God and War

On multiple occasions the subject has been raised whether God sanctions war or whether war is something that man has devised for selfish purposes. Many times veterans of wars have voiced their concern that they feel guilty because they took the lives of the perceived enemy. The Bible is certainly not silent on this issue. Consider the following scripture passages.

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel…’ So Moses spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm yourselves for war, and let them go against the Midianites to take vengeance for the LORD on Midian.’…and they warred against the Midianites, just as the LORD commanded Moses…”
Numbers 31:1-7

This war was commanded by God through Moses to punish the Midianites for previous trespasses against the children of Israel. Actions against Israel had consequences thousands of years ago, and nothing has changed. In fact the great wars of the future will be fought over Israel. Isaiah addressed the issue of harassing Israel.

“Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing and those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them – those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.”
Isaiah 41:11-12

God, as in many previous occasions, warned those who would contend with Israel of the sure consequences of doing so.

When the twelve tribes were preparing to cross the Jordon to possess the land promised to them, the tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to stay east of the Jordon because the land to the east was well suited for raising cattle. Also that land had already been conquered by Israel.

“Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw…that indeed the region was a place for livestock, the children of Gad…and Reuben…spoke to Moses…saying…the country which the LORD defeated before the congregation of Israel is a land for livestock. Therefore they said, ‘If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.’”
Numbers 32:1-5

Their request was granted with a major condition.

“And Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben: ‘Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here?’”
Numbers 32:6

So they were allowed to settle in the land east of the Jordon, however, they were required first to join their brothers in battle to possess the land west of the Jordon. God was with them in this endeavor as the results indicate.

“The sons of Reuben, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh had forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixty valiant men, men able to bear shield and sword, to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war…They made war…and they were helped…for they cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him…for the war was God’s.”
I Chronicles 5:18-22

Many years later King David was equipped by God to be a mighty warrior.

“For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power…He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
II Samuel 22:32-33a, 35

Consider when God confronted Job. He told him He had special weapons of war in reserve for the future.

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.’”
Job 38:1-4

At this point He really had Job’s undivided attention, and then He told about specific weapons of war ready to be released at the appointed time, weapons Job could not comprehend.

“Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?”
Job 38:22-23

God used the weapon of hail as the seventh plague against Pharaoh and Egypt. The hail stones were large enough to kill men and livestock. In the future God will use hail once again as a weapon of war against the unbelieving. At that future time the hail stones will weigh approximately 75 lbs. Weather experts have a difficult time comprehending present storms that generate hail stones the size of softballs, let alone God’s treasury of the hail storm that will produce hail stones 100 times larger. That will certainly classify as a weapon of mass destruction.

God uses wars to accomplish His purpose for the nations, and in particular Israel. Therefore, any soldier sent to war by a leader appointed by God and takes the life of an enemy should not bear any guilt. The guilt would be if such a one refused to join the battle and just sat there while their ‘brethren go to war.’

The greatest wars in history are yet to be waged.

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