My daily Bible studies brought me to Deuteronomy 20. This chapter, in general, discusses the Father’s perspective on warfare. As I launched into this chapter, recalling the previous 19-Deuteronomic chapters that I’d read, I found that I had what I would call a self-generated, preconceived notion of Father’s view on dealing with the enemies of His people. For I was pretty sure the Father’s perspective on war against the enemies of His chosen people would be pretty cut and dry–no tolerance; no mercy; wipe them out at all costs. But after reading this and other chain-references to this chapter, I found that I must repent. Yes, I said I find that I must repent. Sadly, I believe my preconceived notions of Father’s perspective on war against the enemies of His people may have been fashioned and built upon the erroneous and satanically inspired fundamental Churchianity notion that the so-called “God of the Old Testament” was a merciless tyrant who cared little if at all for the lives of those whom He did not own. I recall discussions with a former boss of mine–a self-professing fundamentalist–who struggled within her being about the persona of the so-called “God of the Old Testament.” And allow me to say that she possessed the likely majority opinion of a dichotomous–dual nature God held by a great majority of Christians around the world. The “God of the Old Testament” (who they believe to be Jesus Christ) under this dualistic paradigm was a tyrant–mean, intolerant, racist and hateful; while the “God of the New Testament”–Jesus Christ–both walking the earth and ruling in heaven at the same time–was diametrically opposite to His Old Testament counterpart–even though He’s the same being–exhibiting and advocating love, forgiveness, inclusiveness and just being a nice God. And although I, in principle, rejected this general churchianity perspective, I apparently held on to some of that dualistic perspective in that I believed that the Creator was tyrannical and intolerant and saw little value in the life of Israel’s enemies.
But after studying this chapter, I found that this perspective was far from true. Father, in the midst of war against the enemies of Israel, held that life–the life of the enemy and the life of an Israeli soldier newly wed was ultimately sacrosanct. The 20th chapter of Deuteronomy addressed Father’s instructions as it related to Israel going to war against her foreign enemies. Father’s perspectives on war as presented in this chapter fly in the face of man’s views and practices related to war and the various players of war. I believe that Hertz’s summary of this chapter best explains Father’s position on war:
“Israel is bidden to display human kindness even in wartime: thus, the betrothed is to be exempt from service; offers of peace are to be made to every city attacked; and fruit-trees are not to be destroyed during a siege. The conduct of war is to be guided by reason and mercy. Israelite kings were famed for their humanity (I Kings 20:31); while contemporary Assyrian monarchs delighted in inhuman savagery and made it a rule to devastate forests and cultivated fields; Isaiah 14:8.” (Pentateuch & Haftorahs, Hertz, Soncino Press)
Now most of us in the Faith will likely not face the horrors and inhumanities of war anytime soon. Nevertheless, as in many areas of Torah, there is a larger, greater spiritual application of this passage that we must consider and that has to do with the sanctity of life. If Father made provision for soldiers, fruit trees and even an enemy’s life to be valued in the midst of war, how can we who are outside of the environs of war not recognize the sanctity of life as Father does? Today, as in every time period in human history, the value of human life is diminishing by the day. Beyond the general news feeds that give us the daily statistics of murders transpiring in and around this nation’s major cities; beyond the 125,000 abortions per day that occur around the world; beyond the 75,000 yearly euthanasia deaths that occur in the U.S.; there are untold numbers of murders that occur around the globe each year at the hands of terrorists, criminal organizations and world governments. Thus the value of human life has fallen to an all time low. Just in this country alone, hundreds of people are murdered each day in some of our major cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New Orleans where black-on-black crime is almost immeasurable. Why do I say immeasurable? Because the federal, state and local governments turn a blind eye to the problem; the communities are forced to hide or ignore the problem out of fear and intimidation; the perpetrators are often indiscriminate as it relates to the murders they perpetrate, and because their criminal activities are staged in response to a larger criminal enterprise that they host, such as drugs and prostitution and the black market, the murders they perpetrate go unrevealed and unsolved. Yet our world is unwilling and seemingly unable to handle this problem of the devaluation of human life. Some have taken upon themselves the monumental task of addressing this enormous problem, but those efforts either have utterly failed or have been completely destroyed by evil individuals who have infiltrated and hijacked these one-time well-meaning organizations as a means of creating chaos, death and destruction in various communities of our nation.
Take “Black Lives Matter” for instance. Currently, this is a militant organization that came into existence in the aftermath of a number of tragic shooting deaths of black youths by white men–some police officers and one a white citizen acting in the capacity of a security guard. Certainly the nascent cause/purpose of “Black Lives Matter” highlighted injustices in many black communities of this nation whereby black youths were being beaten and quite often shot and killed in unacceptable numbers by those in positions of authority and power in our society. This group at first served the noble purpose of shedding light on this most serious of societal problems–that poverty, crime and the lack of sound and healthy family and societal structures continue to drive many black youths into inevitable confrontations with the law and law enforcement in turn finding itself ill-equipped to deal with this problem apart from resorting to deadly force to quell the immediate problem.
However, the organization got grossly side-tracked when it failed to address the bigger problem of black-on-black violence and the causes of this overwhelmingly incurable problem; and it allowed “thugs and malcontents” to take control of the direction and practices of the group. The leadership of “Black Lives Matter,” supposedly in principle showing profound concern for the lives of the members of the above stated black communities,” has of late embarked upon a course of nullifying the lives of anyone who does not see things the way they see things in this world. As a consequence, “Black Lives Matter” has become an intolerably violent organization bent upon total societal discord and destruction; intimidation; hatred; racism, overt criminal activity; even at times denying the general public their basic human rights. The organization has adopted a “scorched earth” policy that endorses the destruction of many of the communities it claims to be supporting–mainly poor-criminally plagued black communities and their infrastructures–at times seeking to harm those who do not adopt the organization’s ideals and practices. Such an organization has absolutely no biblical basis and as such is destined to be simply another tool of the enemy to join with the rest of the world’s efforts to devalue human life, destroy the world and reject the Creator of the Universe and His instructions (i.e., His Torah) for mankind. You see, if the Word of the Father and the teachings of our Master aren’t effectively factored into the equation, the enemy will have free reign to get in there and destroy that organization, regardless how noble that organization’s original purpose and goal may appear to the world.
The Bible suggests that the devaluation of life will only get worse as we sprint towards the end times. Unfortunately, it would appear that there’s not much that we can do about it from our position as true Believers in Y’shua Messiah. But I believe what we can do is to value every life that we come into contact with to such a degree that we highlight, through the Word of the Creator, Father’s commandments regarding the value of all human life to a lost and dying world. We can not call ourselves disciples of Messiah if we despise our wayward cousins in fundamental christianity. We can not call ourselves disciples of Messiah if we advocate and stay silent on the issue of abortion in this country. We can not call ourselves Believers in Y’shua Messiah if we maintain unwarranted ought against our brother and sister simply because they hurt our feelings or because we just don’t like people.
This what I’ve just said applies to me just as much as it applies to the whole of our community. I, above anyone, am grappling with my carnal nature that seeks to avoid people at all costs simply because I inherently don’t care for people. I just don’t have the love for human life that Father requires us to have. Nevertheless, over the last few years, I’ve been convicted of this shortcoming and stronghold, and I am fighting, with the help of the Holy Spirit to throw off this old nature that cares little people and fully adopt that new nature that values life in every respect.
“Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, “Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7, CJB)
Master taught His Father’s principle of the sacrosanctness of human life and how we as His disciples must behave and view human life:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil (that is, resist not him that is evil), but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain (that is, go with him two). Give to him that asketh thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard it hath been said (and bear in mind saints, when you read where Master started off a thought with the phrase, you have heard it said, Master is referring to the traditions and the teachings of man, not Torah–not the Law–we must always keep that in mind whenever we study the teachings of our Master)–Continuing–Ye have heard it hath been said thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; (interestingly, the old concept of a hateful, angry god of the Old Testament seemingly melts away here in this passage under the teachings of Master Yahoshua HaMaschiach). Continuing–for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (that is, Father is no respecter of person–He values all human life–the difference with us, however, is that we are his valued possession and He especially loves us). Continuing: For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect (that is “telios” in the Greek which means to bring to an end or to finish; to want for nothing; to complete). Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-48, KJV)
I have a long way to go in my journey to fully realize and practice that which Father commanded us regarding the sanctity of life. I can see that I’ve made tremendous strides in my life, thanks be to the Holy Spirit and Father’s mercy. But I see that, in some respects, our community goes a long ways towards invalidating the value of life as we often tend to be highly dismissive of those who are not of like-mind with us. Furthermore, and as we saw in a portion of Master’s teaching in this passage of Matthew, we tend to be steeped in the Rabbinic interpretation of Torah such that we despise all who are not like us. Yeshua came and changed all that and has called us to Teshuva: return to the true Faith once delivered and to Torah. Let us take Father’s perspective on the sanctity of life and go forth and do that which our Master has ordained as His disciples to do: to value human life so much that we hesitate not to go forth and make disciples of all nations, teaching them that which Master taught us to do; to obey Torah Yeshua-style; and to maintain His testimony in our lives for the world to see. This Greatest of all Commissions places a value on human life that is beyond human measure. Thus, it is our opportunity to share the same care for human life that Father possesses.
Faithfully submitted, Rod Thomas
Be most blessed fellow saints in training.