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“Power grows out of the barrel of a gun”

The word of the LORD: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Look and see, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Zechariah 9: 9-10 c. BC 520
 

Jersey is a very secure place, is it not? Very peaceful? Living here it is very difficult to realise the present fact of war, shattered limbs, lifeless soldiers and the tears of bereavement. One of the reasons why the illusion of peace continues is that there is no standing army, navy or air force constantly on public view in Jersey. No tanks. No submarines on the north coast picking up nuclear warheads.

All we have are relics of past gun emplacements. In Jersey war is history.

On 6 November 1938 Mao Tse Tung, who later rose to become the first Chairman of the Chinese People’s Republic, coined a phrase which has gone down in history. “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” He wanted every Communist to grasp that truth. He wrote this: “It is only by the power of the gun that the working class and the labouring masses can defeat the armed bourgeoisie and landlord; in this sense we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed.”

In the past few weeks Britain has devastatingly bombed towns in Iraq, calling these “air strikes”.  Was Mao correct - will guns transform the whole world?
 
 
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‘Five great enemies to peace: greed, ambition, envy, anger and pride.' (Petrarch, Italian scholar, 1304-1374)

Actually, a case can be made for the truth of Mao’s well-known pronouncement. Guns are powerful. Guns do indeed transform the whole world. Killing does succeed. From the very beginning of man’s earliest known history, the world has changed – has been transformed - through war and killing.

Without the killing of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers (as well as British, American, Russian, Japanese and others into the bargain) Jersey might be ruled by Germany. Yes, Jersey has been transformed by war and killing. And, as part of the British Isles, Jersey is waging war and killing today.

Is there any alternative to the wars which have occupied human beings for at least 4,000 years? Do you know of any alternative? We’re all of us pretty desperate to find one, despite Mao’s convictions and despite ISIS.

Take a look at the words in bold above. They’re from an ancient book preserved by the Jews. The book dates back to BC 520. It was written in Jerusalem in Hebrew by a Jewish priest who was born in exile in Babylon (near present day Baghdad). He wrote what the LORD, the God of Israel, told him to – and his words were recognised for centuries by the Jews as foretelling the arrival of their Messiah.

Their Messiah would enter Jerusalem on a donkey and on a colt. He would cause all wars to cease – starting with reconciliation between Ephraim and Jerusalem. Peace amongst God’s own people in fact.
 
 
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‘What peace can they have who are not at peace with God?’ (Matthew Henry, Bible commentator, 1662-1714)

Matthew, one of the four biographers of Jesus wrote this of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a few days before he was crucified as a condemned criminal – and then rose from the dead. 

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” … The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. … And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

A donkey? And a colt? No war horse? No chariot? Instead a cross? Yes, instead of war, he silently received what two courts (Jewish and Roman) determined was his just reward (killing him) for his healing of the blind and the lame. Jesus taught that by his death he would bring into this world the realm of heaven and of God. Peace in our time for those who are people of peace. By his stripes we are healed of our retaliatory wars. 
 
 
Richard Syvret

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