October 2014 Yavoh
The Right of Self-Defense …from a believer’s point of view.
The right of self-defense is not granted by a king, a government, or any court. It is not a right given to us by the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. It is given to us by our Creator. The Author of life, who made us living souls, put within us the instinct and the ability to defend ourselves. We see this same right in every part of creation, whether it be plant or animal; but not everyone agrees with me on this matter.
There are many godless elements within society that do not believe anyone should have the right to have a weapon that could be used to defend oneself. They argue that nations should not have the right to make war on their enemies nor should citizens, acting on their own or others’ behalf, be able to use deadly force against another person.
In America, this argument comes down to the perpetual struggle with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms (such as firearms). Despite Supreme Court rulings, liberals argue that it only applies to arming a militia, not an individual citizen’s right. The Supreme Court has disagreed, and rightly so. This right is what makes the United States different from many other nations. Other nations do not allow their citizens to possess firearms.
I pray that the day will never come that I will be confronted with a problem or decision to defend myself and use deadly force against another human being. The last thing I would ever want to do is to take the life of another human being. However, wisdom and maturity demands that I prepare myself for such a possibility. As a husband and a father, I am bound by God to protect and defend my wife and children.
The Scriptures say that a man who does not provide for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. This includes food, shelter, and protection.
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8
To prepare myself, I must then understand what my rights are and what they are not. For example, I cannot use my right of self-defense against a person merely because I don’t like him or don’t want to deal with him. The threat against me must be real and only then can I use deadly force against another. I am not talking only of firearms. Deadly force could be my fists, choking, using a club or a knife, or an assortment of firearms at my disposal.
This past August, a police officer stopped two black men walking in the middle of a street in Ferguson, Missouri. The two black men had just committed a theft from a convenience store minutes before. An altercation occurred with the bigger of the two men assaulting the police officer. This resulted in the police officer shooting the man with his pistol and killing him. The man killed was 18 years old and named Michael Brown. Some of the witnesses to this incident claimed that the 18 year old man raised his hands to surrender and then was shot. Some of the witnesses claimed that Mr. Brown scuffled for the officer’s gun, assaulting the officer. Some witnesses claim that Mr. Brown was still coming at the officer when he was shot. Based on the word of the witnesses stating that he held up his hands to surrender, many people believe that the police officer killed Mr. Brown illegally and should be charged with a crime. Those who believe that part of the incident have been protesting and rioting in the town, including destroying surrounding stores and looting those businesses. The local police, county sheriffs, state highway patrol, National Guard, FBI, and the Justice Department (including the Attorney General) were all called out to calm the situation.
The matter is being investigated. But I want to step back and take a look at this matter and ask ourselves some questions to put it in perspective.
Does a police officer have the right to defend himself should he be attacked and threatened with great bodily harm or death? If someone attempts to take his firearm, does the officer have the right to use that same weapon against that person? Does the officer have the right to use deadly force even though the man assaulting him does not have a gun of his own (he is unarmed)?
The answer to all of these questions is “Yes.” That is the Law. That Law is based on the personal right to self-defense that every citizen has. This kind of scenario has occurred many times before. This is not a new question for the right of self-defense. So, why is that right being challenged by the people and supported by government leaders? Why is the federal Attorney General questioning this matter, usurping the state’s authority, when the State of Missouri has the responsibility for its citizens? In particular, why would anyone question the officer’s right to defend himself from an apparent thief and thug? Doesn’t every citizen have that right?
A police officer is not just a citizen of the state, dressed in blue with a badge. He is an officer of the Court (the judicial system of our government and nation). He has been commissioned and delegated the authority to enforce the laws of the State. When you assault a police officer you are assaulting the court, the judge, the entire legal system, the judicial branch of the State government, and ultimately the entire nation (against every leader and every citizen). It is not a one-on-one situation at all.
My purpose for this article is not to defend the police or support the right to bear arms (although I do). My purpose is to review who gave the right of self-defense to begin with and the righteousness of that right.
Let’s step back a moment. Why does God have the right to judge His enemies and ultimately destroy them?
If someone or anything comes against God and what belongs to Him, does He not have the right within Himself to defend Himself and what belongs to Him? The answer is “yes,” yes, He does.
Throughout the Bible we read of God and God’s people battling various enemies. As a general rule, it is not a fair fight when God fights anyone. Fairness is not the standard for the right of self-defense. Fairness is what men use as the standard for their judgments; God and godly men use righteousness as their standard.
In the Hebrew language, righteousness and justice are essentially the same words. When men try to achieve justice by being fair, they fall short many times. It does not work when it comes to life and death situations!
There was an interesting comment made recently about the Gaza/Israel war that illustrates how silly fairness is in warfare. A UN representative stated that Israel was not fighting fair because they had the “Iron Dome” anti-missile system that was shooting down the Hamas rockets and missiles. He said that Israel should give Hamas the same system to fight fair. How utterly absurd can one get?
Is it fair to have one man with his fists fight another man with a gun? Absolutely not! But is it righteousness for a man to defend himself with a gun against an attacker fighting with his fists? Yes!
Is it right for God, who has all the power of the Universe and beyond, to use that power to defeat His enemies? Absolutely yes!
That is why we have the right of self-defense. It is given to us by our Creator.
Let’s examine this matter on a more personal level. As I said before, I pray that I will never be put in a situation to use deadly force against anyone. I wholeheartedly love peace and I seek peace daily in every situation. My anger in personal matters is measured and not permitted to become rage or hatred of anyone, as the Lord commands of us all. But what am I going to do if someone decides to harm me or members of my family?
I have to accept the fact that I may have to defend myself, and I must act accordingly when that happens. I cannot allow myself to become a coward in the face of such danger. Cowardice is a sin according to the Bible.
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
In fact, cowards are listed first for those who find their way to eternal judgment.
Self-defense is not a purely impulsive reaction to a set of dire circumstances. Self-defense is actually a command of God and requires preparation or practice, just like any other commandment of God. A man must learn how to defend himself, just as nations learn warfare. A nation that does not train an army and arm them is open to being overrun and slaughtered. A man who does not do the minimums to understand self-defense and prepare himself is a victim in waiting.
The day is coming, in the kingdom, when we will beat our swords into plowshares. But that day has not come ye; therefore, every godly man should have some kind of weapon at his disposal until that day comes.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
God knows we must fight against enemies. If we give in, the enemy wins, and we either die or are made slaves of the conqueror. This is a spiritual lesson as well. We have the adversary of our souls trying to separate us from our Protector, sniping at us in our weak, human moments so that we don’t call out for our Protector to come to our defense.
When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they brought weapons with them and they also made weapons for themselves during their journey through the wilderness. While they did not have to fight Egypt to escape, they did have to fight various enemies who came against them in the wilderness. One particular enemy who attacked them first on their journey was Amalek.
Amalek was the grandson of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. His father was Eliphaz and his mother was Adah. The Bible gives us this background about Amalek because he chose a life path completely contrary to those who descended from Abraham and Isaac. Amalek did not love peace; he preferred bloodshed. Upon seeing the children of Israel come out of Egypt, Amalek chose to attack Israel. He did not come against Israel because he thought a wrong had been done against him, such as invading his land or taking something of his. No, Amalek attacked the edges of the camp, where the weak and the defenseless were, to simply steal and destroy.
Amalek represents the Biblical definition of a nasty, bad, thief who turns into a killer. God’s answer to such a person is a righteous one – kill him!
The first battle against Amalek is described to us in the book of Exodus.
Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
First, Amalek attacked and proved that he was an enemy. Second, Israel prepared to fight. Joshua was commissioned to select men for an army and to arm them. Third, Moses prepared himself to reach out for God’s help in the matter. When Moses couldn’t hold his hands up before God, it was a fair fight against Amalek. When Moses could hold his hands up with aid and support, it wasn’t a fair fight; it was a righteous battle. Amalek lost.
But then the Lord went further to instruct Israel concerning this event.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial, and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.” Exodus 17:14-16
Why would God make such a special case out of Amalek? Hasn’t Israel had many enemies throughout the years? Why is Amalek singled out with a special word from the Lord?
The answer is found in the character and nature of Amalek. Amalek decided from the beginning to choose death and destruction over life and peace. Here is the commentary to that effect and, interestingly enough, it comes from Balaam, another enemy of Israel.
And he looked at Amalek and took up his discourse and said, “Amalek was the first of the nations, but his end shall be destruction.” Numbers 24:20
God’s command against Amalek is really a command against any savage or thug that would intentionally seek to harm others. We are to understand that Amalek does not reform. He has chosen an eternal path to destruction and there is no redeeming value, there is no negotiating with him, and there is no reconciling with him. He is an enemy for all generations and must be dealt with in all generations. Moses emphasized this point by telling us to remember his first deeds—they will be his future deeds.
Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall come about when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget. Deuteronomy 25:17-19
In very simple terms, the Lord has instructed us to use our right of self-defense when our enemy has the nature of Amalek. In every generation we face Amalek’s descendants. This was true even after the children of Israel were in the land. Samuel the prophet reminded his generation of this history and principle.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” 1 Samuel 15:2-3
This instruction was given to King Saul when he led Israel against Amalek in his day. But did Saul do as the Lord said? No, he took spoil and captured the king of Amalek. When Samuel challenged Saul about this, Saul argued that he had done as the Lord said but was going to use the best of the resources from Amalek to worship the Lord. Maybe Saul also thought that king Agag would be some kind of trophy for his victory. We don’t know what his thinking was but his definition of utterly destroying Amalek differed from God’s.
Then Saul said to Samuel, "I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” 1 Samuel 15:20
Samuel then pronounced judgment upon Saul for not doing as the Lord said. Saul lost his kingdom that day. The crown of leadership went to another as history shows – King David, the son of Jesse.
Why is the issue of Amalek such a compelling issue to the kingship of Saul? The reason is again simple. Amalek will always come against Israel. He rests only to enable another attack against others. The only way to deal with Amalek is to kill him. If he is not killed, innocent people will be harmed. There is no appeasing or negotiating with Amalek.
This principle of self-defense has been demonstrated repeatedly in Biblical history and is present with us today. Amalek is with us today as well.
Today, the enemies of Israel come from predominantly Muslim nations. These are descendents of the ancient fathers just like Israel. While Israel descends from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Israel’s Muslim neighbors descend from other fathers of the same day. Consider the Psalmist when he defines the past, present, and future enemies of Israel.
(A Song, a Psalm of Asaph.) O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For, behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, "Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more." For they have conspired together with one mind; against Thee do they make a covenant: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab, and the Hagrites; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah. Psalm 83:1-8
What do we see today in the enemies of Israel? The surrounding peoples and lands of Israel are the enemies of Israel. In the middle of them is Amalek.
Did you know that Haman, the Persian prince who set a date for hanging all the Jews in the book of Esther, was a descendant of Amalek? Did you know that Israel believes that Hitler was a descendant of Haman, based on his gross inhumanity? Most of us, praise God, have not faced Amalek yet. But that may be changing very soon.
Look at what is shaping up in the Middle East today. Another version of the Islamic Jihadists is emerging. He is called ISIS, IS, or ISIL. He is vicious. He cuts off people’s heads and makes a mockery and a show of it. He is a savage. The world is looking at Amalek. How shall we deal with this Amalek? Talk to him? Appease him? According to the Lord, we are to kill him in every generation. But is that going to happen? I doubt it. We live in a world full of cowardly and unbelieving nations. Sadly, I believe I live in one of them right now.
Will this enemy make its way to my nation? They are vowing to do so. What will we do when they come? According to what has happened in the past, they will kill and maim. It will be a grievous terror attack. They will be arrested, read their rights, given lawyers, and never see a trial for years and years. In the meantime, they will be on the cover of Time magazine and become world-wide celebrities for the Muslim world. Where is justice or righteousness in this? Don’t worry though; he will be treated fairly.
In the great tribulation, many believers are going to escape in the greater exodus. Like Israel in the ancient exodus, we will not have to fight the government as Israel did not fight Egypt. Instead, we will face Amalek—raiders and bandits in the wilderness—just as Israel did. They will be savage and aggressive. There will be no appeasing them or buying them off. They will have to be killed. If we don’t take action against them, then we will disobey the Lord, fail to protect our own camp, and suffer terribly at their hands.
Do we have the right of self-defense? Yes, we do. Therefore, it will be the righteous thing to kill them on sight and hopefully there will be nothing fair about the fight.
Coming back to our present day, our President has lost his moral compass to recognize our nation’s right to self-defense. We are in a strange time right now. It may be the lull before our national destruction. I also don’t know what will be the aftermath of the police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. I am very alarmed that a mob can act in such a disgusting manner, demanding justice while casting justice and righteousness to the ground to be trampled on. They remind me of the thinking of Amalek. Amalek is not always Muslim. They lie in wait to exploit chaos and fear, attacking the weak, and stealing (looting) what they can. They also have no remorse for their misdeeds, boldly threatening to do more.
Yes, Amalek is with us in this generation too. Already, they have affixed their gaze upon us and said to themselves, “Let’s go and do harm to them!” When the chaos comes, they will be joined by Amalek who has been increasing among us now. It will harm many and many will die. There will be no justification for it. It won’t be “social justice.” It will just be thugs and brutes slaughtering the weak and the innocent. It will be Amalek raised up in our day.
I pray that in that day we will know the commandments of the Lord and will have prepared our hearts and minds to obey the Lord. I hope there will be some Joshuas and Davids among us, men led by God’s Spirit to exercise their right of self-defense, to protect us and others.
I pray that the words of the Psalmist concerning our enemies will be real in our days as well.
O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like chaff before the wind. Like fire that burns the forest and like a flame that sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm. Fill their faces with dishonor, that they may seek Your name, O Lord. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, and let them be humiliated and perish, that they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:13-18
We have the right to defend ourselves. That right comes from God. No one can take that right from us, and… we do not surrender that right to anyone, not even to our own country or government. As Torah followers, we are commanded to expect Amalek and to prepare for him. When the day comes, let us not hesitate. Let us obey the Lord.
Is this a call to arms? Am I saying that we should prepare to fight?
According to Scripture, there are three destinies for the tribulation saints: captivity, sword, and escaping. Those who are taken captive won’t fight or escape. They will just sit there and let themselves be taken. The sword is for those who will take up arms and they will battle everyone. God will use them to allow others to live, but they will die doing it. The third destiny is to escape. They are the tribulation saints who will make it all the way through and see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with great Power and Glory! Self-defense is not always a fight; sometimes it’s removing oneself from the danger zone. But they will be prepared to fight. They are the same ones who kill Amalek in the wilderness at the command of the Lord.
I am asking you to trust the Lord and escape with the saints. I am asking you to obey the Lord and bring a weapon with you on the trip. In the end, it will make a good garden tool when we beat our “swords” into plowshares.