"To everything there is a season," wrote the author of Ecclesiastes, reminding us that there is "a time for every purpose under heaven," including war. From beginning to end, the Bible remains constant; the God of Love is equally the God of Justice. Were he not, he would have never broken his own heart to make ours whole by sending Jesus into the world to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.
We prefer peace but sometimes we have no choice but to respond aggressively. Let me recap: As I write, Fox News reports a top Iraqi diplomat claims ISIS is harvesting organs and burning those victims alive to fund their operations. Add to that, Muslim jihadists beheaded 21 Coptic Christians last weekend, caged and burned a Jordanian pilot, threw homosexuals off buildings in Iraq, kidnapped and slaughtered thousands in Nigeria… I could go on….and on.
In light of all that, it's pretty clear that it is time for us to do a little more than turn the other cheek, a command Jesus gave to individuals, not nations. Turn evil on its cheek is more like it. Not community organize to combat poverty, as President Obama so suggested in his February 17, 2014 LA Times Op-Ed.
Jesus' command to help the poor is great, but Europe has proven that those efforts miserably fail to prevent terrorism. And it would be a stretch to suggest that's how Jesus, who is also God, would have us respond in the case of ISIS. Something a bit more attention-getting is in order.
Lest we forget, Jesus' presence on the planet did not change God's nature. The violence in the Old Testament people complain about began in the Garden of Eden when man declared war on his own soul when he chose to disobey. From then on, we see God fighting for and sometimes against his "Covenant people," Israel with the bloodiest of means. Had the messianic bloodline from Adam to David not been preserved, and the nation of Israel not protected, there'd be no Jesus, no salvation, and we'd all be headed for hell.
What we read in the New Testament makes no sense if we ignore what's written in the Old. With that said, the New Testament alone makes a clear case for just wars. Jesus made it clear his followers should not be pacifists. In John 18:36 he says, "If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight." Alluding to his own spiritual kingdom, Jesus acknowledged that physical weapons are ineffective in the unseen world. But here in the "seen" world, weapons come in handy when savages decapitate innocents.
Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus said. Jesus did not live with his head in the clouds. His feet were soiled by the same dirt his disciples trampled through and he fully understood the dangers of living life on this sin-filled planet. He lovingly prepared his followers to fight defensive wars on two fronts, spiritual and physical. He told them to count the costs of both, and then get armed, at one point instructing his disciples to sell their clothes so they'd have enough money to buy swords.
Romans 13 gives nations the authority to take up arms to keep peace and Luke 14:31 says wise leaders headed for war go to war to win. America could do just that, given we had a Commander-in-Chief who loved righteousness as much as he loves golf. Or leftwing anti-Christian ideology.
Be encouraged. No matter how much ground ISIS gains, just as there is a time for war, there will be peace. Those who've read "The Book" know who wins. Those who were beheaded will come back to life and, "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…" (Philippians 2:10).