“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares Jehovah. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Is. 55:8,9).
Men were always barbarous and hostile, and consequently, warriors. Wars translate the desire for dominance, or the vengeful spirit that men have. On the other hand, a population is heterogeneous. Some are hostile and others are meek; some are bold and others are timid; some are ambitious and others are resigned. This fact embarrassed the plans of a monarch who might be ambitious for power, glory and riches. People invented, then, terrible gods and warriors that punished the unfaithful and rewarded the faithful. The Valhalla was a glorious palace where the Valkyrie, according to the Greek Mythology, serviced heroes killed in battle. The Valkyrie were warrior gods. Gods were warriors and active participants in wars.
The Mythology tells us that, when the Greeks sailed to Troy in order to recover Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, which was captured by the Trojan Paris, the gods took sides in this war. Zeus, the almighty chief of the gods of Olympus, tried to remove his disagreeing family from the battle, but his wife Hera, which favored the Greeks, used subtle perfumes that induced Zeus to sleep. When the king of gods woke up, he looked to the fields of battle and the Trojans had suffered great losses.
Each nation had its own gods, and they were all warriors. In India, the god of war was Indra, the lord of their gods, and of the air and of lightning. In Egypt, Anta was the goddess of war, with a club in one hand and a shield and a spear in the other. Ariman, Persian god, was the beginning of all evil and the creator of disgraces, plagues, evils and sicknesses. The Greek god of war was Ares. The center of his worship was Tracia. Ares identified himself with Mars, the Roman god of war. There were also goddesses of war in Greece and in Rome. Minerva was the Italian goddess of war, while Palas ruled over the wars in Greece. In Scandinavia, Thor, the god of war, was the Thunder god, whose noise came from his war chariot pulled by two goats, in days of storm. One of his enemies was the serpent Midgard, which provoked the storms. Thor was considered to be the son of Odim and Friga and lived on the Asgard, place of rest for the race, in heaven. Odim, by his turn, was the god of war of the Germanic peoples and held up a huge spear in his hand, the Gungnir, which blow not even the mightiest force could parry. They were innumerable gods and many wars.
In the wars, the conquerors killed the warriors with the sword. The people were taken as slaves, the cities were plundered and the women were handed to the soldiers as prizes. It was an infernal devastation. Princes and kings were chained and dragged back with the returning army, together with the spoil, while the throng acclaimed the winners.
In the midst of this dark chaos of wars, dominance, plunders, violence, slavery and crimes, a god of war shows up, whose name is Jehovah. Moses defines him as: “JEHOVAH IS A WARRIOR; JEHOVAH IS HIS NAME” (Ex. 15:3). David defines him with the following words: “and that all this assembly may know that Jehovah does not deliver by sword or by spear; FOR THE BATTLE IS JEHOVAH’S, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:47). And Jehovah, the god of all wars, would declare perpetual war against a people, which the other gods never did. “Jehovah has sworn; Jehovah will have war against Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:16).
Jehovah had a secret book where the disliked nations were listed for future wars. “Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of Jehovah, ‘Waheb in Sulphah, and the wadis of the Arnon” (Num. 21:14). Israel was the nation that Jehovah elected, not to save the nations, nor to teach them in the way of love, but it was elected with the purpose of destroying the nations. “…the Maker of all is He, and the tribe of His inheritance; Jehovah of hosts is His name. He says, ‘You are My war-club, My weapon of war; and with you I shatter the nations, and with you I will destroy kingdoms. And with you I shatter the horse and his rider, and with you I shatter the chariot and his rider, and with you I shatter man and woman, and with you I shatter old man and youth, and with you I shatter young man and virgin, and with you I shatter the shepherd and his flock, and with you I shatter the farmer and his team, and with you I shatter governors and prefects. But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,’ declares Jehovah” (Jer. 51:19-24). Here is Jehovah in war against Babylon of whom he said, “And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant” (Jer. 27:6).
Jehovah made war against all the peoples: against the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites, the Syrians, the Assyrians, the Elamites, the Arabs, and the Chaldeans (Jer. …). He warred against Tyre and Sidon (Ezek. 27:26-28). He warred against his people Israel.
Jehovah felt that he was glorified in war. When Jehoshapaht was in war with the sons of Ammon, and together with the people prayed to Jehovah, he answered: “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chr. 20:15).
What surprises the reader of the Old Testament is what Jehovah had said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Is. 55:8,9). This is not the truth, for in those days war was the only thought of the kings, and of Jehovah, also.
Jesus revealed a different God, full of love and forgiveness, meek and gentle, savior of all, who has and undisguised mark: PEACE. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:17). “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). “…God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15). “…live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11). “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira