(Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Preacher and author John Piper took the news of the most recent violent turmoil in Egypt to heart and published what one journalist called a "news poem" on his Desiring God ministry blog on Thursday.
Piper titled his poem, "Egypt! Egypt! – A Meditation for Today on Isaiah 19:24–25," under the blog post headline, "What God Says To Egypt." The piece on the Desiring God website also includes audio of Piper reading the poem with background music. His poem begins:
O Egypt, Egypt, do you not
Recall, dear friend - have you forgot -
That twice you were the savior of
My only Son - though not from love?
Piper, who retired earlier this year after 33 years as lead pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., tweeted the link to his poem at mid-day Thursday and added that he "wrote this last night, and this morning. God will keep this promise."
By early evening in the U.S., reports out of Egypt included a nationwide death toll of more than 500 people, devastating attacks on more than 40 Coptic Christian churches, and casualties in the thousands on both the pro-Mohamed Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood) side and the Egyptian military and interim government side, including Christians.
Much of the most recent violence, including killings, began when the Egyptian military began clearing out the camps of protesters, who had been staked out in tents in Cairo and other parts of Egypt for several weeks. .
WORLDmag.com editor Marvin Olasky described Piper's piece as a "news poem" similar to a commentary he did on the Boston Marathon bombing and Connecticut school shooting published in May. Olasky wrote that the style of writing "updates the 17th and 18th century journalistic practice of reflecting in verse on battles, disasters, murders, and other events, with news poems published in single page 'broadsides' and sold for a penny."
In response to Olasky's interpretation, Piper tweeted, "WORLD calls it a news poem. A respectable tradition. Whatever, it is I think biblical. Egypt! Egypt! [link to poem]."
The poem's last stanza reads:
And so I cry
Aloud again: O Egypt, Hear
This tender word. It is as near
To you as hope. Did not your own
Isaiah tenderly make known
My heart? O Listen, Egypt! "In
That day, in spite of all your sin,
Together, you and Israel,
And vast Assyria, will dwell
As one - the kingdom of my Son -
And in that day, with joy, I'll stun
The world, and call you mine. And you
Will be my people. Yes, the true
And happy bride of Christ, with all
Your meek and broken foes who call
On his great name. And in the end,
You'll know why I have called you friend."
Piper's poem mention on Twitter garnered many responses including from a Christian in Egypt with the username @dinabish7h.
"@JohnPiper dear pastor, i am a christian egyptian and i was really touched by your poem, please pray for egypt..1" the tweet from @dinabish7h read.
On Thursday, Piper also pointed his Twitter followers to a story from the Bible Society of Egypt with his tweet: "Trusted, brief, painful glimpse into Egypt's situation from the Bible society there. [link to report]"
The Bible Society reported that during the recent violence, Muslim fundamentalists completely burned and destroyed the society's bookshops in Assiut and Minia, the largest cities in southern Egypt.
To read John Piper's full poem, click here: What God Says to Egypt