Daily Devotional for Tuesday January 21, 2003
The Biblical Case for War
(Deuteronomy Chapter 20)
The Biblical case for war. As we have started with strategic military strikes in the war against those who would love to destroy our nation, and will soon be engaged in war with Iraq, the debate now rages as to whether war is a proper response. This debate has a very legitimate foundation as the proponents of "peace without war" use the Bible as their key defense of their position. Many in the "peace without war" movement are avowed atheists, and find the Bible to be little more than a book of stories. Yet, these same people run to God's Word to defend their views.
However, many Christians also adopt this view of "peace without war". I realize that this is a very divisive issue, and my goal is never to divide, but unite the Body of Christ. However, I cannot shy away from the tough issues, and ultimately we all must find peace on each issue, not in our own thoughts and ideas, but from the Word of God. That MUST be our final authority in ALL maters. Please pray as you read these words today.
To properly discuss war from a Biblical perspective, we have to understand the theological context from which war exists. God created man in perfection. Man was perfect, never to die. The creation God made for man to exist in was perfect. However, man's sin changed all of that. We have to understand that war is a byproduct of man's sin. God did not create war. God does not approve of war. God even prevented David, a man after His own heart, not to finish the Temple because he was a man of war. War stems from man's sin and became part of the human condition from the very beginning. Because of man's sin, because of the sin that is in every part of our world, until God brings this world as we know it to an end, war will ALWAYS be part of the human experience. THERE WILL BE NO PEACE UNTIL THE PRINCE OF PEACE HIMSELF RETURNS!!!!
We are then faced with this situation. War is a result of man's sinfulness. It will be part of this world until Christ returns and God brings this world as we know it to a conclusion. The question becomes, what is the proper response of a Christian to war. We all know that one of the 10 Commandments is "thou shalt not murder". War involves killing. On the surface, the issue seems to be pretty simple. As Christians, we should not be involved in war since it involves killing. However, God Himself, ordered His children to war and specifically ordered them to kill on many occasions. This seems to be a gross contradiction. No matter what anyone leads you to believe, the Bible does NOT contradict itself...EVER!!
The 10 Commandments were given to people, to individuals, not to nations. In every case where God ordered His people to war, it was against an enemy who had no desire for peace, had no desire to settle their disputes amicably, and actually had the goal of destroying God's people from the face of the earth. War became a defensive measure against the destruction of God's people. There are many examples I can use, but does anyone think Adolph Hitler would have been stopped had it not been for the military effort that defeated his armies?
When studying the Bible, context is critical. When studying the Bible, taking the whole counsel of God into consideration is vital to properly understand it. That is why I share often that you have to read the entire book so you get a feel, an understanding of the nature of God. There is no doubt God is a God of peace. Peace was the perfection into which we were created. However, God is also a God of judgment, and often, God uses His people as instruments of His judgment. We can never know completely the mind of God, or fully comprehend His plans, but it is clear in reading the Bible God often used His people in acts of war to preserve them from destruction. He also used His people to exercise judgment on those who were the enemies of God, and further His plan that all who would believe might know the gift of everlasting life through their faith in Him.
That brings us to today and our current situation. As Christians, how should we respond to the fact our nation is involved in war, which will include the killing of innocent men, women, and children. This of course, is the key argument of those who say we should not be involved in war, since innocent people will die. It is impossible to understand this issue without accepting God and His plan. It is impossible without accepting the Bible as God's inspired, inerrant Word. You must realize that life is everlasting.
This time here on this earth is but for a brief few years. In light of eternity, whether we live 1 day, 1 year, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, or 100 years, really makes little difference. Our purpose is NOT to see how long we can live, but find our faith in Christ and fulfill our God-given purpose to serve and glorify Him with whatever time we do have. The fact is, we all will die. Some through natural causes in old age. Some by disease. Some by accidents. Some through war. Regardless of how, we ALL will die one day. Which is why I try to remind you often, tomorrow is promised to nobody. We must treat each day like the gift from God it is. That is why the Bible says "today is the day of salvation". You may not have the chance to repent and come to know Christ tomorrow.
It is very sad that people will die from this conflict we are in. But the fact is, over 3,00 innocent died on US soil on September 11th. The fact is, people in this world die each day because of wars between nations and people who disagree with each other on a wide array of issues. That is why we must all do our part each day to share the love and hope we have in Christ so that people worldwide have the opportunity to accept Him by faith so their eternal home with God is insured.
My personal belief through the study of the Scriptures is that God hates war, but allows it much like He allows other evils born out of the sin in our world. Romans 8:28 tells us that "..in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." Does God enjoy the evils that exist in this world due to sin? NO!!! Never forget that God is ALWAYS on His throne and always in control. Nothing happens that God does not allow. He can take the evil of man, and use it to fulfill His plan and purpose. Also, don't forget that while we look at events in relation to time, God is not bound by time and the events of this world are but a blip in eternity to Him. One day, very soon, God will step in and bring to a conclusion this world as we know it. In the meantime, because of sin, there will always be evil and the by products of evil. However, God will always use events, even horrible events to further His plan and purpose for man to know Him by faith.
***We as a nation have every right, and even responsibility to defend ourselves from those who would destroy us. Much like the children of Israel had a right and responsibility to defend themselves from those nations that would try to destroy them, there are evil forces in this world who would love to see the United States cease to exist. Thankfully, our forefathers understood this and defended our country to their death so that we could enjoy the great freedom and liberty we enjoy today. It is now our turn to defend this nation from its enemies to insure that our children have the same freedoms should the Lord tarry in His return.
God has used our nation in a great way in the fulfillment of His plans and purpose. Should we continue to honor Him, and glorify Him as a nation, I have no doubt that we will continue to be part of His plan. That is why I am sure God will be with this nation in this conflict, since we are simply defending ourselves from people in the world who would see us destroyed.
I love you and care about you very much. I realize out of the nearly 1,600,000 who get this Devotional worldwide, many will disagree with what I have said today. All I can do is implore you to dig into the Scriptures. Read throughout the Old Testament those passages that involve wars. Be careful in many of the passages both in the Old and new Testaments, to insure the context of the passage is referring to individuals or to nations. There are many places God is speaking directly to nations, and others, where He is clearly speaking to individuals. I know that there will continue to be division on this issue.
The fact is, no matter how you feel, war is with us until God decides to bring things to an end. There will be no real peace, until the Prince of Peace returns. As a nation, we must defend ourselves from those who would destroy us. But in so doing, we must insure that we remain a nation that honors and serves the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As individuals, we must get serious not only about cleaning up our own lives, but doing so in order God can use us to minister to the lost and hurting. I believe deep down time is very short. We must take advantage of whatever time is left do be about our Father's business.
May God continue to richly bless the United States, and all the nations of the world that honor Him. May God bless and instill wisdom to our leaders. May God bless and protect the men and women of the armed services from all the nations who support us in this action to rid the world of terrorism. May God bless those people who will be caught in the middle of this conflict, and may they find peace as they look to Him for comfort. Lastly, may God pour out His love to those who have turned their hearts against Him, that they may know His love and by faith receive the gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
In his love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller