IS War Murder? by Pastor George McVey

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Pastor George McVey


So this week I received an email from a young pastor in South Africa asking me for my thoughts on a tough question she was asked by the youths in her youth group. Here is her question.”One of the kids asked me a question which I answered, but it has been gnawing at me ever since. As a soldier, David slew heathens in Gods’ honour. The kid asked me, ‘’If murder is wrong, isn’t war wrong?’’ I answered, ‘’It depends on who you are fighting for and who you are fighting against’’. It was probably the most ambivalent answer I could
have given! What happens in a war where both sides pray to God to protect them in battle? We all know about the crusades, and Christianity spreading (yay!) until the Spanish inquisition pulled the rug out under the concept (You’ll find that in Opinion 6:4….). What happens when a soldier is sent to battle and kills the opposition? Is it still murder? To take a life is murder?”

This is a question that often comes up, let me show you the answer in scripture and using the Hebrew words used in those scriptures. Fist there are two different words that are translated to kill in the Old Testament The first one is found in the ten commandments. Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill .” The word translated kill here is the Hebrew word Ratsach and it literally means to Murder to commit the act of Murder after premeditation or accidently. What is interesting to me is this word is only used 30 times in all of scripture. The other word is used over 300 times in the scripture one example is 1Samuel 15:1-3 “Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. 2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling , ox and sheep, camel and ass.

The word here is the Hebrew word Muwth it means to kill or execute in war or in result of their sin. Yes God has ordered whole people groups wiped out for their sins and used other nations to do so. He has also sent people to kill those sinful. This is not murder it is an execution. When we go to war we are not “killing” or committing murder we are executing those who have wronged our nation or God.

Are the young men in the war on terror murderers? No, they are executioners of our enemies. Paul tells us that God ordains those in government who are over us therefore the orders they give are the orders we follow. Yes this gets us into a whole different discussion about follow God instead of man. However God has often used war as a way of removing a sinful unrepentant heart or group of hearts from this world. Again since HE is the only truly JUST being, then we must realize that HIS command to slay is the JUSTICE that is right. It is an execution not murder. I hope this little answer enlightens those who often have this question. Until next month Dig in to God’s word and study for yourself. If you have a topic you would like to see me tackle as a blog then email me at or hit me up on facebook @ pastor george mcvey. -PG

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