February 24, 2006

Old Testamental Perspective on War

Often times, we run into concepts or ideas in Scripture which are somewhat baffling to us or down right offensive to our ways of thinking. If you read the Old Testament, you run across many such elements which are quite puzzling; like all the warfare and taking of other people’s land which are not merely allowed by God, but commanded and even facilitated by God.

For example, my reading this morning took me to Deuteronomy 31.

“The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land…”

“The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

How does this square with our notion of justice? Well, it probably doesn’t. But it isn’t our sense of justice that is important, only God’s. Remember, God is the owner and ruler of the whole Earth. We may not like His decisions but He is not subject to our approval.

But the fact is, God was not capricious in His dealings with the nations either. He never displaced the people who were faithful to him—unless for purposes of discipline; only those who—by choice—worshipped other “gods.” God is pretty clear that is something He will not tolerate.

“When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.”
2 Kings 17:35

“Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

What we cannot do however is assume that we can do the same. Remember the one important caveat; God was/is the Supreme Ruler and Authority of the Jewish nation directly and the other nations indirectly.

There is no political situation in our experience that compares to that. And so while, principles of Old Testament life, which are born out of the very heart and character of God remain intact, we must never use such historical precedents to justify the cruelty and greed over the centuries perpetrated against others—unless, and until--God once again assumes the role of King as He was then. But we know that will not happen until that day when He returns. But that will be quite a different story.


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