The Need for Soldiers part 2. Since these blogs are posted to WordPress chronologically, please scroll down to read part 1.
Whether they stormed the beaches of Normandy and Okinawa; whether they fought in the bitter cold of Korea or in the jungles of Vietnam; or whether they fought on the desert sands of Iraq and Kuwait; whatever past or present conflict they were involved in, there are things soldiers must do to prepare themselves for battle.
First, they must be well disciplined. This means they are expected to follow orders, no matter the cost.
They need to be well trained. Basically, this means they need to know how to fight and defend themselves in battle. For those not directly involved in combat, it means they train until they know their jobs so well, it almost becomes second nature to them.
And they must be well equipped. Even though we’ve all read stories of soldiers having to use broomsticks for guns as they went through training, especially in the early days of World War II, when it came time to go into battle, they had the weapons and tools they needed.
Just like those soldiers, a Christian needs to be well disciplined. That means obeying God and faithfully following Jesus Christ, not when it’s convenient, not when it’s easy, but even when it’s not. A disciplined Christian follows Jesus Christ, no matter the cost.
We also need to be well trained. We get our training from being in God’s word, by knowing the Bible well enough that we can apply it to any situation we face. Paul told Timothy “Train yourself to be Godly.” The very notion of training means doing something over and over until you’re so good at it, it becomes like second nature. It’s why soldiers train constantly. It’s why an athlete trains constantly. It’s why pilots spend so much time in the simulator. It’s why we need to be in His word every day.
Last week I said that as long as there are people who are willing to fight for evil, we will always need warriors who are willing to fight for justice. Jesus said “we will hear of wars and rumors of wars”, and“that theses things must happen.” It has been that way ever since evil entered the world through the original sin. Going all the way back to the days of the Old Testament, God Himself commanded various leaders at various times throughout Israel’s history to train men for war. Some might ask, “Why doesn’t God just strike our enemies down for us?” The answer to that question is: Sometimes He does.
When Jehoshaphat King of Judah learned that the Moabites and Ammonites were gathering an army to wage war against him, he prayed to God and God answered his prayer.
From 2 Chronicles 20
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.
And later in verse 24 of that same chapter, the Bible says:
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.
Later, when King Hezekiah faced a similar situation, he prayed and God answered his prayer for help as well.
From 2 Kings chapter 19:
Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, there were all the dead bodies.
And as we saw in Need for Soldiers part 1 in the the book of Revelation, the day is coming when Jesus will vanquish all our enemies, and His, forever.
So at times, God does fight for His people. But there were many more times when God commanded the men of Israel to take up arms and jump into the fray themselves. Numerous times in the Old Testament, God commanded one of Israel’s leaders to go out and engage the enemy with the promise: I will deliver them into your hands.
God did this for a couple of reasons, the most important of which was to teach His people to put their trust in Him and to take Him at His word. Another reason God often ordered His people to go into battle was to show them very pointedly that there are times when doing His work will be messy. As we well know, the Christian walk is not always an easy walk. I’ve often heard a minister friend of mine say, “ministry can be very messy”.
God has not changed one bit. Whether it’s temporal or spiritual warfare, there are times God does fight on our behalf. Usually it’s when we’re in a situation that appears hopeless with no way out. And again, He does it to teach us to put our trust in Him. And there are many more times when He orders us into battle. He sends us into the fray equipped with the tools and weapons He gave us.
But what are they exactly? What tools and weapons does He give us for spiritual battle? Let’s look at a few.
The first tool we have at our disposal is light. How is light a useful tool in spiritual warfare? I know it sounds odd but hear me out. The light I’m speaking of is the light of Jesus Christ that is ever present in all believers. It’s the kind of light that is exhibited when we live our faith in a way that the world can readily see; when we live to please God. That’s what the light of Christ does. It illuminates, and helps those in darkness to see the truth.
With all this talk of warfare and combat, I have to admit I’ve never actually been in combat. What I know is what I’ve read in books and seen in movies. There was a movie you may have heard of called “We Were Soldiers” which, by the way, was based on a true story. There was one particular scene in that movie in which a small squad of American soldiers was cut off from the main force. The Vietnamese had been trying to finish them off for days. It was the middle of the night. There was no moon or stars out. It was pitch black. The squad commander called for a parachute flare and when it ignited, it lit up the whole area. And standing less than three feet away were dozens of enemy soldiers who had been quietly creeping up on the American position under the cover of darkness.
Light exposes that which is hidden in darkness. Our enemy doesn’t always try to come at us directly with a full frontal assault. Sometimes Satan tries to attack under the cover of darkness. He does this by trying to introduce false teaching and false doctrine into the church. He does it by trying to find out where we are weakest, and then tries to lure us through temptation. But God’s truth is light. It allows us to see through the darkness of false teaching. It illuminates our own weaknesses so we can shore up our defenses. It reveals the real motives of our enemies and allows us to see our principle enemy for what he really is, a liar and the father of all lies.
In John chapter 3, the Bible tells us:
Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
We cannot fight what we cannot see, whether in temporal or spiritual warfare. In spiritual warfare, the light of Christ does two things. It exposes evil and illuminates the truth.
Another tool we use in spiritual warfare is prayer. It’s a very effective tool. When soldiers on on the battlefield are locked in combat, it’s vital that there be a direct line of communication with their commanders so they can give updates, request supplies and reinforcements, and receive orders. Prayer does the same thing for the believer. It gives us a direct line of communication to our commander, to God, so we can make our requests known to Him and so He can give us guidance.
Therefore in any battle, communication is vital. Prayer is how we communicate with God. Jesus said in John chapter 15, You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. Jesus was saying we should pray to the Father in His name. But I will say this: For there to be effective and meaningful communication between us and our heavenly Father, we have to have the right kind of relationship with Him. In the simplest terms, that means we have to be right with Jesus.
I talked about two of the tools God gave us to help in our daily battles. He also gave us a very powerful weapon. When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, what weapon did He use? He used the word of God to rebuke Satan. Three times Satan tried to tempt Jesus, and three times Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy. In Ephesians chapter 6 Paul said to take up the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. I alluded to this in part 1, when I said Jesus will destroy all His enemies with nothing but the word from His mouth. Now, we don’t have power of that magnitude. We can’t speak and destroy entire armies. But even though we don’t possess the same kind of power Jesus has, the word of God is still a powerful weapon for us. Look closely at that passage in Ephesians. The sword of the spirit, or God’s word, was the only offensive weapon Paul included in his list of things we need to do to prepare for spiritual battle. Everything else is defensive. Without the word of God, we really won’t be able to see the light of God’s truth. You have to know what the truth is first. And how can we know God’s truth if don’t read the word?
Without His word, the light of Christ is not in us. And without that, how will know how to live? How would we know what God expects of us? And how would we even know how to pray? The very next sentence in that passage I just quoted from Ephesians says for us to pray in the spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. Without God’s word, it’s nearly impossible to have a meaningful prayer life. So the word of God is the most important and most powerful weapon we have. It’s the power source for light and it is the doorway to effective prayer.
The enemy has weapons at his disposal as well. Doubt, frustration, discouragement. But the most powerful weapon Satan will try to use against us is deceit.
With lies and false promises he will try to destroy us and our families along with our testimony. Satan knows he is defeated and he wants to take as many people to hell with him as he can. He will go after our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, and he’ll laugh all the way to hell in the process. That’s how low down and despicable he is.
But the Bible says if we resist him, he will flee. That’s why brothers and sisters, the Bible is the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal.
There will come a time when Jesus will say, “I’m making everything new.” There will be no more battles to be fought. The enemy will have been defeated. And if you think about it, it’s really absurd to even entertain the notion that Jesus will make everything new like He promised and then allow it to be destroyed again by warfare. As Isaiah and Micah looked far into the future, they saw the day when the people of the world will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. They foresaw a time when nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
But in this life and in this world, there will be wars, both temporal and spiritual. And there will always be a need for warriors to fight those wars.
On this Memorial Day holiday, honor the men and women of our armed forces and give them the respect they’re due. Pay tribute to those who gave their lives so we can freely worship our Lord and Savior. And stand shoulder to shoulder with your fellow soldiers in Christ.