I recieved an email - one of those forwarded to many people - about how often Iraq is mentioned in Scripture. In Christian and Hebrew Scripture Iraq is refered to as Babylon or Mesopotamia and such. At the end of the email there there is a suggestion that the Koran predicts the United States' invasion of Iraq; and to my reading, therefore a Divine Justification for the invasion. Here is what I wrote:
It is true that what we refer to as the Old Testament - the Hebrew Bible - has been formed in light of the Babylonian Exile; and Babylon IS in modern day Iraq. So the Israel's self-understanding is largely shaped by Babylon and the number of references to it are understandable.
The New Testament - or Greek Scriptures - use Babylon as a code word for Rome. Both were the centers of what we might call secular power although pagan power might be less anachronistic.
Power certainly is a central theme in all of our Scripture. The questions become: how is God revealed in manifestations of power? both "natural," water in the wilderness, fish, etc.; and human, nations defeating each other, Joseph's brothers, the Temple Leadership and Roman Government?
Israel had a brief time of what we would recognize as power - David and Solomon's reigns. But for most of the history they have been sojourners, slaves, exiles, and victims of hatred. Jesus the Christ too was abused and eventually killed. Rare, very rare, is it when God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus of Nazareth, militarily or through natural means defeats a political power. The Egyptians are the ones who come to mind (the Philistines too but that seems to be secondary). And there is a rabbinical tradition that says when the Heavenly Host began to sing God's praises when the Egyptian Army was drowned, God silenced them and said, "No one will rejoice when ANY of God's creatures are destroyed."
Like those who interpret Jihad as a military battle, I believe those who interpret God's command to battle evil militarily are wrong. Yes, battle can be a valuable image for our participation in God's work - because people will be hurt and even die. However, my understanding of Scripture is that God calls us to be willing to lay down our lives rather than kill. I pray for the strength and faith to be able to do as Gandhi was able to do. He said, "There are causes for which I am not willing to kill but for which I am willing to die."
Those are my thoughts.