Friday, July 25, 2014

What Will It Take To Turn Aside?

The current situation in Gaza and the Middle East reminded me of a number of blog entries I wrote in 2009 on the situation that had erupted at that time including one titled Following Gaza On Twitter, and this one here which at the time I titled Turning Aside. 

Turning Aside

I find it interesting that the world’s three major monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – share a common holy book, the Old Testament. At the heart of this book is a history. Abraham, for all three, is a father of the faith. He left his country, then-dominant Babylon, to live in tents in another land. God made a covenant with him, and promises.

Years later, the descendants of Abraham were ill-treated slaves in the then-great empire of Egypt. Most of us know the story in Exodus of how a man named Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt to “the promised land.” The Exodus, the giving of the Ten Commandments, the wandering in the wilderness are all part of our cultural heritage.

The story begins, however, with a failure. Moses saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, and after looking about to make sure the coast was clear, Moses killed the guy. A bad decision. The next day the word on the street was that Moses had done this thing. And Moses knew someone saw, so he fled to the backside of the desert.

Decades later, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Moses had an encounter that changed the direction of his life.

Exodus 3
1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now
turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

It’s the story of the burning bush. Moses was going about his business, taking care of his father-in-law’s flock, a stranger in a strange land, when he saw something that caught his attention. Instead of continuing on his way, he turned aside and went over to this bush which burned with fire yet was never consumed by the fire.

I bring all this up because our pastor last Sunday preached on this passage, drawing particular attention to Moses’ turning aside. It was a defining moment for this man Moses. And it became a defining moment in world history as the great Egyptian empire was brought to its knees.

My question is, what will it take to bring about world peace today? Here are three religions with common roots, yet at each others’ throats it seems. The past hundred years or more has seen a development of increasingly cruel weaponry. Horrors have been committed and still more will be committed, and so many innocents suffer as a consequence. In other words, history is heading down a path toward an end that seems inevitable... more of the same. What will it take for the nations of this world to turn aside?

What will it take for the world to stop this mad pursuit of self-destruction and violence?

Our pastor Sunday proposed that the bush was still burning. To see it we must turn aside from our various busy paths and check it out.

As for conflicts in the Middle East, isn’t it obvious that as long as we keep arming everyone to the teeth, we will continue to reap a harvest of blood and tears? What will it take for the nations of this world to “turn aside” from this path of violence we are on?

I really don’t know.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. It's something to think about.

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