Summary: This sermon examines how Jesus would vote on war.
We are in the middle of an 8-weeks series of messages titled, “How Would Jesus Vote?” We are examining key issues that confront us today and asking how Jesus would vote if he were here.
Today, as we continue in our series on “How Would Jesus Vote?” I want to examine “War.” What does the Bible have to say about war? How would Jesus vote regarding the issue of war?
War is defined as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations,” or more generally, as “a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism.”
About 15 years ago a group of academics and historians compiled some startling information. Since 3600 BC, the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period, that is, during the past 5,600 years, there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed is equal to a golden belt around the entire world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick.
About 25 years ago a Dutch professor calculated the cost of an enemy soldier’s death at different epochs in history. He estimated that during the reign of Julius Caesar, to kill an enemy soldier cost less than $1. At the time of Napoleon, it had considerably inflated—to more than $2,000. At the end of the First World War, it had multiplied several times to reach the figure of some $17,000. During the Second World War, it was about $40,000. And in Vietnam, in 1970, to kill one enemy soldier cost the United States $200,000. I shudder to think what the cost is today.
Now, these facts and figures are frankly more sad than interesting. General William T. Sherman, in a speech in 1880, said, “There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.” This appears to be the basis for the quote commonly ascribed to Sherman, “War is hell.” All of us, but especially those of us who have served in a war, can testify to the veracity of Sherman’s statement.
However, the important issue before us is not our view about war but, rather, Jesus’ view of war.
Let us read Mark 13:1-8. I will not be doing an exposition of this text, but I will refer to it later in today’s message.
So, let’s read Mark 13:1-8:
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13:1-8)
I don’t have to inform you that the present situation in Iraq and Afghanistan are hot political issues today. Our military is engaged in war in both theatres. Our brave men and women are constantly in danger, and we routinely hear of casualties.
The United States of America has many enemies today. There are many who seek the destruction of our country. Some just desire our destruction, others are actively engaged in our destruction, and still others are planning aggression against us in order to destroy us. We face dangers on every side.
So, how are we to think about war?
I should say that every right-minded person hates war. War is a great evil. Only wicked and perverse people, including Satan, love war. War has caused untold damage to individuals, families, societies, and nations.
But, again, the issue before us is not our view about war but, rather, Jesus’ view of war.
I should also mention that good and godly Christians are deeply divided about the issue of war. There are various views about it. And so, it is important to deal sensitively with this issue.
So, how would Jesus vote on war?
Let me use the following outline to guide us:
1. What does the Old Testament say about war?