The Good Warfare

"Now it came to pass in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle..." We read this in 2 Samuel 11:1 and in 1 Chronicles 20:1. In the spring, when flowers begin to bloom and trees blossom, when crops need to be planted so children can be fed, this is also the time when kings go out to battle.

The causes and consequences of war are described in Revelation 6:1-8.

The second horseman is given a great sword and is allowed to take peace from the earth. In the spring of the year, kings go out to conquer, and people kill one another. The third and fourth horsemen depict the consequences of war.

The results of war are famine, hunger, sickness and death.

Why does God allow so much blood to flow on earth? The answer is given in Revelation 16:1-7.

Warfare and the resultant rivers of blood constitute one of the bowls of God's wrath poured out on the earth as a punishment for the sins of mankind.

This does not mean that each individual who suffers in war is being punished for his personal sins, since many upright people and innocent children suffer in war. It does mean, however, that God allows wars on earth as a demonstration of the terrible consequences of man's rebellion to God.

The kings of the earth do not bear the sword in vain. They are ministers of God's wrath. This we read in Romans 13:1-7.

The only exception is when the commands of men contradict the commands of God.

Everyone is to be subject to the governing authorities. This applies to all authorities. They all have been appointed by God.

Notice again the word "wrath". Rulers bear the sword as ministers of God's wrath. Christians should not interfere with the use of the sword by governments.

This does not mean that all authorities are good. Paul wrote this under Roman rule, which was ruthless and corrupt in many ways.

The king of Babylon is an example of how God uses evil and godless men to accomplish His purposes.

War results in a vicious cycle. God allowed Babylon to destroy Israel as a punishment. Later God allowed the Medes and the Persians to destroy Babylon as a punishment for her sins. He later allowed the Medes and the Persians to be destroyed as a punishment for their sins.

Jesus was referring to this deadly cycle when He told Peter: "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52). This warning is repeated in Revelation 13:9,10 - "If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword."

Christians are not ministers of God's wrath. Their mandate is different.

Christians are ministers of reconciliation:

The use of weapons of carnal warfare is incompatible with a Christian's mandate as an ambassador for Christ and a minister of reconciliation. As Paul explains:

Christians are engaged in a good warfare:

It requires bravery to follow Christ to the cross:

Rulers do not bear the sword in vain. They are ministers of God's wrath. They fulfill a necessary function in this rebellious world.

Christians are told to put away the sword. They are ambassadors for Christ, ministers of God's reconciliation.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive