Sermons

Summary: What we are teaching our children will determine their eternal future, for good or for evil.

Sins of the Fathers

by Pastor Jim May

2 Kings 2:19-24, "And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake. And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."

The city of Jericho had been leveled by the power of God when Joshua and the Children of Israel first entered into the Promised Land. Even though the walls were leveled, pushed outward by the hand of God, much of the city still stood after the battle was over. Israel had burned a lot of it and had left much of it in ruin but there was enough left for the Israelites to begin to rebuild.

When the Promised Land was divided among the tribes of Israel, the Tribe of Benjamin was assigned the land where Jericho now lay in ruins. The Benjamites began to rebuild the city and to inhabit it, but there was a problem.

God had told Joshua to destroy every inhabitant and all the worldly spoils of Jericho. He was only to save the gold, silver and brass for use in the Temple treasury. But like every other battle, God’s directions were not carried out to the letter.

God gave them the victory, they killed most of the people of the city, but not all, and they kept the vessels as God directed, but they left a seed of rebellion in the city. It would be a seed that continually grow and cause grief to the Benjamites.

One of the greatest tragedies of any war is that there are always non-combat casualties. I suppose that even today, in the war in Iraq, the biggest problem that our soldiers face is not the terrorist enemy. Any small group that attacks an American force right now is easily defeated by our overwhelming firepower and technology.

It has been said that we will drop a laser guided smart bob right on top of the head of whoever we want to kill and in return, the terrorists throw make a home-made Molotov cocktail (gasoline filled bottle with a rag that is lit to burn when it breaks). There isn’t much chance that the terrorists can win but they still put up a good fight.

I can remember the days of the Vietnam War. It is supposedly the only war that the U.S. has ever lost. Do you know why we lost? It wasn’t because of our inability to defeat the enemy. It wasn’t because the soldiers weren’t willing and able to win. It was because of the politics of war.

Just as it is Iraq, it was in Vietnam as well. The problem is; how do you tell which of the people standing before you is a terrorist or an innocent civilian caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sadly, there is no way to know. For there are times when even those who you think are your friends will really be your enemy.

I don’t condone the killing of innocent civilians, who would? But I do understand, from first hand experience, how the death of many civilians is an inescapable result of any war.

After so many times of trusting so called “friendlies” among the civilian population and then being betrayed and losing your own soldiers to their treachery, anyone would become overly cautious against trusting the civilian population. Anyone, from a grand-mother who would pull out an AK-47 rifle from under her bed and ambush the first GI she met, to a small child, barely old enough to walk who would walk in among a group of soldiers and then die with them in a booby trapped mine that was strapped to its body, could be your enemy.

It became so bad in Vietnam that our troops in the field came to the conclusion that, “The only friendly Vietnamese was a dead Vietnamese. Kill them all and let God sort them out.” That was, and still is a terrible thing to do, but in that day it was your only way to hope to survive the war and make it home alive.

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