Many skeptics ask or declare "If God is so strong, great, and overpowering, then why does he allow such evil that results in warfare to exist and thrive in this world"? I should probably ask first what your understanding of God is? Do all religions worship the same God only with different roads leading to the same Heaven? Many, like George Bush and Barack Obama say yes, but then fail to explain why, if all religions follow the same God, he permits and justifies fighting and killing amongst his various religions. It is rather confusing and dysfunctional is it not?
It is my understanding that all man-made religions, which includes a false form of Christianity, are indeed following one false god named Satan, and knowing this answers these kinds of confusing questions about war among the nations and religions. Let me begin this letter about the wisdom of war and self-defense by saying that according to the scriptures the sword of war is the judgment of the one true God upon nations and their leaders, including Israel, Jeremiah 1:16, 14:12, 25:29, Matthew 24:6-8, 1 Thessalonians 2:5-12. Let me explain what that means. The Lord Jesus Christ, the second member of the triune Godhead, is that one true God who, in spite of his hatred of and opposition to war, uses it among "unsaved" men to judge and execute justice against the nations and competing religions, especially when it centers around the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
But know this first, our Father in Heaven is always attempting to "restrain or hinder" men by the ministry of the Holy Spirit and his holy angels when unregenerate men are tempted to violence by their sin nature and the fallen angels who use it to manipulate mankind. The person of the Holy Spirit is on the outside of men speaking to our hearts and minds until a person repents. The Holy Spirit then indwells our bodies, removing the sin nature from our spirits or hearts, giving us power over sin and the fallen angels. Then, and only then, as we enter the Kingdom of God, can any man "see or understand" completely his proper place in the wars among men, religions, and nations. Jesus said that, not me, so those proud, militant patriots reading this please direct your anger towards God, John 3:3-5. He knows all of our hearts and will answer your questions, even those spoken in anger and frustration at what I am writing.
Once a person has entered the Kingdom of Heaven through the heart's new birth by the power of God, he can now begin to see two things clearly. First is how our God has temporarily given the nations, and their political-religious-military institutions, to Satan and his fallen angels until the second coming of Jesus Christ, Luke 4:4-8. Secondly, we can now begin to see clearly the absolute evil of the remnants of our own sin nature yet residing in our body and mind, and the different spiritual elements or components it has. As these two truths, mixed with the indwelling love, compassion, and grace of Jesus within us, begin to grow and strengthen in our new hearts, we ultimately realize that the pre-millennial second coming of Jesus is a time when the Son of God will divinely "make war" upon the deceived nations that have been gathered together to fight against him at a place called Armageddon, Revelation 16-19.
This is a real but one-sided battle with blood and guts flowing like a mighty river in Israel, Revelation 14:20. John saw in his vision of this battle that the Lord Jesus Christ is accompanied by his Army who will participate in the vengeance of God upon Satan, his fallen angels, and all men who love themselves, their nation, and the world system more than the true Kingdom of Heaven. This heavenly Army consists of those who have been born again and had their bodies resurrected and glorified, and then removed from this planet to Heaven and made ready to accompany the Lord when he returns to judge the living and the dead. Please read and listen as the Spirit speaks through Paul to your heart about this coming day of judgment, and how we are to behave in this fallen world until then. It is important to know that Paul was about to be executed by the Roman government for preaching the true gospel to the Gentile empire of his day:
2 Timothy 4:1-8
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
My dear born again friends, please remember that Armageddon is the only "just" war that Christians are called to participate in. So until that day we must, like Paul, pick up our own cross, love our worst enemies, and go forth among the people as harmless sheep in the midst of wolves, knowing that our Kingdom is not now part of this war-torn world. We can see, without any doubt, in Paul's letter to Timothy that his fight was not with carnal weapons like militant warriors against flesh and blood men. Neither was there a Christian army raised up to overthrow the Roman government who was about to behead one of the leaders of Christendom.
These words of Paul only prove that proud, patriotic militants in Christendom have for generations now, since the time of Constantine, erred in thinking they are allowed, even called by God to wear the "crown" of political-religious-military power instead of carrying their "cross" before the second coming of Jesus. They are following "another" Jesus and a man-made false gospel created by Satan himself as John reveals in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2&3. John says their leaders are false apostles following the deeds of the Nicolaitans, the delusions of Balaam, and the seducing teachings of Jezebel who, after God's separating judgment of Christendom, become the Great Harlot that sits upon the final form of the Roman Empire, the United States of America and its European allies, Revelation 17.
These misguided militants do not understand that when the Lord Jesus came the first time, he "postponed" his divine militant judgment against the nations, setting aside his wrath until his second coming, thereby giving opportunity to all men to repent and receive his forgiveness, 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Those in Christendom who have been blinded to this fundamental truth of postponement, and use Israel's Old Testament wars as justification to kill their enemies, do not yet understand the purpose and power of the bloody cross and glorious resurrection of Jesus, and the inherent evil of their own sin nature.
As the scriptures clearly teach the triune God of Israel originally created a sinless, perfect, and pure mankind with a free will. But Adam and Eve listened to the seductive lies of Satan that by eating the banned fruit they can become "little gods" full of hidden wisdom that God was keeping from them. History books and the scriptures tell the rest of the story, for Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Lord, and we all inherited that rebellious nature that is the root of all wars. We are all born loving and worshipping ourselves and this world system. Then God sent his Son to offer all of us forgiveness of sin and eternal life with him, but most refuse this offer of grace making warfare our sad history ever since. During this time between the two advents of Jesus Christ wars have ruled the day among men, only because men's hearts harden and their leaders will no longer be restrained. These unsaved leaders, on either side of a conflict, don't know that fallen angels are manipulating their thinking, and that it is God restraining them through the Holy Spirit and holy angels. Moreover, they don't know there comes a day upon them when God removes his "restraining or hindering" hand allowing wars to occur.
Of course natural men not filled with God's Spirit will view their war as "good versus evil" as in the case of America against Germany, or Hitler versus Roosevelt. Indeed Hitler was a more evil man than Roosevelt, and God's judgment of war was used to punish Hitler and the German people for starting World War II. But that did not make Roosevelt and America righteous in the eyes of God in any way, shape, or form. Remember, Jesus said there must be wars and rumors of war, meaning that because of the hardness and deception in men's hearts, war is the course of this world system led by Satan, Ephesians 2. So, yes, all nations and the people who join with them in these wars are walking in ignorance, as they refuse the restraining pleas of the Holy Spirit to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ.
One thing I would like to clarify. Almost everyone who reads and responds to my articles, and holds to the "just" war doctrine for Christians, asks me about a home intruder bent on violence. Is protecting one's wife and children against individual evildoers by killing them before they kill you different than joining armies to kill them in mass? Your answer will reveal how much you understand about the power of the cross and second coming of Jesus.
Like most of you, my first gut reaction to this question as a born again believer was a definite yes! After all, isn't it a natural thing, a normal instinctive reaction, to spontaneously protect innocent and helpless children and women? My life and experiences as an Army officer who served in the Vietnam War certainly contributed to this initial attitude and knee-jerk response. Furthermore, isn't God himself moved to defend his people when they are threatened by evil men? This all seemed right and made sense somehow, yet I knew there was something lacking in my understanding, a piece of the puzzle was still missing. After thinking, studying, and praying about this for some time, I began to realize there was a conflict between the thoughts of my new heart and those of my old mind which, by the way, is fully capable of being carnal and very self-centered. I still struggled in this conflict for a time, but then I heard the following fill my heart that is surrounded by the Holy Spirit. "As a disciple of Jesus Christ you must first understand that nothing happens to you and your God-fearing family that our Father has not allowed for his good and purpose". Read that again and let it sink into your heart!
We live by faith and in God's grace and power, not fear of evil men when they threaten us with harm and death, Matthew 10:28. I believe our Lord taught in the Sermon on the Mount that his followers are not to seek an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, when he said resist not evil men. Obviously, we are to resist the devil's lies and fears, but not the men he uses to terrorize us, Matthew 5:38-48, James 4:5-10. Jesus clearly teaches us that man's natural life in this world system is governed by the carnal "wisdom of this world" which is foolishness to God, 1 Corinthians 1:17-31. He also said that if any man loves his natural life in this world system, led by Satan, he will lose eternal life, but if we hate our proud, lustful, and violent life in this world we will inherit eternal life, John 12:25. Do you admit that these foundational teachings of our Lord are contradictory to the psycho-babble wisdom of natural men?
Please don't misunderstand what the Lord is saying about nonviolent reaction to evil men. In no way is he saying that if, in our daily mingling among people, we see a child or a women being beaten that we should just standby and do nothing. Of course, we would intervene and attempt to stop the madness, but not with the intent to kill the evildoer. So then, how else might we respond when an intruder breaks into our home? By the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, he might have you cast the demon out of an intruder. Or, the Spirit could have the man place himself between an evil man while his family fled away to safety. The same Spirit might also provide the time for witnessing to him about Jesus, as did Steven who cried out to his God concerning those who were hurling stones at him..."lay not this sin to their charge", Acts 7:59-60. As in the case of many Christian martyrs before us, there perhaps will come a day when God will allow our enemies, who now only hate and despise us, to kill us and our families, even then using that evil to reach out to others. Remember, the tragic death of Steven was used by God to save the great Apostle Paul.
Another vital truth we need to understand and believe is that God has placed angels around those he has saved to assist us in all of our situations. I try to never forget this and am reminded by the Spirit often in my dealings with contentious men. The life and experiences of Jesus while on this Earth give us much insight as he had legions of angels surrounding him at all times. He knew that even as he was led to the cross God the Father commanded these holy ones to "stand down" as he was beaten and crucified. They could only watch in great sorrow, yet they knew this must be in order to give mankind a chance to escape the wrath of God to come!
Until it was his time to die no harm could overcome our Lord. So it shall be with us. The time of our death and departure to Heaven is in our Lord's hands, even as we are hated and suffer much rejection, ridicule, and persecution. Remember when angry men attempted to throw Jesus off the cliff and he was spared, for it was not yet his time, Luke 4:28-30? Think also about this next statement about our Lord and what I wrote about "postponement" of his wrath and judgment upon the Gentile nations. The Lord Jesus, being the God of Israel, would compassionately embrace families and cast out demons, heal their diseases, even raised their dead, but he never lifted a hand to displace the brutal and murderous oppression of the Gentile Roman legions that occupied the land God gave to the Jewish people.
Lastly, we must remember once again, that unsaved people are ruled and manipulated by the fallen angels whom Jesus has allowed to have dominion over all nations until the second coming of our King. All unsaved people, be they Jewish or Gentile, naturally lean towards the desire to be "under" the law, living in their own power and self-righteousness. This is one of the main teachings of all man-made false religions. This is the foolish wisdom of this world system. And until they hear the truth of the Kingdom coming in the Lord Jesus Christ proven by his shed blood and glorious resurrection, they know nothing of being "under" the power of his grace which is the free gift of the Holy Spirit who gives us new hearts, and power over the sin nature we all were born with. Knowing all of this, we must witness to all men and women the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is wisdom from above that must be embraced by all that name the name of Jesus Christ!
Jack D. Hook