We are reminded in this account in the book of Numbers 19-21 that the bitter struggles over land and sovereignty have been endemic for several millenniums. In fact, we seem to be no closer to resolution today than at the time when Moses and Aaron were leading the Israelites into Canaan. We can easily despair.

The owner of our favorite Jewish deli in St. Paul is named Aaron. When the war in Israel broke out recently, we talked to him and asked him if any of his family was affected. “Yes,” he said, a friend of his family was one of the hostages.” We told Aaron that we would be praying for him and his family.

Sometimes prayer seems so ineffective when it involves the clash of nations. But in the long scope of history, we find that prayer and working for peace does bear fruit. Think for a moment who were our enemies in World War II – Germany, Italy, and Japan. Now they are some of our closest allies. We have also seen intractable situations turned around in places like Northern Ireland and South Africa.

Thus, prayer is always important, always powerful, even if it takes longer than we would like to see results. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asserted that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Or even more important are the words of Jesus in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.” Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Why is the fight for land and property so pervasive?
  2. Where have you seen a miracle of peace happen that was completely unexpected?
  3. How can we be peacemakers in a world which seems to gravitate toward violence?