Table of Nations: Just War Theory

0052_gen_141400_bIn the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks[a] of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people. – Genesis 14:1-16

Just War as a theory has been hotly debated for as long as war has been a reality. One could even say that is an unfortunate result of people living in the world together. The above verse, outline the earliest “war” recorded in the Bible. The nine nations mentioned before Abraham got involved were part of a league of nations known as the Table of Nations. Every 10 years these nations would divide forces and test each other in battle. In many ways, it was a dictator or family tribal leader who grew to such strength that the only thing left to do was test their capabilities to win against another tribe or another nation. From these descriptions and knowing what we do of wars the followed, it appears that war was a method of sport. Only in these games people die, get captured or become slaves of the victor. Sound familiar yet?

firefight_afghanistanNotice the length of the war: 14 years. Pretty long war! We here in the United States recently fought a few of these. The tenth nation to be involved was involved reluctantly and changed the entire course of the war. Abraham and his small tribe were not considered by the world at the time to be a nation yet, but all that changed in the 14th year. Abraham was doing just fine not being involved in the sword rattling of that day until the nation that housed his relatives was overrun in battle and taken as war booty.

Abraham’s allegiances were to the Amorites at the time but more importantly his allegiance was to his own flesh and blood. The people who made up his household just a few short months before. Abraham knew the women and children who had been taken and had a strong belief about family lineage. For Abraham, the stealing away of Lot and his family was all that was needed for him to enter the war. Taking with him all of the 318 men, Abraham moved out with clear instructions to the leaders of the divided men. 318 men divided in two for 159 men routed and estimated 10,000 men and five armies across 160 miles at night over a few nights. He brought back with him his recovered family and delivered Lot safe and sound. Keep in mind the primary method of travel was on foot and the terrain was mountainous the further north they went. Today we call these guys Infantry. The size of the force Abraham used we would call Rangers. The tactics would be identified as Special Forces. The level of defeat led to Abraham and his family being identified as a Nation by other nations and more importantly by the mysterious character known as Mechizedek.

The degrees of this debate differ. One could find themselves on the conscientious objector side and disagree with war of any kind or you could find yourself on the side of those that want nothing less than raping and pillaging and completely destroying any memory of the people group that is waged against you. Regardless of where you fall in line with those who differ on the subject, one thing is sure: War is not going away anytime soon. If anything, and according to scripture as the day gets closer, we will see an increase, “And there will be wars and rumors of wars.” (Jesus, Matthew 24)

Two Edged SwordBottom line, War is a reality! We must choose what we will do with and in said reality. In America, less than 1%, .47% to be exact, have raised their right hand and vowed to defend this country, against enemies foreign and domestic, defend her constitution and follow the orders of those appointed over them. This small microcosm of society faces the reality of war every day in one form or another. According to www.infoplease.com, there are over 19 million Veterans living in the United States. These incredible Americans represent the past warriors who were both drafted into service or volunteered for service.

If we have learned anything from American history, it is we go to war. Therefore, not only is war a global reality but it is an American reality. Again, what will we do with this reality? Recently, a Christian website asked if their readers believed God was a god of war. The responses to the question were very interesting but represent the same degrees of differing already outlined here. I simply responded with Exodus 15:3, “The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name.” I went back a few days later and noticed no one responded after me. War is a reality for God as well. Incredible! All of these things I’ve written on previously. In my very first entry to Veterans To Christ called “God Understands Soldiers” and the one from May 22, called “Spiritual Warfare”, I cover these topics pretty fairly. More specifically, there is a war that Jesus fought for us that we could neither fight nor win. He both fought it and won it. This was and is God’s answer to war both generally for the entire world and specifically for you and me as individuals. We are all like Lot and we deserve to die instead of being captured but God chose to send his son to set us free. Just like he sent Abraham for Lot. Spiritual warfare against a real enemy is reality!

“The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy. But I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10

God made his choice regarding war and it is Just.

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.