Resisting Syrian Refugees and the Road from Nashville to Nineveh

I did not want to write this commentary, yet I dared not write it. We need to make sure as a state and nation that we’re not driving down the road from Nashville to Nineveh.

Last Sunday afternoon, I was drawn to the short, oft-ignored book of Nahum in the Bible, and as I read, the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris were in the back of my mind. Then came this week’s standoff between the President, Congress, and the governors of the states over the influx of Syrian refuges and the fear that some may be Islamic terrorists. At that point, I saw what I thought was a clear parallel between Nineveh and Nashville, not just Nashville as our capital city, but as a symbolic focal point of civil governments across our country.

Nineveh was a great city of the ancient world near modern-day Mosul, Iraq. It was once the largest city in the world, unmatched in its splendor, and apparently unassailable because of its high and impregnable walls. It is well known among Christians because it is the city whose residents repented and turned to God upon hearing Jonah’s prophesy of coming judgment.

However, the repentance of the Ninevites was relatively short-lived, and 100 years later Nahum prophesied that God was again going to judge the city and destroy it. This time there was no repentance and the city was destroyed so thoroughly that, until archeological digs in the 19th Century, it had almost passed from memory.

Nineveh was not destroyed because it was weak and had poor defenses. It was destroyed because, in God’s eyes, they were a “bloody city,” “full of lies and plunder.”

What does that have to do with Paris and Syrian refugees? Perhaps nothing. But for those of us who believe that God is the same today as He has forever been and forever will be, perhaps we should ponder the parallel.

I believe American Christians are biblically unwise to believe that if we can just close off our borders enough and keep terrorists from breaching our “walls” that we are impervious to destruction and defeat. If God has chosen to use Muslim terrorists to bring about His judgment, then those efforts of men will provide no more security for us than did Nineveh’s high and wide walls.

I’m not saying God has so decided, but only that, if so, we will not be “saved” by those things. Rather, we will be saved by the only thing that staved off God’s original intended judgment of Nineveh—repentance “from the greatest of them to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5) and a repentance that goes beyond being “sorry” to one that leads to action that resists and seeks to turn back personally and corporately from our ways that are evil in God’s sight.

In regard to our corporate evil, Nineveh reminds us that God, who does not change in His holiness and in the justice His holiness requires, will not forever tolerate a nation that does not resist and replace leaders who say that the murder of innocent children and homosexual “marriage” are constitutional rights.

Of course, there are other evils in our country and there are other ways in which we devalue life and wink at sexual immorality and denigrations of marriage. But when Christians continue to sit by and allow, without all the resistance they can muster, the image of God reflected in life and marriage to be defaced, then God’s judgment by some means at some point is assured.

This is where Nashville comes in. Our state leaders in Nashville (and in other states) are resisting President Obama on the matter of Syrian refugees. They are getting up the gumption to tell the federal government to “take a hike” when it comes to this issue. But that’s an easy issue on which to be bold, because Syrian refugees and their supporters are not a strong Republican voting block in Tennessee.

The real question is whether those in Nashville will be as bold when it comes to telling that branch of the federal government known as the Supreme Court to take a hike when it comes to its attempt to mandate to a sovereign state that it must pass a law condoning homosexual “marriage.”

If they won’t do that, then I can’t help but wonder if we’ll find Nineveh at the end of the road we seem to be traveling.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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