Children’s Bibles, as helpful as they are, may give us a wrong idea of Jesus. Most children’s Bibles picture Jesus as a soft, gentle, hippie-type man who is always surrounded by butterflies and birds. Many people have grown up thinking of Jesus as an effeminate man in sandals, rather than the Warrior-God come into our world to do battle for his people. Of course, Jesus was and is kind and gentle, but that’s not all he is. In the Old and New Testament God is pictured as the divine warrior who fights for his people. We don’t often think about God, and God the Son, in these terms.
I mentioned in my previous post that God used Old Testament Israel in “Holy War” in a very specific time and a very specific place. The command to “devote to destruction” is no longer applicable because in Christ there is no one nation or ethnic group that can lay claim to be God’s special people or instruments of God’s judgment. Now, in Christ, God is calling people from all the different nations of the world. The commands applicable for us today is to do no murder; to love our enemies; to care for the vulnerable and foreigner; and to pray for those who persecute us.
However, Christians can learn much from the fact of Holy War in the Old Testament:
On 2 April 2015, Al-Shabab gunmen stormed into the Garissa University College in Kenya and killed at least 147 students. The terrorists entered the college grounds during early morning prayer services. Collins Wetangula, the vice-chairman of the student union, he could hear the gunmen opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians. “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot,” he said. Al-Shabab is an Islamic terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda and is based in Somalia. El-Shabab is “fighting for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia.” Such large-scale violence and murder as seen in Kenya rightly upsets us. But what about the large-scale violence and murder seen in the Old Testament and particularly in the book of Joshua?
As an ordained minister in REACH SA (Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa) I was invited to our clergy conference from 13-16 April 2015. We had the privilege of having Phillip Jensen from Australia as our speaker. Phillip’s expositions in 2 Corinthians about the church and ministry were very helpful and encouraging. Below is a summary of some things I learnt.
Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of the Christ came out in 2004. It was a phenomenal box office success and confounded industry experts. It was one of the fastest money-making movies at the time, only Spiderman and Lord of Rings: Return of King grossed more money. Hollywood has realized that there is market for so-called Christian films – which may be a good or bad thing.
The Passion of the Christ movie again fuelled the big debate: Who killed Jesus? Who was responsible for Jesus’ death and does it actually matter?