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How do we look at radical Muslims? Shortly after 9/11 a child in our church said, "We need to pray for the terrorists!"

Without thinking, I answered, "Pray that they will be caught and killed." Because of that 4 or 5 year-old boy, I had to examine my heart and my thinking in this matter. I have come to some thoughts that I would like to share with you.

Is it wrong to pray for judgment to come on our enemies? God is a God of judgment. He could not be good, holy or even loving, if He did not judge the wickedness of men.

Many skeptics point at the command of God for the people to destroy the city of Jericho killing men, women, children and livestock, saying the Bible endorses genocide. However, this incident did not take place in a vacuum. First, God had told Abraham in Genesis 15 that He was going to bring judgment on the Amorites. But he said they had not filled up their iniquity. Who knows how long God had already shown His patience toward this wicked people, calling them again and again to repent. And yet, another four hundred years passed before the Children of Israel came through the wilderness to encircle the city of Jericho. Many have argued that the Atomic Bomb that killed all living creatures in the Japanese cities, ended World War II and prevented many more deaths for many years. So the destruction of Jericho caused many of the Amorites to flee rather than being killed in the ensuing war.

But you may ask why the Lord employed Israel in this judgment. I certainly don't know all of God’s reasons. I do know the people of Israel knew not to do such a thing without God's direct command. This is a crucial point that I want get back to.

Interestingly enough, this is not the only time God put His judgment into the hands of men. King Saul wickedly brought the judgment that had been foretold upon the house of Eli. God used the ungodly Assyrians to carry His people into captivity for rejecting Him. And most strikingly, God used the imperfect judgment of a Roman tribunal to sentence and crucify Jesus. That judgment of God was upon my sins and yours. God took my sin upon Himself as Jesus died for us. Nothing shows the measure of God's love for us as powerfully as Jesus taking our judgment on Himself at the cross.

I have prayed for God to bring judgment on wickedness in our world. But the Bible, Old and New Testament, clearly teaches that God prefers repentance and forgiveness to judgment and destruction. One of the most apropos stories of this is the book of Jonah. Jonah was sent to preach to Nineveh. Nineveh was the enemy of Israel. Jonah tried to flee from God's call. But he only proved you can't run from God. When he finally went to preach to the city he made no reference to repentance as he proclaimed judgment would come in forty days. However, the people did repent in sackcloth and ashes. The point of that book is God's compassion for people and our New Testament mission to love even our enemies with the gospel. The final day of judgment is coming. But until God tells us it is time to pray for judgment temporary or ultimate, we need to pray for it not to be too late for His grace even for our enemies.

I am praying and rejoicing to see Muslim people turning to Christ by the thousands all across the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere. Some of them had indeed been radical Muslims. I pray for their sin and threat against us to be condemned and come under the terrible wrath of God as Jesus died in their place and mine.


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Comment by Vicki Normoyle on April 29, 2016 at 7:22pm
Good words, thanks to both of you. And thank you for the reminder of the importance of taking the time to hear how God would have us pray
Comment by David Young on April 28, 2016 at 12:57am

Good word, Andrew.

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on April 27, 2016 at 7:40am

Great thoughts, David!  I pray for the Muslim world regularly, and my prayers tend to be focused on judgment and destruction for organizations like Boko Haram, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc. - but on grace and redemption for individuals.  I pray that God will bring down these organizations by changing the hearts of their leaders, as he did for Paul.  I pray for Damascus Road-type encounters that leave these terrorists no option but to acknowledge that God is real and to bow in worship of him.

I agree that grace is Option 1 and judgment is Option 2.  I believe that God's kingdom will advance much more rapidly and widely by grace than it will by judgment.  The testimony of a Muslim terrorist who came to know Christ is a much more compelling witness than that terrorist's death would be.

I also think that Jesus' command to love our enemies comes into play here.  And there is no doubt that these terrorists are our enemies.  They proclaim it in their words and in their actions.  They make themselves enemies of God and enemies of Christians. It's unrealistic to think of them in any other way than as enemies.  And this is exactly where Jesus' command comes in.  He wants us to pray for those who persecute us and to return good for evil.  Not to call evil good (as some seem to insist that we should, more concerned for political correctness than for reality) - but to acknowledge it for what it is and to love and pray through that.

There will come a time for ultimate judgment.  In the meantime, God will hand out other judgments as he sees fit. And he may occasionally use one nation or another to do that, as he has done in the past.  But I agree that until he clearly gives that word, our first response should be to pray for grace, repentance, and conversion for terrorists.

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