Summary: As we consider going to war, we’ll find that God is on the side of those who trust Him and have faith in Him and who humble themselves and repent of the sin in their lives.
In the Fall of 1938, as war was again threatening Europe, Irving Berlin decided to write a song emphasizing peace. Pulling a little known composition off the shelf, that he had written twenty years earlier, he made a few alterations to reflect the current state of the world. Then, on Armistice Day of that same year, Kate Smith sang it on her radio program for the very first time. “God bless America, land that I love! Stand beside her, and guide her, thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam. God bless America, my home sweet home!”
God bless America. A song we sing and a petition we offer. And especially so in light of recent events. Since Sept. 11th, Christians have been pleading with God to bless this nation; and national leaders seem to be doing the same thing, every chance they get. There have been national days of mourning and prayer, numerous special religious events – often televised live, and memorial services in nearly every community. And every one ends with the plea that God would bless our nation. Add to those all of the patriotic symbols that we see these days, often mixed with Christian symbols, and the patriotic songs that have been sung in churches and the hymns sung out of churches, and we can’t help but believe that God is on our side and He will bless this nation. We’re sure of that, you see, because WE KNOW that He’s NOT on their side. God would never, and could never approve of what these spiritually deceived fanatics have done. So we don’t have anything to worry about. God will give us victory over our enemies because God is on our side. Crosses draped with American flags assure us that that’s true. Don’t they?
Well, that’s what I want to talk with you about this morning. Is God on our side, in this conflict that’s been characterized as a battle between good and ? And can we expect Him to respond favorably to every request for comfort, support, strength, guidance, and victory?
In order to find an answer to these questions we need to consider three things: First, what the Bible has to say about war and peace; next, what church tradition has to say about a “Just War;” and finally, from the Bible again, what God expects of anyone and everyone who’s side He will take. Combine these, and we should come away ready to base our own ideas and our own personal philosophies on Scripture, rather then on patriotic enthusiasm or secular opinion.
First, what will we find here in this book that will help us determine whether God is on our side? What does God’s Word have to say about war and peace and our involvement in one or the other?
Well, the first thing we’ll find is that historically war is an unfortunate fact of life. The Old Testament is filled with the accounts of war. Holy wars were even led by God Himself against nations who worshipped other gods. At His command Israel’s enemies were to be totally destroyed; men, women, children, and livestock. And, since God commanded war, we might wonder if He wouldn’t do the same thing today, considering the situation that we’re faced with.
As we move on in the Scriptures, and after the conquest of their land, Israel quickly discovered the need to defend herself. Foreign armies tried to take back what God’s people believed He had given to them, and so they went back to war to defend themselves. But again, they weren’t alone. God went before them to bring about their victory over those who tried to destroy them. Considering all of this then, God seems to at least approve of His people’s need to defend themselves.
Now someone might rightly claim that this was all in the Old Testament, but since then things have changed; not the least of which has been the coming of Jesus into the world, the Prince of Peace, who tried to help us learn to interact in a different way. “Love your enemies,” he said, “do good to those who you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Luke 6:27-29) Further on, reading in Paul’s letters, we find, “Do not repay anyone for . Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.” (Romans 12:17-19) And also, “Do not be overcome by , but overcome with good.” (Romans 12:21)