Is it possible for
you to enter your Promised Land, flowing with the proverbial milk
and honey? In the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel
there was a "Promised Land" for them. There was going
to be some effort, but they could have it. As could be expected,
the response was mixed: some wanted to stay in the wilderness
(they were used to it), some wanted to get close, but stay on
the east side of the Jordan (that was good enough), and some wanted
to get what God had for them (they had greater faith).
There were some problems
called "ites". These were the Canaanites, Jebusites,
Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and others. They worshiped false
gods which was bad enough, but they also practiced child sacrifice
and immorality to the greatest known extreme. I could tell you
more details, but since this teaching might fall into the hands
of children, I will limit myself to the fact that they built fires
under hollow barrels fashioned into the shape of a cow, and threw
babies into the barrel after it was red hot. So I hope most decent
people would agree that God's death penalty was appropriate
He just wanted some people to carry it out in an "inter-national
action" (a bit of a parallel to some American military operations).
However, there was
a mixture of people (like there are in every crowd), and there
was no unanimous vote. So the "pacifists" stayed in
the wilderness (where the Bible says they died in obscurity).
I have a recent map of Israel on my ministry office wall that
shows this place of decision (Kadesh Barnea) was only 6 kilometers
from the boundary of modern Israel. They were so close to their
Promised Land, but they did not want any conflict. As a result,
they missed everything God had for them.
Then, some of the
Israelites were content to settle on the east side of the Jordan
in an attempt to limit potential conflict (this was Reuben, Gad,
and the half-tribe of Manasseh Numbers
34:14). But these 2½ tribes discovered they would have
to fight anyway, and history shows us they eventually lost all
their land. (It is a spiritual principle that whatever we gain
through spiritual compromise, we eventually lose.)
But for the group
that was willing to experience conflict they obeyed God,
won the victories, and inherited the Promised Land. It was not
very easy, and it was not very quick two characteristics
that modern Americans don't like in our microwave culture. But
God never promised us a life of comfort and immediate gratification.
Jesus said, "In this world you shall have tribulation"
16:33). In fact, Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven
suffers violence, and the violent take it by force"
Now this "violence"
that Jesus was talking about obviously was spiritual warfare,
not personal violence toward people we don't get along with. Jesus
demonstrated unconditional love (the tax collectors and harlots),
forgiveness toward personal failure (Peter), and a reluctance
even to use force toward those trying to take Him (the Roman soldiers
in the Garden of Gethsemane). At the same time, we cannot conclude
that Jesus won't ever kill anyone. In Revelation
19:11, the scripture says about Jesus, "in righteousness
He judges and makes war." This same Jesus appears
at the battle of Armageddon where an army of 200 million has come
against Israel, and Revelation 19:21 says they were all killed
by "the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him".
That means Jesus will personally kill 200,000,000 evil people.
That pretty well does away with the theory that Jesus Christ is
And on a more practical
level, one of the last instructions of Jesus to His disciples
was, "But now... he who has no sword, let him sell
his garment and buy one" (Luke
22:36). It does not sound like Jesus would have been an advocate
of "sword control" or gun control. Jesus did not trust
unsaved mankind, because He knew what was in the heart of men
2:24). As a contrast, there have been legalistic groups of
Jews in history who did not believe they should defend themselves
on the Sabbath, and a heathen army (like the Ptolemies) attacked
and defeated them because they wouldn't engage in conflict.
In addition, the
sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill"
is better rendered in modern translations, "You shall
not murder." This is referring to the killing of
innocent people (including unborn babies), not the execution of
a death penalty on those guilty of horrible crimes. God directed
His people to kill the guilty on numerous occasions in scripture,
not the least of which includes King David, who the Bible describes
as "a man after God's own heart."
One of the hardest
things for people to balance theologically is God's unconditional
love versus God's completely just judgment. There are scriptures
such as Jeremiah
31:3 where God says, "I have loved you with an
everlasting love" and Exodus
34:7 where we are told, "He will by no means leave
the guilty unpunished." Only Almighty God can always
balance these competing concepts perfectly. But we should not
fall into a ditch on either side of the theological road just
because we are not perfect at this.
Along these lines,
the New Testament does not imply that government action against
the ungodly is somehow wrong. Paul was dealing with this topic
when he said in Romans
13:3-4, "For rulers are not a cause of fear for
good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority?
Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it
(the government) is a minister of God to you for good. But if
you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword
for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings
wrath upon the one who practices evil." Now Paul
recognized that the Roman government was not perfect, and ultimately
gave his life because of their error on requiring worship only
of Caesar. But Paul was saying in general that the leadership
(of any entity nation, business, church, or family) is
supposed to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. The
successful implementation of this is more of an art than science.
And "punishment" must be dealt out with God's wisdom,
but nevertheless it is necessary.
War in particular
requires the most wisdom to implement because of the size of risk,
and the cost, and the consequences. But that does not mean it
is non-Christian. In fact, Paul compared a good Christian to a
good soldier in several places in the New Testament (Philippians
Timothy 2:3-4, Philemon
1:2). War is usually bloody, and to be avoided if feasible.
But the same could be said of amputation, which saved my grandmother's
life. Some dictators have been like the gangrene infection that
was spreading in my grandmother's leg it is worth losing
the lesser to save the greater.
types have less affinity for confrontation. In the well known
DISC personality types, the "S" (and somewhat "I")
types have the most reluctance to administer discipline, or confront,
or differ in any way. Every personality type has its strengths,
but each has its own tendency towards weakness. We need to develop
ourselves in every area, not just those areas that come easy for
And this brings us
back to the topic of our own personal Promised Land. In Genesis
27:40, the scripture says, "It shall come to pass,
when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your
neck." This is a principle too few Christians grasp.
When the enemy has come against us in some way, we are supposed
to actively resist him. There is a great amount of break-through
available to the Christian who will actively confront and throw
off the devil's attacks through spiritual warfare. "For
we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
6:12). Too many Christians have either been afraid, or sat
around like the historical Jews on the Sabbath, supposing that
God would deliver them if they were simply quiet. These same Christians
have been "slaughtered" by the devil in various areas
of their health, relationships, career, finances, etc. We should
not be "pacifists" toward the devil, but boldly attack
whenever the devil has come against our lives and families. Like
David, we need to spiritually "run toward the battle line"
and confront the "Philistine" that is trying to oppress
Samuel 17:48). By using your spiritual weapons, you can win