News reports today, like every other day this week, are telling a gruesome tale of slaughter and brutality in the Syrian civil conflict. These reports are shocking, but not surprising, as the Syrian army uses its heavy weapons ostensibly purchased to fight with the Israeli army to now indiscriminately bombard and kill its own citizens living in the city of Homs and elsewhere in that country.
So the news features stories about the wholesale murder of men, women, and children who happen to be living in neighbourhoods where the popular sentiment is against the government. Any doctors or medical personnel who attempt to treat these wounded civilians in these areas under government bombardment are summarily executed as well. The government is determined to kill all who oppose it, armed or unarmed, as well as their entire families whether young or old. The Assad government is going to make an example of Homs.
Former friends and allies of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, such as Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf states, are now seeking regime change. The Arab League tried to get the United Nations to pass some sort of resolution condemning the indiscriminate bloodshed. But the Russians and the Chinese, who have their own dirty laundry, vetoed the resolution because they don’t want to set a “bad” precedent that might somehow diminish the absolute right of a sovereign power to slaughter rebels as that government sees fit. Iran and Hezbollah are also backing up the Assad government, providing whatever assistance that government requests of them.
The rule of law? Human rights? Elemental civilized behaviour? Not a chance. Power comes out of the barrel of a smoking gun. What we are seeing in Syria is the mere continuance of a millennia-old Middle Eastern custom in which a ruler may use any and all means to assert his authority and punish his enemies.
For instance, the ancient Assyrians enjoyed decapitating the whole population of a rebellious city and then making a pyramid out of their victims’ heads at that city’s main entrance. This would serve as an ancient sort of twitter message to everyone else living in the region: submit or die you scum! The Assyrians liked this message so much they would even decorate their kings’ palaces with graphic portrayals of it.
Unfortunately carnal human nature has not changed much since antiquity. This is one reason the Bible is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Even though it was written so long ago, the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible succinctly nails the nature of Bashar Assad this way:
A wicked ruler over a helpless people is like a roaring lion or a charging bear (Proverbs 28:15 Holmen Christian Standard Bible)
Unfortunately, it would appear that at this time the Syrian people are going to receive little if any help from other nations to help stop the Assad government from murdering them by the thousands.
Nevertheless the Syrian regime should know that they will eventually lose power and then be held to account for their blood guilt. Perhaps this prophetic word of deliverance given by a Jewish prophet to his oppressed people thousands of years can lend a little comfort and hope to today’s hard-pressed people of Syria and elsewhere in the world. Let all the wicked rulers of the earth know that the God of Justice has not changed:
When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure, you can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the king [of Syria]:
Can you believe it? The tyrant is gone! The tyranny is over! God has broken the rule of the wicked, the power of the bully-rulers that crushed many people.
A relentless rain of cruel outrage established a violent rule of anger rife with torture and persecution.
And now it’s over, the whole earth quietly at rest. Burst into song! Make the rafters ring!
Ponderosa pine trees are happy, giant Lebanon cedars are relieved, saying, ”Since you’ve been cut down, there’s no one around to cut us down.”
And the dead are all excited, preparing to welcome you when you come. Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead, all the famous names of earth. All the buried kings of the nations will stand up on their thrones with well-prepared speeches, royal invitations to death: “Now you are as nothing as we are! Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!” (Isaiah 14:3-10 The Message version).