Forward Christian soldiers!
Why did ancient Israel have an army? Was it because they had no faith? Did they believe in themselves instead of trusting in God? Did they insist on fighting their own battles, instead of letting God wage war for them?
Why did God fight for Israel in Egypt? Did they exercise faith then? Did they somehow lose their confidence in the desert, after seeing God’s mighty miracles? Makes sense? They had heard what God was going to do to Egypt from the beginning, and they saw with their own eyes what God did through 10 consecutive plagues. After defeating the world’s only superpower, had God wasted his energy?
God faced the gods of Egypt single-handedly. He did not want Israel’s involvement lest his liberation be misconstrued as a successful slave revolt. He took a slave people to make them his Servant-Nation. Israel had only changed masters.
When God led Israel out of Egypt through Moses, He purposely told Moses to bypass trouble spots where Israel would encounter hostile forces, lest they opt for the “safety” of Egypt (Ex. 13:17) . They did everything possible to avoid war! It doesn’t seem like they were eager to fight when you read the accounts of their complaints and complaints to Moses (Ex. 14:10-12).
Moses, full of faith, encouraged the congregation to believe in God. The first time Israel participated in a battle was at the command of Moses! He instructed Joshua (also faithful) to gather a fighting force and defeat the troublesome Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16).
God had fought the first rounds against Israel’s enemies, showing Israel that He would destroy their enemies. Now God would fight in and for Israel! Moses’ raised hands of blessing and authority ensured Israel’s military success. It was obvious to all where her true strength came from (Ps. 33:16). Israel was just a fighting instrument in the hands of God (Isaiah 41:15, Micah 4:13).
Many people understand that the commandment against killing should be translated as “murder.” God commands his ministers of state to execute judgment and use capital punishment for various offenses (Rom. 13:4). We are told to remember the law of Moses and obey it (Malachi 4:4). God has authorized the State to act within the guidelines of His Law Book.
Israel was not eager to enter Canaan, they were afraid! Moses admitted that the Canaanites outnumbered and outgunned them, but he assured Israel that GOD would be with them and grant them a supernatural victory (Deut. 7:1-2, 16-24). When the spies brought their report to Moses about the men and might of Canaan, they wanted to run with their tails between their legs (Numbers 13:31). Only Joshua and Caleb put things in perspective and encouraged the people to trust in God (Numbers 14:9). Israel had no faith in her own ability or in God’s!
What many have not realized is that ancient Israel was not going to enter the Promised Land by faith alone; It was going to require faith and works! God was not going to do all the work for them. Israel had to actively claim the inheritance from him. Not us too?
Israel lacked faith that GOD could work miracles through them! They knew that God could deal with his enemies, but they doubted that he could work through them. They focused on his weakness rather than God’s strength. God expected Israel to fight his battles and He would guarantee his success. Israel took one city at a time, progressing slowly but surely, subduing the land and defeating her enemies, and yet giving God all the credit, as our conversion process (Ps. 44:1-8) .
Even David, a man after God’s own heart, fought numerous battles for God and His people, but considered God the Victor. David asked God if he should attack at this time or place, and what to do, when and how, and God answered him (1 Chronicles 14:10).
Did Abraham, the father of the faithful, sin by waging war against those who had kidnapped his relatives (Gen. 14)? Melchizedek blessed him, he didn’t rebuke him! Levi and his sons, following Moses’ call to arms (by God’s command), passed through the camp of Israel and killed those who had sinned with the golden calf (Ex. 32:28). Did they lack faith? Nope! They were acting faithfully! They put God before family and friends. Couldn’t God have sent a plague? Yes. But He worked through men.
Since God works through men, why didn’t Jesus allow Peter to defend him? 1) Because the prophecy had to be fulfilled and 2) because the Kingdom of God had not yet been established; otherwise, Jesus said that his servants must fight! This example teaches us that loyal citizens must be willing to fight and defend their king and country from him!
We currently have a “dual citizenship”. Paul did not deny that he was a Roman citizen nor did he hesitate to exercise his civil rights (Acts 16:37, 22:25, 25:11). He didn’t just turn the other cheek when he was about to be flogged! There is a time and a place to wage war or declare peace (Eccl. 3:8); suffer persecution and death, or run for his life (Matthew 24:16, John 8:59)!
Spiritually speaking, we should all understand that we are only mortal, temporarily residing on earth, and therefore take eternity into account and live accordingly, awaiting our eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:1, Psalm 39:12, 2 Peter 3:11).
But what about “spiritual fornication”? If we exercise our right to vote and get involved in politics, isn’t that contaminating us with the system of this world? Only if and when it contradicts God’s commandments. We must never disobey God to follow men (Acts 5:29). We are in this world and we take an active part in its system of government and education every time we go to work and pay taxes or send our children to school or college! We are only to avoid those aspects of this world’s system that are biblically incorrect (1 Jn. 2:16).
Joseph served in the pharaoh’s administration. Was He exhibited spiritually? Daniel was in the belly of the beast, Babylon, but he served the king and God. Whenever a conflict of interest arose, Daniel put God first, as we always should. Nehemiah worked in the Persian government, but he too was blameless before God. God even referred to Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar as his servants.
God is our Heavenly King over everything, so we cannot allow others to try to usurp His authority over our lives. He is our Husband and listening to anyone else who dares to go against his Word is spiritual adultery and fornication. This is one of the greatest sins of modern Israel: giving in to international pressure instead of obeying God!
However, God is not our only ruler. He has ordained that men not be left in a state of anarchy, but must obey the Noachide laws binding all mankind: establish a system of justice, refrain from idolatry and immorality, and refrain from eating blood (Acts 15 : 29).
Even Christ will be King of kings and Lord of lords; He will not rule alone. God is our Minister, and Jesus Christ is our High Priest, but we are not opposed to having human ministers as well. Do we have double standards when it comes to politics? We talk about “dirty politics”. And there is too much bribery and corruption. But what about religious scandals? Perverted preachers and adulterous ministers? Does that mean we should reject the whole idea of God having human servants? “Dirty religion?” Both Church and State need to let Christ cleanse their act (Malachi 3:3).
God did not forbid Israel to have a king or a high priest. He simply placed restrictions on them and offered them guidelines. The king must be an Israelite; he was not to rely on financial securities or gold, nor depend on a huge army or arsenal of weapons for the defense of Israel; and he was to study the Scriptures daily (Deut. 18:15-20). He was allowed a token military force made up of volunteers (Judges 7:2, Deuteronomy 20:5-9). The priest was to bless the troops of Israel before they went into battle, encourage them that God would fight through them, and sound the alarm with the sacred silver trumpet (Deut. 20:1-4, Nu. 10:9 , 31:6).
God was angry with Israel when they demanded a king, but not because they wanted a king (He had made a concession for that through Moses), but because they were rejecting God as their Supreme Ruler (1 Sam. 8:20). by sight, not by faith, too trusting in human leaders (Ps. 118:9).
Kings were to lead the way (Ps. 1:10-11). They were to follow in the footsteps of King David, who promulgated the Law of Moses (1 Kings 2:3). Israel was only to follow men as they followed God. The prophet Samuel warned them about greedy rulers, excessive taxes, and corrupt administrations, but they still decided to go ahead with their political choices. Not that the religious world was blameless (1 Sam. 8:3). And God reveals that the best man must not always win (Daniel 4:17). But if we pray for God to guide us in deciding who to vote for or against, it is his responsibility to let us know what to do. Of course, we must study the platforms of the parties and see which is more aligned with biblical principles. It is vain to think that our vote can frustrate the Will of God! He will ascend and demote whomever He pleases (Ps. 75:7).
Ancient Israel was both church and state: a theocracy. God recognizes these two branches of government and encourages us to do the same (Malachi 4:4-5). The two anointed offices in Israel were priest and king (Zechariah 4:14). The oil represented the Holy Spirit of God that Israel prayed would guide and direct their leaders.
We have seen how God has authorized human leaders to take life (Lev. 20). They are free to deputize a police force (to protect and defend communities), as well as to use the armed forces to defend their country and their relatives.
God holds His leaders accountable for not becoming greedy or bloodthirsty. We should not enjoy war, but use it as a last resort (Deut. 20:10-12). We must hate the sins of our enemies and learn to love them, knowing that they too are made in the image of God and we hope that one day they will come to their senses; We are not to be trigger-happy or gloat over the fall of our enemies (Prov. 24:17).
God is going to use Israel to punish various nations during their journey back to the Middle East (Isaiah 11:14). And God will fight through the Jews in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:14). Christ’s return to earth to wage war before bringing peace!
God has not only intervened for Israel. He has determined the outcome of various wars and battles to allow one group of Gentiles to defeat another (Deut. 2:19-23). Moses also said that it would have been a sin if the different tribes of Israel did not unite to defend each other (Num. 32:20-23). And it is a disastrous sin to go to war if God’s servants instruct otherwise (Deut. 1:42-45).
It’s all a matter of faith and obedience. We must realize that God is our true Commander-in-Chief and the Captain of our Salvation, and follow the guidance of His Holy Spirit (Joshua 5:13-15, Hebrews 2:10). But let us not forget that God can and does work through inspired men (Neh. 9:27).