Image attribution: DonkeyHotey/flickr/license
With the dogs of war close to being released and rockets even now likely being readied, it seems a wise time (past time) to ask what our nation ought to be doing in relation to belligerent buffoons like Kim Jong-un Jong Madman. By ought I am referring not to the rules of political normalcy but to the higher laws of the Lord of all nations. For the biblical God who created all men and who establishes the nations has opinions about warfare that we ought to learn. Our political leaders especially ought to know His rules so that they can act righteously and wisely.
Policing the World
Our attempts to act as god lording it over the nations has been a persistent choice for our nation for several decades. We regularly act outside the authority God has given our country as we work at nation building around the globe. We have fumbled bumbling our way across the Middle East trying to make recalcitrant Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, Egypt and Libya and Syria into democracies friendly to western values (whatever those might be). Nothing has worked. In every case we have rushed in to get our diplomatic and military noses into business not our own. And in each case we have embarrassed ourselves with our clumsy boot-stomping methods in kitchens where we were never invited and never belonged. I am reminded of the Proverb:
Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him (Proverbs 26:17).
One of the obvious lessons from this Proverb is that not all strife belongs to us. The fact that some somebodies somewhere are in conflict is not proof that we need to get involved. There is tremendous temptation for us to see all conflicts everywhere as situations in which we need to meddle. We are certain (though no one can say why) that if there is trouble anywhere we are called, as a nation, to go and act as a big brother for the nations involved. We worship our own power believing it to be far greater than it actually is. We believe we can bring peace to the nations. Yet God has never assigned us that task. Most of the fights between nations are best left up to God to resolve and we are not Him.
When asked why we ought to be the world’s policeman our fellow citizens most often reply with a supposed rhetorical question, “Who else will do it if we don’t?” Well, okay, who would do it if we did not? If we are talking about earthly powers, maybe nobody, or maybe somebody we never expected. But why would we consider only earthly powers? Maybe the Lord of all nations has a plan He wants to accomplish and we should stay out of the way. Maybe He is working all things together for good in ways we cannot guess. Maybe He never gave us an official police badge to go out and police the nations. That could be, since police are never once mentioned as a legitimate office in the Bible. The Bible has no police in it. They are not there for us to imitate. So the concept that our nation has been called to be the world’s policeman falls flat from the outset. It always was an unbiblical and foolish idea.
But This Situation is Different!
It may be that this situation really is different. North Korea has (judging by news reports) threatened to launch nuclear bombs toward Guam, California, and even Chicago. Now much of these threats may be mere bluster since North Korea’s abilities to deliver missiles is mostly untested. Nevertheless, we recognize that our knowledge about North Korea’s abilities and intentions is definitely limited. What can they really do and how crazy is their god-like leader? If we believe his threats—pretty capable and pretty crazy. I am just not sure I believe his threats. Maybe if he launches a missile it will land on his own country, like the anvil on the coyote. Kim Jong Un is kind of a cartoon character after all, especially with that hair.
Biblical Example for the Nations
The best place for us to look for wisdom regarding the right actions for nations is to the first nation that God established under His law—Israel. The nation of Israel was God’s own people set up to be a light to all nations (Deuteronomy 4). The nations of the earth were to look at Israel and say:
“See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5–8).
When we look at ancient Israel we see a nation that did not meddle in the business of other nations. Oh—but you say, “What about all those Jubusites, and Hivites, and Amalakites (Canaanites all)? Surely Israel interacted with them pretty closely!” So, yes, surely they did. The seven nations God instructed Israel to displace were chased from the land or killed. Given the special nature of the case (God specifically told Israel to displace them) it is not one we can imitate.
Israel, however, was surrounded by several other nations such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Edom, and California. Alright, not California, but these other surrounding nations were often in conflict with Israel. Yet one thing we never see in any of the records of Israel’s conflicts is any story about Israel meddling in the affairs of their neighbors. We never once read of Israel trying to transform another nation into a democracy. There is no story about Israel conquering the Moabites so that Israel could keep them from building iron chariots or Moab so that dangerous cavalry could be blown up before they became too many. Even though Israel often went to war against larger invading armies that were better armed, Israel is never once instructed to get the upper hand through a pre-emptive attack. The armies of Israel, God’s covenant nation and the example for the world, fought only defensive wars not offensive wars. In the case of King Josiah, he lost his life fighting against the Egyptians who only wanted to cross his land and not bother Israel (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20): We see there that even a defensive action was evil in God’s sight if the enemy did not need to be fought. An enemy army just passing through the southern desert was to be left alone. Offensive foreign wars would have been even more heavily sanctioned by God under God’s perfect law of liberty. God does not call our armies to roam about the world looking for trouble.
So What Should We Do About North Korea?
One thing for sure is that we ought to, wherever possible, avoid going over there and provoking the North Koreans. God has not given America a special mission to police and control North Korea or any other nation. Our military is to protect our own nation not the entire world.
We could rightly let North Korea know that any attack against America by their nation will bring immediate and devastating ruin to their military by our military. We will not tolerate any attack by them.
If war ensues we should follow biblical rules for just war. This means we do not generally attack civilian populations we attack their armies, navy, and air force. We do not attack and destroy orchards or infrastructure (Deuteronomy 20:19).
We ought to defeat our enemies and go home (possibly making the defeated enemies pay tribute to at least cover the cost of the war) just as David did when he defeated the Moabites (2 Samuel 8) and many others. King David never stayed to run the countries he defeated, he just took his army and went home. This is our example.
It is Better to Be Biblical Than to Be Conservative
While conservative political positions are sometimes the same as biblical positions this often is not the case. As Christian people we must push for biblically right behavior by our nation not conservative behavior. We must emphasize Christian values over conservative ones. Our commitment to Godly values is what marks us as different and righteous in a sinful world. The Lord never gives us a spirit of compromise on moral issues, He commands obedience. When it comes to warfare we cannot let conservative politics guide us above God’s word and wisdom. Douglas MacArthur famously stated that in war there is no substitute for victory. He was quite correct about that, but Christians must also realize that in war there is no substitute for obedience—obedience to God’s law. May God’s Spirit and Word be our constant guides and may we humbly ask Him for victory over our enemies.
For Christian Civilization,
Dr. Don Schanzenbach
Mission to Restore America