8 “Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! 9 The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” –Genesis 13:8-9 NLT
Abram was a man of peace not pacifism.
Abram was a man of peace who, as shown here, went to great lengths to avoid unnecessary conflict. He displays great nobility of character. Although the older man, the uncle, he does not insist on seniority or priority of rights. Peace-loving and magnanimous, he selflessly offers his nephew first choice of grazing land and watering places.
However, it should be noted that loving peace and pursuing peace—two biblical ideals—have little in common with pacifism. Indeed, in the very next chapter, (Genesis 14:14) Abram goes to war to save his nephew!
Though he pursued peace, he knew how to wage war. Abram enlisted “trained men born in his household” to engage the enemy. For further references to war look to Exodus 15:3, Psalm 144:1; 1 Chronicles 5:22; Luke 22:36, & Revelation 19:11. Also, please read some of the best articles on war from the Founders’ Bible, “God and War” (p.611), and “He Trains My Hands for War.” (p.917)
Pacifism, the belief that killing is never moral, decreases peace in the world—for the obvious reason that often the only way to stop the murder of innocent people is to kill the murderer(s). Peace is beautiful—but not at the expense of justice or goodness.
In formulating a plan of action, the paramount question individuals and governments must ask is not “Will it lead to peace?” but rather, “Will it lead to good or evil?” If one does not resist evil, temporary “peace” is easily obtained. But such peace is mere delusion; all it does is ensure more violence.
“2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 NKJV
From the above passage the Apostle Paul communicates about the Final Phase of The Last Days. The phrase, “they say” (Greek legousin) in verse 3 is durative tense (meaning continuous or repeated action). The “they” is a reference to the people in general and the nations during the Judgment at the end which will come upon the whole world. Look to Zephaniah 2:1-3; and 3:14-18. Notice closely that the text of Thessalonians says nothing about real peace having come, not even a semblance of peace is indicated. The Bible only says that people will constantly speak of peace and safety.
Even Jesus Christ understood the limitations of peace.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” – Matthew 10:34 ESV
In the context of Matthew 10 Jesus used the word “sword” for a metaphor for the inevitable conflict and separation between those who believe in Christ and those who do not. In this context He also demonstrates that the desire for peace is not His primary motivation but rather, obedience to Him trumps peace (Matthew 10:37-39).
Of course, the LORD God desires peace as the Bible teaches in many places. In Psalm 29:11 notice how God combines strength with peace,
“God will grant his people strength; God will bless His people with peace.” The moral of the verse is this: To live in peace, a nation first has to be strong. That explains the 318 “retainers” (long-time servants and their offspring) in Abram’s entourage.
One of history’s enduring lessons is that weakness provokes aggression. Good people must be stronger than bad people—or they will be attacked by the bad. To put in terms of peace: peace is maintained only as long as the decent are stronger than the indecent.
Abram pursued peace, but he was prepared for war and went to war.
His behavior, and the verse in Psalm 129, are examples of biblical wisdom that run contrary to much modern thought. In today’s non-Bible-based age, many people believe in pacifism and many free nations do not believe in keeping a strong military. Biblically based people do not share these naïve views about how to confront evil and preserve peace. Indeed, the Bible (both the old and the new testament) gives the antidote to such naivete.
Preparation to Communicate with others:
• Please take time to muse over the verses I have mentioned in this teaching. Look them up in your Bible and jot down thoughts that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind while reading them.
• You will discover that many of your Christian friends are simply un-educated about the concept of pacifism, and the biblical basis of war.
The leadership team in a large leading Church here in Portland that ministers to younger congregation believe in and teach pacifism. The things you have learned by reading this teaching will instruct and empower you in your sphere of influence. Go for it! ☺
• Practice communicating what you have learned to others around you… especially your immediate family, friends, and church friends.
• The next time you lead a small group, give this teaching.
• Formulate your own teaching and send out your Biblical information to people on your mailing list.