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2.24.2006    |    Tribal trouble
The continuing sectarian violence in Iraq brought to mind the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7:24-26). According to my study Bible, "Achor" means "trouble", although not in modern Hebrew (roughly transliterated, tsarah). Achan the son of Zerah certainly got his share, since he and his family and all that he owned was stoned to death, and then burned. Ouch.

The Valley of Achan is also mentioned as at the boundary between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (personal note: my family's tradition is that we were of the tribe of Benjamin). Even among the tribes of Israel, there was great strife. It seems that whenever one group identifies itself with itself and forgets the Author, there's going to be some "achor."

Sectarian violence is as old as the hills, and will likely be with us until the end times. What we are seeing now in Iraq might be puzzling to the secular West. For those of us who have read Joshua, and the rest of the story of Israel, it's hardly a surprise. If it seems that God has forsaken Iraq, it's only because its people have done two heinous things.

Firstly, they cursed God's chosen people, the Jews, and expelled them. Secondly, they cling to their religion of hatred and violence, Islam. There are some Christians, of ancient tradition, remaining in Iraq. They, too, have been decimated, and, sorry to be judgmental, but some of the ones we read about are not very Christian (e.g. Tarik Aziz, Hussein's hitman second-in-command, is a "Christian").

The problem is tribalism. Does any thinking person really care, to the point of violence, about which grandson of the prophet Mohammed did some 1300 years ago? And, how can any building crafted by the hand of man be considered more important than the Word of God? As in, worth killing over. Short answer: God makes places holy; men don't.

What's missing today is any sense that God is, somehow, on anyone's side in modern Iraq. My sense is that until Shiites and Sunnis renounce Islam and embrace Jesus Christ as their savior, they will continue to be at each other's throats.

Don't hold your breath. I'm almost to the point of saying we should leave now, before another American loses his life. Almost.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.