It is time for every peace-loving nation to come together to wipe every terrorist group off the face of the earth.
If this sentence comes off as crass or harsh, I want to show you that it represents the kind of biblical response we should have in the face of evil. Over my next few posts, I want to examine: Is God a pacifist? Does God ordain murder? Does God work differently and give different commands for nations and individuals? How should a Christian live in light of God’s justice and mercy? How can God order Israel to kill, but also tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (what tensions are there between the Old and New Testament?)? When we see evil and terrorism in the world, how should we pray? For God to destroy terrorists or to save them? Do we focus on justice or mercy?
In order to have a proper foundation for answering the above questions, we must first understand who God is. So in this post, we are going to look at the character of God and how God views sin and evil in this world.
Our view of God needs to be based on the word of God, and not our personalities, preferences, presuppositions, or political partiality. It is in God’s word that we see God as the just and righteous warrior. Moses states, “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea… Yahweh is a warrior; Yahweh is His name (Exodus 15:1, 3). God is a mighty warrior who fights for His people and destroys His enemies in war. Moses is joyful, thankful even, that God miraculously rescued him and the Israelites. Israel is rejoicing exactly because God is an all-powerful warrior who defeated their enemies. Moses also told the people, “Yahweh will fight for you” (Exodus 14:14). As Israel was about to take the Promised Land, Moses also told the people, “Yahweh your God, who is going before you, will fight for you” (Deut 1:30).
Both the Egyptians and Canaanites were destroyed because God went before Israel and fought for them. It is clear that as we look at God’s character, attributes and titles, he reveals himself as a wrathful warrior who wages war. He destroys nations. He kills evildoers. God is never portrayed in Scripture as someone who tolerates everything and condemns no one. There is nothing about God’s character that hints at being a pacifist. No, God is strong and mighty, mighty in battle and he fights for, alongside of, and through His people.
So what is the framework for understanding how God can be a warrior who destroys enemies?
All of God’s commands and his direct involvement in the slaying of people and nations is ultimately due to the sinfulness of sin. God kills sinners because he is just and sin is unjust. God is a righteous warrior because sin is the worst form of divine treason. Sin is much worse and deserves far worse punishment than any of us could imagine. Sin deserves death. Eternal death. God is infinitely holy and righteous. And the only righteous act God should do for every sinful person is to punish them for all eternity. So the question to ask is not how can God destroy nations? The appropriate question is why has God not destroyed everyone? The fate of the Canaanites, Egyptians, and Amorites is the fate that every single sinner deserves and were it not for the Cross, Christians would face that judgment as well.
Our response in the face of evil and sin should be the same as God’s. We must have righteous hatred for all forms of evil and sin in this world because it is all against our holy God. We should long for justice to win and righteousness to prevail. Israel rejoiced when God destroyed their enemies. We also should desire for all forms of evil to be destroyed and for righteousness to reign. If we truly understand how holy and just our God is, and if we truly understand the heinousness of sin, we should long for all forms of evil to be destroyed—including asking God to stop in their tracks those who desire to harm people.
Praying like this does not negate praying for people’s salvation or many principles in the New Testament. I believe we would be praying in line with God’s will because of the timeless Noahic Covenant. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:6🙂
Stay tuned for future posts to understand a number of tensions in Scripture and how the gospel causes us to pray for more than justice.
This selection is edited from a 2-part sermon series. To read the transcript of the messages and to explore these issues in greater depth, please click here: Is God a Pacifist (Part 1) and here: Is God a Pacifist (Part 2).
Source: The Cripplegate | Steve Ingino