[Silent Guns, 2015 - Chickamauga National Park]
Psalm 46:9 (NKJV) 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
The song (Title) was sung by both sides during the American War Between The States and was beloved in Boston as much as Atlanta. It was popular because it expressed what I believe to be a nearly universal human aspiration, the desire for peace amidst the weariness of war.
There were men facing these cannons, or similar ones, on this very spot on that horrible day at Chickamauga. There were also mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and children, near and far away, who were singing that song... looking forward to the day when their "Johnny" would indeed come marching home. For thousands and thousands of them, that day would never come.
There indeed are those who "love" war. General Patton comes to mind if the movie made about him is accurate and it appears it was, he said: “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so.” This is not a statement Jesus would make though I do not believe that it is a damnable sin. Too many of God's servants, in both dispensations, have been professional military men and women, for it to be a "sin unto death" (1 Jn. 5:17). I think rather, that it is more Christlike to abhor war, to hate it, to wish it ended once and forever, and to long for the day when swords are made into plowshares. But, the history of the fallen world is the history of warfare and to desire war to end is, in effect, to desire for history to end.
There is a God in Heaven who "makes warfare to cease." Though war in the world about us rages, there is the potential, even more than just potential, for a soul to be at peace. Though the artillery shells rain down upon us and jack boots beat down our doors..... though our sons and daughters must march off to face a cruel, merciless and demonic enemy, yet peace can be our domain. The Lord Jesus Christ came to eliminate the enmity that exists in the hearts of men, the cruel contempt which is ultimately responsible for taking up arms against other men who bear the image of God in their person if not in their hearts. All wars, like all divorces, are grounded in sin though it is not true that all sides are equally sinful or even sinful at all in pursuing it. What has to be determined is whether the war in our heart has ceased. Whether our actions are motivated by hatred or a true longing for righteousness and mercy.
Patton also said that those troops who were charged with the reception and supervision of prisoners of war should be stationed as close to the front as possible. He said this because he knew that the front line troops, still under the passions of killing or being killed, cannot be trusted with the prisoners' safety nor of their persons. This is indicative of the true wickedness and temptation that war can arouse, that even men of noble intent can be warped and transformed by it such that mercy dies and hatred reigns. So it is that wars must cease if peace and righteousness must rule completely, and so it shall be that wars shall cease when God makes it so.
No aspect of human history has so fascinated me throughout my years more than that of warfare. I have an entire section of my library taken up with volumes on the strategy and tactics, the instruments and weapons used, the political environment, the heroes and villains, the tales of the brilliant and the stupid men who lead or were lead in battle. In my early days these were the source of my motivation and my zeal for military service. Young men are easily inflamed and motivated by dreams of glory and manly courage. These things are not absent from war and my heart still blesses the men and women who protect us and who are deserving of honor and respect. But with time, the sadness of that history becomes preeminent and the glory of Cannae is dimmed by the mental vision of 70,000 men dying, encircled by the merciless Carthaginians, under that hot August sun. I can picture the Roman soldiers' anguish and I can also see the excited blood thirst of the Carthaginians as they slashed and stabbed the Romans. The Romans were so tightly packed in the circle that their superior numbers were meaningless. The kill ratio was about 10:1. This is brilliantly horrible...
I suppose this is all leading to the thought of prayer. It is not enough to simply pray for the Lord to end this horror... rather, perhaps, what we should be praying for is that He put an end to the horrid passions of our heart that war and the temptation to war can unleash. Perhaps our prayer should be that He makes the warfare in our hearts, the passions of war in our souls, to cease. This is something only He can do.