The following dialog between Alex Jones and John Joe Gray aired during the Alex Jones Show on August 31, Year of our Lord, 2000. The Grays cited the Bible as their authorization to use weapons to defend themselves against the secular forces. Their declaration that they are Christians has raised the age old question, "Should Christians take up the sword, even for self-defense?"
You told the story, Joe, from the Old Testament, about how the Israelites were to go in and take the land, but they committed a sin so they couldn't. They never tell you in church what was the sin?
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of sin. The sin was that they would not go in and take the land with the sword and that God would help protect them. Preachers won't tell you that nowadays. They don't think you ought to raise up a sword against anyone. That's the reason they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because they would not pick up the sword and protect the property. So God said, "If you don't think you can do it with Me, then you will be out in the wilderness for 40 years." Then the children came in and did it.
The Ten Commandments say, "Thou shall not do murder." But not kill. The Bible is replete with examples of people defending themselves and fighting off attacking armies and doing what it took to defend themselves and that is just common sense. The instincts God gave us. You've got to protect yourself.
At first, my reaction was to go into the Old Testament and prove that the Israelites were not commanded to take up the sword. When I examined the scriptures, the sin of the Israelites was murmuring against the LORD.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me?
But as I continued to study the passages, I realized that the Israelites did fail to take up the sword. If they were going to conquer the land, they would have to take up the sword, wouldn't they? Besides that, the Old Testament is full of battles where the Israelites used the sword. When the Israelites were obedient, they were invincible.
The LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand
Not only did the Israelites defend themselves, but they were also the aggressors in taking the promised land. And if we are to follow their example, we should also use the sword to seize whatever God commands. On the surface, it looks like John Joe Gray is correct.
But I have one question. Were the Israelites, who were under the command of Moses, commonly known as Christians? The answer is no. No one was called a Christian until about 1500 years later. The first reference was at Antioch.
And when he (Barnabas) had found him (Saul), he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Later, Apostle Paul was before King Agrippa.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
And the last reference to a Christian is when Peter speaks of the true attitude of a Christian in affliction.
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
1 Peter 4:16
It is commonly accepted that anyone who follows Jesus is called a Christian.
Therefore, since the Israelites were not Christians, you cannot study the actions of the Israelites to determine if a Christian should take up the sword. It does not matter what the Israelites did. Their actions are immaterial.
Then who should we study? Would we study Moses as the leader of the Israelites? No. Moses was not the head of Christianity. His covenant with God was before the time of Christianity. Then who would we study? We would study the Head of Christianity. His name is Jesus the Christ.
Jesus is known primarily for giving the Highest Law, commonly known as the Golden Rule.
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Jesus goes further and commands that we even love our enemies.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, 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: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 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, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
The greatest lecture by Jesus Christ on the Will of the Father in Heaven is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7. Many of the Old Testament practices were abolished and replaced with the Law of Love. And this Law is written on the heart rather than on stony tablets.
If a Christian wants to justify the taking up of the sword, his strongest case is when Jesus commanded His followers to buy a sword.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
The preceding passage is self explanatory. Jesus was to be counted among the transgressors to fulfill prophesy. And later when Peter tried to use the sword, he was rebuked and told to put away the sword.
Can you think of any Christian in the New Testament who killed anyone? Either by self-defense or aggression? The only man in the scripture that even comes close is Peter. He cut an ear off the servant of the high priest's while attempting to behead him:
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. 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. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
There is not one record of someone dying at the hands of a Christian. Yet it is recorded, there were Christians dying and being imprisoned at the hands of the secular forces.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Notice that in this case, the church did not defend Peter with the sword. Neither did Peter use the sword against the secular forces. But rather, the Christians were in continuous prayer to God in behalf of Peter.
At other times, the Apostles did not understand the teachings of Jesus. When the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus, the apostles became upset and desired an Old Testament remedy:
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
The reason preachers don't advocate taking up the sword today is because Christians didn't take up the sword yesterday. And when they did, Jesus rebuked them. A Christian is not called to take up the carnal sword. A Christian is called to take up his cross and come follow Jesus.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Questions and Answer
From Midnight Rider, N953, May-Jun 1995
Do you believe that a citizen of Heaven can use a gun for self-defense?
No. Our flesh desires to use force to correct a wrong. But in order to determine if a wrong is being done, we must judge. The Spirit of Christ lets God do the judging and lets God correct the wrong. Jesus demonstrates this through His teachings of, "Resist not evil" (Matthew 5:39).
When Jesus was being arrested, He rejected the use of the sword. Peter tried to come to His defense, but Jesus told Peter to put away his sword. "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). Jesus did not defend himself. He put his life in the Father's hands and took up the cross.
We are also to take up the cross, rather than taking up the sword. We believe that we never have license to compel or use force when the other party wrongs us. We have something much greater than physical force to overcome them. We have the power of God and the wisdom of God abiding in us. Our weapon is the Word of God.
Once we have offered the Peace of Jesus, they must decide what they will do. What they do to us, they do unto Jesus Christ. We are in the hands of the Living God and if they harm us, they must answer to our Father.
Let us keep our eyes on Jesus. Self-defense is a diversion from the straight and narrow. We need not fear what men will do to us for God is our shield and protector.
Didn't Jesus command us to sell our cloak and buy a sword?
No. Just prior to Jesus' arrest, He told His disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword. (See Luke 22:35-38). But this was not a command for us. Christ's purpose for the command was not to build up an army, but to fulfill the scriptures, "He was numbered with the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12).
Notice that when the disciples came up with two swords, Jesus said, "that is enough." How could two swords be enough to defend 12 people? Jesus had another purpose for the swords.
Our Lord was being accused of rebellion. Rebels must have weapons to create an insurrection. The two swords would make it appear that the disciples were leading an armed rebellion.
The real message of this scripture is precisely the opposite of taking up weapons. Jesus was so committed to carrying out His mission, that He instructed His apostles to carry a couple swords so that they would appear to be transgressors. He deliberately provided the evidence to convict Himself as an evildoer.
Jesus taught that the way to overcome evil was by doing good, not by wielding the sword. The two swords were only for a show of men, so that the scripture could be fulfilled.
There is further evidence that Jesus did not intend for His followers to use the physical sword. When Peter tried to actually use the sword as a weapon, Jesus rebuked him. "Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).
When Jesus disarmed Peter, He disarmed all of us (Matthew 26:53).
From Midnight Rider, N953, May-Jun 1995
"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."
Matthew 26:52 NIV
It is obvious that soldiers and law enforcement officers live by the sword. But are they the only ones?
How about the people who finance their weapons? Are they not also "living by the sword?" Taxpaying citizens provide the means for soldiers and law enforcement to live by the sword. Because these "paid protectors" are supported by taxpayers, taxpayers also live by the sword.
When I pay a man to do a job for me, he acts as my agent. I am responsible for his actions. Soldiers and police use the sword in the name of the citizens of this world. Those citizens who finance them, live under the protection of the sword, as surely as the soldier and policeman. Therefore, they are doomed to the same fate. For "ALL who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).
Are your monies going to promote death, destruction and slavery; or Life, Salvation and Liberty?
Additional references to the use of the sword: