War cannot be said to always be morally evil. War in the Old Testament was precisely “holy.” When a city was burned to the ground under the ban (Num. 21:3, Josh. 6:16-24, Judg. 1: 17), the fire was taken from the altar and the city was considered a whole burnt sacrifice (Deut. 13:16f.). The fire on the altar, again, was never lit by human hands, but was fire from heaven, kept burning continually but initially poured out by God Himself (cf. Gen. 22:7, Lev. 9:24-10:2, II Ch. 7:1, I Ki. 18:38). Holy war, then, was the execution of God’s own fiery judgment against those who refused to have Christ as their sacrificial Substitute. The fires and judgments of holy war simply issued the enemies of God into the fires of hell.
- James B. Jordan, Pacifism and the Old Testament: A Survey of Four Recent Books, The Theology of Christian Resistance (No. 2 WINTER, 1983) at 75, 77-78, at http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks.