Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (4) Offensive Weapons

Preston Sprinkle explains why Israel was not allowed offensive weapons.

Other nations will therefore see that Israel marches to the beat of a different military drum. They have a God in the heavens who guides and protects, who defends and delivers. They don’t need to supplement God with a human army. And when they do actually fight, God wants them to remain a ragtag group of weekend warriors. This way, when they win (if they have faith in God) it will be clear to them and everyone else that victory belongs to Israel’s God, not to Israel’s military. This is why in several instances Israel was commanded to hamstring their enemies’ horses and burn their chariots.

Horses and chariots were the ancient version of tanks. They were superior weapons. The army with the most horses and chariots was bound to win the war. So when Joshua (and others) hamstrings horses and burns chariots , he destroys their potential usefulness to Israel in further battles. It’s like killing an enemy with a knife and not taking his gun. And the reason is clear: “Superior weaponry was rejected, in order to demonstrate trust in Yahweh as warrior.”

When chariots are mentioned in a positive light, they are God’s chariots, not Israel’s. God rides on the chariots of the clouds (Hab. 3: 8; Deut. 32: 13), surrounds His people with angelic chariots (2 Kings 7: 6), and takes His prophet home in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2: 11). Who needs earthly chariots when God fights with heavenly ones? The prophets themselves are even called “the chariots of Israel and its horsemen” (2 Kings 13: 14; cf. 2: 12)— they are bearers of the word of God, who alone secures Israel’s existence.

In contrast to Israel’s comical military policy, the surrounding nations stockpiled horses, chariots, and other superior weapons. Such military strength was essential for their survival and domination. The Assyrians boasted about their enemies being “afraid in the face of my terrible weapons” (Fight, chapter 3).
Preston has some strong words for American Christians, who have more faith in military power than in God.
America’s excessive militarism is inconceivable apart from “the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals.” This is unbelievable. Most of all—as we’ve seen in this chapter— it’s unbiblical.

What the Old Testament does do is critique the massive wave of Christian support for America’s unbridled militarism. Such allegiance is misplaced; such support is unbiblical. The nations— like Assyria— were ruled by militarism, but God’s people should never celebrate military power, and we certainly shouldn’t find our hope and security in it. If God warned Israel against having a strong military— and it was God’s nation— how much more should God’s people today not put stock in the military prowess of a secular country?

Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s kingdom, and no band of terrorists, fascist government, oppressive dictator, or disarmament program will trump Jesus’s promise. Seeing America’s military strength as the hope of the world is an affront to God’s rule over the world. It’s idolatry (Fight, chapter 3).

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