The Secretary of Defense and his boss think that tax revenue could be better spent on entitlement programs than on maintaining a ready military force. Their thinking is that the United States has recently withdrawn from Iraq and will soon be leaving Afghanistan so it won’t be necessary to maintain the present level of military preparedness. That raises several questions, i.e. is the threat of war actually lessening in the world? Is war even sanctioned in the Bible?
Recall Paul taught that national Israel’s experiences were to serve as examples for this present age.
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:10-11
The Israelites were involved in war very early in their national history.
Immediately after the Exodus Pharaoh gave pursuit after the fledgling, fleeing, and defenseless nation. The Israelites were very much afraid and took their fear and frustration out on Moses.
“… it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:12
Moses, however, assured the Israelites that God would intervene and destroy the Egyptians.
“Do not be afraid…For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14
The Hebrew base for ‘fight’ has several significant synonyms including battle, and war. Thus the phrase ‘The LORD will fight for you’ means that God would go to war for the Israelites and prevail over their enemy.
Shortly thereafter when the Israelites were instructed to march boldly into Canaan, after they had searched out the land, Moses reminded them of what God had previously done to the Egyptians.
“Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight (go to war) for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes…” Deuteronomy 1:29-30
Half a millennium later King David acknowledged that God had taught him how to be a warrior.
“God is my strength and power…He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” 2 Samuel 22:33a, 35
Therefore, not only does God go to war for his people, He also teaches them how to wage successful war.
The Bible tells of historical times when Israel was living in relative peace but their enemies would relentlessly pursue them. Several hundred years after David’s reign when King Jehoshaphat, the fourth king of Judah after the kingdom was divided, learned that he was going to be attacked by kings east of the Jordan.
The planned attack was totally unprovoked. In fact the participants were nations that God had previously instructed Israel not to ‘harass or meddle with’.
“And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir – whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of…Egypt…here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit..” 2 Chronicles 20:10-11
King Jehoshaphat and all the people of Israel stood before the LORD. They confessed that they had no power against such an invading force and pleaded for the LORD to intervene on their behalf. Shortly thereafter the word of the LORD came to them via the Prophet Jahaziel.
“…Listen, all you of Judah and…King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” 2 Chronicles 20:15
The invaders were utterly confused; they killed each other and were totally defeated.
Thus God not only sanctions war, but historically has been right in the center of it, especially when it comes to protecting Israel and their land.
But that was all in the Old Testament; how about in the current generation? Is war still relevant and if so should a nation prepare for it?
Those questions will be addressed next week.