose them. We stand with You against any attempts of the evil one to change the times and laws You have set for the Middle East (Da 2:20-22, 7:25).
- The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against You and Your Messiah, creating chaos and disorder on earth, but Your Kingdom is not of this world, and Your eternal Kingship is assured. Raise up leaders in the Middle East who will serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling, who will kiss the Son and take refuge in Him (Ps 2, Jn 18:36). Teach world leaders how to align with Your will for the Middle East.
- We pray believers in Iran who’ve come out of Islam will find rest and restoration in You in the midst of the tohubohu in their nation so they can represent the Prince of Peace to others (Jn 15:5) and be recognized by them as “sons of God” (Mt 5:9). https://seanfeucht.bandcamp.com/track/theres-a-rest-iraq-iran.