Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Self-Defense and the Bible
YEHOVAH God wants you to fight back against evil men doing evil things. He wants you to preserve your life against evil men. Whether that involves fighting against rape, murder -- or some other form of injustice -- YEHOVAH God believes that those who have the power and the responsibility to preserve life ought to do so because He VALUES life!
by HOIM Staff
Why is it that people think being a Christian means that you automatically have to be anti-gun and a pacifist? It's not anyone's fault that these false paradigms exist. It's just bad information -- or might we say, information that was gathered based on assumptions instead of actual research. The recent escalation of violence and an unprecedented expansion of government power is forcing more and more Christians to consider the question of self-defense. Is it right to use physical or lethal force to protect oneself or others? The question is not new. Cycles of controversy over the question can be traced back for centuries.
For some people, the question of the use of physical or lethal force is merely a legal one. Unbelievers and nonreligious people have little difficulty with this question, for their decision is based exclusively upon personal, social and temporal considerations, not spiritual and eternal ones. While there may be conscience concerns for such people, those concerns are not shaped by YEHOVAH God or His word.
For the true Christian, however, there are certain spiritual, moral and eternal considerations. He walks, not "by sight," as does the materialist, but "by faith" (II Corinthians 5:7). His conscience is directed by the Scriptures, not by mere human reasoning. He knows that he will be judged by those Scriptures, so he wants to be sure that his actions are authorized by YEHOVAH God (John 12:48).
The use of force against one's fellow man does not come naturally to the Christian-Israelite. Luke 9:51-56 records the story of the Messiah going to Jerusalem. He instructed his disciples to prepare a place to stay in a Samaritan village, but when the Samaritans saw that "His face was set towards Jerusalem," they refused to allow him to stay. This angered James and John, and they asked the Messiah if he wanted them to command fire from heaven to destroy them.
Yeshua rebuked the disciples, telling them, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are." He continued, "The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Of course, these Samaritans posed no physical threat to the Messiah or the disciples, so the proposed response by James and John was unreasonable and wrong. Christians-Israelites are told to "live peaceably with all men" to the extent that such is possible (Romans 12:18). But what are we authorized to do in situations where peace is not possible? What are we to do if we or others are physically attacked?
The Reason For This Study
As we mentioned before, the world is becoming increasingly dangerous. Tyrannical governments continue to amass power and control. History demonstrates that the vast majority of violence inflicted against people has been carried out by governments. Every day in America, people are raped, assaulted, kidnapped and murdered. Places where people were once immune to the threat of physical harm are now unsafe. Random acts of violence are becoming more commonplace. Many of our larger cities and areas along our southern border are plagued with drug and gang related violence.
In place of the relatively harmless "cat burglars" of the past, people now face heavily armed home invaders who have no respect for human life. Mass shootings continue to occur at a steady pace. Some people become violent and abusive for as little reason as their favorite sports team losing a game. Social and political unrest often result in violent demonstrations. The rejection of basic moral standards has caused some people to have little or no respect for the sanctity of human life, causing them to become dangerous to others. It is important that we understand what we are authorized to do to protect ourselves.
Misconceptions About Protection
"I Will Just Pray For Safety"
Yes we should "pray," but some religious people believe that mere prayer alone can protect them from dangerous people. They have convinced themselves that YEHOVAH God will miraculously intervene to protect them from dangerous people and circumstances, and that they have no personal responsibility in providing for their own protection or that of others. This view is naive and reflects a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of prayer.
While we should pray for safety, we must also do what is necessary for our safety. We are instructed to pray for our daily food (Matthew 6:11), but if we refuse to work, we will not eat (II Thessalonians 3:10; Ephesians 4:28). One can pray for safety all day long, but if he steps in front of a fast-moving train he will be injured or killed. Prayer operates in the realm of providence. We are told to "pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17), but praying does not relieve us of our personal responsibility, nor will it eliminate the effects of "time and chance" which "happens to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
"I Will Talk The Attacker Down"
Some people hope to rely upon the power of the argument. They want to believe that all people can be ultimately talked out of their evil intentions. They assume that the "soft answer" of Proverbs 15:1 will always have the same dissuading influence upon all people, and while it will work with some criminals, it will not work with many. The Bible teaches that some people are beyond reason. They are like "unreasoning animals" (II Peter 2:12). Their consciences are "seared" (I Timothy 4:2). Their minds will not be changed by verbal appeals. They must be stopped or deterred by other means, often by physical force. While the Christian-Israelite is to assume no evil of others (I Corinthians 13:5), he is to also be cautious and discerning (Matthew 10:16, "wise as serpents"). He is to judge others by their actions (Matthew 7:16). The attacker, assaulter, rapist and murderer do not behave as they do because they are interested in conducting a Bible study with their victims. They are motivated by other things.
"I Believe In Turning The Other Cheek"
Many religious people cite the turn-the-other-cheek principle of Matthew 5:39 as a prohibition against all use of protective force. The Messiah said, "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say unto you, do not resist the one who is evil. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:38, 39). However, the Messiah was condemning retaliation, not self-protection. The Judeans of the Messiah's day were as guilty of ignoring the context of Exodus 21:24 as many people are today with Matthew 5:39.
According to the convoluted application that some people make of Matthew 5:39, if a rapist broke into your house and raped your wife, you would be obligated to also offer him your daughter! This is foolish and dangerous reasoning. The argument suggests that if an attacker were to cut off your right arm with a machete, you should then extend your left arm for him to also cut off! This is not what the Messiah teaches in Matthew 5:39. There is a difference between protecting oneself and seeking retaliation. Both the Messiah and Paul protected themselves from angry mobs on various occasions.
Revelation 19 presents YEHOVAH God as a warrior KING. He is not only a God of love but also of justice. Liberals have tried to separate these two attributes since the beginning of religious rationalism. YEHOVAH God will strike down entire nations at this time (Revelation 19:11, 15). Likewise, people try to portray the Messiah as a mild person without backbone who wilts before his enemies. This is an inadequate and distorted picture of who he is.
In the gospel of John, we read: "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a WHIP out of cords, and DROVE all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he SCATTERED the coins of the money changers and OVERTURNED their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!'" (John 2:13-16).
When Yeshua had taken this brisk and forceful action, to drive the merchants and money changers out of the Temple courts, and their animals, his disciples remembered the Scripture where it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me" (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9). Let's get this straight! Yeshua the Messiah was no weakling, no 90 pound wonder, no effeminate, indecisive, wavering, vacillating, meandering gigolo or freak. He was decidedly a MAN OF COURAGE, a man of ACTION, a man who brooked NO NONSENSE!
Turning the other cheek does NOT mean allowing evil people to overpower us (Matthew 5:39-41). Instead, the idea is to not allow ourselves to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Sometimes the most effective way of overcoming evil is by not resisting it; it is better to respond with kindness. However, the Messiah does not tell us that the ONLY way to overcome evil is by non-response. Much of the Sermon on the Mount is hyperbole; the Messiah did NOT mean that we are to gouge out our eyes when we sin (Matthew 5:29). His idea was to deal radically with sin rather than be nonplussed about sin. The Messiah himself stood up to the religious leaders of his day. However, our primary attitude should not be one of retaliation.
"I Let My Conscience Guide Me"
Conscience is typically invoked in two different ways with respect to the use of lethal force in self defense:
1). Some people classify themselves as "conscientious objectors" with regard to the use of lethal or potentially lethal force. They object to the use of any force that might result in the death of another person. This applies to participation in law enforcement and military service, as well as a civilian defending himself or others from an attacker. It is not our purpose in this article to violate the scruples of others or to impose our personal opinions upon others. Romans 14 does provide for differences with respect to personal conscience. However, plain Bible truths must be honestly considered and should not be lightly dismissed. For example, Ephesians 5:25-29 teaches that true love obligates a husband to "nourish and cherish" his wife. He is to protect her to the extent of sacrificing his own life for her. This is not an option for the husband -- it is a divine obligation. I Timothy 5:8 shows that he has this obligation for his entire family. We will later consider this passage more fully.
2). Conversely, other people cite their conscience as their sole authority for their actions. They justify their use of deadly force by the fact that it doesn't violate their conscience. But, for the conscience to be a safe guide it must be properly educated. Prior to his conversion, the former apostle Paul believed that it was right for him to persecute and injure Christians (Acts 26:9-11; 8:1-3; 9:1; I Timothy 1:13). Though Paul's actions made him the "chief of sinners" (I Timothy 1:15), he claimed that his conscience was "good" during that time in his life (Acts 23:1; 24:16). Paul did evil but his conscience approved his actions. This means that Paul's conscience was not an adequate guide at that time in his life. His conscience was improperly educated. For one's conscience to serve as an acceptable guide it must be properly educated.
"The Bible Says, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill"
Some people object to the use of force against others by citing Scriptures that condemn "killing." Exodus 20:13 says, "Thou shalt not kill" (King James Version). It is often argued that this prohibition against killing is a prohibition against all types of killing -- including defensive killing. Some refuse to use protective force for fear that it might result in the death of the perpetrator, thus the violation of the 6th Commandment. This view is based upon a misunderstanding of Exodus 20:13 and related passages (Deuteronomy 5:17; Matthew 5:21; 19:18; Romans 13:9). It is a classic case of oversimplification. The Hebrew verb, "kill" (ratsach) that is used in Exodus 20:13 is one that suggests killing with deliberation and premeditation. The meaning is best expressed by the word "murder," as is used by the translators of the New King James Version, New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version, New International Version and others. "Murder" is the premeditated killing of innocent life with malice aforethought. Thus, only a certain type of killing is prohibited by Exodus 20:13. It does not address or condemn all killing.
Proof of this is found in the immediate context of Exodus 20. Just one chapter earlier, YEHOVAH God imposed the death penalty upon those who touched Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:12). Just one chapter later, YEHOVAH imposed the death penalty upon those who committed murder: Exodus 21:12 says, "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death." As did Genesis 9:6, this passage required the execution of murderers. Many other capital offenses are listed in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:15-17; 22:18, 19; 31:14; Leviticus 20:2,10; 24:14; Deuteronomy 19:16-19; 22:21-25). If Exodus 20:13 forbids all killing, then what explanation can be given for the many other passages that require the killing of certain evildoers? Obviously, some have oversimplified Exodus 20:13 by ignoring the meaning of the term and by isolating it from the dozens of other Scriptures that authorize and require killing in certain instances and for certain crimes.
"Killing An Attacker Removes His Chance Of Ever Being Saved"
While it is true that death removes a sinner of Israel's chance of being saved, it is not true that it is the innocent defender's fault. If the attacker, who is of Israel, is killed in the commission of his godless act, he himself is responsible for his lost spiritual condition. By his actions, the attacker removes his own chance of being saved. Innocent people are not to be blamed for the sinful choices and actions of others (Ezekiel 18:20). Incidentally, citing the book of "Ezekiel" might remind some readers of chapters 3 and 33 of the book, which speak of the prophet's duty to "warn" sinners of Israel. It should be pointed out that YEHOVAH God had reference to sinners who would listen to the prophet's reproofs, not to the Babylonian invaders who were "a god unto themselves" and had no interest in YEHOVAH's Word.
Those who make this argument fail to consider its implications with respect to YEHOVAH God Himself. If innocent people are responsible for the souls of vicious criminals that they may kill in self-defense, then YEHOVAH God must be responsible for the souls of the hundreds of millions that He has killed in their punishment! If the home defender takes the hope of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God away from the armed invader, then YEHOVAH God took the hope of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God away from Nadab, Abihu, Ananias, Sapphira, and millions of other people! This argument indicts even YEHOVAH God! The argument is obviously ill-conceived and flawed. It has no merit at all. Above, I listed several examples of capital punishment.
At YEHOVAH's direct command the members of the community were to execute the perpetrator. Were the executioners responsible for the criminal's spiritual fate? Did YEHOVAH God condemn people for doing what He told them to do? Of course not! Romans 13:4 authorizes civil government to execute evil-doers. Do policemen, prosecutors, judges, juries and executioners "take away" the Israelite evil-doers chance to be in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God when they do the job that YEHOVAH God authorized them to do? Of course not! People are responsible for their own behavior. The attacker who is killed in the commission of his crime will bear his own fate. As we shall see from plain Bible passages, the defender is not responsible for the spiritual consequences of the perpetrator's actions.
The Principle of Protection
It may help to think of killing in terms of "just or unjust" and "accidental or on purpose":
Murder: unjust or on purpose.
Manslaughter: unjust but accidental.
Execution of criminals (social self-defense): just and on purpose.
Killing in war (national self-defense): just and on purpose.
Killing in personal self-defense: just and on purpose.
Self-defense resulting in an accidental death: just but accidental.
In the above list we see that murder and manslaughter are unjust causes of death. In personal self-defense, the execution of criminals and in war, the cause of death is just, whether there is initial intent to kill the person or not. We can rightly conclude from the Bible that personal self-defense is something that YEHOVAH God sanctions, even if it means the death of an unjust aggressor. The Founding Fathers of the United States were correct in asserting that YEHOVAH God gave every person the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." An aggressor who tries to take from others forfeits those rights, and it should be the law of the land that each and every Israelite person have the right to defend himself from unjust aggression of all types.
In defining marital love, Paul says, "For no man ever hated his own body, but feeds it and cares for it, just as Christ does the church" (Ephesians 5:29). Paul used as the basis of his argument a man's natural inclination to protect and preserve his own life. As a man naturally and instinctively protects his own body, so should he naturally and instinctively protect and care for his wife. After all, the marriage relationship makes the man and his wife "one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31).
By divine design, humans and other creatures are equipped with protective features, abilities and instincts. The immune system protects against disease and infection. Vital organs are encased in bone for their protection. Pain sensors alert us to destructive actions that may damage our bodies. The body's autoimmune system is triggered automatically in response to infections and antigens. We react reflexively to things that harm us. We flinch when poked by sharp objects and when touching hot surfaces. We often jump back when we encounter snakes and dangerous animals. These are automatic defensive responses to harmful things. The very fact that YEHOVAH God designed us with various defensive reflexes and capabilities tells us that self-defense is natural and right.
Even a casual look at YEHOVAH's Creation reveals that self-defense plays an important role in the self preservation of nearly all forms of life. Perhaps Christian-Israelite society could be profitably likened to a biological organism, every one of which has some way of warding off internal and external threats. The more complex animal bodies dispatch white blood cells to attack germs and other toxic intruders. These white blood cells are very simple forms of life, but they are "wise" enough to act as if the wholeness and health of the organism is at stake, and without sentiment or ceremony destroy the intruder. These enemies of the body are not kept alive and cordoned off in prisons to be preserved. They are destroyed and eliminated as any future threat.
Similarly, evil persons are intruders into the "body" of decent Christian-Israelite society, which has a right to protect and defend itself against such intrusion. A body without an immune system cannot defend itself and soon dies. Any godly society that refuses to establish and enforce YEHOVAH God's laws will also eventually "die," i.e., be overcome by wickedness. People in the medical field work relentlessly to control "evil" in a body so that person will not die of disease, and it is understood that harmful bacteria must be killed so the body will be healthy. So, too, if we are to have a healthy Christian society, wicked and harmful people need to be executed. This clearly teaches the value of life, because it shows that the only thing as valuable as a life is a life. No wonder YEHOVAH God commanded, "Life for life" in the Bible, and even repeated it twice (Exodus 21:23; Deuteronomy 19:21).
Furthermore, this protection principle extends beyond just that of self-protection, for animals and humans instinctively protect their young. In doing so, they protect those that are too small or too weak to protect themselves.
While lessons from nature and design are interesting and instructive, the Christian-Israelite is instructed to "do all by the authority of Christ" (Colossians 3:17). Since his conclusions regarding the use of force have the potential to affect his behavior towards his fellow man and his standing before YEHOVAH God, the person of faith looks to the statements and principles of Scripture for his guidance. He knows that the Scriptures are a "right" and safe guide (Psalms 19:8; 119, 128).
Protection and Use-of-Force Scriptures
From several different passages we will learn that YEHOVAH God authorizes individuals to protect themselves against physical harm. Some passages contain examples of people fleeing from danger. Others show people hiding or escaping from dangerous people and situations. Others authorize the use of force, including fighting and even killing.
Exodus 22:2-3 -- The Law of Moses
"If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft." This passage authorized the use of deadly force by an Israelite homeowner against a nighttime home invader. A distinction was made between a nighttime invasion and an ordinary theft because darkness adds a degree of difficulty. In the dark a homeowner cannot quickly know important details, like whether or not the invader is armed, and if so, how well armed? Is the invader's intention only to steal, or is it to abduct, rape, maim or kill? YEHOVAH's law contained a provision for the extenuating circumstance of nighttime home invasion.
Since this law was binding during the life and ministry of the Messiah, we may consider the defense principles contained in Exodus 22 in connection with New Testament protection passages.
Deuteronomy 22:23-27 -- The Rape in the City
"If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you" (verses 23-24). This passage describes a "rape" that is taking place. Forcible penetration upon another person and, within this context, it's a helpless "virgin." This likely means a young woman (probably under the age of 14) who has not yet "known" a man.
The text says that the woman is raped (against her will) and she does not cry out. Rape is a dehumanizing act that reduces a person and eliminates her choice in the most intimate of ways. Stealing the virginity of a young teen during this time who, in ancient Israelite culture, is in the prime age for marriage and child bearing, is essentially devastating to the girl. The defiling of the girl prevents her from marrying anyone else because she is now damaged and unwanted as a wife. A rape in this time period would often force the victim to lead a life of prostitution or live as a slave. So, robbing the girl of her virginity is essentially killing her.
What's interesting about this passage is that it says the girl does not cry out. Why would she cry out? She would cry out because, being within the city with numerous inhabitants, she has the opportunity of being saved. She has the opportunity to defend herself against her assailant by means of a righteous man coming to her aid and attacking the rapist! Notice the rest of the passage in Deuteronomy: "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her" (verses 25-27).
This passage makes it clear: In the city, there is the opportunity for the first girl in the first scenario to be saved. In the country, the second girl doesn't have the opportunity to be saved. Notice the difference though -- and this is very important -- the second girl WANTS TO FIGHT! She WANTS to do what is right even though she has no one to rescue her. Let that sink in for a moment. The first girl has the opportunity to be saved (in the city) and doesn't elicit help. The second girl is in a place where no one can hear her and still fights back, screams and cries out for help. In the case of the two girls, the girl who fights is the girl who should keep her life -- the other girl, according to YEHOVAH God -- loses it.
Those who fight back are seeking justice and are viewed as being in the right. Those who do not are in the wrong.
1). Preservation of life and punishment if you don't
do it (verses 23-24).
2). Rape is equated with murder and receives the same punishment (verse 26).
3). "No one there to save her" (verse 27).
YEHOVAH God wants you to fight back against evil men doing evil things. He wants you to preserve your life against evil men. Whether that involves fighting against rape, murder -- or some other form of injustice -- YEHOVAH God believes that those who have the power and the responsibility to preserve life ought to do so because He VALUES life!
Nehemiah 4:7-18 -- The Second Amendment
There has been a resurgence in American patriotism in the past several years. With that comes this popularized desire to carry firearms. It is an unfortunate recurring theme that pastors are being attacked in churches, violent crimes are taking place all across the nation against Christians and non-Christians alike, and mass shootings happen more and more often. The need to carry a firearm has become more prevalent than ever. But does the Bible describe YEHOVAH God's people Israel ever carrying a weapon for self-protection? You might be surprised.
Daily carry became an actual way of living for Israelites rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in 444 B.C. after the King of Persia dismissed a considerable number of Judahites to return back to their homeland from their captivity in Babylon. But you have to understand, this wasn't in a time of war. These weren't soldiers or law enforcement men returning home to build. These were people who grew up in Babylon, under captivity and slavery. They were common citizens of Jerusalem with families.
When these families returned to Jerusalem, they had old enemies -- clan and tribal enemies of different cultures who believed in different gods, mocked the Israelites and sought to do whatever they could to interrupt or halt the rebuilding of the city walls.
Nehemiah 4:7-10 gives us a little insight:
"But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it, But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, 'The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.'"
A little while later, in verse 14, Nehemiah seeks to encourage the people: "After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'Don't be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
Fighting against men for our survival is sometimes necessary, especially if we believe we are living in danger and feel the need to be prepared to face evil of any kind. Nehemiah continues to give his account: "When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked (verses15-18).
We live in a world where evil is lurking and ready to pounce, and our responsibility to our sons, daughters, wives, and homes is a duty that YEHOVAH God has instilled in each of us of Israel. We are to provide and protect against evil. This is exactly the world the Judahites found themselves in. It must have been like trying to walk through the bad parts of Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, or Oakland. Every day they were living in fear that this day could be their last.
Now notice 4:22-24: "So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out At that time I also said to the people, 'Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.' Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water."
These Judahite men were honoring YEHOVAH God with the lives they lived. These verses reveal to us the constant theme of "saving a life" that we continually see throughout the Bible, and it is one of the foundational pillars that supports all of the Israelite experience -- both ancient and modern -- under YEHOVAH God and within the range of his effective rule.
"Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." This is a call to action to rescue the weak of Israel that cannot defend themselves and to help the needy who cannot survive without someone else's assistance. YEHOVAH God instructs us to deliver the most vulnerable in Israelite society from those who would take advantage of the weak. To let the wicked take advantage of the weak and do nothing about it is seen as sin to YEHOVAH God. This may sometimes involve inflicting physical harm on those who take advantage of the weak.
"Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked." This is a rebuke to those who see injustice and do nothing about it. They don't want to get involved because there are all those police reports to fill out and they might even have to testify in court. For these reasons, many don't want to get involved, but for the Christian-Israelite we cannot give way to the wicked or the wicked will do even worse things. A Christian-Israelite man or woman who does nothing against the wicked and yields to their actions and their deeds is simply condoning their wicked acts.
The Messiah told those of Judea to "flee into the mountains" when they saw "Jerusalem surrounded by enemies" (Luke 21:20). Those who heeded the Messiah's warnings and watched for the signs preceding Rome's invasion of Jerusalem could save their lives by flight. The Messiah did not recommend to fight, for the destruction of Jerusalem was ordained by YEHOVAH God.
Your family is a treasure. The Bible is replete with passages about the value of a husband or wife, and the blessing of children. We should make every effort to nurture our families' physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and provide a safe place for them to enjoy the gift of a Christian-Israelite home. In this parable about the future coming of the Son of Man, the Messiah tells about an inattentive homeowner who allows his house to be broken into. While the point of his story is that Christian-Israelites should be alert for the coming of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, Yeshua acknowledges that some type of home security is wise. The Old Testament is more explicit with instructions for dealing with intruders -- including their death if necessary.
The Messiah said, "If the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into." The Messiah did not use ungodly or immoral illustrations. He used realistic cases to which people could relate. The Messiah here acknowledges the right of a homeowner to protect himself and his property.
Luke 4:29, 30 -- The Messiah Protected Himself
Upon hearing Yeshua's comments in the Synagogue at Nazareth, the Judeans angrily drove the Messiah to a cliff, intending to cast him over the edge. "But passing through their midst, he went away." John 8:59 says, "Then took they up stones to cast at him, but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the Temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." John 10:39 also speaks of the Messiah escaping an angry mob. John 7:30 and 8:20 tell us that authorities wanted to arrest the Messiah, "...but no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come." While people differ over whether or not the Messiah invoked supernatural powers in these escapes, the fact remains that Yeshua did escape and hide in order to save himself from injury or death. Whether by prowess or by divine power, the Messiah took actions to protect himself. Of course, when the right "hour" did eventually come, the Messiah voluntarily surrendered to the Temple authorities (John 13:1; 17:1; 18:1-11), and laid down his life on the tree (John 10:18; 12:27).
In correcting a false allegation about the casting out of demons, the Messiah said, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe, but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil." Similar language is used by the Messiah in Matthew 12:29. Yeshua cited the "strong, fully armed man" as an illustration of strength and protection. By casting out demons the Messiah proved himself to be stronger than Satan. The illustration contains three pertinent truths:
1). A person is safe from attack when he is sufficiently "armed" and strong enough to defend himself from his attacker.
2). Force must be matched with force. An unarmed or inadequately armed homeowner/defender is more vulnerable to an intruder/attacker than one who is "fully armed." Liberal and socialist minded bureaucrats constantly clamor for gun control, including bans on certain styles of weapons and limits on magazine capacity. The problem is that criminals, by definition, do not respect such laws. This means that the law-abiding homeowner must use government authorized low capacity ammo magazines against the high capacity ones that are used by criminals. Government gun laws always make the criminal "stronger" than the law-abiding citizen.
3). While this passage does teach the principle of self-protection, it also contains a warning against "trusting" in one's own might, armaments or ability. "Trust" is to be in YEHOVAH GOD (I Timothy 6:17). We must remember that the things that we use to protect ourselves come from YEHOVAH God. We use the things that YEHOVAH has provided (providence). This includes our senses, our minds, our bodies and the defensive tools that can be manufactured from what YEHOVAH God has provided in creation.
The Messiah told his disciples to purchase swords. Much effort has been spent by pacifists to minimize and even negate the impact of this passage. Some argue that there were "wild animals" in Gethsemane, and that the Messiah wanted the disciples to be able to defend themselves against those animals. However, the Bible says nothing about any dangerous wild animals in the garden. They also cite the fact that Peter was later rebuked for his misuse of the sword (Luke 22:50-51; Matthew 26:51-52). However, they ignore the Messiah's explanation that the hour of his death had come, and that he was obliged to fulfill Scripture through his death (Matthew 26:54). The fact that Yeshua did not want to be protected by Peter on this occasion does not prove that there were no occasions on which Peter should protect himself or others.
The biblical narrative focuses upon the spiritual work of the apostles. We only rarely see their reaction to unrelated, physical and secular events. Luke 22:36 is clear: The Messiah wanted the disciples to know that they would face dangers against which they would need to protect themselves, and that they were authorized to use deadly force when necessary. When traveling from city to city, people carried swords to defend themselves from robbers -- the Messiah told his disciples to defend themselves when necessary.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) reminds us that we live in a dangerous world and that thieves and robbers are always on the lookout for someone to rob. Under YEHOVAH's Law it is permissible to defend oneself.
Responding to Pilate's question about whether or not he was the king of the Judeans, the Messiah said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered into the hands of the Jews..." Notice that the Messiah did not oppose "fighting" when it was physically necessary. The only reason that his servants did not fight for him was because his kingdom (over Israel) was not scheduled to appear at that time! This is why the Messiah earlier rebuked Peter for his violent reaction to Malchus. Yeshua told Peter, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). Matthew's account adds the fact that the Messiah could have called twelve legions of angels to protect him had he chosen to physically defend himself, "but how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be" (Matthew 26:53-54). The Messiah did not wish to be physically protected from those who tortured and crucified him, for such was his Father's purpose in choosing him for the task.
Acts 9; 21; 22; 23 -- Paul Was Protected by Others
On various occasions, the apostle Paul accepted protective assistance from others. The disciples in Damascus saved Paul from Judean plotters by lowering him in a basket through an opening in the city wall (Acts 9:25; see also 2 Corinthians 11:32, 33). When he was later endangered by the Judeans in Jerusalem, the Romans took Paul into protective custody. While Paul was yet in Jerusalem, over forty Judean assassins formed a conspiracy to kill him (Acts 23:12, 13). When his nephew uncovered the assassins' plot, Paul had him inform the Roman tribune, who then assembled a security team.
The team was well armed, having two hundred soldiers, seventy cavalry and two hundred spearmen (Acts 23:23). Their orders were to deliver Paul safely to the Roman governor, Felix, in Caesarea. From the description of the military unit, and from the seriousness of the threat, it is obvious that the use of deadly force was contemplated and authorized. If it were wrong for deadly force to be used in the defense of others, Paul would have refused the aid of the heavily armed Roman escort.
After a failed appeal before Festus, Paul made legal appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11). Paul later explained that his reason for appealing to Caesar was that the Judeans of Jerusalem had baselessly objected to his release. His appeal to Caesar was therefore a defensive measure.
While these passages do not show Paul personally using or preparing to use physical or deadly force, they do show him accepting the benefits of its potential use by others. This constitutes tacit approval by the apostle of the use of protective force. It serves as an approved apostolic example for us today.
Some may object, by arguing that these last passages prove that we may rely only upon government protection. This argument is faulty for a number of reasons. The Acts 9 passage has brethren protecting Paul FROM the government, not him being protected BY the government! The argument also ignores all of the other passages that are addressed in this article.
"For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." Romans chapter 13 is all about the command to follow man's laws where they do not contradict the laws of YEHOVAH God (Acts 5:29). Law enforcement authorities must defend themselves or risk being killed. Those who YEHOVAH God sovereignly appoints as authorities are those who represent YEHOVAH God Himself since "whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment" (Romans 13:2).
I Corinthians 6:19-20
Paul says, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." Paul tells us of Israel that our bodies and spirits belong to YEHOVAH God and that the body is the temple of the holy spirit. Not as some assert, by some immediate and miraculous act of indwelling, but through instruction. YEHOVAH God "works in" saints as they do His will "without complaining and murmuring," as they behave in a "blameless and harmless" way, as they "shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation," and as they "hold forth the word of life" (Philippians 2:13-16). They are "sons of God" who are "led by" the spirit of God (the spirit's instructions, Romans 8:14,16).
YEHOVAH God created the human body as well as the human spirit. The body is the instrument through which the spirit functions in service to YEHOVAH God (Romans 6:13). Its purpose and value should not be underestimated. Our bodies are worthy of our care and protection. This means healthy diets, proper rest and exercise -- and care for our mental and emotional well-being. Implied in Paul's instruction is the notion that we should keep ourselves from physical harm. Today, that involves such basic habits as buckling our seat belts and locking our doors and windows at night. It could also involve defending ourselves with physical force if necessary.
We should not unnecessarily abuse our bodies, nor should we allow the purposeless destruction of the body by others. Some false religious groups find some "spiritual" value or honor in the neglect and even mutilation of the human body, but the Bible teaches no such thing (Colossians 2:23).
I Corinthians 15:32
Paul "fought with beasts" at Ephesus (I Corinthians 15:32). Whether the word "beasts" is used literally -- of animals, or figuratively -- of men who behaved as animals, the fact remains that Paul "fought" with them. He did not surrender his life to the animals. He was not passive. He took whatever action necessary to protect his life.
I Timothy 5:8
Paul wrote, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." This is a protection passage. One protects the members of his family from starvation by feeding them. He protects them from cold and heat by clothing and sheltering them. He protects them from sickness, disease and injury by providing medical care for them. He protects them from vicious animals and people by hiding or fleeing from them, or by fighting and even killing them.
Christians are sometimes physically tortured and persecuted for their faith. They choose to suffer physically, even die, rather than compromise their faith (Revelation 2:10). However, not all physical threats and abuse are based upon or directed against faith. The Bible teaches that some men are simply cruel. They behave as "natural brute beasts" and as "dogs" (II Peter 2:12; Philippians 3:2). They are unfeeling, cruel and shameless. They think only of themselves and they have utter disregard for all other people.
There is no biblical or logical reason why innocent people should be abused and victimized by such people. When possible, we may be able to flee and hide from dangerous people. However, there are times and circumstances when such is not possible. The lives of children or other defenseless people may be at risk. There may be no time to wait for the police. At such times we must do as Paul did -- we must fight. We must use whatever force is necessary to protect innocent life.
If a man tolerates a rape while watching it and does nothing to prevent it, that is perverse in itself. To witness a pedophile molest a child and do nothing about it is morally repulsive to YEHOVAH God. To fail to protect our families against a violent intruder is to fail our responsibility as protector of the family. To allow someone to murder another person when we could have done something about it is IMMORAL and debases human life.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: The Messiah calls those of us of Israel to love one another, to care for each other. Indeed, there maybe circumstances when the way we demonstrate love is by protecting the innocent from evil. "Greater love hath none than this: that one would lay down his life for his friend." The moral dilemma faced when deciding to take a life in defense of another is solved by considering what is the lesser of two evils: allowing innocent blood to be shed (or an innocent person to be damaged/violated) when you have the power to stop it, or shedding guilty blood?
Could there be scenarios in life that are not so black and white when it comes to self-defense? Absolutely. All we can do is act as justly as possible, being alert always. As Christian-Israelites, we have to allow YEHOVAH God to govern our hearts and strive to be like the Messiah every day so that we have the best chance of judging a difficult situation with wisdom and clarity.
Oliver Cromwell was reported to have said it best at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642, "Trust in God, my boys, but keep your powder dry." This is fantastic advice for us today. Our trust is not in Glock or the AR-15. We don't place all of our trust in these tools to protect us from evil. We don't cling to these as our safe havens of security. We place our trust, our confidence, our unwavering hope in YEHOVAH God the Father who is Creator of all things. But we also keep our powder dry! Let us adopt Cromwell's phrase as the foundation for those of us who choose to carry a firearm for self-defense. Let us, as the people of YEHOVAH God, always be on the side of right, who always rely upon YEHOVAH God the Father through the wisdom imparted to us by the holy spirit, to be men and women who live as people who would "fear no evil" because our trust and confidence is ultimately in YEHOVAH God.
"Trust in God, my boys, but keep your powder dry."
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Courage for the Sake of Truth is Far Better Than Silence for the Sake of Unity!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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