One night I flipped on a tape player that I hadn't listened to in several weeks. The first words that came out were, "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God" (Ps. 68:31). I don't recall ever having read that before in the Bible. Actually, I found it inspiring - and amazing.
You see, that very afternoon the news had talked about a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and it had occurred to me to pray about that specific situation.
Some quick research on the Bible's use of the word Ethiopia showed it was often a vague term referring to all that was south of Egypt - away from the Mediterranean basin, far distant, a place where "the sun sets." To me, that Bible verse was saying that no matter where they are geographically or politically, people and nations can turn to the one God and find peace. Certainly that includes the Ethiopia of today, as well as Eritrea. It includes all nations in conflict. God is Love - universal and impartial. His great power is always available to influence the affairs of humankind.
I considered many other hopeful messages from Psalm 68, and found these words particularly arresting: "Scatter thou the people that delight in war" (verse 30). Obviously, scattering diminishes power and is desirable in breaking up the forces of evil. The Bible is filled with accounts of God reuniting His people, delivering them "out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day" (Ezek. 34:12).
Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a ceasefire in June. The United Nations Security Council voted Monday to establish a Mission to prepare for a peacekeeping operation along the border. That is evidence of God's unifying force. Of course, absence of combat is never an end in itself, and this is especially true in that part of Africa, where attention needs to be paid to drought-caused starvation. Most nations face problems that demand an atmosphere of peace for working out appropriate solutions. The great value of our prayer, our reaching out to the God who is Love, does not end with peace treaties and arms reductions; it lies in finding solutions to all of earth's problems.
"Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God." Turning to God doesn't necessarily come from religious teaching. While all the great religions make foundations for global cooperation, sometimes zealots ignore their own teaching and engage in warfare. True religionists, however, do not delight in war, and their prayers will guide them back into God's peaceful ways for accomplishing good.
A sentence from Mary Baker Eddy's principal work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," explains the results of reaching out to the Almighty: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, - whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed" (pg. 340). This statement points out the contemporary problems that almost every society faces. It points to the age-old, even ageless, solution - turning to the one God.
God is One alone, and not one of many. Only divine power can "unify men and nations," can scatter into oblivion those impulses that delight in war. Only the power of God can free everyone to live and love in peace.
Beyond peace is Love, and this beyond is not remote. Actually, since God is Love, there is nothing beyond Love itself. Whatever people or nation reaches out for God will find His unifying, governing power right at hand. How good it is to know that the sun never sets on Love's empire, for the one God is everywhere, and God's government is discoverable in every nation.
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory.
Isaiah 43:6, 7
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