War is sometimes necessary to curb, control and conquer evil. This is so evident with such devilish groups as IS and the Islamic Caliphate rampaging in the Middle East. We may wish it wasn’t so but we know they, and others, will not be stopped by reason but by force. The Bible revealed God commissioned men such as Joshua to deal with the evil by the sword. In Canaan were seven nations corrupt and degenerate who had despoiled the Lord’s special ‘patch.’ (Genesis 15:1-21) It is often overlooked that these nations were given over 500 years of grace to change their ways. They didn’t! God would need to bring judgement upon them.
There is a principle evident here. Grace precedes judgement. Evidence of that is Rahab and her family in Joshua 6. How she heard of Yahweh’s intentions and what brought her to faith is not amplified. This woman grasped God’s grace and was, with her family, spared the sword. How many others at that time had a similar opportunity but spurned it we will never know.
I find it intriguing how some spruik the notion that the God of the Old Testament is a warmonger. They then compare Him with Jesus in the Gospels who talks about love and loving your enemies. In actual fact The Yahweh (Jehovah) of those 39 books is the Jesus of the Gospels and the other New Testament books. In a later blog I’ll show some of the unbreakable links.
God has surrounded Himself with numerous titles. The one most fitting for this blog is the title ‘Lord God of Host’. It is a military term. His legions are the angels of Heaven. When Jesus was taken to be crucified He declared that with a command they would come to His aid, immediately! Matthew 26:53. Once again grace preceded justice. Our Lord, however, forewarned His antagonists and supporters in Matthew 24 of events which would lead to the final showdown between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness.
Christmas steals our hearts with its message and images of a baby in the manager. In Micah’s prophesy (5:2-15) relating to this event we stop at verse two and often try and ignore the rest. Christ’s coming as a baby to live amongst Israel and be delivered as a ransom in fulfilment of Scripture is love made tangible. The message He gave His disciples was and is of grace offered to be received by faith. Should that be spurned they put themselves on a war footing. This is highlighted by the angels to the disciples on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:8-11). When the Lord returns He will comes on the clouds and to the same mountain from which He ascended to Heaven. Zechariah 14:4. Speaks of that event. Those angels were verifying the fact that the period of grace will end one day. When that happens the Lord Jesus returns as the Lord God of Hosts.
What then elevates Jesus from out of the ranks of tyrants? What lifts Him above all the mythological gods and such claimants to allegiance as blood thirsty and cruel Allah? A number of facets from His revealed character makes Jesus more than a noble warrior, more than a crusading general and more than God with a mission of wrath. From the Scriptures Jesus is shown to be holy, without sin and this saturates everything He is and does. His love (which we enjoy dwelling upon) is holiness expressed. His mercy is holiness extended to its utmost limits (for which we should be thankful). Therefore, when He makes war on those who trample underfoot His Name, desecrate His temple, murder His followers, deny His existence, cross and resurrection, His wrath is not simply an emotional vendetta. It is Justice, controlled by holiness and dictated by giving His opponents time to repent. This allows them to accept the grace of forgiveness. But, when Christ’s patience runs out, His sword of judgement will be raised. Rest assured it too is controlled by holiness.
Individuals and nations rant and rave against the Lord God revealed in the Bible. Religions such as Islam dishonour, discredit and disfigure the Jesus unveiled in the Bible. They place themselves on a collision course with Christ Jesus.
Such a meeting will either take the moment after death or in the ‘valley of decision,’ Armageddon!
God has the last word and what it will be depends upon our trust in Jesus who entered our world to save us from His sword of judgement. His holy patience has its own timetable which allows you and others to own Him as your personal Lord and Saviour. But always remember this, His holy love and mercy doesn’t make Him a pacifist. Neither will it allow Him to bend His word or be bribed by so called ‘good deeds.’ His holiness motivates justice to gird on His sword to conquer and eliminate evil. Until that day the Gospel of Grace unleashed at the cross is offered. To shun the message is to place yourselves under the threat of the sword. That time is drawing ever nearer when it will be wielded.
©Ray Hawkins July 2015