You have plowed wickedness,
you have reaped injustice,
you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your power
and in the multitude of your warriors,
therefore the tumult of war shall rise against your people,
and all your fortresses shall be destroyed.
The story of a nation-state is always the story of bloodshed. Every country has a legacy of violence, an origin story of war, and continues to hold its borders with at least the threat of military action.
Israel was no different from any other nation, even though its origin was fundamentally an act of the divine will. God laid the foundations of this nation and defended it against all enemies.
But over time, Israel began to trust its own military strength, as the prophet Hosea warns. The nation’s arsenal and number of soldiers had led it to believe that it was sufficiently powerful to defend itself, and did not need God’s intervention.
This will lead to disaster, says Hosea.
America is no different from any other nation, either. Our own origin is soaked in the blood of those who lived here when the Europeans came, not to mention the blood of subsequent wars, skirmishes, and police actions.
After two world wars in the 20th century, America began to see itself as the major global superpower, thanks to the development of a new type of weapon — the atomic bomb. Now that all challengers to the title of “superpower” have fallen away, in part because of our nuclear arsenal, it is not hard to trust “in our power” and in the multitude of our weapons.
Even though nuclear weapons are inarguably the most demonic form of warfare in the world, designed specifically to inflict massive suffering to civilians and civilian society, we are reluctant to let go of them.
Yesterday at the United Nations, talks began on the possibility of a worldwide ban of nukes. One of the first to speak out in opposition of such a ban was our own ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley who said, “There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?”
Haley represents the current American strategy of deterrence, which is the idea that having nuclear weapons effectively deters other nations from developing or using their own nuclear weapons. She, and other government leaders, insist that we would never use them, but President Trump has publicly refused to take any options off the table when it comes to military action.
Indeed, the sad truth is that America is the only country in the world that has ever used nuclear weapons in actual conflict. The result was the slaughter of over 200,000 Japanese civilians.
To date, America holds approximately 6,800 nuclear warheads, second only to Russia, which has 7,000, but far more than the remaining countries which have nukes. That’s a lot of firepower, sufficient to destroy a good segment of the earth’s population.
Our ambassador urges us to “be realistic” when it comes to nukes.
I believe Hosea is being quite realistic when he says, “Because you have trusted in your power … therefore the tumult of war shall rise against your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed” (10:13-14). He recognizes the basic truth which Jesus uttered in the garden: “All those who live by the sword shall die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).
Those who trust in the shedding of blood to keep themselves safe, may find that they are the least safe.
Prayer: God, you hate war, because it destroys your good creation. May I hate war with the same passion, and do all in my power to make peace. Help us to turn swords into plows, and spears into pruning hooks. Amen.
Justice Challenge: Follow the efforts of ICAN at the UN to ban nuclear weapons here: http://nuclearban.org Sign up to receive updates through the rest of the week.