A Christmas Carol for Gaza
In the opening days of this new war in Gaza, Al Jazeera has reported from Israel that a religious Jewish woman had told them, "The messiah needs to come."
All the talking heads of the news networks and all the politicians of the world could not have said it more eloquently, nor succinctly.
No one can unravel this Mideast mess. Unlike previous contests, religious extremism has ruled out reason as a moderating agency. Our politicians are too afraid to prepare us for the inevitable conflagration. They dare not admit it to themselves.
Zech 12:3 I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.
Maybe, as the Jewish woman suggested, the messiah really does need to come.
Or rather ... come back!
That Jewish woman, indeed, had spoken more profoundly than she had realized; and certainly more profoundly than the Muslims of Al Jazeera had realized.
While the Jews have rejected Jesus as Messiah, they at least know a Messiah is necessary to correct this impasse, which is more than our Western politicians will ever admit.
The Muslims, for their part, have demoted Jesus to a prophet of Islam, which indicates the depth of their delusions.
As you drive down the road this Christmas season, most of you will sooner or later hear the marvelous Christian hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Of medieval Catholic origin, it was translated into English by an Anglican priest in the 19th century.
The hymn is based on a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, where there is a promise that a virgin shall conceive a child who is called Immanuel, which is Hebrew for 'God with Us.'
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The rabbis claim the Hebrew word used for "virgin" means merely a young woman, though in every other use in the bible it means virgin. Moreover, a young woman with a child is not much of a sign; is it? A virgin is. Then there is that troublesome name, Immanuel, which means ' God with us.'
Isaiah 9:6 [9:5 in Hebrew notation] For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of course, the Muslims deny that God ever had a son also.
Surah 19:35 It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son
It is not that we Christians have been such great examples to Jews or Muslims. Far from it. We have often brought the gospel with gunboats; but truth remains in spite of the failings of the messenger.
The hymn, wrongly limited to Christmastime, speaks of the Messianic longings of the Jewish people; a hope that the Messiah would come one day and set things right. Something the Jews need to hear right now as those missiles rain down on the Negev; and not just the Jews, but the Arabs in Gaza, who are also being pounded.
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Each subsequent stanza evokes more Old Testament longing for the Messiah. The hymn goes on to mention the Rod of Jesse (Isa 11:1), the Key of David (Isa 22:22); and each refrain promises that, '...Emmanuel, Shall come to you, O Israel.'
Christians tend to forget that the Messiah has to come twice; and we usually consign his appearance solely to the past; but we are assured that He is coming back.
Acts 1:11 Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
That hymn is not just about His birth, but also about His return, which I believe will be very soon. The birth of Our Lord is only half the promise. He will come back and set things right. As those rockets rain down terror on the Mideast, we need to remind the Jews and Arabs of that; and we need to remind ourselves as well.
While the USA, the EU, Russia, and the UN -- the so called Quartet -- are supposedly working to find a solution, it would be wise to remember that the ultimate solution might be beyond our ability.
This does not mean we should do nothing. Christians are obliged to work until He returns. (Luke 19:13); and if we can make the situation better, we should try. I have made one suggestion myself, which brought waves of criticism; though I thought it had some merit at the time.
But let us not forget that, in the end, there will be no complete solution to this problem. Individual Arabs or Jews may, and should, be helped, but the overall problem will defy human wisdom.
As we listen to Christmas carols this year, let the words of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" remind us that our obligation is tell both sides that Emmanuel is coming back to ransom captive Israel ... again.
Mike Konrad is the pen name of the publisher of http://latinarabia.com/, where he discusses the massive Arab subculture in South America. He is American; but neither Arab, Jewish, nor Latino in ancestry. He wishes his facility in Spanish were better. He is a wannabe writer.