In Psalm 149:6–7, David, a man after Elohim’s own heart, speaking of the saints wrote, “Let the high praises of El be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people.” Was David’s statement merely poetic hyperbole, or was this how he, as the king and a spiritual shepherd of Israel, literally defended the people YHVH had placed under his charge? We know from his life story that the latter was the case.
When Abraham, the father of the faithful and a man who was the model of righteousness had his nephew Lot kidnapped what was his response? Does Scripture record that he prayed, then sat down expecting YHVH to supernaturally intervene and cause the Babylonians to release Lot? No. His response was to muster the 318 soldiers of his own personal army and to pursue the five kings. What was the result? YHVH granted Abraham a miraculous victory over Lot’s captors and Abraham gave a tithe of the spoils of war to Melchizekek (Gen 14).
The Torah, YHVH’s divine instructions in righteousness, in Exodus 22:2, permits and even expects a man to defend himself against a thief breaking into his home. If the defense of one’s home results in the death of the thief, there is no retribution against the defender. There are no penalties or prohibitions in biblical law against a man acting in self defense.
The well-known Aaronic Blessings (Num 6:22–27) contains the following words, “May YHVH bless you and keep [or, safeguard, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach] you.” The word keep is the Hebrew word shomar (Strong’s H8104) meaning “guard, observe, watch, have charge of, protect, save.” Such a promised blessing could be taken in two different ways: one simply sits back and does nothing to protect oneself, for that is YHVH’s job; or one does what one can to protect oneself in a reasonable and prudent manner, and beyond that one trusts YHVH to do the rest. The latter and not the former is the logical approach to follow, and is substantiated by numerous scriptural examples to be the correct interpretation of this verse.
Psalm 145, the famous Ashrei blessing of the daily Jewish prayers, states that YHVH protects all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy (verse 20). The psalmist restates this idea elsewhere when he declares that YHVH saves his servant “out of all his troubles,” the righteous he “delivers … out of all their troubles,” and “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but YHVH delivers him out of them all” (Ps 34:6, 17, 19, emphasis added). The question we must ask here is this: does all literally mean all, in biblical thought? Clearly Scripture gives us a historical record of many of YHVH’s servants being persecuted and even martyred. Furthermore, the Scriptures prophesy that in the future many saints can expect this fate as well. Such passages are to be found in both the Tanakh (Old Testament) and Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament). Are the promises of YHVH a lie, or are we missing what he is really saying to us when he promises to deliver his people from all their troubles? Clearly, in light of the scriptural promises, the historical record and prophecies recorded in Scripture, all can mean only one thing: YHVH will deliver his people from ultimate evil, namely, death, hell and the grave, and he will avenge them of their adversaries by bringing ultimate judgment against them. This doesn’t mean that he won’t deliver his people from present evil by supernaturally protecting them, but some will suffer and even die a martyr’s death here and now. His people must trust in his sovereignty, love, justice and be assured that he has their best interests in mind even if they suffer and die now. The reward of the righteous is sure as is the fate of the wicked; both are in the hands of a just and all powerful Elohim.
With these truths in mind, it is the responsibility of the righteous to walk in faith, trusting YHVH day-by-day with their lives, but not to be blithely ignorant of the evil around them throwing all caution and prudent preparations to withstand evil to the winds of fate and calling it faith in YHVH. This is not faith; it is folly! Wise saints do not even practice this kind of “blind faith” in their daily physical lives. Most have locks on their doors, have fire extinguishers and first aid kits handy, maintain insurance policies, keep spare tires in their cars, wear seat belts and have extra batteries and food in their homes in case of an emergency. Proper preparation is called wisdom, and to not do so is foolish and fool-hardy. To not prepare, if one is able to do so, is not faith, but is tempting YHVH, something Scripture tells us not to do (Matt 4:7; Deut 6:16).
Scriptures Used to Justify Christian PacifismContinue reading