The once-unimaginable happened today, as the Egyptian election commission announced that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will be the next president (with as yet undefined powers). Serious enemies of the Jewish state--linked to the murder of Anwar Sadat for making peace with Israel--are now closer to taking control of one-fourth of the population of the Arab world.
It's the nightmare not only of Israel, but also of Egyptian liberals, who vainly pleaded yesterday with the United States government to stop pressuring the military to hand power over to the Brotherhood.
Stories like this of wrongheaded American intervention probably send the fear-anger-disgust barometer of many of our friends through the roof. But when I read about it, I must confess that I laughed.
Partly it's the knowledge of Who we serve: "Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?" asks the second psalm.
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His anointed, saying: 'Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.'
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: 'Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.'
'I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel."'
And partly I, like other believers working in the Middle East, take inspiration from the apparently still-future vision of Isaiah 19. It ends with Israel and his neighbors united in the knowledge of the LORD, a blessing in the midst of the earth. But it starts with conflict and the rise of a fierce king over Egypt. Eventually the LORD will strike and then heal Egypt, that they will return to the LORD.
If these scriptures can be our guide, we can have peace--even joy--as events unfold. I do believe our Egyptian neighbors may be in for some rough times. But our God reigns over the affairs of men, and there's no one like Him to turn mourning into dancing.
UPDATE: An excellent letter from the Anglican bishop in Cairo can be read here.