A Lesson From Aleppo
Over the past several months we have seen heartbreaking images and stories about this ancient Syrian city. What can we learn from this tragedy?
Aleppo is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, dating back some 4,000 years. Just before the Syrian civil war started, Aleppo was the largest city in Syria, with a population of over 2.3 million—with approximately 1 million in the eastern half. Yet, because of the five-year-old civil war and the atrocities associated with it, the population of the eastern half dwindled to about 300,000.
The western part of Aleppo has been controlled by Bashar al-Assad’s regime and has suffered far less damage than the eastern part, which was controlled by rebel forces until recently. The western part still has modern commodities and utilities, while the eastern part had to resort to desperate measures just to survive (view BBC’s photographic report of East Aleppo’s shattered streets).
With no electricity or running water for the past year, people living in the eastern half resorted to cutting down trees and cutting up furniture for firewood just to stay warm through the winter. They drank contaminated water because there was nothing else. At the end of the siege, what food was available cost four times as much as it once did. There is also practically no health care because most of the hospitals have been destroyed.
This past August the world was introduced to Omran Daqneesh, a 5-year-old boy who was sitting in an ambulance covered in blood and dust after a bomb exploded in the building where his family lived. He has become a symbol of the suffering in Syria.
But the image of Omran represents much more than the suffering and darkness that has engulfed the Syrian people—he also represents the suffering and darkness that has engulfed this whole world. That is a lesson from Aleppo. The tragedy that has played out before our eyes is a result of a dark world—a world that is dark because it has rejected the ways of the God of light.
The cause of darkness
Just like Omran, our world is covered in the blood and dust of suffering. And, like Omran, our world is confused at the state it is in.
The truth is that Satan the devil is the present “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and has the power to influence minds and attitudes toward darkness (Ephesians 2:2). Notice the words of the apostle Paul: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, emphasis added).
When we read headlines of terrorist attacks, murders and a myriad of other evils, we should remember that mankind has an enemy, and he is hard at work. These words, written nearly 2,000 years ago, continue to be true today. When we read headlines of terrorist attacks, murders and a myriad of other evils, we should remember that mankind has an enemy, and he is hard at work. We live in a world held captive to do his dark will (2 Timothy 2:26)!
How darkness entered our world
But, though Satan is the ruler of darkness, he cannot force darkness on us. God has given human beings free will to choose to follow His way or Satan’s way.
Most have chosen Satan’s way.
About 6,000 years ago, our first parents listened to the deceptive lies Satan told them. God had warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because heartache, suffering and ultimately death would be the end result (Genesis 2:17).
But Satan, disguised as a serpent, convinced our first parents that God was lying and holding them back—that they were smart enough to determine good and evil for themselves. So they believed Satan instead of God, ate of the forbidden fruit and thus brought sin into our world (Genesis 3:1-6). Since that time, most of mankind has believed Satan’s lie—that we don’t need God.
The darkness, evil and suffering we see all around us are the consequences of this decision. Our world has chosen to reject the blessings of God’s way because it has embraced Satan’s way.
This is the lesson we should learn from the heartache, pain and death in Aleppo. It is the result of living in Satan’s world of darkness.
Those who struggled to survive in Aleppo are tired of the pain and suffering. Are you and I also tired of the pain and suffering in Satan’s world? You can embrace light today through Jesus Christ: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Those who follow Jesus Christ walk in light and flee darkness.
Light and hope are coming to replace darkness
The good news is that God will save us from ourselves and Satan. Jesus Christ will return and remove the darkness that has filled the earth. When Christ returns, He will send an angel to capture “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and [bind] him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:2).
Today, many lives in Aleppo have ended violently, and children have been robbed of a normal, safe childhood. But notice this prophecy about the future reign of Jesus Christ: “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem [and ultimately Aleppo], each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets” (Zechariah 8:4-5). To learn more about this future world, read “World Peace: How It Will Come.”
It will be a time of joy when parents can laugh and smile, and children can be children.
This is not happening in Aleppo today because it is engulfed in darkness. But Jesus Christ will return and establish the Kingdom of God on earth—hope will be restored, Satan will be removed, and finally it will once again be God’s world, a world full of light.
This is the lesson we can learn from the tragedy in Aleppo.
To learn more about Satan and his destructive influence on our world, read “Satan: A Profile.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr.com/Foreign and Commonwealth Office/CC BY-ND 2.0