Instructions From the Bible
by James Duffee
The issue of self-defense is one that sparks heated debate amongst Christians, especially with soaring crime rates and the threat of impending disaster stemming from the Apocalypse, tyranny, foreign invasion, etc[Y2K]. The common ideology is that it is wrong to kill under any circumstances, thus self-defense is wrong also. This doctrine is based on a rather simplistic view of "Thou shalt not kill".
In the original Hebrew texts, the sixth commandment reads "Thou shalt do no murder". It sounds the same to many people, but in Scripture there is a definite difference between killing and murder. Throughout the Old Testament, and especially during the Exodus, God commanded Israel to wage war on various cities and nations. At times God commanded that "every living soul" be killed. We must realize that God would never command people to sin, so there has to be something that makes this situation different from murder. In Scripture, there are five types of killing: murder, manslaughter (accidental killing), the death penalty, killing in self-defense, and killing in war.
Numbers 35:15) These six cities shall be a refuge, [both] for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither. 16) And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he [is] a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 17) And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he [is] a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 18) Or [if] he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he [is] a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 19) The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. 20) But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; 21) Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote [him] shall surely be put to death; [for] he [is] a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.
This passage reveals God's instructions concerning the difference between manslaughter, murder and the death penalty. God appointed six cities to be places of refuge for those guilty of manslaughter. Those who were guilty of murder though, were to be put to death as soon as their guilt was established. The "revenger of blood" spoken of in these verses was a male relative of the victim. It was this man's duty to execute the guilty person.
Exodus 22:2) If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, [there shall] no blood [be shed] for him.
In this verse, we see an entirely different circumstance. If a thief is found breaking up (breaking into your house) and is killed, there is no punishment for that killing - no blood shed for the thief. This is considered self-defense and, to be quite blunt, the thief got what he deserved. Scripture also gives examples of personal revenge against ungodly people.
In Genesis 34, we see the story of Dinah (a daughter of Jacob) and the prince of the Hivites. Apparently Dinah was an attractive woman, and Shechem the prince kidnapped her and raped her. Then Shechem fell in love with Dinah and asked his father to convince Jacob to let him marry her. At first Jacob held his peace (controlled his temper) because his sons were in the field. When they returned, the king of the Hivites asked not only for Dinah, but for marriages to be allowed between their peoples.
The sons of Jacob, being extremely angry over what had happened to their sister, told Hamor the king that all of their males had to be circumcised in order to marry Israelite women. All of the Hivite men agreed to these terms, and were circumcised. One can imagine that being circumcised as an adult would be a rather painful ordeal.
Genesis 34:25) And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26) And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out. 27) The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
There are several lessons to be learned from this story. First, Jacob held his peace and went along with the Hivites because he was outnumbered. His sons were out in the fields, so Jacob waited until they were by his side. Second, the brothers of Dinah deliberately lied to the Hivites in order to get them into a weakened condition. Third, Simeon and Levi killed not only Shechem and his father, but every male in the village so there could be no retaliation.
A very obvious example of killing in self-defense would be Samson. In Judges 15, Samson was taken prisoner by the Philistines. When they began to strike at him, he killed a thousand men in self-defense. While it is unlikely that such a thing could ever happen again (one man killing a thousand with the jawbone of an ass), the example is still valid for us today. God does not expect us to sit back and allow ourselves or loved ones to be hurt or killed.
The New Testament prophecies concerning the final days show us what will be happening to Christians, and how Christians should react.
Revelation 13:11) And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12) And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13) And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14) And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15) And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
In Biblical symbolism, a "beast" always represents a kingdom, nation or empire. The first beast referred to is the empire that arose out of the Roman Empire long ago - a system of religion that used the power and authority of government to enforce their religious beliefs. That beast died hundreds of years ago, but the new beast in these verses convinces the people of the world to set up an image of the first - a copy of it. This image of the beast will be a government system that will mandate "acceptable" religious practices and usurp the freedom of people around the world. Those who do not swear allegiance to this new government (worship the beast) will be killed.
Revelation 13:16) And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17) And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
The "mark" of this new empire, it's sign of authority, will have something to do with the financial system that is used. Whether it is a debit card, bar code tattoo, implanted "bio-chip" or something else makes little difference. Those who do not accept it will not be able to buy or sell. The goal of this new empire will be conformity - in religion, education, civil rights, and every other aspect of life. This is the "One World Government" and "New World Order" which, according to Scripture, is inevitable.
The One World Government will wage war on everyone who does not conform. That means survivalists, patriots and Christians (and some that are all three of these). These people will be evicted from their homes and land because they cannot pay rent, mortgage or taxes. They will not be able to travel because they cannot purchase fuel. They will be starved out because stores will only accept the new "mark" form of currency. They will be "brought before governors and kings" (Matthew 10:18), imprisoned and killed. This is what we have to look forward to as part of the final tribulations. But are we expected to simply sit back and take it?
Revelation 17:3) So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5) And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6) And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 7) And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
This woman that is identified as Babylon represents false religion, no religion, and the worldly frame of mind in general. She is portrayed as riding on the beast - being supported by this empire. Babylon is "drunk with the blood" of Christians, guilty of killing the saints and prophets. As mentioned in the previous article, we are instructed to make war against Babylon during the end times, inflict torment and sorrow upon her, and give her a double, double portion of what she has given Christians. Just as Babylon has killed the saints of God, we are to kill the "citizens" of Babylon in the last great struggle of Godly people against the ungodly.
Throughout Scripture we see that killing in self-defense or in war is not sin. On the contrary, we are commanded to make war against the ungodly in the final days. So we must stock up food and other provisions, learn to live off the land, and prepare ourselves to "fight the good fight".
Mark 13:13) And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Next in this series: "Identifying the Beasts Of Revelation"