(Also printed as article in www.comeandsee.com 8 July 2011 under Opinions)
One of the names of the God of Heaven and Earth is YHVH of Hosts (Armies). When the apostle John wrote (Jn 12:37-41) to us what Isaiah saw (Is 6), he reveals to us the Messiah – Yeshua/Yasu/Jesus – is YHVH of Hosts! Our God has not changed, and continues to wage war, both in the heavenlies and on the Earth, at least until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to reign with righteousness and justice.
God has given responsibility and authority to human governments – even to unbelievers – to protect the innocent and punish the evil-doer.
Rom 12:17-21 – 13:7 Neither our own past personal or national sins cancels out or disqualifies the present duty and responsibility of governments – which the Spirit tells us God Himself has ordained – to protect the general welfare of a people against internal criminals and against external enemies.
It is wrong to execute personal vengeance. God has established civil government to act against evil-doers in such a way as to deter future acts of evil.
It is not a sin, then, in this present evil world, for governments or its citizens to engage in war, but, in fact, may actually be an act of righteousness and love to protect the people.
1Tim 2:1-6 God recognizes that most leaders in authority are not born-again, and so commands believers to pray for all men, for kings and all who in authority. . .that they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
Even born-again leaders are in a dilemma: how to govern a worldly nation according to the teachings of Messiah and the cross, when all the kingdoms of this world are opposed to the Kingdom of God? The believer in prayer is also in somewhat of a dilemma: not only may we suffer for righteousness’ sake, even though praying for our leaders and living godly lives, but the wisdom for our leaders, even if they are believers, may still fall far short of accomplishing a ‘good’ solution, no matter the outcome of war.
Believing and unbelieving leaders have been given by God a moral responsibility before God and for their nation to protect and defend its legitimate interests. It is true that not all leaders ‘love’ their own people or their enemies. Not all wars are justified by those who strike first. God will judge, and He knows how and when to defeat a nation, and to raise one up victoriously.
All killing is not murder in God’s view, and godly people are sometimes in a situation requiring them to kill and to be killed in war – even innocent civilians are killed. It is the intent and purpose of the killing that God will judge as merely killing or whether as murder. Although very grievous, it is not sin in war when non-combatants or otherwise innocent people are killed if there was no deliberate intent or act to kill them without regard. The Sixth Commandment, which Yeshua/Jesus confirms in His Sermon on the Mount, is “You shall not murder” (Lo tirtzach).
The use of force is sometimes necessary to achieve desired righteous results, and even to express love. Parents are instructed by God to use the rod to chasten their children if they love them and if ‘talking’ was not enough. (Pr 13:24; 22:15) Abraham, surely a man of peace, and called a friend of God, knew how to wage war to rescue his ‘brother’ Lot. (Gen 13) God Himself, the perfect Father, must at times use strong measures when we who are His children do not properly respond to His grace. He will also need to use strong and terrible judgments to teach the inhabitants of the world [His] righteousness. (Is 26:9)
When criminals and enemies transgress the accepted law beyond what is tolerable, civil governments have God’s delegated authority and approval – they are His ministers – to take up arms and to even kill.
If we who are born-again and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us do not always use peaceable means to settle conflicts between believers, what should we expect from those who do not know the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?!
War is a terrible reality of the present ages. Yeshua won the war on the cross; most people have either not yet heard or believed the report. More people have died since the ‘peace treaty’ was signed by God through their continued unbelief and open rebellion. May many amongst the Arabs and the Jews come to know the love of the truth as it is in Jesus.
May He return in our own days, and cause war to cease! Amen.
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Afterword: For the record, I myself refused to take up arms when I had to serve in the IDF, as I believed that was God’s will for me. Israel didn’t understand, of course, and neither did many of the believers.
But, despite my own responsibility before God on the matter, it doesn’t allow me to impose my own personal experience or application upon the Scriptures (including NT) for everyone else, when the Word of God seems to allow for other responses.