Now we come to Deut 20.1-20 and the Law of Warfare. This is called “Moreshet Karav” or the “Heritage of War” in Hebrew. We will see there is a High Priest who in anointed for war in these passages (v 2) and this is very eschatological. We know that Yeshua is our High Priest (Heb 4.14-16) and we know that he comes for war at his second coming (Isa 63.1-6; Rev 19.11-21).
There will be two types of warfare. There are the wars commanded by God, like those in Canaan or with the Amalekites (Exo 17.15). Then we have the wars permitted for self-defense or an offensive reason, like with the Philistines. Not just any high priest led the armies of Israel, but a high priest anointed for war. These laws of warfare were followed by the Maccabees and v 3-4 was said by the high priest before the battle. This reminded the people that death was not in the hands of the enemy, and those who believe that death came by the will of God are not afraid of his command.
We are not to fear our enemies, either. Fear spreads and we can cause many to fall. But fear can come in many ways and in many situations not related to warfare. If you are a coach and your star player is not playing well, take him out of the game. You cannot coach in fear. If you are a parent and you must discipline your children, do it. You cannot parent in the fear that your children won’t like you. Are we fainthearted? We are in a battle right now and you cannot function that way.
In Deut 20.10 it says that when they came to a city, they were to offer terms of peace. They were not to compromise with an enemy. If the city wanted peace, the people found in it would become forced labor and serve Israel (v 11). If they did not want to make peace, when the city fell the men were killed and the women, children and livestock and all in the city shall be taken as booty. However, they were not to leave anything alive in the cities of those people that the Lord is giving them as an inheritance (v 16).
In Deut 20.19 it says they were not to cut down any trees that could be used for food. Only non-fruit bearing trees could be used to construct siege works against a city. This tells us we should not cut ourselves off from our spiritual food during a battle. For more information on spiritual warfare, see our series called “The Spiritual Warrior” on this website.
Deut 21.1-9 tells us about the rite of the “Eglah Arufah” (the heifer whose neck is broken). This was done in the case of an unsolved murder. This ceremony was a symbolic reenactment of the crime. A young calf is taken by the elders of the city nearest to to the slain person. The calf must be one who has not been worked and has not pulled a yoke.
The heifer was taken down to a valley with running water which has not been plowed or sown and they would break the neck of the heifer in the valley (a violent death). Then the priest shall come near because the Lord has chosen them to settle every dispute and to bless the name of Yehovah. Then all these elders of the city nearest to the slain would wash their hands over the heifer that has been slain. Then they say, “Our hands have not shed this blood nor did our eyes see it. Forgive they people Israel whom you have redeemed, O Lord, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of thy people Israel.” Then bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven because they have done what was right in the eyes of the Lord. So, what does all this mean?
The young heifer and the unplowed field is alluding to the lost potential of a life snuffed out. It is clearly a ceremony that is a type of the Messiah. He was without the “yoke” of sin. The valley symbolized Yeshua “descending” from heaven to die a violent death (Psa 69.1-2, 88.6-7), and we are made “clean” through Yeshua (Psa 26.6).
As the spiritual leaders, the elders would stand as the generators of kedusha throughout their area. Had they been more careful about the needs of others, they may have been able to touch even the lowest criminal and perhaps the murderer would not have killed the victim. Therefore, they must proclaim that they were not lax in anyway towards others in their area. God will hold us accountable for these things, too, like abortion, criminal acts not dealt with and untraced murder. To remove the guilt of innocent blood is the right things to do.
As we read through the Torah you will notice a very interesting thing. We don’t see jails used for punishment. As often as it is used in our western judicial system, you would think that you would find in in the Torah, but you don’t. It is a foreign concept in Jewish law based on the Torah. From the perspective of the Torah, it is not a viable option or an effective deterrent in regards to a disciplinary, rehabilitative or financial point of view.
The truth is, one would think that a Torah-based society would not need a system of courts and judges. One would assume that following the Torah perfects the character to such a degree that laws would never be broken. But, that is of course not the case. The Torah is telling us in this ceremony that even in the best of times the Torah is not enough to cleanse a person from evil intentions and acts. Only death sets us free from all that.
Paul taught this concept and the Torah helps us understand what sin is. He said in Rom 3.20 that “By the law (Torah) is the knowledge of sin.” John said in 1 John 3.4 that “Sin is the transgression of the Law (Torah).” The Paul says that “by grace we are saved through faith” (Eph 2.8). But Paul asks in Rom 3.31, “Do we then make void the Torah through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Torah.” The Torah tells us how to be more like the Lord (Isa 55.8).
The impact of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was absorbed into all our lives, leaving us with plenty of pride, lust and desire (Gen 3.24). Ever wonder why the Lord had to guard the way to the Tree of Life? If we have free will, why don’t we sin in the Olam Haba and start this whole thing over again? God didn’t want Adam and Chava to eat from the Tree of Life and be in the state of sin forever. In the Olam Haba we will be in our glorified bodies forever, and incapable of sin because the Lord will not let us sin (Jude 24; Col 1.17). We will eat of the Tree of Life in the Olam Haba (Rev 22.1-3).
To understand this question fully, we must be able to answer the question, “Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in Eden if he knew man was going to sin? Why dd he allow Satan to fall if he created him perfect and to be a covering angel and minister before him? DTBM Online Video Training/YouTube.com has a good video on this and we will draw out the most important concepts to answer this question.
God never discovers anything new or learns anything. He does not add additional knowledge The first thing we must come to grips with is that God determines the outcome before things ever happen. He knows everything, even who will be saved before the world was ever created (Eph 1.4). For more in formation on this subject, see our teaching called “The Sovereignty of God and the Elect” on this website.
God is perfect and self-existent and he is described as the only one that is good (Mark 10.18). Jude 24 says that God is able to keep us from falling. Have you ever wondered why there is no sin in the Olam Haba? Why doesn’t man sin and start the whole redemption process over again? What we need to understand is God is by himself, and outside of him man and Satan dwells. Satan was doing his job and God kept him perfect (Ezek 28) because nothing is perfect on its own. Nothing can continue in perfection.
Satan was doing what God created him to do because God was keeping him (Jude 24). God keeps and preserves us as well. He holds things together (Col 1.17). But, when the Lord ceases that hold, evil is found. God said in the case of Satan, and eventually Adam, “I am going to demonstrate what happens when I cease “holding on.” In Isa 14.12-14 Satan says, “I will be like God.” But notice that he doesn’t say, “I will be greater than God” or “I will be better than God” because he knows that that was not going to happen.
Yehovah “withdrew” his hold on “Helel Ben Shachar” (Satan is a title) and look what happened…evil was found in him (Ezek 28.15). God had a plan before anyone needed to be redeemed. He was showing what happens when he is absent, what happens without him. This brings us to Adam.
Adam was “good” but the Torah never says he was perfect. Adam’s innocence had one command, “Do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” But Adam did not obey that one command and sinned, and we are not responsible for that. However, we are responsible for the sins we commit. The “sin nature” is spiritual and not “physically” passed. You will notice that Adam began blaming others for his sin immediately, right away! He already had that within him, and so did Chava. Why is this the case? Because man has an inclination to sin and do evil, and our desires supersede what God says in his word.
But the good news is this. God promised to “blot out” the remembrance of our fleshly nature, just like he gave instructions to blot out the name of Amalek in Exo 17.14 and Num 24.20. That is why we will not sin in the Olam Haba. God will be keeping and holding us, not allowing it to happen. Those who have the belief that we have free will and God will never violate that does not understand the sovereignty of God. Again, we refer you to the teaching called “The Sovereignty of God and the Elect” on this website for a more detailed look at this question.
We will pick up here in Part 19 with the Next Torah portion called “Ki Tetze” meaning “When you go out.”