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Manipulating power balances between nations is illegitimate when God has commanded an evil nation to be defeated. In 2 Ki. 13:14-19 Elisha gave Joash the God-guaranteed opportunity to fully defeat invading Syria in five or six military campaigns (symbolized by Joash driving five or six arrows into the ground). Joash deliberately drove only three arrows into the ground, choosing not to defeat Syria but to keep it intact as a buffer state against Assyria, on the other side of Syria. Joash was playing modern power politics, and Elisha condemned his manipulation in the harshest terms possible (vs. 19). In other words, fear of Assyria motivated Joash's refusal to fear God and do what was right. His fear of Assyria revealed his disbelief that God alone is sovereign, and was unfounded in light of God's commandment that all nations, as nations, are to become Christ's disciples (Ps. 22:27, Isa. 45:22-23, Matt. 28:18-20). In Isa. 19:23-25, the prophet foretells the future conversion of Israel's two bitter enemies, Egypt and Assyria, putting them on an equal footing with Israel as followers of God; Paul elaborates on this in Rom. 11:25-26.
- Martin G. Selbrede, National Defense and the Bible, (November 20, 2008), at http://www.chalcedon.edu/papers/NationalDefense.pdf.