[An article by Paula Whidden]
This Veteran’s Day, we seek to honor our soldiers who sacrificed their time, their energy and their bodies for their country. Let’s also be aware the Bible isn’t silent on this topic. It’s easy to think about God as love, and Jesus as the Prince of Peace and these things are true. But, I would be inaccurate if I didn’t expose you to more.
God isn’t a one dimensional storybook character. Consider that we’re made in His image. Think of how complex we are, and you’ll begin to understand how complex He is.
The Bible is packed with battle imagery. Anyone who looks at the Middle East notices how often people get ready for battle. An attitude not new to this generation, it’s been around for centuries. Israel’s history is war-filled. Sometimes, God told Israel to attack. Sometimes, other peoples did the attacking. Anyway you look at it, these wars created veterans.
These Bible veterans told happy stories of successful fights. There were also battles where they never returned. Much like our soldiers today, they knew the full content of war.
Who are these Bible veterans?
1. Joshua: As second in command to Moses when Israel left Egypt, he led the army. He trusted God and still felt scared on occasion. When he took over the leadership at Moses death, God had to tell him to be strong and courageous several times. He was. In his story we see how even the strongest warriors feel fear.
Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
2. Gideon: The Bible says God called him to face a battle against outrageous odds, a fortified army with greater military prowess than Israel. He didn’t want to do it, but after some convincing he relented. He never led anyone prior to that moment, but with God’s help, he led his little army to success.
Judges 6:12 – “When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
3. Samson: A strong guy with a bad temper. He ultimately served God in a drastic way, but his temper and foolish mouth conquered him better than any army in battle.
4. Deborah: A prophetess who went marching with the army, because their leader got nervous. Under her leadership, they won the fight, in spite of the incredible odds.
5. David: As a kid, his courage and faith in God’s abilities knew no bounds. When he became an adult, he fought in the army, ended up leading the army, and battled many enemies who attacked Israel. All these battles wreaked havoc on his personal life, but he continually tried his best. Often, he asked God for help and forgiveness. His attitude mattered to God.
1 Samuel 16:18 – ”One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”
6. Jonathan: An outrageously gutsy guy, Jonathon once fought a battle with only the help of his own armor bearer. He took risks and it paid off. He also sought God’s guidance every step of the way. Ultimately, though he fought bravely and wanted to please God, he still met a warrior’s death.
2 Samuel 1:25 – “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights.”
7. God: I’ve spoken with many people who only want to think about God as the miracle maker who calms us when we hurt or loves us unconditionally, and His ability to meet those needs is unmatched. But if the Bible is the Word of God and helps us to understand the complexities of Him, we should also consider some warrior imagery it presents. In a vital way, God fought alongside Israel to help them succeed when the bookmakers would have bet against them.
His strength made weak people look strong. He also comes alongside us in our daily hours and fights the internal and external fights with us. He conquers fear. He emboldens us to do unusual things. No enemy of the Lord’s will ever last long, His might has no match.
Exodus 15:3 –“The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.”
Psalm 24:8 – “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”
Whether you see the value of war or desire peace in every quarter, it remains that men and women do fight for their countries. They give of themselves, because their country asks them to do it. In the United States, we can accurately say our success and even our existence came from people who pushed past their fears to do something different from the every day.
In my family, we’ve had people in the Air National Guard, Navy, Army and Marines over several generations. What about you? Does your family contain one or more veterans? God understands their experience better than many of us can. If opportunity provides, let a vet know you appreciate them. If you cannot, then ask God to help the vets you know to grow closer to Him and His strength.
Today, I express thanks to the men and women who choose to leave comfortable lives to serve and save others. Thank You Lord for these sacrificial people.
Do you know people who served in the military? How have they inspired you?