Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight
Sometimes our active duty troops question their duties and wonder if somehow they are doing wrong in God’s eye. While I can’t imagine the things many have to see and do during war, the Bible is a comfort to the soldier especially since many times throughout the old Testament, soldiers were used by God to carry out His duties to strengthen the Israeli people and win and defend the land God gave them.
In the new Testament, it was the gentile soldier who showed more faith in Jesus’ ministry. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus found such faith in a man… Not a Rabbi, not His disciples, not in his family- but a Roman Soldier. Considering that not long before Jesus had preached about loving one’s enemies, and that Romans were despised by Jews, the fact that Jesus offered to go heal the soldier’s servant but that He announced that nowhere in Israel had He seen such faith.
His faith was grounded in a whole philosophy of life, and contains a well thought out, intelligent view of Jesus Christ and Who He Is. This attitude is one of the things which impressed Jesus so much
But the best part of this event is God’s grace extended not only to a gentile, but one who had been trained for war, and one with enough experience that he was of higher ranks than ordinary soldiers. This centurion reminds us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart“
And then, there was Cornelius- another Centurion, who became a Christian according to Acts chapter 10.
When Peter was sent to Caesarea to instruct him, Cornelius confessed that the Lord had “commanded” certain things to which human beings were open and responsive, and he was anxious to humbly submit. In other words, this gentile soldier fully recognized the sovereignty of God, recognized that God is in control and gives commands, and recognized Peter’s authority to speak for the Lord and instructed his household to listen to him.
Cornelius and his family were the first gentiles to be baptized by the Holy Spirit which like the other soldier, shows that, in the words of Peter, “God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”
Again, it has to be said that these two men were not ones who people would expect to have places among the faithful of the Bible, or typical of salvation. They were Roman Soldiers, and one does not become a centurion in charge of 100 troops by being some soft armchair general. These men were battle hardened men of war and distinguished themselves above others by being experts in the brutal Roman martial arts.
God loves His creation and created. He desires that all would come, just as they are- to reconciliation through the saving Grace of Jesus and have a relationship with Him. That He gives prominence to Soldiers in His Word, and that the Scriptures speak of them in a more positive light than one would expect ought to give comfort and peace to our troops- especially as they wrestle with the things they have to do during war.
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. Psalm 138:7
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Trust in the Lord and He will give you Peace and rest for your soul, even as you are in the most hostile places. He loves you. Yes, even you.
The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.
God, bless our troops wherever they are. Watch over them, guide them and keep them safe.