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I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. (John 16:1-3)

I mentioned in the last edition that the red horse of war and slaughter is on the loose – but all the time my eye was being drawn to what came next: the black horse.

When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.” (Rev. 6:5-6)

It feels like the Mongol hordes on the charge all over again, imposing wholesale slaughter and starvation – although Genghis Kahn probably had more redeeming features than ISIL appear to have. They are supplementing their funding by helping themselves to the money from the banks in every city that they conquer.

As a friend in Israel described it, it is like a forest fire during a hot summer in a dry country; you put out one blaze, and another starts somewhere else. Look at what is happening in Libya and at the recent shootings of the military top brass in Afghanistan. Where next? Jordan?

To try to put ISIL into a historical context: like the Crusaders, the Mongols who followed hard on their heels, and the Muslims in the Middle Ages who thrust so hard against the gates of Europe, all three finally overreached themselves and had to retreat, having done their worst.

The IS aims to control the Levant, which includes Jordan, Syria and Palestine. Its boast that it will reconquer Spain for Islam appears highly unlikely but . . . I always remember the packed and fervent prayer meetings in British universities thirty years ago for Britain to become a fully Islamic country . . . There is nothing automatic about what happens next.

Pray against the copycat factor, and people of all ages becoming radicalised – especially the young.

Europe is manifestly not in a strong position to defend itself not in a strong position spiritually or indeed militarily to defend itself from this threat, either spiritually or militarily after years of winding down our armed forces. It is time to mount the watchtowers to pray for ALL the countries affected directly or indirectly by this onset.

The lure of holidays and the more laid back approach that characterises August is understandably strong, not least for Cameron and Obama, but this is a situation that calls for far-sighted and effective leadership; pray for our leaders to be just that . . . Diffidence merely encourages everyone from Putin to the IS to become still more bold in their purposes. (And let’s not forget Donetsk in all this, where half the inhabitants of this large city have fled and the other half is existing without any supplies of water or electricity).

Or is it that the fear of retaliation is too strong? After all, no one really knows the full extent of the fifth columnist radicalisation within western countries . . . .

May the Lord lead you in your prayers concerning this black black genocide. Pray especially for Kurdistan: a country with the population of Scotland, which has had to absorb something like a million refugees from Syria as well as all these latest thousands from the Mosul region. Pray for the grace of God to bring relief to this overstretched country – and for the Host of Heaven to be very much at work there.

See also The Gospel Herald – Isis systematically beheading children in Iraq.