“Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.” Judges 2:1-4
This morning I started reading the book of Judges in my pursuit to once again read through the bible in a year. And, for some reason, as I read through chapter 1 of Judges, my heart sided with those tribes of Israel that did not bring destruction to the inhabitants of the lands they were told to occupy and destroy. I found myself instead a bit disgusted with the behavior of the tribes that went into these new lands and completely destroyed the inhabitants. Maybe I was just tired of reading about all of the killing and destruction that had filled my past few weeks as I worked my way through the book of Joshua, but I think there was also a bigger conflict going on in my heart regarding these first two chapters of Judges. In effect, I think my desire to be a peace-maker leads my heart in the direction finding mercy for even those who are my enemy, and yet that is not the attitude God called His nation to have as they settled in the new land He had given them. Moreover, I think this peace-making attitude has undermined many Christians who also make peace with the enemies God has asked them to destroy around them – I will explain.
As a mother of two teenage boys I often have a difficult time dealing with their innate nature to want to destroy an advisory over taking strides to make peace with the object of their conflict. My nature of wanting to bring peace to every situation, or at least see peace as the end product of a conflict leads me often times into condemning my boys when they start to talk about the need to destroy the evil they see in the world around them. I think the reading this morning was a bit of a wake-up call for me from God that my perspective of always pushing my sons to seeing their warfare tactics as evil verses the peace-making ways I would prefer them to always approach a conflict with is not always the most godly approach to push them towards.
Does that mean war is the answer to all of the conflict we experience in our world? No, it does not. But does it mean that war is sometimes where God will lead His people? Yes, I believe that is the reality we need to face whether we see that as right or not because God in His righteousness calls us to fight the evil around us and not make peace with it. Read what 2 Corinthians 10: 3-6 has to say about God’s call on the Christian’s life to fight: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
The fact that we are at war is evident if you open your eyes and look around at the world we live in. God command us to fight in this world against the evil we encounter by “pulling down” strongholds, arguments that exalt anything else of this world higher than God Himself, and all thoughts that lead to disobedience against Him. These things that 2 Corinthians talks about surround each and every one of us and we are called to destroy them, not make peace with them. With this new perspective I have determined to change my tactics in how I respond to my boys and their innate desire to destroy, kill, and eradicate evil. Instead of condemning their point of view I instead feel the need to start teaching them how to channel their fighting instinct toward the spiritual weapons the Lord has provided them. I have a responsibility to help my boys see beyond the people who they see as evil and instead see ways they can use their energies to fight the evil that inhabits these people and their practices.
Christians, peace is not the answer when God calls us to fight and remove the evil from our midst. That may not be a statement the world is ready to agree with us on, but it is a statement that is in line with God’s righteousness. To be a Christian we must stand against the world and against evil – if we do less we live in disobedience to the command God has given us, just like the Israelites who didn’t destroy the nations God commanded them to destroy. Because of their disobedience, the nations the Israelites did not destroy were a snare to their relationship with God for the rest of mankind. Likewise, any evil we choose to make peace with over destroying as God commands will too be a snare to our relationship with God.