(ESV) “‘Now rise up and go over the brook Zered.’ So we went over the brook Zered. And the time from our leaving Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from the camp, until they had perished.
“So as soon as all the men of war had perished and were dead from among the people, the LORD said to me, ‘Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar’” (Deuteronomy 2:13–18, emphasis mine).
“The men of War.” The warriors. The warriors didn’t do their job, so all the people were kept wondering in the wilderness. The warriors gave into the fear. The warriors wouldn’t believe God and go into the promised land. The ultimate responsibility of Israel’s failure rested on the shoulders of the warriors, and “the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from the camp, until they had perished.”
I find that sobering. I find that a serious charge. I’ve never heard anyone preach on that before. In the Christian community, we’ve seemed to have lost sight of the reality of war, and our responsibilities to be ready if called upon by the Lord. But I think not for long. It’s coming whether or not we’re ready for it.
What is God’s attitude about war?
Moses went to war. Joshua went to war. The judges went to war. Samuel didn’t back away from war. David was a great warrior from his youth. God called and anointed all these people to go to war and protect His inheritance.
Did God allow Israel to war with just anyone. No. While going into the promised land, God instructed Moses to pay their way though other nation’s territories (Deuteronomy 2:6). He didn’t give them the other lands, and He didn’t instruct them to go through by strength of military might. God set the boundaries of the nation Israel and wouldn’t let them go beyond those boundaries. Read Amos 9:7 and you will see God gives the nations boundaries, not just Israel. God didn’t allow Israeli imperialism.
The God of War
(NKJV) “The LORD is a man of war;
The LORD is His name” (Exodus 15:3).
You should read that whole passage. It declares that God killed the enemies of Israel.
(NKJV) “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses” (2 King 19:35).
Often times the angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ. Even if in this instance the angel isn’t the Messiah, the angel represents the Godhead.
(NKJV) “‘For I am the LORD, I do not change’” (Malachi 3:6).
(NKJV) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Hmm. That’ll make the religious pacifist pucker.
What about Jesus?
Good question. Jesus came to defeat the Devil, offer salvation to humanity through the remission of sins by His death, burial, and resurrection, establish the new birth, ratify the New Covenant, and become God’s king over His people.
Jesus never said we would never need to go to war. He did make it clear that He wasn’t going to establish the Kingdom of God in the earth through physical warfare. Jesus didn’t come to save the kingdoms of men. He came to bring men into the Kingdom of God. The kingdoms of this world are doomed to war, sickness, and failure. We are to offer the Kingdom of God to humanity by the preaching of the gospel. But where does it say we mustn’t take up arms to protect out families and country? If that was the case, all Christian and Jewish generations have utterly failed.
God Teaches Us How to War
(NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1).
(NKJV) “He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (Palm 18:34).
We all can, or rather should, relate this to “spiritual warfare”, but the author of these Psalms didn’t. It is of my opinion, and I believe the scriptures bear this to be true, prayer and scriptural direction is the foundation of how we should live and what we should do. And when to go to war.
As I was saying, the author of these Psalms is telling us that God gave him instruction in the art of war. Also, if you think about it, the men coming out of Egypt weren’t soldiers, but God called them soldiers. As far as God was concerned, they were called to be warriors, and therefore they were. He was going to train them for war and give them the victory.
I see no excuse for us. The frontiersmen, pioneers, and mountain men were all used of God to open up this country. They were brave and warriors in their own rights. Oh, that Americans still had that indomitable spirit! I believe in Christ we do.
Am I calling for war. No! I don’t want war ever again, but it’s foolish and dangerous to think that there will never be another war. It leaves us unprepared, naive, and more traumatized when war comes. It also opens the door to slavery and murder when we’re naive and unprepared for war. The best way to keep a bully from picking on us is to be be able to stand up against the bully.
I know that this will leave a “bad taste” in some folks mouth, but that’s on you. Going to a concentration camp or a death camp is not on my bucket list. Just the opposite really. Especially if it can be avoided with a some due diligence. It’s too late to wish that you’d done something different when you’re in a death camp.
Are Warriors Important In God’s Plan?
It would seem so. God has used warriors, and held them more accountable than others. The men coming out of Egypt failed the whole nation because they were afraid to fight for their freedom.
The day will come when, (NKJV) “They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4), but that time hasn’t come yet.
Anyway, something for you to think about.
Stay strong and prepared. Stay vigilant.