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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

World Peace

She wrote it innocently enough. And what she wrote anyone could have written; many probably have. “I don’t think this country can stand four more years of a Republican government.” It was my sister, e-mailing me as we chatted about the upcoming presidential elections here in the U.S. Quite honestly, I don’t disagree with her either.

I voted for George W. Bush, twice. And yet something about his presidency leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s as if we’ve done something wrong, missed the boat, and lost an opportunity. And now there will be hell to pay for it. (And for what its worth, I believe you can define hell to pay in as many ways as you want --- inflation, security, war, troubled economy, etc.) Is this what is meant when someone speaks of the fact that we cannot stand four more years?

But I have been thinking a lot lately about what is it that’s been so wrong about the Bush presidency. Quite honestly, the things I found wrong are things I’ve seen other countries do wrong as well. And the point I’m focused on is peace. Specifically England and the United States have been among the world’s greatest crusaders for peace. We’ve won more wars of significance. Evil regimes have been conquered, toppled. Great countries have been conquered and put under England’s rule --- only to be set free later.

In England, there is no separation of church and state. It is a decidedly Christian nation. The head of state is the head of church, and the two are – at least in theory – intertwined and not separable. The U.S. is of course much less so, but still and all – our constitution proudly forms a God-fearing nation. So I think it’s plausible to consider that when one of us goes to war, God is with us. At least that’s the principle of our foundations. There is evidence that we intended to be God’s people and live as godly nations.

Now the thing I notice is that when God’s people go to war, if they’ve gone to war with His instruction and at His command, He gives them favor. This is Biblical. Obedient, God-fearing people win the wars that God calls them to fight. But wait, there’s something else that happens. Or at least there’s something else that’s supposed to happen. You see, God doesn’t give us victory so that we can live at peace with our enemy. He expects the enemy to either repent and become one of us … or be destroyed.

Let’s look at some Scripture, where God called His people to war. Notice what He said they were to do with the enemies once they conquered them.

Exodus 23:24 - You must … utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars.

I don’t know about you, but utterly destroy sounds like a lot more than neuter. It sounds like a lot more than capture their leader and topple his statues.

Exodus 23:31-33 - And … I will hand over to you the people now living in the land … Make no treaties with them … They must not live in your land …

These are not your friends. Don’t live in denial, trying to pretend that they are. Their gods are different than yours. They value life differently than you do. Their morals and values are different than yours. You aren’t supposed to get along with them!

Exodus 34:12 - Be very careful never to make a treaty with the people who live in the land where you are going. …

Be very carefully never to make a treaty with the people we have defeated? That’s pretty clear. Is that how we’ve behaved? When we’ve asked God to give us favor in the wars we fight, are we prepared to follow His instructions after the war?

Numbers 33:55 - But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. …

So if we fail to utterly destroy them, these people will hurt us. They will aggravate us. They will grieve us. Life with them will be difficult to understand, and even harder to endure. Thorns in your sides.

Deuteronomy 7:2 - When the LORD your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy.

No mercy. Mmmm. Is that an official policy of the U.N.? What would it look like to show an entire nation no mercy? The Old Testament is replete with war stories where God specifically instructed Joshua, for example, to kill every living being that he conquered. All the soldiers. All the men. All the women. All the children. Sometimes even all the donkeys! It gives meaning and context to God’s intent. And when Joshua obeyed, God was well pleased.

Deuteronomy 20:17 - You must completely destroy (your enemies) … just as the LORD your God has commanded you.

Completely destroy them. Utterly destroy them. This is God’s will? Interesting! Did you know that? Did you know that God could call His people to war, give them victory and expect them to utterly destroy their enemy? Let’s not mistake, folks, that this is the character and nature of the one true God. He will sacrifice many to save the whole. If it means that godly nations can live peaceably, devoted to God, then the enemies must be utterly destroyed.

So I wonder if we’re fighting for the wrong things. Did Jesus’ coming change God’s perspective? Were all of the countries that England had ruled supposed to be set free? (Many of them are NOT better off as independent nations, and some that haven’t been set free [i.e. Australia, Canada] have fared well under British rule.

When we went to Iraq, what did we think God wanted us to do there? When we’ve got into conflict with Cuba, what did God want? When the Soviet Union fell, what was God’s will? Do the leaders of the free world ask God? Are they having serious, intentional and frequent dialogue with God about how this world is supposed to function?

It seems to me that we’ve made treaties with a lot of our enemies. The Japanese have taken over our auto industry, 7-11 and own much of our real estate. The Chinese are certainly behaving like a thorn in our side. Putin continues to rattle his saber. The Palestinians and Israelis have been pissed off at each other forever. The Arabic world, for the most part, makes treaties with us – but doesn’t welcome us and engage in community with us. Is this how God wanted it?

You see, I’m coming to understand that the problem with peace treaties is that they seem innocent, noble and right. And yet, they can be very wrong. I share the desire for world peace. But the more I read my Bible, the more I comprehend that world peace may only be possible with the utter destruction of those who don’t value it. Utter destruction of those who are enemies of it.

Are we willing to pay such a price for world peace?

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