President Donald Trump appears to be engaging in a high-stakes gamble to convince China to intervene in the North Korean crisis. Either China will engage in meaningful negotiations, or the U.S. may be compelled to enact military options. Senator Lindsey Graham told Chris Wallace, “I’m a hundred percent certain that Donald Trump would use military force as a last resort to stop North Korea from developing a missile to hit the American homeland. I know he will do that. I hope North Korea understands it. I hope China understands it. And quite frankly, he has no other choice in my view.”
With every gamble comes risk. War should never be taken lightly. By its very nature, it poses an existential threat to both our person and our country. It is a grave prospect which should concern us. We should not flippantly speak of war, nor should we glibly assume that God is on our side.
America does not have special nation status with God. We are not protected by virtue of having been founded as a Christian country, by the good we have done, or by the ways in which America has been used to spread the gospel throughout the world. Instead, God always reserves the right to both bless and curse any nation according to its obedience to Him (Deut. 11:26–28). After blessing a nation, God may choose to curse that same nation if it becomes disobedient. Israel, who was God’s covenant people, experienced both blessings and curses from God according to its obedience (Lev. 26:1–46; Deut. 28:1–68).
If God became Israel’s enemy, willing to fight against His own people due to their rebellion, then He can become the enemy of any nation—including our own (Isa. 63:7–10). No nation can assume that God is on its side. Rather, we must be on God’s side. Nowhere is this more evident than in the book of Joshua. When approaching Jericho, Joshua saw what most scholars believe to be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. In this passage, He is described as a man holding a sword. Given the fact that the Israelites were actively invading the land of Canaan, Joshua reasonably asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” The answer he received was, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord” (Josh. 5:13–14). God wasn’t choosing sides between two armies. Instead, there was God’s side and everyone else’s side.
If ever there was a time for God to be on Israel’s side, this was it. God had personally led the Israelites to the land which He had promised to their forefathers. He had supernaturally dried up the Jordan River so that they could cross into the land, and He was about to miraculously collapse the walls of Jericho. Nevertheless, Jesus told Joshua that He was not on Israel’s side; neither was He on the side of their enemies. Instead, he commanded the armies of heaven, so Joshua had best be sure to be on His side.
God expects us to join His side, not to invoke Him to join our side. We can choose to join God in faithful obedience to Him, or we can choose to stand in opposition to Him. When asked whether God was on his side, Abraham Lincoln said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Our question then, should be, “Are we as a nation faithfully seeking after God as we seek a resolution to the question of North Korea?” Or are we making the same mistake that Israel made in assuming that because they were the covenant people of God, and because they were far less wicked than their neighboring nations, God would support and protect Israel in any military conflict?
It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that because North Korea is among the most oppressive regimes in the world, God would never allow them to succeed in their endeavors. In contrast to North Korea, America stands as a beacon of light to the world. Surely God would protect America in any conflict with North Korea!?
Although this may sound reasonable, the Bible teaches otherwise. In the first two chapters of Habakkuk, we read of a conversation between the prophet and God as Habakkuk struggled to understand how God could use the Babylonians to judge His own people. How could a holy and just God watch His people fall to the most wicked, depraved, and ruthless nation on Earth? What we discover is that God has a plan. He chose to use the Babylonians to judge His own people so that they would repent and once again be a nation that could be used by God. As for the Babylonians, the day was coming when they too would be judged. God was merely moving the nations like pawns to accomplish His greater purposes.
The fact that North Korea is a wicked and ruthless nation will not prevent God from using it to accomplish His greater purposes. As Americans, we should not be asking which nation is more wicked. Instead, we should be asking which nation is obedient to God. The fact that we are both nations in disobedience should give us great concern. Perhaps God may choose to signal to the entire world the consequences of disobedience by using one of the most incapable nations to bring one of the most capable nations to its knees.
Being a nation in rebellion to God, we as Americans have no assurances if we engage in a war with North Korea. Neither do we have any assurances that the Koreans will not successfully use nuclear weapons against the United States if we choose to ignore them. Certainly, we have cause to be concerned!
This article is excerpted from the paper “Evaluating the North Korean Crisis.”
1. Hymes Jeff. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace 8/13/17 | Fox News Sunday August 13, 2017.” YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9u-5IeOwP4 (accessed August 14, 2017).
2. “Abraham Lincoln Quotes.” Brainy Quote, n.d. Accessed August 10, 2017. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/abrahamlin388944.html.