(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Jesus foretold in Matthew 25:6 and 7:
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars....For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
There are several more signs the Lord said would be manifested at the end of the age. But let’s focus on wars and rumors of wars. Although there are many heroic actions in time of war, still (as they say) war is hell! Loss of life, maimed bodies of many survivors, and injured minds (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affect people long after the battles have ended! But there is one verse in the Bible that tells us how to stop war, Proverbs 16:7 – “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
“But,” you might argue, “that’s talking about an individual person. How can this stop wars between nations?” Yes, the interpretation is individualistic. But the principle behind this proverb can also be applied to major wars! And Israel’s history proves it!
Moses prophesied in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 concerning the future of Israel. Many of the LORD’s blessings for the obedience of the people and many of His curses for their disobedience are listed in both chapters. I will focus on the blessings concerning the Jews’ relationship with surrounding nations:
• Leviticus 26:3, 5, 6, 7, 12:
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them...you shall...dwell in your land safely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid ....You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you....I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.
• Deuteronomy 28:1, 7, 10:
Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe arefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth....The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face.... Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be a- fraid of you.
But the opposite would be true if the Israelites did not obey God! (Read Leviticus 26:14-46; Deuteronomy 28:18-68). And their history proves it!
Let’s briefly look at Israel’s history:
• The book of Judges is the record of the Israelites over 350 years before kingship in Israel was established. The key to this book is found in two verses, Judges 17:6 and 21:25 that say the same thing: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” There are six to eight major judges, depending on how one defines ‘major’. In Judges 2:10 through 19 is described the cycle that was repeated under the major judges! Here is a shortened summary from these verses:
...another generation arose...who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel... the children of Israel...forsook the LORD God...and they followed...the gods of the people who were all around them...Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the an- ger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He de- livered them into the hands of...their enemies.... Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them ...all the days of the judge....And...when the judge was dead...hey reverted and behaved more corruptly ...by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them....
At least six cycles were repeated in the course of 350 years! Here is what each cycle consisted of:
Freedom Apostasy Bondage Repentance Deliverance
• Solomon, David’s son, was the third king of Israel. God gave him great wisdom to rule. It says in I Kings 4:31, “…he was wiser than all men….” In his wisdom, especially in the early part of his forty-year reign, Solomon walked with God – and the nation pretty much followed suit! The result? I Kings 4:24: “…he had dominion over all the region on this side of the River [Euphrates]…and he had peace on every side all around him.”
• Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was the next king. But he did not follow the LORD, and he split Israel into two kingdoms as a result of an ungodly decision! Rehoboam ended up ruling two Israelite tribes in the south, and Jeroboam became king of ten tribes in the north (see I Kings 12:1-20). Beyond that initial sin that split the united kingdom of Israel, Rehoboam did not follow the LORD! His 17 year reign is summed up in II Chronicles 12:14: “And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD.” The king’s disobedience affected all his subjects, and the peace of the whole nation! It is recorded in verse 15, “And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.”
• Asa was Rehoboam’s grandson. He obeyed God for 35 of his 41 year reign! “And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of his reign.” (II Chronicles 15:19 – Good News Bible). But then King Baasha of the northern Israel kingdom invaded Asa’s southern kingdom. And Asa turned away from the LORD and depended on godless Syria for help! The prophet Hanani confronted the king for his disobedience, finishing his rebuke with this: “In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (II Chronicles 16:9). It proved to be true!
Now, let’s get back to our featured Scripture: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This proverb is given as applied to an individual. But it can also be applicable to a national setting!
“When a nation’s ways please the LORD, He makes even that nation’s
enemies to be at peace with it!”
If it proved true for Israel, it can work today for America – for peace and the LORD’s blessing, for wars and God’s curse! Is it any wonder that it is written in Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD….”
God’s blessing or His curse! You decide what you will pursue, Christian!