Imagine walking down the street in Sydney, Australia when an Islamic State terrorist attacks you. Not because you are a threat to him or ISIS, but because he wants to behead you in a random “demonstration killing” he will put on YouTube for the world to see. Last week, Australian police thwarted just such a plot, raiding more than a dozen properties and detaining 15 people.
Is this an isolated threat? According to New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, ISIS is targeting his city by calling on American Muslims to perpetrate “lone wolf” attacks in Times Square. Last month, a Muslim American admitted that he killed teenager Brendan Tevlin in New Jersey as an act of vengeance for America’s attacks on jihadists.
ISIS is not our only threat. The Khorasan group was unknown to most of us until America’s national intelligence director cited them as a greater threat to the West than ISIS. Led by one of Osama bin Laden’s closest advisers, they are an offshoot of al-Qaeda and are actively recruiting American and European Muslim militants to attack civilians in their homeland. They are also working on hard-to-detect bombs that their jihadists can smuggle onto airplanes as they return home from the Middle East.
As American air strikes on ISIS and Khorasan positions continue, we can expect such jihadist attempts at retribution to escalate. Monday’s air strikes will degrade terrorists’ ability to mount offensive operations, but they will not destroy their organizations. For that, local Sunni forces will need to join the fight, dismantling the terrorists’ resupply networks and reclaiming territory from them. There is a long conflict ahead, one that may come to our shores and streets more than any foreign war we have ever fought before.
What does God’s word say to this news?
First, he wants us to defend ourselves. Moses taught the people, “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed” (Exodus 22:2). Those who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem did so with their swords at their sides (Nehemiah 4:18).
Second, he wants us to pray for the salvation of our enemies. The Lord asked his prophet, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23). Have you prayed today for Jesus to reveal himself to jihadists in the Middle East and around the world?
Third, he wants us to be ready for eternity, whenever and however it begins for us. James warned us, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The safest way to live every day is to be ready to meet God, obeying his word and fulfilling his will.
You’re one day closer to eternity than ever before. Is that fact good news for you today?