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Bearing the Sword

written by Asher Intrater
February 12, 2006

The Bible makes a distinction between “taking up arms” and “bearing arms.” Understanding this difference has wide implications on the political situation in the Middle East.

Yeshua (Jesus) warned His disciples, “All who take up the sword will die by the sword” – Matthew 26:52. Armed rebellion is not the way to bring the kingdom of God.

The scriptural principle is that power must always be submitted to legitimate authority. Weapons are a kind of power and they must be submitted to a legal government.

In the time of the destruction of the Second Temple (the generation of Yeshua’s disciples), bands of zealots rose in rebellion against the Roman Empire. Although those efforts seemed patriotic, Zionistic, and Messianic, they were not of God.

They can be compared to the rebels in the time of Jeremiah who rebelled against the Babylon Empire and even killed Gedaliah, the appointed governor of Judah (Jeremiah 41). Wrongly directed religious zeal can actually end up bringing the wrath of God.

On the other hand, legitimate police and military forces are part of the ministry of the kingdom. “For he is God’s minister to you for good…he does not bear the sword in vain” – Romans 13:4. All of our children serve in the Israeli army, and we consider that as part of their service to God. One of the characteristics of terrorist groups is that they refuse to bring their weapons under authority, even the authority of their own government.

Police have guns and criminals have guns. However, there is no moral equivalency between them. This does not mean, of course, that governments cannot become reprobate. If the government is evil, so will their military be evil.

An evil government and its military may bring about a war, and be judged by that war. However, there is a difference between an evil government that needs to be overthrown and the need of a legitimate government to demand submission and control of weapons.

When Israel first became a State, Prime Minister Ben Gurion demanded that all the independent militias within Israel must surrender their weapons to the newly formed Israeli Army. At the famous Altalena incident, Ben Gurion even ordered a ship under the control of Menachim Begin to be bombed and sunk since they refused to submit their weapons to the government.

Danish Cartoons and Islamic Jihad
You might want to take the opportunity to glance at the 12 Danish cartoons ( It is surprising to see how relatively mild and inoffensive these caricatures were. Someone may think they are in bad taste, they were certainly within the range of acceptable modern political satire. When compared to the virulent type of caricatures against Israel and America found in the Arab press, the Danish cartoons seem all the more honorable.

The angry reactions of hysterical Muslim mobs is another wake-up call to the Western world. It is preposterous to think that those caricatures justify shooting, rioting, and burning down of embassies. The goal of Islamic Jihad is the total destruction of Western society, the violent takeover and forced conversion of every nation of the world, and the establishment of Shariyah (Islamic religious law) as the law of the land.

To apologize for the Danish cartoons is a farce. Jihad must be fought – prayerfully and politically, militarily and intellectually.

Bush Bashing
It could be expected of my liberal humanist friends to bash President Bush for being a radical right wing religious fanatic. However, I find it somewhat illogical for some of my Christian and Messianic friends to engage in Bush-bashing.

1. He has fought the two worst tyrants of our generation – Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.
2. He has worked to replace the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
3. He is directing the American forces to fight against the coalition of international terrorists that have convened on Iraq.
4. He has been at least as or perhaps even more supportive of Israel than any President or major head of state in modern times. (Any poll in Israel would show that the people of Israel agree with this assessment).
5. He has been outspoken for “family values” in the U. S.
6. He has appointed conservative “family value” nominees to the Supreme Court.
7. He has given a witness of the gospel to numerous high ranking political leaders around the world.
8. He has stood up against the United Nations.
9. He has introduced Bible study and prayer in the White House.
10. He is the most hated person in the world both by liberal humanists and Islamic radicals.

As holding the most powerful political position in the world, I believe he should be an important focus of support in our prayers. If his support is undermined, what do evangelicals think the alternative would be?

Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.

He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.

Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.

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