On-Line Bible Lessons

Deuteronomy - Chapter 20, Lesson 2


Pastor Ovid Need

We have touched a little on warfare. This is very important for our day of many teachings on this subject. Now let's go more into this important subject.

Again, one of the best Biblical studies on the law is "The Institutes of Biblical Law", Vol. I, R. J. Rushdoony, The Craig Press. It would be well to look at his ten points which he gives under "Military Laws and Production." (pages 277- 281). The italicized texts are the quotes.

The first point he makes, "When wars are fought in terms of a defense of justice and the sup­pression of evil, and in defense of the homeland against an enemy, they are a part of the neces­sary work of restitution, and they are therefore spoken of in scripture as the wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14). The preparation of the soldiers involved a religious dedication to their task (Josh. 3:5).

, the law specified the age of the soldiers. All able-bodied men that were twenty years and up were eligible for military service (Num. 1:2-3, 18, 20, 45; 26:2- 3)." This was the standard even in our War of Independence. Yet, this was a selective service, as not all went to war every time as we see with Midian, Num. 31.

"Third, since warfare against evil is godly and serves God's task of restoration, God promised to protect His men if they moved in terms of faith and obedience." The purpose of the census when preparing for war was to give a ransom or covering for the individual soldier. The covering of God's protection for his soul, Ex. 30:11-16. This census was a military act. This ransom was for the life of the soldier that he might not be slain in battle. Therefore, when war is waged in terms of God's law, and in faith and obedience to His law-word, men can expect His protection and prospering care as Israel experienced it.

"Fourth, exemption from military service was provided by law. The purpose of an army should be to fight God's battles without fear, (Deut. 20:1-4)". We might add, so men could fight with an undivided heart. Notice the exemptions had to do with two area. 1. The things which would demanded the emotions apart from the battle and; 2. Fear, which would prevent the courage neces­sary to wage an effective warfare. Gideon is a good example. 300 courageous men for God were better than 30,000 men who feared that God couldn't handle the situation as found in Judges 7:12. One man right with God and with His boldness can chase a thousand". Might we be part of these courageous men for God. We must train up many courageous people for Him.

The Levites were also exempt from military service (Num. 1:48-49) yet often went into battle. "From these exemptions, a general principle appears: the family has a priority over warfare. The young bridegroom cannot serve; the new home must come first. The new farmer similarly gains exemption. Important as defense is, the continuity of life and godly reconstruction are more important.

A fifth aspect of military law requires cleanliness in the camp (Deut. 23:9-14)."He re we have another general principle, "it is not enough for the cause to be holy: not only the cause, but the people of the cause, must be holy, both spiritually and physically."

This blows the antinomian position all to pieces which says if the cause is holy it doesn't really matter how we go about the warfare for that cause. We have heard it from far too many, and especially, the missionaries. "All I am concerned about is that we can preach Jesus." That is a holy cause if there ever was one, yet the problem is that they are making all kinds of com­promises in order to "preach Jesus". Deut. 23:14 indicates that the Lord will see the "unclean thing" in the camps of the saints and depart from them as He sees that compromise, and He will see it if it is there, Heb. 4:13. This principle WARS against the attitude that the means used to reach the goal isn't really important. The day is here that our mission boards are quietly making deals with the W.C.C. so they can remain in these countries. This is the logical conclusion of "as long as I can preach Jesus". So now what?

Notice some passages here. Matt. 10:14; 6:11; Lk. 9:5; 10:10-16. Our Lord clearly tells His disciples to depart from the city and even shake off the dust against a city that was closed to the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

In Acts 13:44-52, the disciples obeyed their Lord's command as the city was stirred up and closed against them by the religious leaders.

Now this is "hard". Notice the context there in Acts. Paul and Barnabas preached Jesus. The religious leaders grew hostile because it stripped them of their authority over the people (Jn. 10). Paul said, "Okay, if you don't want the message, we'll turn to the Gentiles." This made the Gentiles glad and they glorified God. They had a great meeting with many saved, yet the religious leaders were hostile. They stirred up the city against Paul and Barnabas. They got the civil rulers stirred up and the authorities ran them out of town. Why? Because the religious leaders did not like their message concerning Christ fulfilling all of the prophets. Notice in Acts 13:33, Paul placed Ps. 2 in effect with the coming of Christ. Paul proves Him King and this King reigning right now. This created quite a stir, in fact, hostility against Paul and the message. Paul liked this psalm. He uses it many times, and, especially, in Hebrews. The Jews hated this message of Christ authority over them as their King (and over the world) right now as both Lord and Christ. If you will follow this message, it caused conviction when Peter preached it, Acts 2:36. But, more often than not, it caused hatred when it was preached, as it did here. As we said, he was having a great meeting, yet when the established religion got to the civil rulers they were able to get them barred from the city. As we saw, they obeyed the command of their Lord even in the midst of a great meeting. The word of God made their decision for them.

This confirms the words of our Lord, especially in Lk. 10:10-16. There the Lord said to do this as a testimony against them that they have rejected the message and God's judgment is against them.

Back to our missionaries today. These nations, and even the W.C.C., don't mind Christ being preached as Saviour of the world. They will even invite Billy Graham in to speak about the saving grace of God in Christ. The problem comes when we start insisting there is another King, even King Jesus, Acts 12:7. Here is the rub. As long as a preacher (or mission work) will seek permission from the civil authority to carry on "God's work", then there will be no problem. Paul's message was concerning the kingdom of God, Rom. 14:17; I Thess. 2:12; Col. 1:13; 4:11. (Look up the word "kingdom" in your Strong's Concordance and follow it through in their texts.)

The scriptures teach that when a city (nation) refuses to allow the preaching of both Lord and Christ, insisting that there cannot be another King with another set of laws to live by other than their humanistic laws, then their dust is to be shaken off and that nation delivered to God for judgment as He sees fit.

This is what Paul and Barnabas did in Acts 13. They didn't know how many were to be saved. They preached until the religious leaders stirred up enough opposition against their message of both Lord and Christ, then left it to the new Gentile converts.

This principle of a holy people to do a holy job fits very well here. If a nation will not al­low holy people in under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, then it's time to shake off the dust and let God deal with them. Paul did this in obedience to our Lord's words. Can we do any less? Going farther, can we support those who deny the authority of the Lord over them so they can preach Christ? It comes back to this, does the end of being able to preach Jesus justify the means of the denial of His Lordship, Authority? As Paul said, "God forbid", Rom. 3:6." God re­quires a holy people here, even as He is holy, in order to do a holy and acceptable work for Him. (See The biblicalexaminer.org, "Free Beer and Pizza [Authority]").

Let us point out the "dispensation" in which Acts 13 takes place. This is in the "Church Age", therefore, this principle is as much for us today as it was for Paul.

"A sixth military law requires that, prior to an attack, or rather, a declaration of war, an of­fer of peace had to be extended to the enemy. The offer of peace cannot be an offer to com­promise. The cause, if it be just, must be maintained; the enemy must yield to gain peace (Deut. 23:9-14). A "sneak attack" after a declaration, in Gideon's manner, is legitimate: hostilities are in progress. But, prior to a declaration of war, an attempt to negotiate with honor to the cause is required."

Let us observe here that this is a godly nation warring against an ungodly nation. The goal is to provide freedom to serve, obey and glorify God. For the enemy to be allowed to surrender, he would have to agree to obey God's laws as did the Gibeonites, Joshua 9. Here we see an agree­ment, though not cleared with the Lord, therefore contrary to Deut. 20, where the Gibeonites agreed to abide by God's laws. If they did not, then Israel would have been free of their oath.

The Seventh principle is covered in a previous lesson -- chp. 3, lesson one, under 3:6 ---. We will continue on with the "still valid general principle: if warfare is to punish and/or destroy evil, the work of restoration requires that this be done, that an evil order be over­thrown, and, in some cases, some or many people be executed." There is a general principle of guilt involved or the war is an invalid one with no justice. Again, keep in mind, the godly purpose of war is to provide or protect conditions where the people can glorify God.

"Eight, the normal purpose of warfare is defensive; hence, Israel was forbidden the use of more than a limited number of horses (Deut. 17:16), since horses were an offensive weapon of ancient warfare. Thus, still another general principle appears: since war is to be waged in a just cause only, and, normally, in defense of the homeland and of justice, the right of conscientious objection means that one has a moral right to refuse support to an ungodly war."

Again, let us make note, there is a Bible cause for conscientious objection and this makes clear that when the war is to establish anything except freedom to glorify God, the war can be objected to, and, in many cases, should be objected to.

We should be as patriotic as anyone, yet our alliance belongs to the Kingdom of God and the advancing of His cause. Can we be right before God and work to advance the kingdom of men and their cause?

"Ninth, a very important military law appears in Deut. 20:19-20, one which also embodies a basic principle of very far reaching implications," vv. 19-20. Here we see that war is not to be waged against the earth, but against man. Life must go on. The heritage of the past and the heritage of the future is not to be destroyed. This leads to this "important general principle: production is prior to politics. Warfare is an aspect of the life of the political order, and its role is important, but production is more basic. Without production, without fruit trees and the farmer, the worker and the manufacturer, there is no country to defend. The priority of politics is a great modern heresy which is steadily destroying the world; only the great vitality of free enterprise is maintaining the productive level in the face of great political handicaps and inter­ferences. In any godly order, therefore, production, freedom of enterprise, must always be prior to politics, in wartime as well as peace."

Let's look at a couple of points here. We see the warfare against the past as social orders seek to rewrite the history of their nations, the purpose being to erase God from everything and make it look like man is in charge. Also, we see warfare against free enterprise, the family, business, whether it be the small farm or shop. We need to "make war" against such activity.

"Tenth, and finally, the law of booty provided a reward to the soldiers (Num. 31:21-31, 29, 30, 42: Deut. 20:14), so that there is legal ground not only for soldiers pay but also a pension, a reward for their services. War indemnity was an aspect of the penalty imposed on an enemy (II Kings 3:4) as penalty for their offense, and to defray the costs of the war.
In terms of Scripture, in a sinful world, war is ugly, but it is a necessity if evil is to be overcome. Clark's summary is to the point:

According to the Scriptures, "there is no peace unto the wicked" (Isa. 48:22; 57:41), and it is futile to cry "peace, peace, when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14). If men would have peace, they must "seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33), for peace is the "work of righteousness" (Isa. 32:17), and there can be no lasting and univer­sal peace until "righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 85:10). There shall be peace when "the inhabitants of the world . . . learn righteousness." It is "in the last day" (Isa. 2:2) and when "the Lord alone shall be exalted (Isa. 2:11) that --
". . . the nations . . . shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:4).

Reflecting back a little in this lesson. There are some very difficult decisions ahead, decisions concerning mission boards, land, yes, even missionaries which MUST be made, decisions which many people will not understand. But God understands and requires that decisions be made based upon His word. "The just shall live by faith". Do what is correct and leave the results up to Him to work out for His good pleasure, I Pet. 1:7; Rev. 4:11.