15 April 2011

Question of the Week:
Why War from God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Image source: Battles of the Bible
by Chaim Herzog & Mordechai Gichon
Fall River Press ©1978, 1997

"How can Christians say that God is loving if He ordered war ... and even the killing of children?"~ Anonymous

There's no single or simple answer, but at least one basic principle applies.

God sees the end from the beginning. Where evil has taken root, He does not need to allow it to grow to maturity before He knows what kind of fruit will come of it.

War is depicted as the sword of God throughout the Old Testament. The above question is asked most often about wars God directed between the time of Moses and David. At that time, the Lord established specific borders for Israel, and then gave instructions concerning both the nations which infiltrated those borders and the less proximate nations.

Nations which kept their distance and were willing to make peace were permitted to do so (Deuteronomy 20:10-15). But for the seven evil nations within Israel's borders—and for the Amalekites, whose immediate proximity and hostility threatened the Israel—God commanded complete annihilation, including children and animals. (Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Judges 21:10; 1 Samuel 15:3)

Many people find it difficult to reconcile such a God with the message of John 3:16—with a message of love and forgiveness, grace and salvation. But the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. He doesn't change—nor does evil, sin and Hell.

The proof that sin and Hell are real is visible when we look upon the manner of death God required from His Son Jesus to save us from them—crucifixion.

The proof that evil is intolerable to God is visible when we look upon the manner of war He requires (present tense) to extinguish it—crucifixion.

Now the works of the flesh are evident ... And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
~ from Galatians 5:19-24 (NKJV)

It is noteworthy that God did not commission the Israelites to go out into all the world to destroy evil, but only when evil threatened infiltration. Though there are times when evil comes to our doorstep, when we are compelled to do battle, Christians are likewise not commissioned to root out the pervasive evil in the world. When we go into the world, it is to make disciples. We wage a war of annihilation against evil within our own borders—against its infiltration of our hearts.

Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
~ Jude 1:7 (NKJV)

Jude preaches to Christians that the same evil immorality which existed in the ancient world and brought about their destruction would continue to threaten us. We are to be as ruthless with ourselves as we root out the sin within our own borders as ancient Israelites were commanded to root out the pagan nations within their borders.

"Most of God's people are content to be saved from the hell without; they are not so anxious to be saved from the hell within."
~Robert M. McCheyne

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Thanks Anne, I really like the McCheyne quote at the end.

  2. You're welcome, Rusty. When you said 'no question too hard,' did you have ones like this in mind? :P

  3. Wow, Anne, what a fabulous answer this very difficult question.

    The evil within is much more regrettable than the evil without...especially when I consider how deeply it grieves God.

    May He bless you richly today.

  4. Thanks, Gwen. The answer is anything but complete. You mention that evil 'grieves God.' Why is it so hard for us to wrap our brains around the fact that God experiences grief on a magnitude far larger than mankind does?