Skip to main content

Consider Victory: Deuteronomy 20

In Summary:

Deuteronomy 20 is a chapter that is very tempting to skip over. It’s a summary of the laws of war for the people of Israel. They break down into the laws governing who should fight, how you should fight, and what to do in victory.

One of the major questions that arises from a chapter like this stems from the commands found in 20:13 and 20:16-17. In these passages, God commands that the Israelites kill either all the men of the city, or all the inhabitants of a city.

This bothers us. And it should. Human life is precious. All human life, even the lives of our enemies in war, should be valued and killing should be seen as the last resort, not the first response. To get to the bottom of this, we have to answer a question: Why do we think all human life is precious?

The answer might not be clear to you, but it’s this: all life is precious because God said so. (Genesis 9:5-6, Exodus 20, the Gospel all come to mind). Our cultural values are founded in God’s Word, but like the foundation of our homes, we often overlook that truth. We just know that our culture says killing is bad—and killing everyone is worse!

If we pay attention to our thinking, though, we realize that if life has value because God said so, then God is permitted to revoke that declaration. Those who have violated God’s laws, He is righteous when judgment falls. This is true whether it falls individually or corporately.

In Focus:

Let us put a slightly odd pair of verses in focus. Take a look at Deuteronomy 20:19-20. These verses about…trees.

That’s right, trees. The same chapter that provides Biblical support for massive siege warfare also points out that the Israelites were not at war with the trees. They should leave the trees alone.

Peeling back, though, we see that it’s not about all the trees. It’s just about the trees that produce food. The NASB uses “fruit tree” but the more literal rendering is “trees for food,” so nut trees would be in view as well.

The recognition here is that trees take time to grow. There is no purpose in setting the economy of a conquered area back at least three years just to win the battle.

In Practice:

Obviously, one practice that should come from this chapter is a prohibition of scorched-earth style warfare. What this says of how we have fought and won wars in the past as a nation needs a book-length treatment, but there’s something to consider there.

Second, though, we should examine how this applies into our interactions with other people. Most of us do not fight physical wars everyday, but we interact with others and have conflict.

There is conflict between Christians and the world we live in. Often, we engage in discussions and politics as if we have no concern for the long-lasting damage we are doing to people by our behaviors.

And if it’s possible to be worse, it’s worse within our own Christian churches. We strip mine everything around us just to win arguments.

Instead, we need to consider this question: what happens after we win? Is there anything left?

Truth matters and is worth fighting for. The method matters, though, and that’s what needs considered.

In Nerdiness: Consider the reality of fighting wars only with those who are not scared. What would that involve?

Then remember: fear, in this case, was due to lack of faith. As we stand forward for Christ, let us not be fearful due to lack of faith!


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Book: The Gospel Call and True Conversion

A quick note: This book, The Gospel Call and True Conversion, is currently available on Kindle for $4.99. This is the second in a series of 3, and the first, The Gospel’s Power and Message, is available for $2.99.The Gospel Call and True Conversion. The title of this book alone sounds intimidating, and adding that it’s written by one of the heavyweights of American Reformed Christianity, Paul Washer, does not lessen the intimidation factor. Washer is known to be a straightforward preacher—for good or for ill.What did I find in The Gospel call and True Conversion? I found some things to like:1. Paul Washer is passionate for the truth. He wants to know the truth. He wants to proclaim the truth. He wants the truth heard. He wants you to know the truth. This is good. It is good to see someone not try to base theology on popularity or as a response to modern events, but to base it clearly on truth. 2. There is a strong emphasis on the reality that true conversion (from the title) will resu…

Sermon Recap for July 29 (and 22)

Good Morning!Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: are stockpiled here:!July 29 AM: (Audio)
July 29 PM: (Audio)
July 22 AM: (Audio)July 22 PM: (Audio)