Tuesday, September 9, 2008

No Guarantee of Victory.

(Originally Published on 10/8/07)

Does fighting a just war automatically ensure long-term blessing? If the Lord makes use of the United States to prevent the spread of Islamic domination world wide, does it follow that the United States will not be subject to God's judgements? I am a supporter of the current military actions undertaken by the United States and I am one who believes the current surge in Iraq is working. I have no guilt feelings about the United States being the world's only super-power. The historical evidence is clear that for the most part, that power has been used for the good, not just the good of the U.S., but also for the good of the world. However, there is no confusion in my mind between the flag and the Cross. Just because we might be fighting a just and necessary war does not mean that the ultimate outcome will not signal the demise of this nation. Perhaps the Lord is trying to get our attention.

In ancient Israel, when the King and his subjects followed the Law, there was peace in the land. National sin brought God's judgement in the form of invasions by Israel's enemies. Israel's resistance against her enemies could be labeled as just wars, even though God was using these conflicts as judgement against sin. When Israel confessed and repented of its sin, the Lord brought victory against the invaders. But there came a time when God allowed idol worshippers to defeat and enslave His people as they acted less and less like his people. The Israelites believed that defeat and exile would never be their lot.

After Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire, many Christians convinced themselves that Rome and the Church were one. They believed that professing allegiance to Christianity was a guarantee against being overthrown by the Germanic barbarians on their borders. In 403, the Christian poet Prudentius wrote these lines expressing his confidence that God would never allow Rome to fall: "no barbaric enemy shatters my walls with a javelin and no man with strange weapons, attire and headress wanders around the city he has conquered and carries off my young men to transalpine prisons." ( http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/2007/002/1.6.html ) Seven years later, the Visigoths overran Rome. For the Romans to have resisted, so to protect their homeland and citizens, could indeed be labeled a just war. Yet it was God's purpose for the Romans to lose this just war. In God's sovereignty, the Church survived, and eventually converted the Germanic invaders.

Then there were those who in the last century resisted yet were conquered by the Nazis. Unless one is a pacifist, I do not see how anyone could not consider the defeated as soldiers who fought a just war against an evil aggressor. In hindsight, should we say that because they lost, they should have surrendered without a shot? Of course not. When the U.S. entered WWII, humanly speaking, the chances of victory against Germany and Japan were slight, especially after the damage inflicted upon the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor. No matter what the outcome would have been, a war on the part of the U.S. against such enemies could not be labeled anything but just. To fight a just war does not guarantee that God will grant victory. The same was true in the past, the same is true now.

It is possible that the current war against hardcore Islam may go on for so long that our material resources be drained, our economy ruined and our fighting men depleted. It is possible that all our enemies rise up and wage war on us at the same time so that our armed forces will not be able to meet all these threats at once. We could lose our status as a world power. Yet if the U.S. chooses not to fight, this same outcome would surely be the result. (Even countries that have refused to support U.S. military operations have suffered from Islamic terrorism.) World-wide slavery was mainly stamped out by the British empire. For nearly the entire nineteenth century, the British spent much in resources so its navy could patrol the world's waterways to intercept slave ships, receiving no material reward in return. Yet it was God's purpose that the British empire fell within two generations after its efforts succeeded. Their humanitarian actions on behalf of slavery's victims did not stop God from determining to end their world-wide dominance. The fact that the United States has liberated more people and has fed more people and has raised the living standards of more people around the world, and is now fighting a just war against hardcore Islam, does not guarantee that it will emerge victorious. Yet the U.S. has no choice but to fight.

Could it be that having to lose young people in battle is God's wake up call that more severe judgement may be coming? Could God be trying to get our attention? Is this war a way of giving us the message that He is not pleased with this nation? That He is tired of a Church that praises Him with its lips yet its heart is far from Him? That He views our culture with abhorrence? In recent years it has been noted that the power centers of Christianity will move from Europe and North America to Africa and South America. Could the culture the U.S. exports be a threat to the purity and power of the world-wide Church? Perhaps judgement must come upon us to protect God's Church from contamination as it carries out the Great Commission. Perhaps the Church overseas is to be protected from our culture so that one day it will be an agent of renewal in this land. Perhaps this current war is a wake up call to those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. Perhaps if we cut ourselves off from the things that prevent us from walking in holiness, if we repent, will not God forgive and empower His Church in this land? Could not more severe judgement on the part of God be averted? If this were to come about, then we as a nation would no longer need wake up calls from God in the form of the loss of our young in battle.


Anonymous said...


Great commentary, especially the notion that the state (culture)of the American church, could be what God is protecting the "Church at Large" from. Never saw it like this. Thanks. You need to preach this to my people.


Mr. Guthrie said...

Again, I thought I had lost your comment when I published it. Thanks brother for the kind words, here in print and in our phone call today. Perhaps I should put this message in sermon form.