The swords of Midian

A deadly poison is making its way through the body politic of the United States. Intelligent, thoughtful Americans are now openly wondering if a civil war looms in our future. Bloomberg recently quoted political scientist Thomas Schaller saying, “I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war. I don’t know if the country gets out of it whole.”

Thomas Ricks of Foreign Policy Magazine asked a group of what he called “smart national security thinkers,” a basic question. “What are the chances of another civil war breaking out in this country in the next 10 to 15 years?”

Ricks said, “I was surprised that the range of answers ran from ‘five percent’ to ‘95 percent.’”

The well-known Hollywood director, actor, and liberal activist, Rob Reiner, has on several occasions characterized America as presently being in a civil war. Charles Hurt, Opinion Editor for the Washington Times and political commentator for Fox News, wrote in June, “Civil war is upon us.”

That may sound like hyperbole. After all, in the war between the states, more than 600,000 soldiers died. Gettysburg alone saw 51,000 deaths. We see nothing like that today. Thankfully, our military has not divided over geographic or political issues. Vast armies do not stalk one another through the fields of Pennsylvania, Georgia, or Virginia.

Nevertheless, lines have been drawn. They’re not lines of soldiers charging up Cemetery Hill. But neither are they traditional political lines where an issue is debated, then settled by ballot. Increasing numbers of Americans no longer trust the vote. When I say that, I’m not just talking about Russian or Chinese interference in US elections. I’m talking about Americans no longer trusting their neighbors to make sound decisions. Just as important, they no longer trust the media to give them the facts on which to base sound decisions.

In Chicago last weekend, 66 people were shot and 12 killed — Americans shooting Americans. If those numbers of casualties had taken place at a single venue, it would have the primary headline in every newspaper and news website in America. It wasn’t at a single school or church, but it was all in one city.

Over the same weekend, Portland saw another round of violent confrontations between right-and-left-wing extremists. People are being hounded from restaurants and while walking down the street because of their political views.

The New York Times just added a racist and sexist to their editorial board. It’s difficult to find useable quotes from Sarah Jeong because her language is so atrocious. I can summarize it by saying, she believes white people are stupid. She expresses special rage against white women. But she apparently hates men of all colors — saying they should be killed. In one tweet, she said, “My point is that we should kill all the men ‘prior’ to removing the state from marriage as an institution.” She spent years tweeting horrible things about the police. She had no sympathy for members of law enforcement who had been hurt in the line of duty. She said that Americans should consider banning police.

What is her excuse for such outrageous rhetoric? She says she meant it as “satire.” She could be the poster child for a new era of rage that is dividing American families, schools, clubs, churches, and previously long-standing friendships.

America’s turmoil reminds me of God’s judgment against the Midianites. You may remember the story of Gideon, and how God lowered the number of men in his army from 32,000 to 10,000, and finally to 300. In Judges 6-8, you can read the story of how God used Gideon and his 300 men to defeat a force of 135,000 Midianites and their allies.

The key to the military victory can be found in Judges 7:22. “The Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow.”

God did the same thing in judgment against the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14. And in 2 Chronicles 20, He defeated the armies of Moab and Ammon in the same way. People became frightened, angry, and confused. They turned their swords on one another.

 Is God doing that to America in judgment for our national sins? Or, are we simply doing it to ourselves? Brother has turned against brother; and friend against friend.

 It’s time to cool the temperature. It’s time to remember the words of Proverbs 15:1. “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”

 We should be critical of the New York Times’ hypocrisy in hiring. And we should speak up about political differences. Political decisions can be tremendously important — sometimes life and death. But in a free society, we must also allow people their mistakes. Don’t lower the boom over every incorrect position. I’m all for robust debate. But don’t destroy people for being politically incorrect, even if they are incorrect on issues that you hold dear.

 Our job as Christians is to represent Jesus Christ. The Lord preached against sin, but always as a warning against sin’s lethality. Even His harshest words were spoken as part of His primary mission as stated in John 3:17. “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

 Christians are to follow the words and example of Christ. In Matthew 5:44, He said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

 With the world on edge — when tempers are flaring, and people feel their lostness — followers of Jesus have an amazing opportunity to spread the Gospel with love.

Hal Lindsey