Why the change from engaging in battles to making peace?
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Question: "Why did God send people into battle in the Old Testament and then Jesus came as peace maker? Why the change from engaging in battles to making peace?" From the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 forward up through the synoptic gospels the Lord's primary focus was the Hebrew, the Israelite, the Jew. "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 7:6-8) "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face." (Deuteronomy 7:-10) "For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8) At the beginning of Christ's earthly ministry he chose 12 disciples and thereafter commanded (ordered) them: "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:5-6) The Lord Jesus' earthly ministry was a continuation of his initial call of Abraham. As scripture bears out, the Lord never rejected those that came to him, heathen included yet he was sent by the Father to Israel only. Responding to the Greek (Gentile) lady's plea for help concerning her demon possessed daughter: "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He did help her after she professed him as "Lord" but failed to do so when previously called the "Son of David". As a Gentile she had no claim on him as the Jewish Son of David. (See Matthew 15:22-24) Prior to his crucifixion the Lord responded to Andrew and Phillip who brought Jesus a request that certain Greek (Gentile) men wanted to see him. (John 12:20-24). He did not give them audience but instead foretold his crucifixion and burial: “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (V. 23-24) In John 12:32-33 the Lord further explained: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” His death, burial and resurrection would become the turning point in God’s dealing with humanity. Throughout biblical history the Israelites were and remained his primary focus. The Lord’s incarnation and earthly message of peace did not change. What did change was the extension of God’s mercy and grace, the inclusion of all tongues, kindreds and nations, a fulfillment of prophecy and furtherance of God’s eternal plan. (Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 52:15; 65:1) “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:11-13)
Many people believe that Jesus came as a peacemaker, but he did not come to bring peace, he came to bring division. Luke 12:51: "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." The gospel itself is offensive. To tell someone that they will never be good enough to enter heaven by themselves is a hard truth. But the truth nonetheless. That is why we point them and tell the about what Christ did for us on that cross. The message of being saved by grace in controversial. Many people don't like the idea of not being able to earn something. But Galatians 2:8-9 tells us that we can't be saved by works and only by the grace of God can we be saved. Jesus was by no means a peace keeper. He stirred up the religious elite. He called them out for the fakes that they were. When he saw the temple being used poorly he turned the tables over. He called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. Jesus spoke the truth and the whole truth. He took upon a tax collector as a disciple (the Jews hated tax collectors). The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament. As the wars were fought in the OT that brought about the sanctification for his people, the wars that were fought in the OT were against groups of people who did heinous things. The war that was in the New Testament was a spiritual one. Jesus came to divide the Christians and the posers. Although a physical battle was not waged during Jesus' time on earth there was a battle being fought, resulting in the wrongful murder of Jesus from Nazareth, The Creator of the Universe.
The real key to understanding this only comes from studying biblical symbolism. Most of Christianity claims the Bible must be interpreted absolutely literally and none of it is symbolism. Others claim it is all symbolism. The truth is somewhere in between. Nu 12:6-9 tells us that everything God speaks through a prophet is symbolism. If prophecy teachers would simply believe God's own words here they would know much of what they teach is false because they insist on a literal fulfillment of these symbols. Is 6:9, 10 tells us why God speaks in symbolism (compare this with Dt 13). Jesus quoted this in Mt 13 when he was teaching the disciples how to interpret his parables. The primary reason for the symbolism is that God is keeping us in the dark. He will interpret these for us if we really love him and seek him out, but if we are simply using his words to justify our own agenda he will use these symbols to increase our "blindness in part." Ro 11:25. See also Ez 14:1-11 and 2 Th 2:8-12. Here the lawless one is not necessarily Satan, but is any individual who prefers his own way to God's way. The most important of the symbols to your question is the sword. While there are Old Testament references which give us clues as to the meaning of this symbol Paul tells us explicitly what it is in Ep 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12. It is the word of God. Israel rejected this word at Mt. Sinai (Ex 20:18-21). Because of this God granted their request and only spoke to most of them through prophets from that time forward (Dt 18:16-20). By rejecting the sword of the spirit, which is the ability to hear the word of God directly from God, the people were left only with the physical sword. That sword is a very poor replacement. All it is able to do is end physical life, it is not able to separate the bone (spirit) from the marrow (the maker of blood, where the soul resides (Lev 17:11, 14 and Dt 12:23.) The word nephesh is properly translated as soul, not life, thus the soul is in the blood.) Dr. Stephen E. Jones is fond of saying that what is death under the Old Covenant is life under the New Covenant. This is very true, but the study to prove it is beyond our scope here. By separating the spirit from the fleshly weakness that prevents us from having the abundant life the sword of the spirit brings life not death. In the other answer given to this question so far Mr. Sanchez speaks of Jesus' role as a divider, but he fails to mention the most important division Jesus makes which is within us, not between us and the world. This division brings life and peace. Two verses before Mr. Sanchez initial biblical proof we see Luke 12:49 where Jesus says he came to bring fire and wished it was already kindled. Study of this symbol shows that it is also the word of God. Fire focuses more on the character of God while the sword focuses more on its work, but both are the word/law of God. Jesus said there was no such fire among the Jews of his day; they would have vociferously disagreed, but they had replaced the word of God with their own traditions. Fire is seen in Rev 20 as God's reward to the wicked. There is not much peace in fire. Yet if we look at this symbol with a New Covenant understanding instead of by Old Covenant symbols we find that God's fire is always a refining fire (Is 48:10, and the fire takes the form of affliction.) It burns off the dross (the fleshly nature) and leaves behind the metals of the spiritual nature. The lake of fire is the second death (Rev 20:14). It is also a refiner's fire, killing the flesh and leaving the purified spirit behind. Normal Christian interpretation of baptism is that the death we die in baptism is the second death. I don't know of any explicit statement of this in scripture. However, a study of baptism shows this death to be repentance and full surrender to God. The physical sword cannot bring this repentance, it can only bring death. God's intent was the spiritual sword.
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