Is God Against War?

by Maurice Johnson

"The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. . . . The way of peace have they not known . . . For whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall reap corruption ... From whence come wars and fighting among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts . . ." — Rom. 18:20; Isa. 57; 21; Rom. 3:17; Gal. 8:7, 8; Jas. 4:1.


Two hundred and eighty-one times in the Bible God is called "the Lord of Hosts." Twice in the Bible, and only twice, do we have this more familiar statement, "God is love." — 1 John 4:8. A very clear picture of the two aspects of God's character and attitude toward man is given us in Exodus 15:2, 3, "The Lord (Jehovah) is my strength and song and He has become my salvation. He is my God; my father's God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a man of war: the Lord (Jehovah) is His name." But to me, the most vivid of all of the Bible descriptions of the Lord is found in the last book of the Bible. In Revelation 6:16 we read of "the wrath of the Lamb." In other words, no honest Bible reader can think of Jesus of Nazareth, "the Lamb of God," as being merely "the meek and lowly Nazarene." He was and is capable of the most terrible anger. His wrath, however, is the "wrath of the Lamb," the righteous indignation of the High and Holy One who became "the meek and lowly one" because of His great love for guilty and helpless sinners.


I have studied the Bible with some degree of diligence for over twenty-five years and I unreservedly state that the Word of God no more condemns war than it condemns fly swatters or rat traps or surgeons or parental chastening. And it is by no means accidental that the same generation that has produced all of our evolutionary, anti-war, wish-thinking pacifists has also produced the lollypop professors who have taught the modern mamas and papas not to resort to such "cave man tactics and such bestial measures" as tanning Junior's "britches" or giving the budding glamour girl anything so unglamorous as a good spanking. All of those piffle peddlers who still think man is an evolution from the beast and the ape-man and who, therefore, teach that all of us have within us the only stuff necessary to continue improving the human race — all of those teachers, I say — should continue to advocate letting Junior and little sister express their beautiful little selves by throwing the cat in the soup or slapping grandma, et cetera. And not only should these unrealistic evolutionary dreamers allow children to express their angelic little selves, but the communists and tire thieves and hit-and-run drivers, etc., should likewise be allowed their evolutionary progress in "self-expression." My friends, the most unreal and utterly impractical line of talk that ever beguiled unstable souls is the teaching that a man or a nation without God can be a man or a nation with anything worth calling peace. So far as mortal man can discover, all of God's original creation is now characterized by order and disorder, light and darkness, cold and heat, meek and fierce, weak and strong, right and wrong, love and hatred, life and death. This all adds up to WAR. Can it be possible that the Bible so clearly presents all of these conditions and yet holds out no explanation and no solution for all of this deadly restlessness, dissatisfaction and passionate longing? Our present day scholarly fools have to have an international eruption of human hatred, national coveteousness and unspeakable butchery to even check their infidel and unscientific dreams concerning man's evolution, but those of us who honestly look at God's inspired X-rays of the human heart do not need such frightful outpourings to convince us that not all is well. We know that our Lord Jesus spake the otherwise hidden truth when he said: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." — Matt. 15:19.


But along comes the pacifist and says: "According to the Bible it is murder to engage in war." That crowd of "peace, peace" folks are not very careful to get the rest of their philosophy from the Word of God but they seem to think they can drag God over on their side when it comes to their schemes for outlawing war. On the other hand, infidels and atheists enjoy quoting "Thou shalt not kill." They find passages in the same Bible where the same God commands the very same Israelites to kill all of the Amalekites, Philistines, Canaanites, etc. No thoughtful person, however, is disturbed by this ignorant or vicious misuse of the Word of God. While God forbade the individual to murder, He also instructed the rulers of the nation to execute His sentence against certain persons and nations. And is not that exactly parallel to our own laws as to killing and punishment? I am not allowed to hit a man over the head with a club but the riot squad or the individual police officer is commanded to do exactly that when he deems it necessary. Now while there may be, and doubtless are, cases where officers exceed their authority or unjustly use their delegated power, nevertheless, their occasional misuse of the office of law enforcement does not destroy the need of proper law enforcement.


When pacifistic preachers and pacifistic socialites and pacifistic communists all quit locking their cars and their houses and consistently refuse all kinds of police protection, then they should be accorded, at least, a small moment of tolerance and attention. But according to the Word of God wars will continue exactly as long as animals continue to bite and devour one another. All that we have of misery and woe, of bitterness and bloodshed, of fear and hate, of suffering and death came as the immediate and direct result of man's sin in the garden of Eden, man's turning from the Creator and His sublimely simple laws. And not until the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, comes back to this earth to establish His kingdom will the earth and the animal world and man be lifted from the curse of war.


Laugh at this prophecy and prospect if you wish; but offer another solution you cannot. He Who pronounced and enforced the curse upon man and the entire physical creation is able to lift it. And the longer men vainly dream and scheme to do away with the "sweat" and thorns and sorrow and death that their sin brought from Almighty God, the more they multiply their troubles. Who can now honestly deny that our very peace and disarmament conferences hastened and intensified the second world war? God alone has the way of escape for man. God is the way of escape. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." —Proverbs 14:12. "The way of peace have they not known . . . for my ways are not thy ways, saith the Lord, nor my thoughts thy thoughts: for as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways above thy ways and my thoughts above thy thoughts."— Rom. 3:17 and Isa. 55:8, 9. The only genuine peace guaranteed even to God's most humble children in this present evil world, or age, is the personal peace that He gives, "the peace that passeth understanding." Christ says to all who receive Him as their sin-bearer, Saviour and Lord: "My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled . . ." And He promises to keep them "in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on" Him.


Now, strange as it may seem, this is the kind of peace that will enable a soldier in physical battle to obey "the powers that be," the civil authorities, and render the most loyal service possible, even when he personally believes in little or nothing that is being fought over. The soldier who has "the peace of God" in his own heart and life can render utterly unselfish service to his particular "Caesar." He knows that his Saviour and Lord commands: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." — Matt. 22:21. This type of soldier never fights his own personal battles with such carnal weapons as bayonets and bullets for he knows from the Word of God that in this present church dispensation the "good soldier of Jesus Christ" fights "the good fight of faith." — 2 Tim. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 6:12. And he remembers that the real enemy of the souls of men cannot be defeated with carnal weapons; "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (wicked spirits above us). Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . ." — Eph. 6.

If it be asked, "How then could it be possible for a spiritual Christian to make a good soldier for Uncle Sam or any other nation or human government"?, I answer that it is because the humble believer knows that only God can truly protect this, that or the other nation and, since God has positively commanded every believer to "obey the powers that be, for they are ordained" of Him, the trusting servant of God can and will confidently and enthusiastically "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." The deepest and strongest of all motives in fighting or in any other function of our human life is the consciousness of having been faithful quite independent of whether we were apparently or immediately successful. This faithfulness in imposed duties, however, guarantees spiritual satisfaction and spiritual rewards to Christians in every army and in every country, regardless of the justice of the particular country's cause. In the frightful Civil War right here in our own country there were doubtless genuine Christians on each side who very likely discharged their duties in a manner well pleasing to God though only one side in the war was or could have been right. Now while this type of message does not contribute to unbridled enthusiasm and Fourth of July Patriotism it does remind honest men of the sound basis for good soldiering. And it will certainly encourage those of our boys and men who are born again members of the Church which is Christ's body.


In any study on the subject of the Christian and war something should be given concerning the fact that God's method of dealing with the nations today is not the same as His method in the days of Israel's national life, before the cross. We must "rightly divide the word of truth" in order to understand that the same God Who gave Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David and others His supernatural direction in their warfare whenever they were obedient to Him, IS NOT giving to any nation or to any leader that kind of direct help today. In this present church dispensation, God has no national program. Today, He is taking out of the Gentile nations "a people for His name" and when that church, or called out company, is complete and ready for Christ, then, and not before then, God will resume His dealings with Israel as a nation and the rest of the nations left from the last and most horrible of all great wars. Therefore, while it is utterly unscriptural for any one to say that "the God of the New Testament is against wars such as the Old Testament tells of"; it is just as unscriptural to teach that God is today helping any nation in the direct manner in which He very frequently helped His chosen nation, Israel. God's program today is with individuals and His church while all civil governments have been left in the hands of Adam's fallen race whose governors are "Caesars." Caesar is being allowed to run his own business for this entire dispensation. God's offer in the person of Jesus Christ as earth's ruler was scornfully rejected and those who cried out "We'll have no king but Caesar" are still enjoying (?) "Caesar." God is the Head and Ruler of no nation on the face of this earth today. That explains why it is that no physical war in this day of grace is actually decisive. In other words, the issues that are "settled" are soon to be "settled" all over again. "But we have not so learned Christ" Whose enduring peace is "not as the world giveth."

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