Summary: War as viewed from the OT
Turn with me in your Bibles today to the book of Joshua, chapter 10. We have been going through the OT, looking at God bringing the Jews out of slavery in Egypt, through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and finally into the land he had promised to their forefathers to give them. As we read through the book of Joshua, we see a key lesson taught, the law of the first step, that we looked at las week: Sometimes God waits to act until you begin to move in faith. But as we read through Joshua, there is also a disturbing image that we see over and over again. In Joshua 10, we see it displayed very vividly. Look with me in verse 28: That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho. Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. The LORD also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho. Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. The LORD handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. Then look with me down in verse 40 - So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
The concepts we see in Joshua, of a God of war who completely obliterates these whole people groups seems so foreign to the God of love and mercy we are so often taught. What’s going on here? This morning, we want to talk about war, and how to have a Biblical viewpoint on war. We are going to look in the OT at what war meant before the cross, then look to see what the NT teaches us, and then we will end up going back to the OT again to learn some life lessons for us today.
Starting out in Joshua, we see the Jews entering the promised land and fighting these battles, and God fighting for them. God tells the people through Joshua over and over again that the Jews are to totally and completely destroy every man, woman, and child. Why? Why would a good God tell them this. Is it just that God wants to give a better piece of land to his people? Look with me in Deut. 7:1-4 - When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you-- and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
**God uses war to completely destroy nations because of their sinfulness. God knew that if they were allowed to continue, their sinfulness would affect the Jews. He says, in
Deut. 9:1-4 You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall . . . Be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you. After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you.