Let this be a lesson to you.

In response to my previous post a friend asked:

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject in general. It is something that I really toss around in my head and I don’t feel like I have any resolution. There are talks about how we as Christians need to protect Israel (with some scriptural backing of that talk), yet it seems like both sides of the conflict are in the wrong at points, and innocent people die as a result. Even on a larger picture, I don’t get why God commanded the people of Israel to take out entire races in the Old Testament. This means that women and children were murdered because of the ethnicity they were born into. How does that translate to “God is Love”?

I don’t mean to be controversial, it is just something I struggle with, and I figured you would have some good insight. Do you think maybe it’s just what needed to happen to prepare the way for Jesus? If so, why is it still going on today? Etc. etc.

Where to begin? First; on the question of Israel and “Christians need to protect” her. As a Christian sharing in the same covenant as Israel how can I be separate from her? As an American how can I be separate from an ally engaged with an enemy who has attacked and is sworn to continue to attack my country? Yes it is that simple. 

Second; on the question of “why God commanded the people of Israel to take out entire races in the Old Testament?” I do not believe God ever did this as an act of ethnic war, genocide, as you suggest though I may be wrong. I do believe God was commanding a fragile nation to wage what I (and others) term “total war.” Historically this is how war was waged, not just Old Testament wars; more on this later.

Third; as a general observation on the overall theme of your questions; always side with God; always side with what is right. I use the term “right” very deliberately and hear you perhaps asking “but who is to say what is right?” Right is right; wrong is wrong; good is good; evil is evil. Today’s world likes to try and find the middle ground; to compromise; to see both sides. Fine, knock yourself out for your own enjoyment but have no illusions; black is black and right is right. Period. 

Fourth; to the spiritual aspect of your question of “why is it still going on today?”  I assume you know the answer but for anyone else reading this I will explain; God is alive and the devil hates God and everything of God. Read to the end, God wins and so do we, praise God! 

Fifth; on a military or political level your question of “why is it still going on today?” leads back to paragraphs two and three. “Today’s world likes to try and find the middle ground” and therefore has gotten away from the principal of “total war.” I do believe, and will some day have the leisure to study and write about this, that the “less than total wars” which have become the norm since the end of the Second World War have been far more costly in every aspect than the “total wars” such as those you described from the Old Testament. The short evidence to support this theory is that those “limited wars” are still going on as you point out. Perhaps God was giving a military and political lesson in the descriptions of those Old Testament battles that war was ugly enough that it should never be waged except completely and totally. 

More than 1or2thoughts, let this be a lesson to you!


7 Responses

  1. Thanks, Mark. I think to sum up my questions in a simpler, less emotional way::

    1. Israel has done some pretty horrible things to the Palestinians as well. It’s an extremely complicated conflict that isn’t very black and white, in my opinion. But overall, I agree, we need to trust in God and help our brothers. I just think we need to make sure we remember that whole “wwjd” practice.

    2. Just for clarification, the “Why is it still going on today?” question was more directed towards war in the name of God, not war in general. I thought that the wars of the Old Testament were more of a preparing the way issue. When Jesus came, he rectified us and made us whole.

    anyway, I really appreciate your thoughts.

  2. Are you sure that you’re talking about Israel when you say they’ve done horrible things to the Palestinians? Or are you talking about Israeli’s. There is a very very big difference.

    Where the “nation” of Palestine has attacked Israel, the attacks on Palestine have been largely committed by Israeli individuals and not the nation of Israel. Killing outside of declared war has never been advocated by Israeli leaders and government. It is quite the opposite on the Palestinian side, however.

  3. Yes, Mark T, I realize that Israelites were the Hebrew nation of the Bible, and Israelis are inhabitants of the modern day state called Israel. I could use the exact same point on most people that automatically take the side of Israel, are they defending the Hebrew Nation or just the modern day state?

    My point is that, it’s not a matter of right and wrong. It is too large of an issue to flat out blame one side or the other. It is an extremely deep and involved discussion that I don’t think is even attainable for us to have. The big picture of my question was both in the OT and in modern day, how is it possible for a loving God to mandate the slaughter of innocent people, regardless of ethnicity or which side of the war they are on.

    It’s just a brutally honest question. It’s something I probably wouldn’t quibble over with a non-believer, but I still think it’s important to dialog about with like-minded people.

  4. I’m suprised Josh B hasn’t weighed in on this issue…

  5. That actually wasn’t my point at all. I’m talking about the difference between what the modern State of Israel does versus it’s individuals. The state of Israel doesn’t advocate any killing. The killing from the Israeli side is only done by individuals who do not represent their government.

    In the same way that someone killing an abortion doctor in the name of Christianity doesn’t represent and isn’t advocated by the Christian church in any capacity.

    On the other hand, the Palestinian government promotes killing of Israelis.

    The Old Testament covenant stuff is a whole other ball of wax, and I don’t really care to even think about that at this point. I’m just looking at what is going on right now.

    Just wanted to clarify.

  6. I am going to have to do some more research on the conflict. At this point, it seems like you are impllying that Israel has kept it’s hands clean in all of this, which is not how I understand it.

    I am not taking the side of Palestine, but I am saying that it’s not such a clear cut issue, and furthermore, it’s really my business to take a definite side.

  7. Dad, good post. I wish that you would write like this more often. VERY good points raised on all side.

    One thing to throw in there. No matter who is right and who is wrong, BOTH sides of any violent conflict will do things that other people see as wrong. They will even do things that are considered ‘dirty.’ I would just throw in there that a party in a war can be fighting the ‘right’ side of the issue and NOT do everything correct.

    For example, do we like role models and pastors? Yes. Do they do everything correctly? No, not at all. BUT that doesn’t mean that their cause is wrong, or that they are even wrong.

    Was the American Revolution a positive war for both this country and for the advancement of Western Civilization? Yes. A hearty YES! Was everything that the ‘rebels’ or ‘american insurgents’ did during that conflict totally “blameless?” I would answer, heck no. BUT their cause was right and just. Does this mean that the ends justify the means? No and that is a different argument.

    My point is this, you can’t judge a cause simply by how it is fought. You have to judge it on a lot more than by simply how it is fought. Just because, we made mistakes and crossed lines at G. Bay, does not mean that the War on Terror is an unjust one.

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