2003-07-28 - War
Exodus 17:16 "And he said, 'The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.'"
On this day in 1945 thirteen people were killed when a B-52 bomber flied into the Empire State Building in New York, during a thick fog.
There is a lot of talk these days about war, and it is not only on the news and talk shows. With American and other nation's troops committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Liberia, war talk has become water cooler talk. I would like to take a little bit of time and discuss war here by looking at a few passages on the reasons Scripture gives why war is caused. I intend to look at three reasons; sin (James 4:1, 2), God's judgment (2 Samuel 12:10), and God's decree (Exodus 17:16).
The first one to look at is sin. I am going to give you several Bible versions of the first part of verse one; "From whence comes wars and fightings," (KJV), "What causes fights and quarrels," (NIV), "Those conflicts and disputes," (NRSV), "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts," (NASB). A rigid Greek rendering of the passage would seem to be, "Whence wars and whence fights." Verses one and two of this passage seem to imply that these things come from our lusts that rule in our person. The verses seem to say that because we are desirous of our own gain we wage war. We quarrel and fight until it leads to war.
A second reason for war is God's judgment. When King David sinned with Bathsheba and then had Uriah her husband killed, 2 Samuel 11, the Prophet Nathan came to David in chapter 12 to rebuke David. The Lord says to David through Nathan in verse 10, "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife." In this case the result of war in David's life and future posterity was God's judgment for sin.
A third reason for war is that God decrees that there be war. This is found in the verse we started with. When God decrees something, it is set. We see this in Jeremiah 5:22 when Scripture says, "'Do you not fear Me?' declares the Lord. 'Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, as an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.'" If God decrees anything, it will happen. If God decrees that there be a war, there will be a war.
I want to be clear that, in Scripture, these things seem to be reasons for war. Not all three have to be in play for there to be a war. Any one of these three can lead to war. The last two reasons are clearly by God's command. The first one is the result of the sinfulness of man's hearts. But even in the first one we can say that there would be no war unless God allowed it to occur.
As I was reading in order to write this devotional I came upon an interesting observation from the eighteenth century pastor and theologian John Brown of Haddington. He observes that when soldiers went to war sometimes they brought their families with them. He observes this from 2 Kings, chapter 3. I am not saying that troops in any place have it good, but it sure is a blessing that we don't also require that today's soldiers bring their families to battle with them.
Soli Deo Gloria,