Sometimes when reading through the Old Testament, specifically the book of Joshua when the children of Israel conquer the land, it can seem like God is initiating much violence. Kingdom states are wiped out as the children of Israel obtain their promised land. Could there not have been a better way? Isn’t God a God of peace?
In reading Deuteronomy chapter 20, God gives a principle about when the children of Israel go to war. “When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.” (verses 10-12) Though each particular account may not have shown these verses in action, the book of Joshua is clear in declaring that Joshua kept all the commands that the Lord and Moses gave him (Joshua 1:7, 11:15; 14:5). Peace was offered, the nations could have surrendered to the Israelites and have had peace, yet in almost every situation the peace was rejected.
In a personal way, we also fight many battles and struggles. Financial pressures, relational stress, health issues, discrimination and abusive situations attack us and rob us of joy and tranquility. Constantly people and situations rise against us and sometimes they rob us of our peace. Before the battles start and in the midst of the battles, God also offers peace to us. Jesus speaks in John 16:33 saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The teaching and the example of Jesus are to bring peace into our lives. When we apply His principles, submit (surrender) to Jesus, trust in His help, then peace is present. This “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)”