Holy War in the Bible

Posted by Matt Postiff April 14, 2016 on Matt Postiff's Blog under GeneralĀ 

Back on March 18, 2016, Dr. Kyle Dunham presented on the matter of holy war in the Rice Lecture series at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. This article is not a review but rather a summary of of things that I learned or noted while I listened to Dr. Dunham. Consider it a after-the-fact live blog of the event! These are listed in the order I wrote them down, not in any other order.

  1. Motivating factors for God were compassion and deliverance of His people. The deliverance through holy war was a blessing to them.
  2. Holy war starts in Exodus.
  3. God is active or passive/permissive in holy war, not always the former.
  4. God sometimes had holy war against Israel!
  5. Justice is another key motivation behind holy war. See Deut. 16.
  6. Holy war was used to establish Israel (against Egypt) and to preserve it from bondage or peril.
  7. Dr. Dunham takes a dispensational approach to holy war.
  8. We can see echoes of holy war in the book of Revelation, including trumpets in both.
  9. We have to maintain a connection between holy war and hte land and its consecration.
  10. Holy war is a fulfillment of Abrahamic curses on the enemies and blessings on the nation of Israel. Unless, of course, the people of Israel departed from God, and then he turned the instrument of holy war against them!
  11. Holiness is another motivating factor behind holy war, and teh resultant moral protection of God's people.
  12. The gift of the land to Israel is another motivation behind holy war.
  13. The idea of gradual displacement.
  14. Key resources include Von Rad 1951, Copan and Flannagan, Qureshi's Answering Jihad.
  15. Not about Haman the Agagite. Perhaps he was an Amalekite and maybe he hated Israel for the reason that the Israelites had victory over the Amalekites years earlier.
  16. Holy war consisted in judgment against groups that threatened Israel's existence or that were sinful, committing sins such as infanticide. These require a proportional response.
  17. Kev difficult texts include Deut 7 and 20:16-17.
  18. Genocide charges must be limited to the issue of herem, the so-called ban or devotion to total destruction.
  19. Dunham gave a careful definition of herem. He linked idolatry (which is demonic worship) into the idea, with Lev. 27:21. God has a claim on the land.
  20. Herem is a purging followed by a reconstruction or re-populating of the land.
  21. Herem is 1. capital punishment of many people; 2. conflagration; 3. repopulation; 4. connection to the temple. It is about the land and the nation, it is not racially motivated. We could say that it is religiously motivated in a sense./li>
  22. Herem prevented "exchange" from happening between cultures and was a way to implement separation from idolatry.
  23. Herem echoes the genesis flood in terms of purification and the mass killing of many sinful people. I noted this seems to echo more the holiness of God than Herem per se.
  24. The Canannite people are connected to the curse on Canaan due to sexual perversion (Genesis 9:20-27).
  25. Gave a definition of Jihad, and showed a progression of violence, and the distinction with Yahweh War in the Old Testament.
  26. Sacred geography in Yahweh wars are for one nation; focused on false gods, not on unbelievers. I believe this would be a slim distinction lost on the world.
  27. Yahweh War includes proportional violence, versus no limit in Jihad. God's war is an act of justice proportionate to the crime committed.
  28. Islam propagates through Jihad; Holy War protects the people of Israel.
  29. Christian Bible preserves life; Islam dose not, and extols the martyr.
  30. Just war principles (Grotius and others). Mentioned 7 facts about war. Mentioned O'donovan and Just war theory with parallels to God's War.
  31. Israel is preserved for Messiah, and (this is a key addition) God loves Israel so he preserves them until the eschaton too.
  32. Dunham diagrams Yahweh Wars with first the infinite transcendence of God, second His holiness, justice, and righteousness, third His truth, faithfulness and veracity, and fourth with His love and compassion. The entries under "second" are motivations, as well as compassion in "fourth." God says that the Canaanites were sinners. As sinners today look more like Canannites, they see those "victims of Yahweh war" as more and more innocent.
  33. Yahweh war is tied to Israel, so we don't have to find out how to fit it into the New Testament or the church.
  34. I had a question: So is "NT" Yahweh War against the believer's sin our "greater jihad" as in Galatians 5 whereas in the OT is the "lesser jihad"?
  35. We take a defensive posture in NT spiritual war (standing our ground against the wiles of the devil, etc.)
  36. Resource from David Cook on Jihad.
  37. Holy War comes back as Israel comes back into focus in Gods' program in the eschaton. As they receive focus, holy war themes come into more focus, as in during the Tribulation.

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