A comment the other day reminded me that the Bible sometimes makes comparisons between soldiers and believers. However, before we get too far into the subject let me remind you that analogies can only be stretched so far before they break. There are similarities worth looking at. Still, it may surprise you where I’m going with this one.
First of all, we have to remember that in historical context, being a soldier today is not the same thing as it was in the ancient pagan world. The king was often considered a deity. When anyone swore allegiance to the king, it was the same as swearing allegiance to a god. Therefore, you literally were the property of the king. When Paul makes comparisons between being a soldier and being a Christian, then, it is a very apt comparison. A Christian is literally the property of God.
However, the Kingdom of Israel was not a pagan nation. Israel was different because the civil and religious authority was split between two groups. This helped to maintain a certain level of checks and balances. Being a soldier, then, wasn’t so much about allegiance to the king as it was about allegiance to YHWH (or, at least it should have been).
Notice that when Jeroboam split off the northern tribes from Judah that he asserted his authority over the religious affairs as well. He set up the golden calves (1Ki 12:28). He appointed the priests (v 31; 13:33). Jeroboam himself offered incense (v 1). In other words, he not only led the people into idolatry, but, like the pagan nations around him, he exalted the authority of the king over religious matters as well as civil.
For a little while, though, the House of Judah somewhat maintained that separation. Sometimes the influence of the kings would ebb and flow over religious matters, but there was a degree of separateness for the most part. It is probably one of the reasons that Judah lasted longer than Israel as well.
Think about it, though. Who had the ultimate authority? The king? The priest? No, it was the one they had to acknowledge! It pointed to the fact that it is not men who are ultimately in charge. Therefore, a soldier’s loyalty shouldn’t have been so much to the king (or even the nation, for that matter) as it was to God!
You know, modern Israel isn’t so much different than ancient Israel, when you think about it. Not only is the ideal that loyalty be to the nation yet “under God”, but also in the continual deterioration of that ideal over time are there striking similarities. More and more, politics instead of moral convictions rule our land.
Have you considered that under the ideal there are grounds for a soldier to disobey? Under the Geneva Convention, a soldier is supposed to do and not do certain things. If an officer orders you to kill innocent civilians, you are supposed to disobey that “unlawful order”. Same rules are supposed to apply to torture as well, which is a huge topic unto itself.
If Christians are compared to soldiers, what does this mean? Simply put, it means that like the soldiers of ancient Israel, we are supposed to acknowledge that there is an Authority higher than men. We in the COG should be fully aware that if the boss wants you to do ordinary work on the Sabbath, you respectfully disobey (there are very rare exceptions, which I won’t get into). If your teacher or professor wants you to attend class on Saturday, you respectfully disobey. I think that we in the COG already know these things.
However, what if your minister wants you to steal? What if a deacon encourages you to cheat on your taxes? I’m making these up, but how different is this than someone telling you now that the law has been done away?
Who wanted Jesus crucified? The religious authorities. Who beat John and Peter and then commanded they stop preaching in the name of Jesus? The religious authorities. Who commissioned Saul to persecute the Church? The religious authorities.
Don’t get me wrong. We are to respect authority, even if it is misguided (Mt 23:1-3). However, it is also clear that we are to disobey when it goes against God’s word (Ac 5:29).
In a very real manner, we are responsible for our own salvation (Php 2:12).
Keep proving all things. Keep on your knees. Don’t look to anyone but your Savior to save you. Listen to those guided by the Holy Spirit. How will you know who that is? Because you have kept reading God’s word, and you haven’t stopped proving all things.
I keep asking myself, “Why do people fall for false prophets like Ronald Weinland?” The answer keeps coming back to looking at a mere man for answers. The answer keeps coming back to not believing the Bible. The answer keeps coming back to blinding themselves to the truth. The answer keeps coming back to listening to an “authority” rather than God.
Christian soldiers, real soldiers, know that authority is granted by God and God alone. It isn’t that they have a right to rebel against unlawful orders – it is a responsibility. It isn’t that they have a right to stop following men not led by the Holy Spirit – it is a responsibility. Frankly, since authority is granted by God, then it is not rebellion unless it is against God’s will! If a leader is not following God’s will and you stop following him, then it is not rebellion!
Could it really be that plain? Yes. If they are not following God, then why follow them? They are part of the confusion – the Babylon – the deception that engulfs the rest of the world.
We constantly see God calling His people out of Egypt, out of Sin, out of Babylon. It is a command!
Are you part of GCI? Come out of her! Are you part of Ronald Weinland’s group? Come out of her! Are you part of PCG? Come out of her! You are following men!
There are at least 397 other groups to choose from! Surely, you can find at least one that comes closer to the truth than that! One that does not condone putting aside 3/4ths of God’s word. One that does not take expensive trips to Jerusalem to show he is a “prophet”, and so he can continue in his blasphemy and lies! One that does not steal funds from widows and orphans to build an auditorium! If you do not, then do not be surprised when Jesus tells you, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”