First, let me say, I probably should not be allowed to illustrate prophetic visions or apocalyptic literature! (It’s not my intention to make light of the situation, but once I start picturing flying scrolls and baskets….)
That being said, there’s something about the image of God shoving wickedness into a basket that I do like: it implies that it is not as hard as we believe to change the things we hate. Among the things I would put in the basket: beheadings, kidnappings, poison gas, barrel bombs, and in my own country, school shootings. It doesn’t have to be complicated for the world to be a better place. If individuals, one by one, could leave wickedness behind and simply love God and neighbors, the world would have so much less heartache. It sounds far-fetched, but “Love one another” is what Jesus taught, and we understand him to be savior of the world. Leave your sins behind and walk in newness of life! There would still be sickness and death and accidents, but maybe not so much violence, not so many children lost too soon. The more I read and learn, the more my heart breaks for the children of Syria. God hates the shedding of innocent blood.
As an aside, I am at a loss to explain Russia’s actions in Syria. Even if the current ruler maintains power, hasn’t he lost his mandate? Over 200,000 of his people have died, millions have fled the country, and large parts of the nation are in complete disrepair with no water, electricity, schools, or medical services. He has bombed his own people. How does one gain any kind of public support after all that? As I pondered the meaning of this, I remembered Sahner’s sobering observation into the strategic importance of Syria from Among the Ruins:
As is clear from this potted history, Damascus has seen its share of conquest over the centuries. But what accounts for its constant changing of hands, and what has made the city seem so sweet a prize for so many aspiring rulers? If Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, as pundits remind us constantly, Syria is surely their bottleneck. Lying astride the land bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Iranian plateau, Syria was where the empires of antiquity traditionally met for battle.