Watching Over The Middle East
written by David Soakell
For most of us, our lives consist of constant activity and 'busyness'. We rarely take the time to relax or enjoy a quality of life that is not demanding our attention. Recently, I had to 'pull in the reigns' over certain commitments and listen to the warning signs my body was telling me. Those of us who are committed to following the vision we believe God has called us to, know that it is a full-time calling in every sense of the word. However, the 'business as usual' is not the same as ‘busy-ness as usual’. And there is a huge difference between being busy, and being fruitful. If we are so busy, how can we sit in quietness before the LORD? And if we don't make the time to listen, how will we hear His calling? How can we watch clearly?
Being too busy, or overly committed to too many different issues, only results in our bodies slowing down, as fatigue takes over, our vision is blurred, and a lethargically weary body switches off. Yet I believe God is calling us to be wide awake and watching, and there is a great deal to do. So how do we get the balance? Well, we need to learn to run with that which God has called us to do ~ no more, no less.
Recently, I read a book by TV chef Delia Smith (CBE). Delia is a famous author and one of the world's best-loved cooks. However, she also has a very deep Christian faith too. Writing on the above Scripture (Romans 13) Delia says, "Paul has taken up a theme that recurs in the Bible, that of being 'awake'... The awakened heart is the heart of one who is spiritually alert to the continuing presence of God (I slept, but my heart was awake. I hear my Beloved knocking. ~ Song of Songs 5:2). It's the heart that listens to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within, and responds."
Delia Smith states that this vigilant faith is illustrated by what the Bible calls 'the watch'. She writes, "The watchman forgoes his sleep to keep guard and prevent enemies invading under the cover of darkness... if we are not watchful we can be lulled into a kind of spiritual complacency - which presents the ideal conditions for the very subtle assault of the enemy. He will be delighted to entice us into a settled, cosy routine of worship, prayer and good works so that we become too preoccupied to be attentive to the fresh challenges that God relentlessly calls us to. Someone who strives to be spiritually awake is not only watching for the enemy, he is watching also for God, looking out for Him, listening for His voice... Through the prophet Isaiah, too, we hear how we must watch for the coming of God: 'On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen. Day or night they must never be silent. You who keep the LORD mindful must take no rest. Nor let Him take rest till He has restored Jerusalem...' - Isaiah 62:6-7..."
As the Middle East turmoil continues unabated; with Egypt looking certain to have their country led by the Muslim Brotherhood, and Israel once again coming under a barrage of rocket attacks from terrorist groups in Gaza, let us rise up to the battle that is upon us and continue to cry out to the LORD God as we remember our calling. As Delia Smith points out, the watchman keeps guard and prevents the enemy invading under the cover of darkness. We do not know what lies ahead for the nation of Israel, but as the darkness thickens around, let us be faithful in keeping watch for Jerusalem and the whole land and people of Israel.