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Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 28 December 2009


By Jim Jordal

Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; My chosen, in whom my soul delights-- I have put my Spirit on him. He will bring justice to the nations….And [I] will hold your hand, And will keep you, And make you a covenant for the people, As a light for the nations; To open the blind eyes, To bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, And those who sit in darkness out of the prison…. But this is a people robbed and plundered; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prisons: they are for a prey, and none delivers; for a spoil, and none says, Restore. Who is there among you who will give ear to this? who will listen and hear for the time to come?

Selected from Isaiah 42 (WEB)

The concept of personal as well as national servant-hood runs throughout the Bible. It was God’s message to ancient Israel. It is reflected in the writings of the prophets. And it was an integral part of the life and mission of Jesus Christ. It is one of the very foundations of Christendom and Western culture.

The passage quoted above is part of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning what Christ promises for the earth’s people at some future time. But if we believe Christ’s admonition in the Great Commission that those who follow him should be "Teaching them [the people] to observe all things that I have commanded you," then perhaps we should take to heart the final phrase in Isaiah’s prophecy above: "who will listen and hear for the time to come?"

Christ taught the same message that Isaiah advocated—a servant concept aimed at delivering righteousness and justice to the people. If we taught what Christ commanded we would get out of our comfortable pews and do what he said. Yes, we wait and watch expectantly for his deliverance, but we also actively do what he taught as we wait. Passivity is anathema to God’s will.

With the recent speech by President Obama announcing and defending the military surge in Afghanistan, and the announced costs of such an operation, the issue arises again: What if we were to follow God’s revealed destiny that we be servants to the world rather than dominators, exploiters and oppressors? What if we were to devote the approximately $500 billion per year we now devote to the military establishment to the relief of the 2 billion persons existing on less than $2 per day. What if we were to subordinate conquest to assistance and war making to servant-hood as national policy?

President Eisenhower half a century ago warned us against domination by what he termed the military/industrial complex. But his warning was not heeded and a decade later we plunged into the Viet Nam debacle. Now we face the same situation in Afghanistan—called by many historians the "graveyard of empires" because of the difficulty of military success in a wild, restless country characterized more as a pot boiling with disputing clans and ethnic hatreds than as a viable nation state.

If we followed God’s will we would devote most of our military budget to conquering poverty, providing clean water and adequate food to poor countries and their people, conquering disease and illiteracy, and opposing oppression through peaceful means wherever it occurs.

We already have examples. In his books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones to Schools, adventurer and human benefactor Greg Mortenson details his efforts in Afghanistan to peacefully oppose ignorance and oppression by building schools and other needed infrastructure. How much more effective is this than the virtual destruction of the country by predator drones and military incursions? We don’t win friends by destroying them and their culture.

But the party line on this is that we are doing it for the welfare and freedom of the Afghan people. Maybe so. But wouldn’t schools, hospitals, clean water supplies, and adequate food do the same or better--and a good bit cheaper--not to mention sparing the lives and bodies of our soldiers?

It’s a sad commentary on what passes for intelligence that politicians claim we are in the business of building democracy around the earth. Democracy depends upon many things—adequate education, a free press, the rule of law, public honesty, enfranchisement of women and the poor, and many other things that just do not exist in Afghanistan, and cannot be made to exist in any permanent form by military force.

We are not willing to take the actions that would work and would last in Afghanistan. Only individuals and some welfare agencies undertake the task, and that with drastically reduced budgets courtesy of the economic downturn. How long must we suffer before we learn what God has said all along—become my partners in human service if you would find peace and prosperity.