The Bible’s Viewpoint
Does God Support Wars Today?
CONCERNING his role as a warrior, King David of ancient Israel said: “[God] is teaching my hands for warfare, and my arms have pressed down a bow of copper.”—Psalm 18:34.
In regard to Christians, the apostle Paul wrote: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly.”—2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
Do those texts contradict each other? Or are there valid reasons why God approved of ancient Israel’s going to war but disapproved of Christians’ doing so? Has God’s view of warfare changed? The answers become clear when we consider three major differences between Israel and the true Christian congregation.
Three Significant Differences
1. Ancient Israel was a nation with God-given geographical borders, and it was surrounded by neighbors who were often hostile. Therefore, God commanded his people to protect their land, even giving them victories over their enemies. (Judges 11:32, 33) The Christian congregation, on the other hand, has no borders, and its members can be found in all lands. So if Christ’s followers in one country were to join in warfare against another country, they would be fighting against fellow believers—their spiritual brothers and sisters—whom they are commanded to love and even die for.—Matthew 5:44; John 15:12, 13.
2. Ancient Israel had a human king whose throne was in Jerusalem. True Christians, however, are ruled by Jesus Christ, now a powerful spirit creature whose throne is in heaven. (Daniel 7:13, 14) Jesus himself said: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) Thus, no political kingdom, or rulership, on earth can claim to belong to Christ. What bearing does this have on Jesus’ “attendants,” or followers? The third point explains.
3. Ancient Israel, like other nations, often sent out messengers, or what we today might call ambassadors or envoys. (2 Kings 18:13-15; Luke 19:12-14) Christ has done the same, but with two key differences. First, all his followers serve as ambassadors or envoys. Thus, the apostle Paul could write on behalf of his fellow Christians: “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) As peaceful ambassadors, they did not take up arms. Second, Jesus’ followers speak to all who will listen to their message. Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) He also said: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
Sadly, Christ’s attendants do not always receive a warm welcome. For this reason Paul wrote to the Christian evangelizer Timothy: “As a fine soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil.” (2 Timothy 2:3) Timothy’s weapons, of course, were of a spiritual nature and included God’s written Word, which is called “the sword of the spirit.”—Ephesians 6:11-17.
Why the Change From Israel to the Christian Congregation?
For some 1,500 years, the nation of Israel enjoyed a special relationship with God, one that was based on a covenant, or contract. (Exodus 19:5) That covenant, mediated by Moses, included the Ten Commandments and other laws, all of which promoted true worship and high moral standards. (Exodus 19:3, 7, 9; 20:1-17) Sadly, though, Israel as a whole became unfaithful to God, even to the point of killing his prophets.—2 Chronicles 36:15, 16; Luke 11:47, 48.
Finally, Jehovah sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who was born a Jew. Instead of welcoming him as the Messiah, the Jewish nation as a whole rejected him. As a result, God terminated his long-standing covenant with Israel, and the figurative wall that separated Jew from non-Jew came down. * (Ephesians 2:13-18; Colossians 2:14) At about the same time, God established the Christian congregation, appointing Jesus as its Head. Moreover, before the end of the first century, that congregation became truly multinational. “In every nation the man that fears [God] and works righteousness is acceptable to him,” stated the Jewish apostle Peter.—Acts 10:35.
Jehovah’s Witnesses model themselves after the early Christians. Hence, the Witnesses are known for their public ministry and their neutrality toward politics and carnal warfare. (Matthew 26:52; Acts 5:42) Yes, they let nothing distract them from announcing the good news of God’s Kingdom, the only government that will eradicate evil and bring lasting peace to the earth. With that precious hope in mind, the apostle Paul wrote: “As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’” (2 Corinthians 5:20) Those words carry an even greater sense of urgency today, for we are nearing the end of “the last days” of the present wicked world.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● What outstanding quality are Christians to show toward one another?—John 13:34, 35.
● What is a true Christian’s primary “weapon”?—Ephesians 6:17.
[Picture on page 23]
Jehovah’s Witnesses make up a multinational brotherhood and maintain neutrality in the wars of the nations