Bluesman, I'm glad you asked the question. There are several major differences that I see. First, there is a difference between war and civilian murders. For example, when I lived in Israel I was within seconds of being blown to bits three different times. Women and children were mutilated, maimed, killed, or disabled by suicide bombers and car and bus bombs set off by cell phones.
Targeting children purposely is not acceptable. A war on the other hand occurs because nations or tribes have not been able to negotiate an agreement. There are rules of war which are internationally held. Do I like war? Not at all. Would I avoid it if it were possible to do so and please God at the same time? Yes. Are there some times that it becomes impossible to avoid violence as the last remaining solution? Just put it in your own personal existence. A serial killer breaks into your house, telling you he intends to brutalize your family and then kill all of you. Do you fight to save your family or do you just hand them over to him? If it were just your own life, you could lay it down. What about your boys and girls, though? Will you hold their hands as they are assaulted without even struggling to set them free from the evil that has walked in your door?
D. Bonhoeffer was against war and as a Pastor in Germany he struggled to avoid violence. However, in the process of watching what Hitler was doing to not just hundreds or even thousands but to millions of people, Bonhoeffer determined that it was necessary to attempt to stop Hitler. He died for his effort to rid Germany of the wickedness.
There is also the issue that God not only loves, He also hates. That really goes against the grain of what many people believe the Word says. However, it is God Himself who says "Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated." These were twin boys who had as yet not done either good or bad. Yet God sovereignly chose--and He is a just, righteous God--that Jacob would received His love, and that Esau would not. But beyond just withholding His love from Esau, God went past neutral to proclaim that He actually hated Esau.
None of us know the mind of God. However, I trust Him with every fiber of my being. God has said to love what He loves and to hate what He hates. That is my intention--to always side with God. In another vein Jesus said to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate you, etc. Do those two statement conflict? They cannot because God is not a man that He should lie--and He said them both. MY enemies will receive my love. I have determined to forgive them whatever they do or attempt to do to me. But those who are God's enemies, I will side with the Lord.
God hates false religion. He hates idol worshippers. He hates cults. Why? Because false religion deceives those who could otherwise come to Him. What I was saying in my post is that when a false religion is encouraging their "believers" to kill every Jew and Christian, that doesn't set well with God. People who are in those religions are still children of Satan--they still listen to Satan, take their orders from him, and take pleasure in hurting God's family.
So, yes there is a great difference. It's not the country, the region, or the continent that makes a person justified in taking a life. It's standing up for righteousness--God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Personally I would be reciting God's Word too if I were the soldier that is called to battle. Thank God that He has given us the Words of life for such a time as that.
Like I've said before, God didn't leave all the rest of us out of His family. Just because we can't trace our lineage to the Abraham/Isaac/Jacob (Israel) bloodline doesn't mean that we are forever doomed. God made a way for us to be adopted into His family. Some will call upon His Name and be saved. Some won't. The Word says the way to God is narrow and there are few who find it. The Word also says that it is not God's will that any should parish. What are we doing to help people find their way to His saving arms?
To me, theology isn't about hair splitting. It's about finding the Truth of God's Word, finding out what pleases God, and coming into close relation with Him in love and in obedience.
Having lived in the middle of Hamas territory for years I believe I have a really good idea of what evil is. I have no qualms about saying evil exists. I have no qualms about identifying it in action. Sitting in our relative safe environments in Europe or Australia or the USA it is possible to theorize about good versus evil and coming to a compromise with it. Living in an area where demonic spirits are vicious those theories of just getting along together go out the door and the reality that evil is very real and must be confronted rise up. God says having done all to stand, stand therefore. That is what this is all about--choosing which side we will serve. I pray daily against Christians being deceived and about our choosing God.
Blessings in the Lord to all whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life
We preach Christ, and Him Lifted Up!