Why God Is for War
sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 13:24
“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Genesis 9:6
“And he that killeth any many shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 24:17
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11
I was preaching a few days ago for a conference and had a wonderful service that night. A great crowd was there—about 1,200 people. Folks were turned away. By special request, I had spoken on, “What’s Behind the Sex Education Program in our Public Schools.” Also, the subject of my sermon had been advertised across town.
When I finished preaching, several fellows waited to see me after the service. They were preachers. After everybody had gone, they were waiting to see me. One said, “Reverend Hyles,” (That’s the way they usually talk.) He said, “Reverend Hyles, hello.” I bragged on their purses and told them how well their lovely purses went with their outfits.
We talked a while. Then he said, “What are you going to do with Matthew 5:9? I said, “I’m going to believe it.” He said, “Well, I don’t believe in resistance.” Well, if you’ll forgive me, I was a little bit put out with them anyway. So I said, “Good. If I hit you in the nose, you wouldn’t hit me back would you?” He said, “Well, the Sermon on the Mount is what I believe in.” I said, “May I have your coat, please?” He said, “What?” I said, “May I have your coat?” And he said, “No.” Then I said, “No, you don’t believe in the Sermon on the Mount either, because the Bible said if a man asks you for your coat, give ye him your cloak, also.” I said, “I want your suit coat and your overcoat, or you don’t believe in the Sermon on the Mount.” I found out he didn’t believe it as much as he thought he did. Anyway, he said, “I don’t believe in resistance. I’m a pacifist.” And then he quoted Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” I said to him, “Now, it doesn’t say blessed are the pacifists.”
This is the crux of my sermon. I’ll tell you many times, in different ways, before I finish. But I want to stand here tonight and tell you that, brother, the hawk is the peacemaker, not the dove. Young people, you listen, too. You make more peace by fighting than you do by running. So I want to chat with you tonight on the subject, “Why God Is for War.”
Twenty years ago in our country, the teaching came out teaching that you shouldn’t spank a child. It might retard his progress. He might not develop as he should. A bunch of spinsters and a few others said that you shouldn’t spank a child. So this teaching began to creep all over our school system and our society until many of our people though that they should not spank children.
Now, that generation is grown. They haven’t been spanked. It has evolved into being more than just spanking. That generation has not been thwarted nor disciplined. From the same source that taught that philosophy comes the idea of taking the authority out of the hand of the policeman.
Now, no policeman is perfect. Certainly there are cases of police brutality. But in the long run, it is always the safest plan to give someone power to act and power to be authoritarian. It is a safe plan. But from that same wicked, evil, unbelieving source that rejects the scriptures that say you ought to spank a child comes the teaching that rejects the Scripture that says you ought to follow authority.
Anarchy comes from the same cesspool. From the same septic tank there comes the teaching that takes away firearms from the individual. It is all a part of the same socialist, communist-inspired operation to try to break down the discipline and the order in America. The same person that says, “Don’t spank your child,” also says, “Take the power away from the policeman.”
Do you know, I read about a city somewhere in America where they are taking the guns away from the policemen? Isn’t that something? Taking the guns away from the policemen! But it is the same thing. From the same source comes the thing that causes the Hammond High School to have no dress code.
You folks from out of state perhaps do no know this. I’ve paid my respects to it very humbly and meekly and mildly and timidly several times. And that is, in Hammond High School, you can wear shorts if you want to wear shorts. The next day you can wear slacks. The next day wear bell bottom trousers. The next day you can wear a mini skirt. It’s just according to what you want to do, it’s all okay. That’s the same kind of anarchy that says, “Don’t spank the child.” All restraint is taken away. All rules were taken away. All discipline is taken away. All authority is taken away.
From that same wicked sources comes the teaching that says it is wrong to give the death penalty; capital punishment is wrong. It comes from the same crowd. But the Bible teaches capital punishment very plainly and I’ll give you a couple of verses after while.
Don’t spank the child. Don’t give the police authority. Don’t let people have firearms. Don’t have any dress code. Don’t have capital punishment. And the same thing leads eventually to its inevitable end and that is, “We’re against war.” This is the same crowd—this anti-war crowd, anti-Vietnam crowd.
I want to stop and say this, brother. Talk about peace lovers! If the hawks had had their way in Vietnam five years ago, we would have had peace a long time ago. You see. Blessed are the peacemakers. It doesn’t say, “Blessed are the pacifists.” Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those that make peace.
The way to make peace is not to run. Look, you never will make peace, running from a fight. Nobody ever did. No nation and no individual ever made peace running from a fight.
My folks have heard me tell this story. When I was a kid, I was always a runt. I weighed 93 pounds when I was 17 years old if I was dripping wet and stuffed with bananas. Ninety-three pounds when I was 17. Now folks picked on me. They still do. Follow me everywhere I go. But folks were always picking on me. I got a half a brick or a good portion of a brick in my pocket. I called it my equalizer. I carried it everywhere I went.
We had a fellow in our neighborhood named Robert Norman. MY mother’s here tonight and she would remember. Remember Robert Norman? I hat to say his name. He’s probably in the penitentiary somewhere, and I’ve preached about; he’ll probably still get after me. But he was a rascal. He was the kind that was in the reformatory and then out and then back in and then out. He had it in for me, and he said, “If I ever see Jack, I’m going to beat him up.” He could do it and oftentimes he did. But, boy, he was mean. And he got bigger and meaner. He had just gotten out of the reformatory. And he said, “I’ll get that guy. I’ll get him.” And I said, “No, he won’t.” He won’t get me because I can run.
So I ran. And I’ll tell you what, I lived just like that. I ran all the time. I was scared to death. I never had any peace. I was always scared. I’d go to school and every time I’d see a tree, I’d look to see if Robert was behind it. He was the kind of guy that would kill you, and I was scared to death.
So my Dad called me off to the side one day. Dad wasn’t a Christian, but he was the type of man that would fight at the drop of a hat. He was a big fellow. And Dad said, “Son, I want to teach you something.” He said, “You’ll never bring peace with Robert unless you just teach him not to mess with you.” Now Dad said, “Next time you see him, if he doesn’t see you, let him have it with something before he sees you.” Well, I thought, “Boy, if my Dad says it, it’s true.” My Dad could lick any ten men in the world, you know. So I said, “Okay.”
So I got me a two-by-four just about that long and I carried it with me everywhere I went. You see, I never have been a pacifist. When I was a kid, I was not a pacifist. One day he was riding a bicycle; I was behind him and he didn’t see me so I took that two-by-four and hurled it across a vacant lot and hit him right in the back. I hate to laugh about it but it is funny. Do you know what? From that moment forward, he never gave me any trouble. Blessed are the peacemakers. I made peace with him. I did! Now, in that little simple story, there is more sense than Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all have together. And especially Fulbright.
Now you visitors have to get used to this right now, before you get too far along. A lot of you have already had heart attacks. In my own subtle little way, I preach what I believe. And you’ll just have to sit up and take it like a man. So open your mouths wide and just take it like a little gentlemen and little ladies, now.
The honest truth is, nobody has ever in this world brought peace by running. Nobody. If America ever causes a time of peace to transpire in this world, it will be when she quits running and bucks up against communism. That’s the only language they know. The language of courage. The language of force.
Look! Do you know that the most peaceful this world has been in a long time was that night that we saw President Kennedy stand before our television cameras and tell the Russians they were not going to sent their rockets to Cuba? He said, “We will put a quarantine around Cuba,” and Mr. Khrushchev understood that kind of language. I don’t care who you are, peacemaking is not running. It’s not being afraid to fight. Pacifism and peacemaking are completely opposite from each other.
A teacher told me not long ago, “I am afraid to discipline my pupils. If I did, the principal and the school board would not back me. I am afraid to discipline my pupils.” A policeman told me, “If I saw someone committing a terrible crime, I would not do what I had to do or what I ought to do because they would end up trying me instead of the fellow trying to break into the building.” How tragic that is. How tragic!
Here’s another tragic thing about it, too. The National Council of Churches and that communist crowd is in on the thing, too, until it is becoming the religious thing to do and the thing for good Christians to do, to be against war, to refuse to fight, to refuse to stand for what’s right. We’re against war. We’re against killing.
Now, what’s God’s attitude about it? I want to give three things tonight. I want to give you three main points and subdivide them. In the first place, I want to look at God’s attitude toward war. In the second place, I want to look at God’s attitude toward the warrior. And in the third place, I want to look at God’s attitude toward when to war.
In the first place, what is God’s attitude toward war? To find God’s attitude toward war, we must find God’s attitude toward punishment. Let’s start at the youngest age and see about God’s attitude toward punishing children. I’ll not go into all of it, but the Bible does say in Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth the child.” I didn’t say that. God said it. That means if you don’t spank your child, you hate your child.
Oh, you say, “I love my child and I don’t spank my child. I love him too much to spank him.” No. You’re a liar or God’s a liar. And I’d rather take God than you. The Bible says if you do not spank your child, you hate your child. “Oh,” you say, “I love him.” No. You have somewhat of a synthetic, superficial kind of a sense that you want your child to satisfy your senses, but it is not love. You do not know love until you want to obey God in the rearing of your child.
In the first place, you can’t know love until you know God, for God is love. “He that spareth his rod, hateth his son” so says the Bible. And there’s nothing wrong with America that spanking a bunch of children and putting a bunch of hippies in the penitentiary wouldn’t cure. Nothing! The Bible says it. Again, the wise man said, “Beat him with a rod.”
Did you hear what Mr. Hansen said a while ago, Mr. Wendell Hansen? He had a canary and a cat up here and do you know, neither one at the other. It’s sort of like the farmer who moved to town, and he moved everything but a horse and a bantam rooster. He forgot them. He went back and got them and put them on the same truck. There is the horse and the bantam rooster.
So on the way to town, the bantam rooster looked up and said, “What do you say, we don’t step on one another?” That’s what the cat and the canary did. They didn’t eat each other. Somebody asked the question, “How did you teach a cat not to eat that canary?” Mr. Hansen said, “It’s easy. When he was a little, bitty kitten, I put a canary right beside him; if he reached out and tried to hit the canary, I’d knock the fire out of him.” That’s the way you teach a child not to eat the canary, too.
Look. God’s attitude is that discipline comes by using the rod on the child. Now, you don’t believe that because you don’t believe the Bible. Einstein is one of the great pacifists. He started, or at least had a great influence on the pacifist movement. Einstein did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. He was a great scientist, of course, and his followers did not believe in war nor Christ.
I don’t mind you saying, “I don’t believe in war.” But I do mind you saying, “You’re a good Christian because you don’t believe in war. Because you’re not a good Christian unless you believe the Bible. You’re not a good Christian because you say, “I just don’t believe in killing.” Isn’t that sweet? No! You’re a good Christian because you believe what God believes. And God says you hate the child if you spare the rod.
What is God’s attitude toward murderers? Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
These fellows in Springfield the other night said, “No, Dr. Hyles, God said, ‘Vengeance is mine,’ and if a man murders, if God wants to kill him, God will do it.” It looks like God’s going to have to. God had to take care of Mr. Ruby that way, you know. But the Bible says and I said to him, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
God says this, “Don’t you leave all the taking care of all the murders up to Me. You kill them yourself.” Yes. It says, “By man.”
If Lindsey Terry kills Cal Streeter, the Bible says, “Okay. Don’t let me have to kill Lindsey Terry, or take care of putting Lindsey Terry in the electric chair.” It said, “Hyles, you take care of it.” Oh, happy day! But, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” says the Word of God. “Leviticus 24:17 says, “He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” It didn’t says God will kill him. It says, He will “be put to death.”
Look! Until America has enough belief in the Bible to go back to following God’s plan, we’re not going to have any decency in America. We’re going to go on and on toward anarchy and socialism and communism, because we have left what God has to say about it. But you say, “Brother Hyles, how about the sixth commandment—thou shalt not kill?” I’m glad you brought that up. In the Bible, there are many words for kill. For example, in Genesis 4:8, it talks about Cain killing Abel. That’s one word. In Exodus 22:1, is another word. The word in the sixth commandment is not saying if somebody breaks in your house and tries to kill your wife and kids, don’t try to kill him. And by the way, if someone breaks in your house tonight and attacks your wife and your children, you have every right in this world, according to God, to blow his brains out.
Oh, you say, “That doesn’t sound like a minister.” That just shows the crowd of ministers you’ve been running with. You haven’t heard any Bible believers lately. You haven’t heard any prophets lately. You’re trouble is, you don’t care what God says, all you want to know is what some greasy minister says who belongs to some council of churches and denies the Bible and the Christ of the Bible. You’re not concerned about God. You’re concerned about what sounds good to you. You are your own god. You have built yourself up as your own idol—what you think is best and right, instead of what God thinks is best. But God says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
What God really says in the sixth commandment is, “Thou shalt not murder.” God is not telling us here not to fight a war. He is not saying it’s wrong to defend your country or defend your house. God is saying it’s wrong to murder. “Thou shalt not murder.”
Now, what is God’s attitude about criminals? In Ecclesiastes 8:11 it says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of man is fully set in them to do evil.”
Mr. Speck killed those eight nurses a few miles from where we sit. We have members all in that area. I feel sure one of those families is here tonight. The parents of one of the girls who was killed come often on Sunday nights.
If we had not waited so long and were not waiting so long to punish Mr. Speck for the terrible crimes he committed, many more crimes would not have been committed. His crime triggered more than any other crime of our generation. You’re not even safe to go to work tomorrow. Some fool is liable to bomb you and destroy your building and kill you. Why? Because all across America we have wild murders and criminals running loose who have not been punished yet. And as long as we do, brother, our little boys and girls and our youngsters say, “Well, he did it and he didn’t have to pay for it. I’ll do it, too.”
You want to know how to cure a lot of your fighting in America? You won’t like this. Just take a machine gun out to Berkeley, California, and say, “Now look, fellows. This line right here is the one we’re going to shoot. Right down that line. And I’d suggest that, if you want to live, you stay on the other side. If you want to die, just come over the line.”
Out here on Lake Michigan there is a shoreline. Now if you want to die, just jump across that line. There’s a bridge over here. The Chicago Skyway. You get up on the top of that bridge and there is a line there. It’s called the edge of the bridge. So, you cross that line, you die. Now you say, “Well, I don’t believe in bridges. I’m a pacifist. And if you do have a bridge, it shouldn’t have an edge.” You’re an idiot!
Now, why not have a machine gun line? Then nobody’s killing anybody. A fellow is killing himself if he runs across the edge of the bridge.
Somebody’s going to have to draw a line and say to this generation of anarchists, “You’re not going to go any farther!” But if they’d said it in Vietnam, we wouldn’t have had any Laos. We’ve got too many Laoses now lousing up the place.
I stood in this pulpit and screamed my lungs out saying, “Let’s take Vietnam. Let’s do what’s right. Let’s defend our country! Let’s stop Communism in Southeast Asia so it won’t have to be in the Southeastern United States!” But we’ve let them run wild an now we have another one. And as soon as we don’t defend Laos, we’ll have another and another and another. It will come to Africa. It will come to Hawaii. It will come to San Francisco. Somebody’s go to get enough conviction to say, “The Bible is right and God knows what’s right.”
In John 2:12, our Lord came to the temple and he saw the moneychangers as they were making sacrilege out of God’s house—the temple. Now, our Lord got Himself some cords. It’s called more like a scourge, but the Bible says He drove them out! He threw them out! He was enforcing what He thought was right and what He thought was the law. God is so much for punishment, He has even made a Hell where people who die, who are not saved, burn forever and forever. God is for punishment.
Now follow me carefully. Now what if one Lindsey Terry kills Cal Streeter, I mean ruthlessly? He says, “Cal” Boom! And Cal’s gone. What are we to do with Lindsey? The Bible says? Kill him. Yeah, that’s right. Is God supposed to do it? No, we’re supposed to do it! All right.
Now what if John Colsten helps him? What if John says, “Here, I’ll hold him.” And John gets him and John holds him and Lindsey shoots him? What should we do with John? I see. Okay. Suppose the choir becomes part of this murder and every member of the choir has a gun. And Lindsey says, “Okay. This fellow is trying to get my job. I’ve been noticing while we have been singing; he is trying to get my job. Now when I say three, we’ll all shoot him. So, one, two, three,” and everybody shoots Cal. What are you supposed to do with the whole choir? Kill them? Yeah. I see.
All right. Suppose that two million people say, We’re going to kill Cal Streeter.” Then you’ve got a war, haven’t you? A war is nothing more than enforcing a law before a lot of people.
Suppose that John Colsten comes to my house and it’s two o’clock in the morning and I hear a noise. Suddenly I hear a scream. My daughter Linda says, “Help, daddy, help!” And I see John Colsten and he says, “One more cry out of you and I’ll blow your brains out!” And I grab David’s rifle and I aim that thing and shoot John Colsten. I have every right to do it. Every right to do it!
All right now, hold it. Suppose that 25 people come to my house. Do I have a right to shoot all of them? Suppose that 200 million people come across the ocean and say that they’re going to get my daughter and make a harlot out of her, and they say they’re going to burn my church and they say they will burn the Bible. And they say they will persecute the Christian. And they say the country will be god, and not God Almighty. I have just as much right, in a command from God, to defend my household as I do if John Colsten came by himself at two o’clock in the morning. War is simply enforcing a law by protecting yourself from great numbers, rather than just one person. It is an enlargement of God’s attitude toward punishment.
Revelation 19:11 says, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” Now get that! That’s Jesus Christ. This Jesus of the National Council of Churches.
Preachers come to our pastor’s school and they say, “How do you get by with being so mean?” Two reasons. One is that I love my people, and they know it. Two is that the biggest thing in this world to me is the work of Jesus Christ. It ought to be done right. It ought to be done properly.
But notice this: “In righteousness he doth judge and make war.” You can’t be righteous and not make war. And in the Edinburgh Review in Edinburgh, Scotland, years ago had a caption on the top of the paper that said, “When the guilty is acquitted, the judge is condemned.” Righteousness puts the man in jail for armed robbery. Righteousness puts the an in the electric chair for murder. Righteousness says, “Communism will not take over our nation,” for Jesus Christ, Himself, in righteousness doth judge and make war.
Revelation 12:7 says, “And there will be war in heaven.” War in heaven? Yeah. Now Revelation, Chapter 12, I think, deals with the middle of the tribulation period, But before the world was created, there was war in heaven.
Lucifer said, “I’m going to take over. I will exhault myself above the throne of God.” And God said, “No, you won’t. You’ve said enough.” And Lucifer said, “Yes I will, too.” And God said, “No, you won’t.” Lucifer said, “Okay, I’ll just start a war.” And God said, “Okay. You’ll not take over the throne in heaven.” And God kicked one-third of all the angels out of Heaven because He’s righteous.
A righteous judge says, “You’ve done wrong. You’ll pay!” A righteous God says, “You’ve done wrong. You’ll pay!”
Here’s a doctor. The doctor says, “Now look, you’re going to have to be careful what you eat. You can’t eat starches and sweets all the time. You’re going to have to have some carbohydrates and protein. You’re going to have to get some exercise and get enough rest. And if you don’t, now, you’re going to die young.” What do you do?
Well, you eat all the chocolate ice cream and pie and cake you can for breakfast. You eat pizza for lunch everyday and glue yourself together with that stuff and you get about two hour’s rest a night and you don’t get any exercise. You get fat. You don’t take any vitamins and you don’t take care of yourself. And the doctor says, “You’re going to die now. You’re going to die if you don’t do what I say!” But you just don’t do what he says.
One day, all of a sudden, the old chest pain comes and you drop over dead. And the people say, “Oh, what a mean doctor.” No. He wasn’t a mean doctor. The doctor told you how to live, didn’t he? The doctor just told you some laws of life and death. And God gives us some laws of life and death, so God does not kill when God punishes evil! You kill yourself.
When a man knows what the law is and knows what the punishment is, he is punishing himself when he breaks that law, he himself is punishing himself. A judge only punishes when the law is not enforced immediately and properly.
How about Matthew 5:9? “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God, or the children of God.” Let me illustrate.
Seven or eight years ago, we were going to Texas on a train. Becky was at home then, and our children were much smaller. David was a little tyke. He must have been about seven or eight years old. Right across the aisle on the same train was another little boy, oh, maybe a year or two younger or older than David. He was in the same general bracket—seven or eight. He was a little rascal. I mean a little demon. He was demon possessed. In fact he wasn’t possessed. He was one of the demons that possess. David was also a little demon. I said to David, “Now son, that’s enough of that. Now you do that one more time and we’re going back to the restroom and I’m going to clean your plow. I mean your cultivator and everything else.” Now the other little boy, his mother said, “Hush. Be good. Eat this candy. Want a drink of water? Don’t cry. Cracker?” And she’d walk the child. The child was almost as big as she was! She’d say, “No. No. Don’t do that. If you do that again, I’m going to spank you!” And he’d do it again. “If you do that again, I’m going to spank you!” And he’d do it again. “If you do that again, I’m going to spank you!”
Now I took David back to the restroom the next time he did it. By the way, that’s what I said I was going to do; if I didn’t, I’d be a liar. So I took him back to the restroom. Now we almost derailed the train. They did hear him crying all over that car. In fact, they heard my hand hit him all over that car. I spanked him. I said, “I told you what I was going to do, didn’t I?” So I did it.
We walked back to our seats and for the rest of that seventeen-hour trip, he didn’t as much as whimper. That other lady didn’t believe in spanking her child. She was a peacemaker. But they had 17 hours of war. Let me ask you a question. Who was the peacemaker—me or that lady? I was. I made peace.
Dr. Bill Rice and Dr. John Rice are half brothers. Dr. John was saying one day that his dad spanked him and he had to obey the rules. Somebody said, “If my daddy had spanked me, I would have rebelled all my life.” And Dr. Bill said, “Not if my daddy had spanked you!” He said, “You would’ve been suing for peace the rest of your life. That’s what you would have been doing!”
Now who’s the peacemaker? Blessed are the peacemakers! The fellow who does wrong must be punished! When he is punished, he is the peacemaker. Let me illustrate. A fellow said, “Now, Brother Hyles, let’s just disarm.” Now that, to me, is the dumbest thing since the square wheel. Disarm!
Here you are tonight. It’s two o’clock in the morning. And I happen to know that Brother Terry sleeps with a butcher knife under his pillow, a gun up on the wall and a club right beside him. It’s two o’clock in the morning, and Mrs. Terry said, “Lindsey, I hear noises.” And he said, “I’ll pray for you. God see what it is.” She comes back and says, “Lindsey, there are four or five men out there and they have guns. What are we going to do?” Lindsey says, “I’m going to disarm. Hey, fellows, look what I’m doing. I believe in peace! I’m a peacemaker. Blessed are the peacemakers. I’m a child of God.”
So he throws the gun out the window, throws the butcher knife out the window, throws the club out the window. That’s really going to solve the problem isn’t it? Yeah. About the way it is going to solve the international problem when we agree to disarm for a godless, communistic, anti-Bible, anti-God Russia, who is dedicated to the destruction of America and our way of life, our churches, our pulpit, our freedom, our schools, our religion, and our all. And we say, “Disarm.” We’re fools.
Some fellow said to me, “What we ought to do is disarm and that would solve the problem.” Now look. Here’s the doctor. A doctor discovers that a patient has a smallpox germ. The patient has contacted smallpox. What does that doctor do—run from the germ? No, he attacks the germ. The germ of smallpox is eating away at the life of a patient. And that doctor goes where that germ is. He risks his own life to go with that patient. He takes every weapon he has in his medical arsenal and he attacks that germ. That’s the way you get healthy. When somebody raises their head and says they are going to destroy our way of life, you don’t cure it by running. You attack the germ.
My people have heard me tell this story. When I was a kid in junior high school, I was a runt of a fellow, but I played on the junior high school basketball team. We had a big junior high school and I was a little bitty fellow, but I played hard. I was sort of a scrapping kind of a kid, so I made the starting team of basketball. I thought I was something.
We had a kid in our class named Hugh Brewer. He was the gangliest and most uncoordinated kid in our class. When we chose teams for basketball, we chose him last. He played right field whenever we played softball. He was the least likely kid in the whole class. I was on the team and he was nothing.
One day I was out practicing and he had a ball. I said, “Here, Hugh, let me have the ball. I’m practicing for the game next week.” He said, “Well, I’m playing with it.” I said, “Let me have the ball. Hugh, come on, let me have the ball. I’m practicing for the game.” And he said, “No. No.” So I reached out and I grabbed it. He grabbed back. We had real war there for awhile. Finally, he let me have the ball. I took it and all of a sudden he hit me in the nose. I mean right here. Now I’ve never been hit like that before or since. And do you know what? We made peace. From that day till this, I have been nice and peaceful to him. If he walked in the house now, I’d go buy him a basketball and give it to him. Why? He’s a peacemaker. A coward never is a peacemaker. You know it and I know it.
You boys on the front row, a little kid at school that’s always afraid and is always running, you’ll chase him all the rest of the semester. You know it’s true. Blessed are the peacemakers. Hence, as I said awhile ago, the hawks are the peacemakers. War is peacemaking. Did you hear what I said? War is peacemaking.
It’s like the little kid who had a list of names. A big fellow came up and said, “What’s that list?” The little guy said, “It’s a list of all the guys I can whip.” He said, “Let me see it.” He said, “My name’s on that list and you can’t whip me!” Well he said, “Here, I’ll just take your name off the list.” Now that’s the way to make peace, you see.
Now let me go a step further. What’s God’s attitude toward warriors? Now listen carefully to this. In Genesis 14, a coalition of kings had formed to fight the city of Sodom. They had taken Lot, the nephew of Abraham, as prisoner. When Abraham heard about it, he got 318 men—chosen, trained, fighting servants. Abraham took these 318 men and went and captured Lot. The Bible says he smote the men who had kidnapped or captured Lot. Now follow me. Abraham, friend of God, took 318 fighting men. He went and got Lot and reclaimed him and smote the people who had captured Lot. Now hear me carefully. On the way back from that slaughter, Abraham met a man named Melchizedek.
Melchizedek, I think, is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. Now you preachers may not agree with me, but I think Melchizedek is Christ in the Old Testament. To say the least, he was King of Salem, without mother, without father. He must have been Christ. Buy anyway, when Abraham was coming back from the slaughter of those kings, he met Melchizedek. And Melchizedek said, “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” Genesis 14:19. He had just gotten back from killing a bunch of people! He had just gotten back from saying, “Lot’s my nephew. You’re not going to take my nephew!” He had smitten them. And Melchizedek said, “Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.”
“And when Jesus was entered in Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion beseeching him.” Now what is a centurion? A centurion is a man who had a hundred fighting men under him. That’s why he’s called a centurion. He was the commander of a hundred fighting me. He came to Jesus and said, “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.” Matthew 8:6,7
Now that would’ve been a good place for Jesus to say, “Don’t you come to me, you bloody warrior you. I don’t believe in fighting. You dedicate your life to teaching a hundred men how to kill.” But our Lord said, “I will come and heal him.”
“The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” Matthew 8:8,9 Boy, I like that guy, don’t you? He tells a man to come and he comes, He tells a man to go and he goes. He tells a man “Do this” and he does it.
When Jesus heard it, he marveled. And the word marveled there—it is not that He was surprised. The word marveled there means He admired him. He was filled with admiration because this man had a hundred well-trained soldiers ready to kill. Let’s go further; he said, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Interesting, isn’t it?
If our Lord were a pacifist, there’s a good time for Him to say so. Here’s a man who came and said, “Lord, my servant’s about to die. Come and heal him.” And the Lord came. And the man said, “I am the man who says go and they go, and come and they come. A hundred fighting men under me.” And the Lord said, “I admire that man.”
In Matthew 27:54 there was a similar man, a centurion who was at the cross when our Lord was crucified. It was he who said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” He was a fighting man with a hundred fighting men under him who said, “Surely this was the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit inspired that kind of man to say it.
May I read for you Acts 10:1. Everybody here is familiar with this story. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band.” Here’s a man who has a hundred Italian soldiers under him. Hold it. Acts 10:2 says, “A devout man.” Huh? A devout man. The Holy Spirit of God said he was devout. He had a hundred killers under him, didn’t he?
When I was in the Army, they taught me how to shoot. I shot all the guns: the bazooka, the markers, the machine guns and the carbine. They used the M-1 rifle when I was in the Army. Sometimes, I used the Springfield 1903, the bolt action gun and so forth.
Boy, when you came at an enemy you had to holler, too. That’s what I want you preachers to do, too, when you get back home and preach. Growl a little bit when you talk about the devil! Holler when you fight the devil! When you talk about salvation, get excited a little bit. That’s the reason your church is empty on Sunday night. You’re nothing but a cross between a funeral undertaker or a Grandma Moses and Old Mother Hubbard. Our country needs some men to talk about Jesus and shout when they do. She needs some men to talk about sin and growl when they do.
Listen! The man that taught me the long thrust move was a servant of God. When Nebuchadnezzar—the king of the nation that was to destroy God’s people and take them into bondage for 70 long, gruesome years—came on the hills of Judea to take captive God’s people, God said, “Nebuchadnezzar, my servant!” My servant! Are you listening? God said, “The wicked king coming to destroy my people and chasten my people is my servant.” So Cornelius was a devout man. The Bible goes on to say, “And one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” Acts 10:2 God seemed to like this fellow. He was captain of a hundred men who were trained to kill. A centurion, if you please.
What’s God’s attitude toward warriors? He said one was devout. Another had more faith than anybody He’d seen in Israel. Another was chosen to say Jesus was the Son of God. Nebuchadnezzar was called His servant. Gideon was told to destroy the Midianites as one man. And Abraham was blessed by Jesus Christ, or at least one like unto Him, after he had come back from killing and destroying the kings who had taken away Lot as captive.
And I hasten to say—No, I won’t. I don’t hasten to say anything. But I’ll try to hasten to give you, thirdly, God’s attitude toward when to war. Now I’m not saying America has a right just to take her armies and march out over the world. I don’t believe in imperialism. I don’t believe in aggression. When should we war? In the first place, we should war when God’s work is obstructed.
Remember in Nehemiah 4:11 When they are building the wall around Jerusalem after captivity; remember that? When Sanballat and Tobiah gave them some trouble? What did the Israelites do? They had a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other, and they said, “We’re building a wall. We’re building a wall around the city, and we’re going to finish it.” “Now, Sanballat, you and Tobiah can cause all the trouble you want to cause us, but we’re going to finish this wall! Now, with our left hands, we’re laying the brick. In our right hands, we’ve got swords. We’re not coming down off this wall to do anything to you with this sword, but if you climb up here to cause our work to stop, we’re going to use this sword on your gizzard.” Now that’s in the Hebrew! And that sword was just as Godly as the trowel was.
Right over here, Wednesday night before last, a man stood up in our service and tried to take over. Now, whatever I would have had to do to keep that man from taking over, I would have done. I said, “Sit down.” He didn’t sit down. I said, “Hush.” He didn’t hush. I said, “Ushers, take him out!” No hippie is going to read a manifesto in this pulpit as long as I’ve got breath to keep him out of it.
Let us pray.