By Daniel H. King
When God gave commandment to the children of Israel with regard to their treatment of the pagan inhabitants of Canaan, his orders were not at all compromising. He charged: “I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; arid thou shaft drive them out before thee. Thou shaft make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me; for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee” (Ex. 23:32-33); and again: “When the Lord thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and thou shaft smite them; then thou shaft utterly destroy them: thou shaft make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them; neither shaft thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shaft not give unto his son, nor his daughter shaft thou take unto thy son. For he will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and he will destroy thee quickly. But thus shall ye deal with them: ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherirn, and burn their graven images with fire” (Deut. 7:2-5). The people of the Lord were told to destroy completely the people of the land and the shrines where their false worship was carried on. They were to refrain from compromise in any form. Peace treaties were riot to be made. Intermarriage also posed a threat and was therefore to be avoided. Indeed, God’s attitude was unbending and unyielding. Because they were worshipping lies and offering a false hope, the God of all mercy felt no mercy for these nations. And, his people were to reflect his feelings. This same posture applied in every case where God spoke of them. In fact, whereas Israel made peace when God said not to, God sent his angel from Gilgal to Bochim with the stern rebuke: “I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, `I will never break my covenant with you; , and ye shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall break down their altars.’ But ye have not hearkened unto my voice: why have ye done this”? Wherefore I also said, `I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you’ ” (Judges 2:1-3). God rebuked compromise. He did not want it. He had no intention for his people to exercise it. When they did so against his wishes, he punished them for it.
Among the many errors of king Saul, one that stands out in the biblical account is his attitude of compromise in his treatment of Agag in 1 Samuel the fifteenth chapter. God had plainly told Saul, “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (vs. 2). Among other things Saul disobeyed God by sparing the life of Agag the king of the Amalekites. Samuel, on the other hand, took the attitude of intolerant obedience to God and “hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal” (vs. 33). It was not God’s intention that his command was to be compromised. When Saul did so God rejected him because he had rejected God.
Ahab compromised the stringent legislation of God against intermarriage with the people of the land by taking to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians. As a result he “went and served Baal and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made the Asherah; and Ahab did yet more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Kgs. 16:3133). His pagan wife “stirred him up” to do mischief before God in a multitude of ways (1 Kgs. 21:25-26). In his latter end he perished in disgrace and the dogs licked up his blood by the pool of Samaria (1 Kgs. 22:38). His wife Jezebel was trampled to death and eaten by the dogs at Jezreel (2 Kgs. 9:33-37). Ahab compromised the command of God to his own hurt. The nations about Israel were enemies of truth and righteousness-riot potential wives and allies. Ahab paid the price for spurning the law of God.
It appears to me to be obvious that there is a lesson in these Old Testament examples (and in a host of others that could be offered), that all of us would do well to learn (Rom. 15:4). Especially is this so in light of the fact that the true Israel of God, the church, is pictured in the New Testament to be at war with the devil, the world, and sin in general, whatever form it may choose to take. The Christian is told in scripture to “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). Why? Because we have a battle to fight! Not a battle involving physical nations, carnal fighting and implements of warfare that avail for nought in such a contest. Instead, “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the worldrulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Every one of us must prove himself a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). We are not to compromise and “give ground”, instead we are to “Stand!” (Eph. 6:11, 13, 14). Only by this means can we “war a good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18), “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), and say when our time to leave the field of battle has come “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7).
I wonder sometimes how our brethren who are turning the mighty army that is the church of Jesus Christ into a “Make Love, Not War” battalion, visualize the battle that God gave the Christian and the church to fight. If the battle is synonymous with the “war on poverty” as some brethren have tried to make it, then the nation of India alone proves that the war is being lost. But the Bible makes it clear that this is not where the battle is to be fought. Is it solely in the arena of morality? If so, then moral laxity instead of purity is the result of their warfare. In their escape from “puritanism” they have run headlong into the enemy’s camp and have found out that the enemy “isn’t so bad after all.” Again, in connection with sectarianism they are merely beginning to justify the existence of the sects and of the “Church of Christ” as one of them, and raising the umbrella of fellowship to cover them too. Thus, the battle is certainly not being won on that front either, because it is not even being fought! As Israel saw many years ago, it is easier to “covenant” with our enemies than to fight them. And that is exactly what is, being done.
The spirit of Christian warfare is disappearing in very many places. That may seem to be a good thing to the spiritual “conscientous objectors” among us, but it does not appear so to God. God’s people are soldiers, good soldiers. And good soldiers are fighters, not compromiseres. The flag of truce is not among their battlegear. But the sword of the spirit is-the word of God. Let’s make good use of it!
Truth Magazine XXI: 15, pp. 234-235
April 14, 1977