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God of War

How can the ‘God of peace’ condone and even employ warfare?

Both saints and cynics alike have often struggled to understand how the good God of the Bible, a ‘God of peace’ (Hebrews 13:20), could condone warfare and even lay out specific instructions for how wars ought to be fought (Deuteronomy 20).[1]

Could a good God allow injustice to go unpunished?

Interestingly, Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer, following the Socratic method, responded to this question with a question: “Is it really a manifestation of goodness to furnish no opposition to evil? Can we say that a truly good surgeon should do nothing to cut away a cancerous tissue from his patient and simply allow him to go on suffering until he finally dies? Can we praise a police force that stands idly by and offers no…resistance to the armed robber, the rapist, the arsonist, or any other criminal who preys on society? How could God be called “good” if he forbade His people to protect their wives from ravishment and strangulation by drunken marauders, or to resist invaders who have come to pick up their children and dash out their brains against the wall? …It is hard to imagine how any deity could be thought “good” who would ordain such a policy of supine surrender to evil as that advocated by pacifism.”[2]

Many have a partial or false image of who God truly is.

Such humanitarian protests against our Creator also illustrate the sad fact that many people, including even some believers, don’t really know who God is because they do not know His Word. As a result, they have created either a partially or totally false image of God. In an ironic twist, they have created God in their own image and in doing so have actually broken the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-6, Deuteronomy 5:7-10).[3],[4] To be sure, He is a “God of peace” as affirmed by the New Testament book of Hebrews, but the Bible also calls Him “Most Upright” (Is 26:7) and Holy and as such He cannot tolerate sin. He is also called the Judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25, Ps 75:7) and the Lawgiver (Is 33:22). In fact, He is even referred to as a “Warrior” in Exodus 15:3. Thus, His character demands that He must judge and conquer evil. For there can be no real peace in the midst of evil and suffering.

God is not responsible for evil and suffering.

In another sad twist, many believe that God is responsible for evil and suffering. This is the natural conclusion that flows from the popular belief that the creation came about through evolutionary processes where life arises through death. According to evolution, death, suffering, and evil have always existed. In direct contrast, the Bible teaches that God created everything perfect, but man rebelled against God and sin entered the world. So, God is not responsible for evil–––we are.

In addition, God permitting wickedness among his creation whom He has given free will to does not make Him the originator or author of that wickedness (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 5:4) even when He chooses to use the bad freewill choices of others in order to accomplish His good and perfect purposes for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Indeed, God, in His grace, has been working to bring all of Creation back to its original perfect state. And that’s why the God of peace is at war with all evil.

 

Ryan Hembree | July 16, 2021 – 5:00 PM EST


[1] Anyone who makes moral judgements against God fails to realize that it is only because He exists and is a good God that we know what evil is. God is the ultimate standard for morality. We know what sin is because God told us in His Word and has hardwired it into our consciences.
[2] Gleason L. Archer Jr., Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 219
[3] To some extent we all do this because none of us in our sinful state know God perfectly. We all “fill in the blanks” with our own ideas about who God is. Fortunately, for those who have placed their trust in Christ, God has forgiven us.
[4] For a good discussion on this read Ray Comfort, The Evidence Study Bible, Why Christianity?, xxv-xxix