/ Friday, January 24, 2020
Anyone close to Iranians or following the news is aware of the grief and anger many are currently experiencing over the shooting down of Ukrainian Airlines Flt 752, the Iranian government’s initial denial of responsibility, their mishandling of the investigation and their cruelty in manipulating the victims’ families. An Iranian immigrant to Canada interviewed on CBC radio was deeply thankful for PM Trudeau’s sincere expressions of sorrow compared to Iranian leaders’ lack of concern or sincere apology to their own people. At one of the memorials, I heard speakers, uncertain about where their deceased loved ones might be, wistfully hoping they could someday be reunited. Others have heard Iranians say, “I can’t be Muslim anymore” and ask to learn about Jesus. There is much openness to gathering together in Christian contexts to receive comfort and hope.
David had much experience with cruelty and injustice at the hands of kings. In the context of the righteous crying out for help against evil, he wrote, “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18). Right now, a multitude of Iranians is rejecting evil and hungering for righteousness. I believe they are “not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mk 12:34) and that the Lord will answer their hunger with Bread.
Allah in the Qur’an and the God of the Bible are similar in some respects but VERY different in many other respects*. Our God revealed His personal name, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex 3:13-15) and speaks personally to people. “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God. YHWH has no partnership with evil and can’t even look on it (Dt 32:4, Hab 1:13, 1 Jn 1:5), while the Qur’an says Allah inspires debauchery in people and perverts satan to lead people into hell (Q91:7-10, 7:16-18). Even though YHWH is transcendent, He dwells within each believer and among His people. The qur’anic Allah is transcendent, yet “near” in the sense of being aware of everything people do; but he is not present, and it is impossible to draw near to his presence. YHWH is committed – even covenanted – to lovingkindness and loves even sinners; Islam’s god loves only those who love him and hates all others. YHWH’s promises never fail, but Allah in the Qur’an “acts as he pleases [and] is under no obligation to be truthful or fair to human beings” (Durie, p 122).
*See Mark Durie's book, 2013, Which God? Jesus, Holy Spirit, God in Christianity and Islam
Lord, have mercy on Iranians who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. You set eternity in their hearts (Ecc 3:11). Lord Jesus, You drew so near as to become one of us. Draw near to them now and reveal the extent of Your unfailing love, Your compassion, Your empathy with their suffering, Your distance from evil.
Lord, we pray that the ears of those who are not far from Your Kingdom will be closed to the lies of the evil one and open to hear You say,
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zp 3:17)
Pray for Christian friends, teachers and ministers to manifest the empowering presence of Christ and the discernment of the Holy Spirit as they love and serve Iranians with whom the Lord has connected them.