The Burning Question of Curses
Pastor Jones of Gainesville, Florida, has gained worldwide attention with his decision to burn copies of the Qu’ran. “Attention” is perhaps too mild a word; horror, reprobation, condemnation or perhaps celebrity are better descriptions.
How should we look at this?
A dear friend has described Islam as “a scourge on the earth” and with that I must agree. The world would be a better place without Islam. Their history is one of violence against neighbors, women, and even themselves when another enemy wasn’t handy.
As Christians we’ve been on the receiving end of Islamic violence. They pretty much wiped out Christianity from the north of Africa and the Asia of historical New Testament writings. The territories of the churches in Antioch, Ephesus, Laodecia, Colossae, and Thessolonica are lost to the Islamic hoardes.
Such violence and an on-going host of other evils are countenanced by the Qu’ran. Yet most Christians wring their hands about Pastor Jones’ idea of burning the “holey” book of muslims because it isn’t “nice” and might cause criticism.
So what? Didn’t Christ say that we’d be hated? He did. (Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17) The idea that we should back off the burning to make people like us is so distasteful that it makes me want to spew. (Rev 3:16) We’re “nicing” ourselves right into oblivion.
Okay, I feel better now. But…
I don’t believe the burning amounts to much more than a publicity stunt. Poking a rattlesnake is good footage for the 6:00 news but it’s not really doing anything useful. What’s the point? Because they desecrate our Bibles and burn the U.S. flag we’re going to do the same? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
We are forgetting about prayer! It’s not flashy, it’s rarely answered immediately, but it’s called for. It’s effective. And we can fight our enemies with it by engaging God in the battle.
Pastor John Weaver of Fitzgerald, Georgia, has pointed out in his four-part series on Imprecatory Prayer (www.sermonaudio.com) that while David prayed mightily for the destruction of his enemies he himself generally acted very mercifully and gracefully toward them. Think about how David spared Saul when he held Saul’s very life in his hands. David relied on God to exact His punishment.
Weaver points out that we’re allowed to pray curses on our enemies and those curses will follow them for as long as they remain unconverted. We must believe that God acts on His own behalf and punishes as He will. We should align ourselves with His will and He has willed good for us. On the other hand, He has given us the Imprecatory Psalms (Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137, 139) to teach us to pray for our enemies.
A Psalm of David. PLEAD my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor
Who seek after my life;
Let those be turned back and brought to confusion
Who plot my hurt.
Let them be like chaff before the wind,
And let the angel of the LORD chase them.
Let their way be dark and slippery,
And let the angel of the LORD pursue them.
For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.
Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly,
And let his net that he has hidden catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall.
And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
We face a question of which is more useful: Praying the above Psalm or burning a filthy book?
Something else to think carefully about: which is easier?
~ John Bingaman