The Apple Of God's Eye

February 21, 2009

Are Christians Allowed To Participate In Armed Conduct?

The Bible does not condone any participation in the armed forces, whether combative or non-combative. While it is true that ancient Israel fought in many wars, they did not do so with God’s approval. Yes, you read that right! There was simply no need to fight because God promised unequivocally to protect Israel from all their enemies in exchange for their obedience:

“If thou shalt indeed obey, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries” (Exod. 23:22).

God wanted Israel to rely on Him solely for protection. He specifically led them around the land of the Philistines because He did not want them even to see war, much less participate in it (Exod. 13:17). The choice to participate in war was made by the Israelites themselves, not by God.

In one account, God protected the Israelites from a million-man Ethiopian army because King Asa relied on His protection. There was absolutely no need to fight. But even so, King Asa did not continue to rely on Him. He hired an ally—the Kingdom of Syria (II Chron. 16:1-3). Here’s what God thought of the situation:

“And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa King of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the King of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, He delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (II Chron. 16:7-9).

Of course, some will point out the fact that there were times when God instructed Israel to take lives by force. But, did God do wrong, in using the Israelites to drive out these murderous pagan nations? No, because God alone has the right to take human life, since He alone is the giver of life. Israel was war-determined and because of their faithlessness and disobedience, God used them as His instrument in taking life. Israel had chosen the way of sin in going to war. Even then, they could have changed their decision.

Christians should remember that the commandments state: “Thou shalt not kill.” A true Christian of God is a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and no longer a citizen of their own country. They are considered “strangers and sojourners.” Being led by a government that is fighting a war means they are led by that physical government, rather than following the government of God Almighty. If man followed God’s law of love, there would be no war.

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