We live in a fallen, sinful world where evil abounds. We just saw a startling demonstration of this evil with the violent attack of Hamas on innocent Jewish citizens. According to reports from those on the scene, women and children were raped, beheaded and their bodies burned.
One woman who observed the grisly aftermath of the attack told how she is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and heard their stories of the Nazi concentration camps. “This,” she said, “Is even worse!” Perhaps we should not be surprised, for the Hamas Charter calls for the killing of individual Jews and destruction of the Israeli state.
What would be a Biblical response to this massacre? Does the Sermon on the Mount apply to this situation? Is Israel supposed to “turn the other cheek?”
When it comes to individual, personal relationships, we are not to retaliate and seek revenge. We are to treat others the way we want to be treated. This is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. It is the civil government to which God has given the right and responsibility to use force in dealing with evil.
This is made clear in Romans 13:1-4 where Paul lays out the role of civil government in using force to protect those who are good from those who are evil. He wrote,
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities . . . For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
This passage makes clear that civil government exists for the people--to protect its citizens from evil. When a government thinks the people exists for it, and uses and abuses its citizenry for its own ends, it has become an illegitimate government.
This is the situation with Hamas and Gaza. The people of Gaza elected Hamas to be their governing authority, but Hamas does not care for the people they govern. They are obsessed with destroying Israel, and they are willing to use and abuse the Palestinian people to achieve their goal.
America’s Founders understood the reason for civil government as delineated by Paul in Romans 13:4. In their 1776 Declaration of Independence, they clearly stated that human governments exist to secure for the people their God-given rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They wrote,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government . . ..
Israeli citizens have a God-given right to live securely in peace. The Israeli government exists to secure this right for its citizens. Since Hamas is committed to destroying the people of Israel, the Israeli government has a Biblical right and obligation to protect its citizens from those evil intentions. They must, as Paul said in Romans 13:4, execute wrath on him who practices evil (Romans 13:4).
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian, and Bible teacher. His books are available on Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. His book 1726: The Year that Defined America, documents America's Christian origins out of the First Great Awakening and offers hope for her future.