Thursday, November 10, 2011
What is the purpose of war?
Is it not to bring about peace?
Throughout the Old Testament (especially the book of Isaiah, but 299 times in the OT total) the Lord is referred to as the LORD of hosts, translated as YHWH Sabaoth. I have read this name for God multiple times, but never really stopped to think about it. The master of the armies, the commander of all.
The LORD, over and over again, told the Israelites that He would fight for them. In Exodus 14:14, Moses said to the people, "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." For me, that's not something I'm very good at. I'd rather be fighting myself, doing something so that I could feel as if I were accomplishing anything at all. But God told them to be silent? He tells me to be silent? Later King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 says, "For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." Do you ever feel like that? That you're powerless to face up to whatever situation or circumstance is in your life?
Remember, the point of war is to win peace.
If God stated that He would fight for them, He was fighting for their peace. As I've been contemplating the idea of "peace" for the past few weeks, I wanted to do a word study on it. However, my good intentions slowly diminished when I saw that there are 429 uses of the word "peace" in the Bible. Whoa. 57 of the 66 books use that word. Granted, not all of them deal with the peace of God; some are as someone has made peace with another, as a peace offering to God, peace as they died, and so on.
But Jesus also spoke of a peace, a new kind of peace. In John 14:27 He says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." The 'peace' used in this verse is the Greek word 'eirene', signifying quietness and rest. In Hebrew, the word would translate 'salom', or as we would say "shalom". This is not the peace in the sense of the word that we are accustomed to. This peace refers to peace--contentment, safety, etc--but also to peace with God. As sinners with a human nature, we are at war with God. We are called even "children of wrath". However, with the blood of Jesus, we now have peace. Jesus has fought and won, and now there is peace.
YHWH Sabaoth fought for you. And Jesus won. While we still struggle with sin daily, Christ has won the victory in His death and resurrection. Sometimes I don't feel that peace in my life; I feel like I'm tossed in a great storm with no sight of peace and rest in the distance. But the Bible tells me that I have peace with God, peace with the Creator of the universe, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the Holy One. And no matter where I am in life, knowing that I have peace with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that gives me peace.
"I have said these things to you, that in ME you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" --John 16:33