Is War Ever God’s Will?

There are many examples where God used war to bring justice to a righteous people or to destroy evil:

War in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “milhamah” (translated “war”) occurs more than 300 times. “Milhamah” is only one of several Hebrew words associated with the various facets of war. More than 300 times in the Old Testament, God is called “the Lord of Hosts” (armies). The song of victory sung by Moses and the children of Israel after they escaped Pharaoh (Exodus 15:3-4) was, “The Lord is a man of war: The Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host He cast into the sea.”

Many of God’s great leaders were military men including Saul, David, Moses, Gideon and Joshua. Abraham went to war and rescued Lot (Genesis 14:13-24–“…he led forth his trained men… and defeated them…”).

The Lord chose Joshua to be Moses’ successor to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. In order to do this, Joshua was commanded to exterminate all of the inhabitants of Canaan and was promised God’s help (Deuteronomy 7:17-24). Then there was the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27).

The prophet Habakkuk wrestled with the use of the Chaldeans to judge Judah. He wrote, “Why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13)

When War is God’s Will

The Lord uses governments as vehicles to convey judgment upon nations that need it “…the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). The Old and New Testaments are full of examples of human governments being ordained of God (Daniel 2:37-38; John 19:10-11).

America, of all nations, has been blessed by God, but we have so violated these blessings that we are now certainly ripe for the judgment of God upon the United States. Threats from extremists, terrorists and other foreign powers could very well result in the end of our country.

As much as we may be concerned about the various groups who threaten us, we must realize our only hope of survival, humanly speaking, is to be as strong or stronger than our enemy. Continuing to have a strong and advanced military is a necessity.

We must remember that when the freedoms and the liberties of a God-fearing nation are in danger, war is in the will of God. There’s something worse than war and that is slavery. We have a Biblical mandate in the Word of God to protect our families and our children. The Scripture says that if a man will not provide (or care for, or protect) his family, he is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).

While we feel we must have a strong military defense system to serve as a deterrent to war, we certainly realize that if America is to escape the wrath of God, we must all come to the full realization that our real defense as a nation rests in the spiritual convictions, character and commitment of our citizenry. We have an obligation to lift up the Biblical standard of righteousness so that there is a mark, a goal… a morality in our society. We have all the resources needed to defend our people, to protect our children, to help other countries who are less fortunate and to spread the Gospel around the world, if we will follow God’s plan.

If we go God’s way and follow the Scriptures, we can, from God’s perspective, have a healthy society. Living by God’s principles promotes a nation to greatness while violating God’s principles brings a nation to shame.

Trusting God’s Perfect Will

In summary, we must realize that while building a strong military defense, our trust must ultimately be in God. The danger of total faith in our military defense apart from God is as great as the danger of a second-rate military defense. Our position as Americans and Christians is that we must work hard for a strong country, capable of defending itself against military aggression, while at the same time we must pray for peace that can be won without compromising the principles upon which America was founded–principles for which our forefathers fought.

At the same time, we must realize that the only real and lasting peace will come when the Prince of Peace returns to set up his Millennial Kingdom.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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