Monday, 22 October 2012

God of the Old Testament and WAR!

Listened to a great talk tonight on what we should think about war as Christians.

Joshua 6:15-27 (NIV)On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. [16] The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! [17] The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. [18] But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. [19] All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury." [20] When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. [21] They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it---men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. [22] Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the prostitute's house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her. " [23] So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. [24] Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord's house. [25] But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho---and she lives among the Israelites to this day. [26] At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: "Cursed before the Lord is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: "At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates." [27] So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

This is a difficult as poses the question what should we think about war in the old Testament.

Idea 1: Don't we believe in a God who says love your enemies?

How do we square this or simply ignore the difficult bits in the Old Testament.

This passages challenges us with who we think God is.

This is a very brutal and violet story. We must be aware that the Bible is brutal in places.

If God is a God of love how can He do something like this?

What does this actually mean? What is God's love actually like? For example parental love is not all fluffy and Disney-ish and has to say "NO!" and trains and directs.  This is not a soft wispy-washy love.

What would we turn out like if God gave us everyone we wanted and with no boundaries?

We should expect God to say NO! And to deal with us in ways we would not want.

We should be able to find passages in the Bible where God  corrects people.

Habakkuk 1:1-4 (NIV)The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received. [2] How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? [3] Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. [4] Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

God says ...

Habakkuk 1:5-6 (NIV)"Look at the nations and watch---and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. [6] I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.

God used the Babylonians to punish His people.

God shows love that redeems through pain.  God's love can be seen to be harsh (at that moment)

God can use tough times to challenge and discipline us.

Idea 2: Does God always do it like that?

In other passages God deals with other tribes in different ways.

Joshua 9:26-27 (NIV)So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. [27] That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the community and for the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.

Wiping out people is not always God's big plan.  There was a reason though in Joshua 6.

This goes all the way back to Genesis 15:16

Genesis 15:16 (NIV)In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

The sin of the Amorities had reached its full measure in Joshua 6.

It is now too late - there is a reason,  Time has run out.

This makes Joshua 6 abut unique.  God is a God of justice.  There has been 400 years to sort things out but justice has come for the Amorites.

God's justice is descending.

Idea 3: Giving the 'first' to God.

Exodus 13:2-10 (NIV)"Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal." [3] Then Moses said to the people, "Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. [4] Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving. [5] When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites---the land he swore to your forefathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey---you are to observe this ceremony in this month: [6] For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. [7] Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. [8] On that day tell your son, `I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.' [9] This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. [10] You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.

God brings the Israelites to Jericho - this is the first city defeated and is the first fruit for God.

Joshua 6:21 (NIV)They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it---men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Who won this battle? God did, it was a battle of faith that only had one winner.

This was God's battle - it was His to win.

Still confused?

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