It seems I left out a part in the outline of the still ongoing series on The Just War. I haven’t forgotten this series, it’s just that lately current events, especially in COG news, have made it take a back seat.
However, before I post that particular article in the series, I want to look at something very important before understanding can truly take place. It is needed to properly understand war in the Old Testament. It is needed to properly interpret a puzzling event in Israel’s history. It is needed in everyday practical Christian living. It is the matter of seeking God’s will.
God commanded Israel to go in and conquer Canaan. In all likelihood, if Israel had been obedient during the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, they wouldn’t have had to fight at all. Certainly, as already pointed out in The Just War series thus far, God promised to send the hornet and other things to drive out the Canaanites.
It wasn’t God’s ultimate will, then, for them to have to fight. However, after their disobedience, it was God’s will that they be tested by war. It was just because God commanded it. Later on, we will see that God has a different will for Christians today, and even later He will have yet a different command for His servants.
Bottom Line: God uses all sorts of events, both good and evil, to shape our lives and our character.
It is important to seek God’s will before committing to a plan of action.
24Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way? (Proverbs 20:24, King James Version)
5Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5, King James Version)
3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
~ Pr 16:3 (NIV)
The Bible has a vivid example of not seeking God’s will beforehand, but I want to give a disclaimer first: I realize this is not the only lesson that can be drawn from this example. However, it does show an act of unintended disobedience because God’s will was not first sought.
Unlike a later example, though, there obviously is a much more important principle at work because the participants are not immediately condemned for their actions. Just prior to this incident, Israel had fought at Ai. One person sinned and disobeyed God, and so their first battle at Ai was disastrous. It was only by ridding themselves of the sin and the sinner that they could go on to win the battle.
The stakes were high for disobedience. Yet, God did not condemn them as He had at Ai. Still, had they first sought God’s will, Israel would not have sinned and even risked such condemnation. Furthermore, even though God did not condemn them for it, there are consequences to be paid much later on.
Of course, I am talking about Gibeon as given in Joshua 9. In particular, we see that Joshua and the other leaders of Israel are deceived because they did not consult God in their decision:
14And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.
15And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. (Joshua 9:14-15, King James Version)
So, they made peace with a people that they were commanded to destroy. This was not acting within God’s will, and one of the snares that Israel had to contend with after Joshua’s time was intermarriage with the people of the land and getting caught up in the worship of their gods.
To be fair, it isn’t totally inconceivable that God would have spared the Gibeonites anyhow, much the same way He spared Rahab. After all, instead of turning to warring with Israel as the other inhabitants did, they acknowledged the power of God and sought peace. That would explain the lack of condemnation from God in this manner. Not only that, but God allowed Joshua to defend Gibeon against the alliance of the kings of the Amorites (Jos 10:6-8). However, even if that’s the case, to be entirely within God’s will would have required Joshua and the other leaders of Israel to seek God’s will before making peace.
It is this lack of seeking God’s will that later leads to the disastrous paradox that will be detailed in “The Just War, Part 8: The Unrighteous Just War”.