Studies in Deuteronomy

Let’s Go To War

Deuteronomy 2

Jerry A Collins




Ø      What does it mean to go to war today?

Ø      When should we pursue peace in our lives?

Ø      When should we go to war in our lives?


If we are going to understand God, we must understand God’s willingness at certain times for certain issues in certain places—to go to war! So there are times, issues, places, and people where we must declare war if we are going to keep these from getting between us and serving God. It is simplistic, naïve and misleading to declare that God wants peace. It is true, He does, but not peace at all costs. He is also a God of war. God ordered Joshua to go to war as He did the Judges, Samson, Saul and David. All of these wars were initiated by God. They were His idea, His plan, and His command to obey. There are also godly men who went to war for godly reasons. Abe for Lot; Daniel against enemies in Babylon; Nehemiah against antagonists for rebuilding; Elijah against false prophets, Solomon who declared there is a time for war. But not just OT in NT Jesus said I came not to bring peace but sword Mt 10:34-36. He told churches in revelation to declare war against false teachers. We will learn that God honoring peace is always preferable but not always possible. So when to pursue peace and when to go to war and what kind of war today?


While we are to be warriors we must not always be at war. There are times, places and people we must negotiate peace with because God says not to bother these.

There are times to negotiate peacefully  Even after many days vs 1 referring to the 40 yrs of wandering—God had not given up on His people. Moses noted that God directed him so God has not abandoned His plans for them. But then, after these 40 yrs, they receive instructions not to bother certain groups they will encounter on their journey to the promised land. 1. The sons of Esau vs 4; 2. The sons of Lot vs 9; 3. The sons of Ammon vs 19. God warned Israel to avoid fighting with these vs 5, 9, 19. Instead they were to negotiate their way through buying food and provisions from them—to pay their way and not threaten these groups with dispossession of goods and services. A massive contingent like this might provoke hostilities from these people groups to react. What do we know about these groups? The Edomites possessed territory in southern regions of the Dead Sea. They conquered the Horites to gain their land vs 22. Traditional enemies of Israel who were judged and destroyed by God in Ezekiel 25:12-14 and prophesied so in Obadiah. The Moabites were on the south eastern region of the dead sea. These were Lot’s descendents. In an explanatory note inserted after Israel conquered the land in 10-12 we learn that in this same territory the Emmin lived. These are described as ‘dreaded ones’ tall and numerous whom the previous generation of Israelites even with God’s help had shrank from Dt 1:28 but these Moabites had conquered. These were also judged by God for their harassing of Israel Eze 25:8. The Ammonites in another parenthetical note vs 20-23 lived in the northern and northeastern ends of the dead sea and interior. They conquered the same giants too and others to possess the land God promised them. They, too became enemies of Israel and were judged by God Eze 25: 6-7. God placed a limit of the territory they could conquer and possess.

 Don’t fite a war God is not fighting These careful instructions reveal that Israelites not free to conquer any territory they wanted. God had promised a definite land with definite borders 1:7. God was not giving them the land of these groups. Today, we must draw lines we are willing to defend. Where we draw it is crucial. If the boundary is too big we’ll compromise with the world. If too narrow we become legalistic and drive people off and exasperate our children. So the key is—forbid only what you are willing to go to war over and that includes your convictions about things the Bible says nothing about (abortion on demand, drugs, magazines, rock concerts, TV) and all of Christ’s commands for us.

God is sovereign and able to bring victory 2:5 says God gave Esau possession 2:9 Moab and 2:19 Ammon. This sovereignty should have encouraged Israel even more since God had obliged Himself thru the Patriarchs to conquer and possess heir land. God had provided for 40 yrs in desert and wilderness as motivation for them too. So when we are confident we are waging a godly battle then we can do so with confidence that God will fight for us against things like false teachers and sin in our lives like anger or while teaching my children. But beyond that we must pursue peace. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers Mt 5:9; Paul said to Timothy lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity 1 Tim 2:2; Peace is a fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22—not any peace one God wants.


God goes to war In vs 24-25 and 3:2 God commanded Israel to dispossess the Amorites—specifically 2 kings Sihon of Heshbon and Og of Bashan. This war had been delayed 40 yrs and after a peaceful offer from Moses 26-29—the same offer made to previous groups—since these territories were not gong to be taken by Israel vs 29. Both Sihon and Og refused to negotiate the peaceful offer so God confirmed this hardened position vs 30-31 and used it to advance His plans for His people. God gives people over to their desires (with Pharoah, with depraved in Rom 1). Part of God’s judgment is letting you have what you want when God does not want you to have it and then using that to judge you and bring about his sovereign plans (Annanias & Sapphira). So while we proceed in peace we must be ready for war. God forced them into it and this is only way to accomplish possession of our position. The reason I have trouble with my old sinful habits is because I try to make peace with them without going to war with them. When I compromise with my sin nature, come up with some way to live with my sin, then I’ll continue to have that sin all of my life and later I will either have to destroy it or it will destroy me.

Fight without deals and enough courage for complete victory They completely destroyed the cities and slaughtered the people vs 34 & 3:3. The high walls terrified 1st generation vs 36 cp to 1:28 (said reached to heaven). Overcoming giants and fortified cities means going against these we see no way to overcome to take possession of position God has for us. Complete victory meant no survivors. Only took animals vs 35. So keep in your life (that is from the enemy) only what does not have moral or theological influence. Kill the children or else they will grow up saying ;they killed my parents-I’m going to kill them. The same thing is true about he small sins we have. If we do not kill them—utterly destroy their influence—they’ll grow up and kill us. Jesus will return to slaughter unrepentant wicked for their judgment Rev 19:11-21 making Israel’s holy war pale by comparison. Today we do not wage holy war as Israel did since God not working thru one nation to establish and set up His kingdom on earth. We should learn to be as ruthless with sin in lives as Israel should with Canaanites. So these transjordanian territories not originally included stress (1) Extensive nature of the conquest (2) Og, remnant of raphiam 3:11 last of these they will face. His iron bed—coffin, sarcophagas—measured 6 ft wide 13 ½ ft long.  (1) Come in peace to those things or groups God says not to bother. For us many ways opposite of Israel. God says to love our enemies, pray for those despitefully use us, bless those who curse us. But we must go to war with those things, ideas, sins contrary to God. Our own sins but also false teachers.

(2) War against sin should be to utterly remove all the influence of evil in our lives.

(3) Don’t stagger at the threat but m,ove forward by faith in God’s ability confident God will supply strength and direction and victory. Walt henrichsen years ago speaking to students serving in ministry  said ’20 years from now most of you won’t be here—and the reason is you like sin too much’. More sin—more baggage to make it difficult to make it to maturity. Don’t make error leaving remnants of sin failing to utterly wipe it out.