Man of War
Man of Love
Exodus 15:3 The Lord is a man of war; The Lord is His name
When I think of war, I think of killing and destruction – is this our God?
Deuteronomy 32:39 ‘Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
1 John 4:8b for God is love.
God is love. All that He does is in love. How can war and the pain it causes be about love? Can the two really co-exist? In regards to this topic, we often read about God’s holiness and justice, but here I want to look at His love. Like the perfect parent with their children, there is perfect justice but also pefect love. Here are some of my thoughts on it . . .
There are two different accounts demonstrating this man of war I’ve been thinking about:
Many wars directed by God occurred as the Israelites moved into the promise land. But the motive of these wars was rooted in love because God is love – as we’ll see. God’s plan of reconciliation included Christ being manifested in a sinful body, like our own, so He could be the sacrifice that stood in our place uniting us back to God. God revealed Himself to the nation Israel – and it was through that lineage Jesus would come.
As God’s people moved into the land He gave them, He instructed them to wipe out the nations before them. He did this because the other nations were so corrupt that if they remained they would corrupt His people as well. Judges 2:3 Once taken in by other nations and their gods, they would be deceived and lost. And the state of the world at the flood of Noah would happen once again. He wiped out the nations to protect His people, and those He left were used to test them. Judges 2:21-22 Through Abraham God’s family came – not of the physical seed, but through the promised Seed of Christ. Romans 4:16 He had to preserve His people enough so that through them He could manifest the life of Christ to save us all. Those nations died, so His people could survive, so we could be delivered through His son, Jesus. That is love. Joshua 23:3, Deut 7:16
What may seem unfair, unjust or even unloving to us in this sliver of history was an act of love in the span of eternity. There is a much bigger plan and purpose, and that purpose was crafted in love because God is love. God did what was required to protect His family. The thought comes to mind – what would you do if your family’s life was in danger?
Second, wars of God were a result of the actions of the wicked, whether unbelievers or God’s people. When people go their own way, there are repercussions. Joshua 24:20. In the Bible, we see over and over how people became so wicked that they destroyed themselves and others, which happens when people follow their own will. God created mankind to walk and abide with Him in love. When they don’t, spiritual death is manifested. Physical death, in these wars of God, is the materialization of the state of their souls.
In God’s infinite wisdom, He does what is best. Like those who died in the flood of Noah, it was better to end the wickedness, than let it continue on causing more damage and pain. Genesis 6:5 They weren’t getting better, but worse. God knew the end to the path they were on. If you see a suffering animal and there is no hope for recovery, what is the most merciful and loving action to take? In the bonds of evil, people suffer and suffer greatly and the harm they do to others is extensive. God sees the beginning and the end – for any one life, He knows best. And He does what is best for all mankind.
A side note . . . we need to learn that only by being united to God is there life. Apart from Him is death. To abide in true life and love, which God desires with us, we needed to possess our own will. Robotic forced love isn’t love. But now there is people’s free will to contend with. In our free will, God laid out the choices before us Deut. 28, 30:19 God designed this life to operate in a certain way. He told us there is a path that leads to life, which is following His will, and a path that leads to death, which is following our will or anyone else’s other than Him. There are consequences to going our own way. If we are separated from Him, then we spiritually die because we were created to be united to Him in love. The fact that our bodies return to the dust from which they came is nothing compared to spiritual death.
I think one of the main reasons we are here on this earth and experiencing the evil we do is to learn that following our self-will doesn’t work. Following the will of God is the path of life, which we also get a taste of on this earth when we walk in His ways. This truth is what we all have to learn so that we willing follow God’s will and thus abide with Him in love. When people chose to follow their own will then they are making their own judgments about what is good and evil. (represented by the tree of knowledge of good and evil) They are driven by their own understanding, which is limited and wrong. Spiritual death is manifested. However, when we follow God’s will and are led by His Spirit, we aren’t making the judgments God is. (the tree of life) We are following His lead and therefore walk in life because His ways are life. In order to abide with Him in love and freedom, we have to choose His will, not ours, and that means we have to learn the difference and the consequences of both. Thus, this life here on earth were we are seeing both played out. Only by being united to Him is their true life.
God knew we would go astray. That is why the plan was always life in Christ Jesus and to provide a way in which we would be a part of Him. Because when His Spirit is in us, we live according to His will because that is who we are. 2 Peter 1:4
I believe in the end when we see clearly – we will see how every act of God, a Man of War, was the ultimate act of love.
February 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm
This is very true and good… when we sin, we die spiritually. We can’t maintain our spiritual life outside the will of God.
February 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm
Calledsoliders – thanks for your comment!
February 16, 2010 at 2:44 am
These are really good points, Rachel, and I think the picture of God as presented in the Old Testament can be a stumbling block to the casual observer. It needs to be addressed because people don’t see the whole picture, as you mentioned.
A friend asked me why God created the people who would reject Him. If He knew they wouldn’t turn to Him, why did He create them in the first place? But I think that if He limited Himself to only creating those He knew would come to Him, that would take out free will. It would just be “loving” robots.
As it is, we can all come–if we will. And those who refuse to come serve to refine, try, and help in the perfecting process of those who are willing and who do come to Jesus. As we love them, are hurt by them and even have our hearts broken by them, we become more and more like Jesus.
Thanks for a great post, as always. 🙂
February 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm
Cindy – great comments! The last one – never thought about it like that before – and how insightful!
February 16, 2010 at 7:57 am
Interesting and helpful thoughts in understanding the war/violence God allows and/or orders. This came at a good time for me as I’ve been pondering and praying over the two school shootings that happened in my city last week, and everyone tries to figure out how to react and handle such a situation. I think I’ll post a link to this in case anyone else finds it a helpful way to view man without God and His reasons for allowing or ordering what may seem like horrible events.
February 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Ruth – things like that can be so tough – because we can’t see the big picture. But the more I learn about God the more I see the perfection of His ways and know we can trust Him – no matter.
February 16, 2010 at 8:36 am
I really enjoyed your explanation on God/Man of War and Man of Love. You brought it all together along with evidence in the Word of God. Janie
February 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Thanks Jane. You’ve been in my prayers this week. Hope all is well with you 🙂
February 16, 2010 at 9:16 pm
His act of war was to try and make the universe a better place to live, not just earth. He has power over all the universe.
February 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm
Donald – thanks for your comment!
February 17, 2010 at 1:30 am
We love to think of ourselves as free spirits with the freedom to choose whatever, and whilst that’s true, it’s only half true. The other half is that we are never free to determine the outcomes of our choices – those outcomes are already determined. They’re already locked in – unshiftable – just like the outcomes of any violation to the universal laws of physics and gravity. “For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.” Luke 6:44.
Wish I had learnt that thirty years earlier than I did!
February 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm
Roger – well said and so true.
February 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm
I think we need to remember one major point in the things that are hard to understand and that is that God is working out his perfect plan. He alone sees beginning to end of all that is in this world. When it just doesn’t make sense that God would allow some things to happen as they do, I focus on the fact that his ways are not only higher and greater than mine, but that he is the embodiment of all that is good. With that in mind, I must trust by faith that he knows what he is doing.
February 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm
Marianne – how true this is – we see only a sliver the whole picture – and because of that – we can’t understand everything.
February 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm
The Lord IS a warrior!
February 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm
Hi John! – indeed He is.
February 19, 2010 at 8:12 am
I’ve always thought that if you choose a path away from the Lord you get to reap the harvest of that poor choice. As you sow so shall you reap, and free will is written all over it. If the prodigal son had not ended up starving in the pig pen, he would not have thought better of his stupid escapades. Sometimes we need a wake-up call, and sometimes it will seem rather harsh, but would it be better to continue on our wicked way? Or will we come to appreciate the disaster which calls us to Him, to a life which we need not be ashamed of, but also a life which keeps getting better, all of the time. A life in Him.
February 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm
Nathan – good point. A lot of the hardship we go through is to wake us up that going our way isn’t working. I know that happened in my life. Everything we go through is there to move us toward God and a life in Christ.
February 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm
Great post! I also believe that God acts in love when he dicisplines our bad choices.
February 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm
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