The Word on the Week

Cradle of Civilisation

Attention has been focussed this week on the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers where Abraham and his family and flocks once travelled and where the Garden of Eden lay, today lies conquered by ISIS.

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has hopped out of the cradle of civilisation, as the region was once called, brandishing sophisticated weapons aiming to set up a Caliphate incorporating a large part of Syria and Iraq.

Having established footholds in Syria ISIS declared the abolition of the border with Iraq and swiftly captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

This has given ISIS a launching pad for a rapid series of attacks in which its fighters have seized towns along the Tigris River heading south to Baghdad.

Their success is due to careful planning and intimidation of populations by means of public executions. This has enabled ISIS to obtain weaponry from the captured soldiers, wealth from the banks and control of the oil refineries in their path. They have made al-Qaeda look like amateurs and their methods have attracted would be Jihadists to join them from Europe.

It is estimated that up to 1,700 Westerners have been attracted to join the conflict via information circulated by Islamists and picked up on their smartphones. These young impressionable people are seen as a potential future threat as they could be used to pursue ISIS aggression against the West where they would not be easily detected and identified as Jihadists.

These would become missionaries of militant Islam bearing a message of choice -conversion to Islam or death!

When Abraham headed up the Euphrates valley be was going in the opposite direction to ISIS in more ways than one. His mission unfolded as he obeyed God’s plan to create a people who would be uniquely His own and provide a witness of His gracious love to the nations (“all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” Genesis Chapter 12 verse 3).

In fact St Paul states that when Abraham believed God’s word he was declared to be righteous. This was not on account of anything Abraham had done (he was not yet circumcised) and he was still fallible! It was sheer grace and St Paul was able to say that this act of God was an advance proclamation of the Gospel of grace (Galatians chapter 3 verses 6/9).

St Paul concludes the passage by referring to the work of the Gospel today heralding a vastly different Spirit from that of the Jihadist; so that by the authority given by Jesus Christ the blessing originally given to Abraham might flow to the nations, producing new Christians perhaps even out of the Jihadists (chapter 3 verse 14).