In the United States we set aside a day each year to remember those who served in the military. It’s a special day to remember the sacrifices made in order that our nation is protected against enemies. The sacrifices of time and service are appreciated. Many soldiers are separated from their family as they serve their nation, and some see battles on foreign soil. I’d like to say thank you to all who have bravely served this nation and have protected our freedom.
Military service is as old as humanity, and we learn of many battles as we read Scripture. The first mention of armed battle is found in Genesis. Certain kings had joined forces to make war against other kings:
“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar” (Genesis 14:1-2).
Nations have always fought against each other to take land, slaves, and spoil. These kings weren’t God-fearing men, but pagan rulers who wanted what they could take by force. The kings over Sodom and Gomorrah lost, and the victors took what they wanted:
“And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed” (Genesis 14:12).
That was a mistake. Word came to Abram that Lot was taken captive, and Abram went to war:
“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan” (Genesis 14:14).
Abram already had an army trained and ready to fight in order to protect what was his, and now he fought to save his nephew. Abram’s fighting men won the battle, and Lot was rescued as well as what other people and goods that had been taken.
Military strength is important for the protection of any nation. The United States has a strong military, and today the Commander in Chief is a strong leader. Our military needs prayers, and so does President Trump.
The need for an army didn’t stop with Abram. When Moses led the Israelites from captivity, there were many battles to be fought; and by God’s strength, they won. It was Joshua who led the battle for the Promised Land, and he was a very capable military leader. During the time of the judges, the tribes of Israel faced many battles; and when they demanded a king, Saul was chosen, and his army is mentioned in Scripture. King David was a strong military leader, and the army he led was a force to be reckoned with.
No nation can exist without a trained military, and it’s good to stop and honor those brave souls who are trained to fight.
The Old Testament gives many examples of military strength, but so does the New Testament. The Roman army was very powerful, and their presence is seen many times in Scripture. Once a Roman Centurion had a servant who was very ill, and He went to Jesus for help:
“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented” (Matthew 8:5-6).
He asked Jesus to heal the servant, and Jesus agreed without hesitation. He didn’t tell the centurion to leave military service even though the Romans ruled over the Jewish people and were oftentimes harsh. This centurion understood that only Jesus could heal his servant, and any soldier who recognizes Christ will understand that Jesus is the true leader in battle.
Too often Christians forget that we are also in a battle. We have an enemy who is a liar and tries to stop us from following our Commander in Chief in the spiritual battle before us. Satan promotes political correctness instead of Biblical correctness, and many Christian soldiers are siding with the enemy. We must not let the enemy win. We must keep Biblical truth as our authority.
The centurion who asked Jesus to heal the servant understood authority and understood that Jesus had authority over all things. When Jesus agreed to go to his home and heal the servant, the centurion declined because he understood Jesus’ authority:
“The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it” (Matthew 8:8-9).
The centurion was humble, and he knew the authority which Christ had. As Christians, do we understand the authority of Jesus? Too often we bow to lesser gods instead of understanding that Jesus Christ is all powerful and, at His name, every knee will bow. We can learn much from the centurion. He wasn’t even Jewish but knew that Jesus had authority over all things.
Christians are soldiers in a spiritual battle. Unfortunately, many profess Christ for salvation, but are blind to the fact that He is the leader we are to follow. Soldiers who follow the leadership of the enemy are called traitors. Christians become traitors when we compromise Biblical truth and side with the enemy. In order to be fit for battle, a soldier must recognize the enemy. Satan is the enemy of all people, and he will try to lure you away from Jesus. The only way to fight the battle is to have the weapons of war in place, and you need the skill to use them. I’ve made reference to these weapons many times, but we always need to be reminded to keep the weapons in battle readiness:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
These are the weapons that every Christian must learn to use and keep in readiness for battle. Study Scripture and learn to use that shield against Satan’s fiery darts. Become skilled in the use of the sword spirit, and don’t take off those protective shoes of the Gospel. Don’t compromise in your walk with Jesus.
Many soldiers have gone before us in battle, beginning with the Apostles. Many brave soldiers have died in battle, but they never denied their faith. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He died in battle, but he lives eternally because of his faith in Christ. Stephen was able to face death with peace.
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).
What a glorious sight to see! Stephen had fought his battle with valor. The enemy is evil but Stephen had nothing to fear in life or in death.
“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).
Stephen’s feet were shod with the preparation of the Gospel. One of the men helping in the murder of Stephen was Saul. He heard Stephen’s words and saw the strength he had even in death. One day as Saul travelled to Damascus, he met Jesus. His life was forever changed, and we know him better as the Apostle Paul. Did Paul look back upon the courage of Stephen when he wrote about the spiritual enemy and putting on the armor of God? The strength he saw in Stephen that day could only be understood after Paul also became a soldier for the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, we are all in this spiritual battle and must encourage each other as we fight. We can’t turn against each other, nor can we turn against our Lord. Paul recognized the importance of soldiers in this battle:
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
We must encourage our fellow soldiers to turn away from the world. We can’t win battles if we side with the enemy.
We must remember the soldiers who protect our nation, but we also must remember the soldiers who fight the ongoing spiritual battle for the souls of men. We think of warriors like Stephen, Peter, John, Paul, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and other veterans of spiritual battle. These men fought their battles well; and because of them, and many like them, the Christian faith has been passed down from generation to generation. Today we fight the same battles. I’m sure you know someone who is a veteran of many battles. Maybe a grandparent or a parent has shown you how to stand strong in your faith no matter what battle may be raging around you.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).
Jude continues his short letter by giving examples of battles that must be fought. People will try to undermine the truth of the Gospel, but we must contend for the pure truth of the Gospel and our faith in Jesus Christ. You and I are both veterans in this battle, and only standing firmly upon the pure word of God will arm us for battle. The battles are many but if you don’t compromise Biblical truth, and keep your weapons in battle readiness, you will be able to contend for the faith and help others to stand firm in their battles.
Our Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ, will lead us in the battle. He already won the war when He shed His blood on the cross. The battles we face are Satan’s last desperate effort to take as many people with him as he can to eternal death in the lake of fire. Christians are in a battle and we must fight.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.
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