by Pastor Mike Taylor
Exodus 22:2-3 2 "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 "If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed.”
Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.”
There has been a discussion at church over what the parameters for using lethal force during the commission of a crime by an evil intruder into our quiet lives. Many are of the mind that it is wrong to kill in every instance and that God does not give us the right to use deadly force to stop a would be assassin from taking your life, or the life of those around you, including your own family members. Those who are opposed to using weapons for self defense are what are called “pacifist” and are against every instance of harming another human being, even to their own demise. I had a member tell me that if an intruder came and broke into her home, she would allow the intruder to do whatever he was there to do, either to steal, rape, or even murder and she called it martyrdom...really?
Now there is a difference between killing someone in self defense and murder and this has caused a lot of a difference of opinions and strong emotions from various members, but emotions should not drive our convictions, but we look to the handbook for our daily living and our moral compass, our Bible. What does the Bible say about killing someone, even in self defense? Let us look at several passages that will give us hopefully, a clearer picture of the instructions given to us from a Holy God.
Self-defense is defined as "protecting oneself from injury at the hand of others." Self-defense is not about taking vengeance. Self-defense is not about punishing criminals. Self-defense involves preserving one's own health and life when it is threatened by the actions of others. When we speak about using potentially lethal force in self-defense, we're talking about using weapons to protect ourselves and others, even if the weapons used could kill the attacker. Now some people would wonder, and maybe you are one of them, of why would a Christian even consider the subject of using lethal force to protect one's life? First we have to look, as Christians, what the Bible says about harming another, because in this society we live in, with it's 300 million people who possess in the neighborhood of 250 million guns of different sizes and calibers that law abiding people possess and criminals use in the commission of a crime against other men. We want to know how to apply the Bible to something our society was built upon, and that is the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.
“''A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'' (US Constitution, 2nd Amendment, ratified December 15th, 1791)
Firearms in this country are as much a part of our heritage as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Problem is that there are forces within our country that are attempting to eradicate the common citizen from owning or possessing firearms because of mass killings at the hands of evil men whose only wish is to cause murder, mayhem, and terror at the expense of others. And when your ability to protect yourself and your family is taken away, then the only ones who will have guns are the criminally insane or the terrorist who wishes to destroy this country.
Sadly, many people don't have a clue what the Bible says about use of deadly force and when it is allowed and when it is not...so let's start in the Old Testament and work our way into the New Testament and see what God has to say about the Biblical application of what is known as “self defense”. We live in a time where the aftermath of mass killings such as Sandy Hook, San Bernadino, and Orlando, and current possibilities of economic and societal collapse, with increasing levels of crime have people buying guns and ammunition in large quantities for self protection. What does the Bible say about that? What does the Bible say about so-called "assault weapons"?
OUR OBLIGATION TO PRESERVE LIFE
The bible is clear that we are to preserve life, the lives of those around us, and our own life as well. Every life is precious to God and God does not take killing another human being lightly, but He makes a distinction when self defense is warranted. 1st Corinthians 6:19-20
“19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
As a Christian, you were bought with a high price, the price of the blood shed by our Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, God owns your body. Not only are we to take care of our bodies and the life contained, we have an obligation to preserve the body and life of other people. Psalm 82:3-5 even cites an obligation to protect those who are in danger:
“3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.”
And how do we accomplish delivering those around us from danger, if we stand idly by and allow murder and destruction to happen without taking some type of action? Especially when we have the means of self protection of those lives around us, and our own.
Note the the verses at the beginning of this message found in Ezekiel chapter 33.
If you know danger is coming to others, and you deliberately fail to warn the others of the danger, you are guilty of harming the victims. This is not to say that you can make people heed your warning. The surrounding verses also say that if the people refuse to heed the warning of the watchmen, the watchman is not guilty if they are harmed. I have warned those in my church and I warn those who read this message, we are in dangerous times and we must take warning to protect those who are defenseless and unable to protect themselves.
We also see in Deuteronomy, that if you fail to protect or guard the lives of others, you are held accountable. The Mosaic law gives examples of failure to put a railing on a flat roof and if someone falls off and kills themselves you are guilty of their death. (Deuteronomy 22:8). It speaks of if an ox gores someone that he is injured, then you are guilty of negligence and if he dies, then you are to be put to death. (Exodus 21:29-31) These passage speak forcefully in no uncertain terms that you must protect your life, and the lives of others. I will go even a little further. If you have the means to prevent an attack by someone determined to take innocent lives and do nothing, then you are guilty of their death. God will hold you accountable, be you a layman or pastor of any church that has people under their charge, even during church services. Again, I am reminded of those poor folks in a black church in North Carolina that were in Bible study when an assailant came in and destroyed 9 innocent lives. What if any one of them had a weapon concealed on their person? Could they have stopped this criminal act? Yes, they could have. What if they had just locked the doors while they were inside? They wouldn't have needed to take lethal action against anybody, but for the simple act of locking and securing an entrance to their church.
THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF BLOODSHED
“Genesis 9:5-6 5 And surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; At the hand of every beast will I require it. And at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, will I require the life of man.
6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man.”
God considers the blood to be precious. In our culture, with all the video games, TV shows, and movies about killing someone else and the blood that is spilled, is no big deal to many, but to God, it is a big deal. Why? Because the life of the man is found in his blood.
If a man was killed, the man or beast who caused the death must pay with his/its own life. God says here, "I will require the life of man." Killing or bloodshed was not always wrong. But when it was wrong, the penalty was ultimate.
We learn here that there is sanctity to spilled blood. Why? Two reasons:
1) Life is precious, and as mentioned, the life is in the blood. When blood is shed, something precious is lost. You might not think blood is precious. We tend to consider blood to be just a "bodily fluid". It is, however, precious to God.
2). An attack on man is an attack on the image of God. At a trivial level, you're messing with sculptures in God's art studio. In God's view of bloodshed, it is not merely a physiological event, but it is an assault on the divine image. Why is murder punishable by death? It says, "For in the image of God made He man.
OLD TESTAMENT PASSAGES OF LETHAL FORCE AND SELF DEFENSE.
We all should be familiar with the Ten Commandments and the command “Thou shalt not kill”...but the Hebrew word here is better translated, “thou shalt not murder”. Murder is wrong in a fit a rage, or emotions. Premeditated murder with forethought is wrong in every instance. But not all killing of a man is wrong in certain instances, such as spoken of in Leviticus 24:16-17
Those who blaspheme God, or murders another are condemned. But not all killing is prohibited, as the mentioned verse testifies.
In Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers, there are passages that speak of accidental killings without malice, and that person was to go to “sanctuary cities” to escape the avenger of blood that could take revenge on the life of the one who was killed accidentally. This person was to stay in the city until the high priest died and then could return to his own land, but if caught outside the city walls before this happened, and was caught by the avenger of blood, then his life would be taken from him. (By the way, this is a beautiful picture of Christ's work—Christ, the city of refuge in whom we must remain hidden! And Christ is the high priest whose death takes our guilt and sets us free.)
We should see that killing someone out of 1) hatred, 2) negligence, or 3) sheer accident were subject to capital punishment. In the case of sheer accident without negligence, God established a network of cities of refuge which made merciful provision to spare the life of the killer. This is one side of the coin when speaking of killing another, but let us look at the flip side of this same coin. With that important background, let's look at passages speaking about victims of crime.
Note the first verse that opened this message in Exodus 22. What does the Word of God mean when speaking of striking a thief at night and it is permissible, but if the “sun is risen” it is not permissible? Picture a thief who has broken into your home. It's dark and you're not sure if he's there to steal, or something worse. You don't know if he has a gun, knife, or some other form of deadly weapon and you don't know if he will stop at being a thief, but deal harshly with his victims by imposing kidnapping, rape, or even murder upon those he wishes to violate their sense of security. The Bible says that it is permissible to strike such an intruder, even if he dies and you will not be held accountable. Because it is happening at night. But, …..there's that word....if the intruder attempts to steal during the daytime, you are aware if he has a weapon or not. To kill for the sake of property is not permissible, because he has no weapon. Big difference here is threat to life with deadly force from an intruder is granted to defend yourself with a counter measure of deadly force, but not so with loss of property. But again, if the thief has a weapon that would cause harm, injury or even death to the victims, lethal force and the protection of your family or those around you that are in danger, then self defense with lethal force is permitted, even in the day time.
Mathew Henry writes “...if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it, unless it was in the necessary defense of his own life. ... We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men; the magistrate must afford us redress, and we must not avenge ourselves."
There are more passage that affirm the use of lethal force found in Nehemiah when families, not law enforcement worked on the wall of Jerusalem with tool in one hand and their sword girded about them for self defense of those around them who hated them and wished to destroy their work and their lives. And again in Esther, when the Jews were allowed by King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) to defend themselves from those who would kill them. Esther chapter 9:
Esther 9:1-2,5 ...the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.
2 The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people....
5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction”
In this passage, the Jews were given legal sanction to defend their lives, not in war time, or law enforcement scenario, but in daily living by the use of their major weapon, the sword. Today, our sword is a gun as our weapon.
PASSAGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Lethal force and the use of self defensive measures is not confined to just the Old Testament, but into the New Testament as well.
“Luke 22:35-39 And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing."
36Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
37 "For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end."
38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."
39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.”
Jesus had his disciples arm themselves against robbers and bad men who might attack them as they walked to their missions to reach others for the Kingdom of God. Some make the error that Jesus was a “pacifist”. The Bible speaks of many instances when Jesus railed against the religious authorities for the “traditions of men”. Jesus challenged them at every turn about their hypocrisy and failure to follow the spiritual intent of the law. Remember, this was a Jewish man, fully man, and fully God that used a whip to drive the money changers out of the temple in righteous indignation. No, Jesus was not a pacifist, but a realist that knew His enemy, but when it came time, Jesus submitted Himself to unlawful accusation and crucifixion, because that was His mission. It was a mission that the apostles did NOT understand, until Jesus was resurrected. Remember what Peter did to the servant of the High Priest, by cutting off his ear? Luke 22,
49 “When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”
In another Gospel account of this same event, Peter is rebuked by Jesus when He told Peter to put away his sword by saying in Matthew 26:
51 “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”
Peter was not being rebuked for self defense, but for not realizing that this was the Divine mission that Jesus was on. Peter did not understand, or any of the disciples until Jesus had been risen from the dead and appeared to them. To use this passage as a means of Jesus being against self defense, is to ignore the other passages where He had them arm themselves, for whatever reason for their own self defense. Jesus didn't need Peter to interfere, even as our Lord was rebuked by Peter for Jesus saying that He would be killed by the Jewish authorities and Jesus turned and spoke to Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan, thou are an offense to me.” Because even here, Peter did not understand the Divine mission Jesus was going to complete for the salvation of mankind.
In these passages, you get a sense that Jesus is saying, "Though we have a right to employ our swords in defense of this unrighteous arrest, we are intentionally putting aside our lawful right, and I am allowing myself to be taken without resistance." See how this is expressed: "Lord shall we strike with the sword?" "No more of this." "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." "Put up your sword... or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father... all this was done that the Scriptures...might be fulfilled." "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup...?"
Why Christ tells Peter to put up the sword:
The sword is not always the appropriate response, especially in persecution for Christ. But in the case to prevent murder, lethal force and self defense are warranted.
But let me be frank, my brethren, there is a difference between martyrdom and murder. If one is asked to deny Christ upon pain of death, then their death would be martyrdom. But to die at the hands of evil men for no other reason that for terror or the sick idea of causing death and destruction to helpless victims, is MURDER and those who are entrusted to our care, whether they be the parents of the children, the kinsman of those being in danger of their lives, the life of your neighbor, or being entrusted with the safety of your own congregation as the shepherd of the local flock, it is your duty, it is your right under God's Word to preserve life in whatever you can do. I am reminded of several instances in recent days of innocent men and women in a theater, or a madman in San Bernadino that killed fellow workers, or even killing of students at Sandy Hook. If by chance anyone of them had a CCW permit and had a weapon to stop the gunman in his tracks, I wonder, how many lives could have been saved? What about the evil man the entered the Orlando nightclub and took his time to murder 50 people who cowered under furniture while the gunman calmly reloaded. During those times, what if someone had wounded the man who had the semi-auto rifle or pistols and put him out of commission? Would it have been right in God's eyes? Yes, no one wants to think about taking another one's life, or inflicting harm, and if forced to make that decision, I would want to injure the perpetrator to stop his evil deed and spare their life, if at all possible.
The world grows darker and more evil as the days of the coming Tribulation will plunge mankind into being completely sold out to evil in every second of their lives. As we approach that hour, men will grow worse and worse and many will die because of evil men and their Satanic influence to commit heinous crimes. NO where in the Bible are we to take punitive measures against another person, without exhausting every measure to defuse a situation and prevent harm to any living soul. Possession of weapons is never discouraged in Scripture, but let's look at two verses from the Psalms:
Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
Psalm 18:34 He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze
Skill and ability to use weapons here, whether literal and/or metaphorical, is positively portrayed in these verses.
Understand my brethren, that there is coming a day when those who wish to impose tyranny over men, will attempt to disarm them, so that they can conquer them. It has happened many times in the past during Hitler's reign of terror, communist Russia and China did likewise. But as we approach the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride, the Church, we may have to face situations where self defense is our only choice, and a wise man or woman takes precautions and ask for God's protection from the evil as it grows. I'm a firm believer in claiming Psalm 91 and God's protection, but I am also a firm believer that God uses men to protect other men from evil in the land. We are not to harm another person, if at all possible and to preserve life if it can be done. Random violence is never condoned in scripture and God hates a violent man who spills blood needlessly. May we look to the Rock of our Salvation for guidance and know when to take action for self defense, as clearly the Bible supports such action...
WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD
This world is becoming more evil as the hour of God's wrath approaches. Paul the apostle warned us that it would be so in 2nd Timothy 3:2-5
“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, braggarts, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3, Without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, despisers of those who are good,
4, Betrayers, reckless, egotistical, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;
5, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
Paul is describing a time where evil abounds. We are living in that time where men will do unspeakable unholy, cruel, and sinful acts against other men and women AND their children. As Christians, we have a promise from God that when things get really bad, and I mean really bad, leading up to the time of the coming Tribulation, God will protect those that are His. Psalm 91:
“A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8, Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9, Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10, There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”
Now some will use this passage to say that we can sit on our laurels and God will protect us, in all cases. Yes, God is able to do just that, but if that is what we must do to just sit on our laurels, then why do we go to a doctor when we're sick? God gave us the tools to act on our behalf with His guidance and faith in His ability to do so. We go to a doctor out of self defense against diseases and medications to promote the bodies ability to heal, but God does the work using these tools.
Knowing that God is with us during this dark days that lie ahead of us, He also gave us the tools to stand in the gap for others, be it our family, or our neighbor. He also gave us the common sense to act upon those instances where we can make a difference in another person's life, either to protect it, or to save it. To do otherwise in both examples is to tempt the Lord they God, in my personal opinion.
ARE YOU PROTECTED?
In all cases, protect life with all that you possess and God will provide the means to escape and survive, being a child of His. But my question to those who read this message, can you say that God is your protection? Could the people that were slaughtered in Orlando's Gay Bar say the same thing? No, because they had no protection except themselves and were in a gun free zone. Sadly, many died because of the lack of that protection from God, or the ability to protect themselves. With evil all around us, if you are caught in such a predicament and you are faced with an assailant that takes your life, where will you spend eternity?
Have you thought about becoming a victim by chance and circumstance? Nobody likes to think that they could be murdered by an insane individual or a terrorist, but friend in an unsaved condition where you rely on only yourself and you can't call on God, because you have cast Him out of your life, what will become of you after you die? Will you spend eternity in the Glory of God found in our Savior, Jesus Christ, or will you spend eternity separated from God and all it's glory of hope, love, joy, happiness and anything good? Will you become a statistic of the barbarism that will overtake this world when people who proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior suddenly vanish from this earth? It is coming, my friend.
Again, this world will only get more evil as time passes, and when a newsflash comes across your TV screen about a disappearance of millions of people without explanation that makes any sense, you will know that the danger to your life just got exponentially greater than you can even perceive. Until that time, my friend, take God at His Word and know that whether in life or in death, you will be found in Jesus Christ and will live forever!!..How you say?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you stay safe in the face of any danger. If you need counseling, prayer, or just a listening ear, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit me online at www.churchofgod-usa.org for more biblical instruction in these end of days. God bless you all.
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