SGBC Modesto

The Christian and War

March 13, 2024 by

William Heinrich

The subject of war begins with the Person and work of God.  The word war is found in the Bible over 300 times.  The law for the wars of Israel is found in Deut. 20:10-18. God Himself is pictured as a warrior (Cf. Josh. 5:13-15).  Over 200 times God is called the Lord of Hosts (armies).  In Scripture we see God commanding His people to war.  We see the Ark of the Covenant representing the presence of God going before Israel into battle. Some wars were defensive and some were offensive.  Many battles God fought alone: He destroyed the Egyptians in the Red Sea, He destroyed the earth by a flood, He destroyed Sodom and Gomarrah, He destroyed the sons of Korah.  We also see God bringing the Assyrians and later the Babylonians in judgment upon His people.  This caused war and great bloodshed.  Finally we see Christ returning in Rev. 14:14-20; 19:11-16 to trod the wine press (blood battle of Armageddon).  It’s said of Him that “His vesture will be dipped in blood and that He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God”.

 The immutability (unchangeableness) of God is a confirmed fact in Scripture “I am God, I change not” (Mal. 3:6 with Jam. 1:17 & Heb. 13:8).  Since war is considered by some to be immoral, I challenge you to see the changeless God who is holy and still consider His acts immoral. To excuse this by saying, “But this is God,” is to forget the God-given goal of a Christian is to be like Him (Rom. 8:29).  For He said “Be ye holy for I am holy” (Cf. Lev. 11:44 with I Pet. 1:15).  To excuse this is to reject God’s justice and reject it for what man calls fairness.

Is the New Testament in conflict with the Old?  Is not Jesus the Jehovah of the Old Testament? How then do we understand “love your enemies” as taught in the Old and New Testament in light of Samuel’s action in I Sam. 15:9-35.  We teach our children God loves obedience better than sacrifice but what was the obedience required in the context of these verses? Samuel says to Saul “Smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”  Obedience was to kill the enemy that God has taught us to love.  But Saul feared the people more than God.  So Samuel rebuked him for sparing that which God said to slay and he “hewed Agag their king in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.” Many other examples may be sited showing how God had His people deal with the enemy.  For example, when entering the land they were to make peace agreements with no one or the continual emphasis for Israel to never trust Egypt.  There must be a Godly distinction made in how we deal with those who hate the Lord and those who love the Lord. II Chron. 19:2 – “And Jehu, the son of Hanani the seer, went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Shouldest thou help the wicked, and love them who hate the Lord? There­fore, there is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.'”

         I simply show this to explain our view of loving an enemy in foolish ways is not God’s. There have always been wars and always will be until the Prince of Peace returns and fights the last battle.  Then the swords will be made plowshares.  I find the use of the word “enemy” often misdirected.  For example, the word “evil” often means calamities or disasters (problems).  So it is with the word “enemies” which often means those opposed to you not in a war zone.  Such as, some one who voted different than you or doesn’t really like you, etc.  These are domestic and social enemies and not national enemies.  This is not a change of revelation as the Word of God tells us how to deal with both. We have shown at length how God has delt with the national enemy and Rom. 12:14-21 and I Pet. 3:8-22 speaks to us of the domestic and social enemy.

 Some have quoted the ten commandments citing “Thou shalt not kill.”  That cannot mean war because the same God commands war in Deut. 20:10-18 and elsewhere.  It can’t mean capital punishment for He commanded that too (Ex. 21:23 & Gen. 9:6).  Therefore, it means murder (Ex. 20:13).  The Hebrew verb “rasah” is reflective in form and should have been translated murder.  Reading on in Exodus will support this point by example.

Some have felt it not only wrong to be in the army but to be a police officer as well. I encourage you to read Rom. 13:1-7 and I Pet. 2:13-14 and see that these men are ministers of God.  It is not even necessary that they be Christians to be blessed, for God has amplified and ordained the office and work they do.  That extends even to bearing the “sword” of justice (a gun today) and using it when necessary.

 Jesus said, regarding the setting up of His kingdom on earth, that if it came from earth His servant would fight, However, it is a heavenly kingdom and will come to earth during the millennium and not now.  In fact, Jesus clearly teaches just before His departure that the rejection of His kingdom has made a definite change.  He tells His disciples now they must have a purse and bag and buy a sword even if it means selling their garment to get one (Luke 22:35-38).  Therefore, now we are subject to God’s laws and man’s laws. Wherein they conflict we must choose God’s at any cost.  This will take diligent study of the law of God (the Bible).  It will take positive sacrifice of what I want or what I’ve always heard or felt.  It may cost us friends and even be humbling.  But, regardless of the cost, God wants us true to Him over all else in every doctrine and practice. And that includes the Christian’s view of war.