It is a simple proposition. We should have a national view based in eternal faith. God honors patriotism. The catch is that He honors that patriotism and loyalty when it is dedicated to God first and the world last. Christianity, when lived, is not a religion but life with God. What we find in scripture is a clear testimony that God punishes, both individually as well as nationally, insurrection or mutiny against His authority, reneging on agreements or rebellion against His chosen leadership. Serving in an army blessed by God is an honorable and always successful endeavor. The patriotism, honor and integrity of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines and their leaders is tied to our faith in our God. Your patriotism is honorable in the eyes of God. Your loyalty shows your integrity when our leadership is faithful to God or when individuals are faithful to God. Scripture repeatedly records events where God has preserved individuals and whole armies by decimating enemies before them. David facing and defeating Goliath to preserve the chosen ones of Israel is a perfect example. David faced Goliath not to save the nation, but that God could be glorified in victory, “for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
We can consider Nehemiah’s victory and success in rebuilding Jerusalem to worship God. The people had been back in Jerusalem for almost a century. There is no way to know how many occupied the city, nor how many Nehemiah recruited to work on the wall. What is known is that he had tremendous opposition.
“Heading the opposition was the governor of Samaria, Sanballat the Horonite (of Bethhoron; Neh 2:10). … He was helped by Tobiah, called “the Ammonite servant” (Neh 2:10), who may have been governor of Ammon. A third opponent was Geshem (Gashmu) the Arabian (Neh 2:19; 6:6), often identified with a powerful chieftain of Kedar in northeastern Arabia.”[i]
These three mocked the effort. They planned attacks and they terrorized the inhabitants. Here is a city already in ruins, by the very hands of those surrounding them. The occupants are scared to death of war. Add to this the fact that a recent attempt to rebuild had just been thwarted by these same instigators (Ezra 4:6-23). Nehemiah organized the workers and the people and placed them in shifts to bear arms and continue construction. Although antagonistic raids took place in outlying provinces, Jerusalem itself was intact. The Israelites built the wall in an unbelievably short period of time. Ultimately, Nehemiah was appointed as governor by Artaxerxes to the great distaste of all of the aggressors. After completing the wall, setting up some security, remitting the debt of the poor in Jerusalem, Nehemiah turned their whole attention to God. In Nehemiah 8-10 we see the cleansing and complete dedication to Jehovah God that was the reason for these blessings from a pagan king, this new wall and a city in which to dwell.
In Judges 7 we read of Gideon’s success when his comparatively small army defeated the Midianites, numbering over 130,000 (Judg 8:10). Here was an Israelite, calling Israel back to purity and dedication to God. Gideon obeyed God, submitted himself to God and sought only God’s glory. Gideon destroyed the worship places of false gods such as Baal and caused the surrounding Amalekites and Midianites (pagans) to march against him. He gathered 32,000 men to fight the Midian army. Of Gideon’s 32,000, only 300 were specifically chosen to fight and they won because God promised to deliver the Midian army to Gideon, and He did.
Israel is delivered from oppression through the valor and faith of their armies in most all cases. In situations where no army was involved, God did it Himself (Egypt’s 10 plagues, and the dividing of the Red Sea among others). Every time Israel sought God, submitted to Him, worshiped Him and looked to glorify Him in all their efforts, the nation was delivered from bondage. This freedom comes from turning to and trusting in God. Continue reading