Monday, May 16, 2016

Fairly Feeble Forces (1)

The limitations specified by the law mean the people of God will always have fairly feeble military forces. In fact, they will hardly be military at all. Here are some of the restrictions to military power specified by the law.

  • Acquiring offensive weapons is forbidden (Deut 17:16: Joshua 11:6). That rules out high-powered rifles, machine guns and artillery.

  • Participation in defence of the community is voluntary. No one should be forced to engage in fighting against their will. Compulsory military training and service is forbidden (Jud 7:3).

  • Men who have recently married, or built a house or started a business should not be involved in defence, because they need to focus their attention on what they have just started (Deut 20:5-7).

  • People who are afraid or tender-hearted should be freed from defensive activities (Deut 20:8).

  • God’s people must not to form alliances with powerful nations (Is 31:1).

  • The people must defend themselves with what they have (1 Sam 13:22). . They would use the tools and equipment that they already had for use on their farms and in their households. Knives and hayforks were their only weapons. This prevents them from relying on their weapons rather than on God.

  • The community must not waste resources making or buy weapons or war. In Samuel’s time, the children of Israel did not have blacksmiths. They relied on the Philistines for sharpening their ploughshares, axes and sickles (1 Sam 13:21). From an economic perspective, this was unwise, but from the perspective of faith, it was perfect. None of the Israelites except Saul or Johnathan had a sword or spear (1 Sam 13:22). They Philistines had 3000 chariots with two skilled soldiers for each chariot (1 Sam 13:5). Israel was outnumbered in men and weapons, but that did not matter, because this was a perfect because they had to rely on God for their physical protection.

  • All military leaders must be temporary. They are given authority by local communities when a threat arises, but they must go back to their normal lives when the battle is complete. This limits their ability to fight wars, but it is better than having permanent military leaders who become advocates for unnecessary wars.

  • Professional military forces are dangerous, because those who constantly train for war eventually start looking for opportunities to fight. Under God’s model of defence, ordinary people come together to defend their communities. They will not be skilled fighters, but that does not matter, because they will be forced to rely on God.

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