A shiny new motorbike has been given to a man, committed to the community he rides it around in. This motorbike “…will take me to anywhere I want to go,” Fon Godlove says, but he has not been given this motorbike for recreational purposes (source). Called a “vigilante,” this man is apart of a movement aimed at preventing Boko Haram violence in parts of Northern Cameroon– and Nigeria, the birthplace of Boko Haram– where police presence is unfortunately lacking.
Wielding weapons such as rusty machetes, these people– young and old, men and women– put their lives on the line daily to ensure that Boko Haram does not put their homes in danger. While they are not given official authority by the government, viligantes are welcomed by the government of Cameroon, and have fought alongside their nation’s army in many instances (source). These rag-tag defenders may not be as physically well-equipped as official Nigerian officers, but their courage, determination, and deep knowledge of their own communities makes them formidable enemies against Boko Haram.
The concept of vigilantes brings up a very important question: what makes a truly good soldier? In the Old Testament, the concept of a good soldier is found especially in the books of Numbers and Joshua, both of which were hugely important parts of Israel’s history. Though there were many thousands of men in Israel’s army, and many battles won and lost in Israel’s history, one special event early in Israel’s formation can teach us much on what it takes to become a truly good soldier: when the spies were commissioned to spy on and survey the Promised Land in Numbers 13-14.
Numbers 13 starts out with anticipation, and a sense of excitement. 12 men are sent out by God through Moses, one man for each tribe of Israel: “Shammua the son of Zaccur, …Shaphat the son of Hori, …Caleb the son of Jephunneh, …Igal the son of Joseph, …Hoshea the son of Nun, …Palti the son of Raphu, …Gaddiel the son of Sodi, …Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 …Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13…Sethur the son of Michael; 14 …Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15…Geuel the son of Machi” (Numbers 13:4-15, NKJV, shortening mine).
Renaming Hoshea Joshua, or “YHWH is Salvation,” Moses sends these twelve men to spy out the “Promised Land,” or the land of Cannaan; they are commanded to survey “whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; 19 whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; 20 whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not” (Numbers 13:16-20). Commanded to be of good courage, Moses also tells them to gather together fruit from the land (verse 20); then, he sends them off.
While all of these men went out to survey the land, as God commanded Moses, only two men were able to conquer and enter the land they had surveyed. This is where the concept of making a “good soldier” becomes somewhat challenging.
In Psalm 44, David writes, “It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. 4 You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob. 5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. …but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. 8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever“ (Psalm 44:3-5, 7-8, NIV). In David’s day, Israel was an incredibly successful country, subduing their enemies, the Philistines, and expanding their territory (source). Yet, through this success, David fully realized that it was not his success, but ultimately, Christ’s; it was not any power of man that made Israel able to conquer its enemies, but only Christ’s Power, Faithfulness, and Love that made them able to conquer their enemies.
This is incredibly important because “conquering the land,” whether as physically as the Israelites in Joshua, or spiritually, as Christ’s followers today, does not ultimately require human work, but instead favor from and Faith in Christ. The precipice the 12 leaders of Israel found themselves on in Numbers 13-14– between fighting their enemies completely in Christ’s strength, or being paralyzed by fear– would have been crossed in victory for all of Israel, had they chosen Faith in Christ. Yet, full of unbelief, they refused to go into the land “flowing with milk and honey” Christ had promised them (Numbers 13:27), and instead “all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron” (Numbers 14:1-2).
Unfortunately, this complete unbelief is disobedience in God’s sight; and, angered by their lack of faith after all He had done for them, Christ promised that the generation who chose to blatantly deny Him would remain in the wilderness: “But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection” (Numbers 14:32-34).
Although Israel’s unfaithfulness caused them to pay the price of wandering around in the wilderness for forty more years, and ultimately, death, those who did believe Christ– Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh– as well as the Israelites’ children, did enter the Promised Land, just as Christ had vowed (Numbers 14:30-31; Joshua). Despite Israel’s lack of obedience and trust, Christ still chose them– ultimately dying for the sins of Jews and Gentiles alike on the cross, on earth, in human form (Colossians 3:9-11). Truly, the Victory has always been Christ’s– and it is He who makes us victorious.
In this battle against Boko Haram, and more truly, this battle against our enemy, it is not a mastery of skills, the latest technology, or high human strength that creates a good soldier. In the end, a good soldier is one who trusts, and obeys, His Master, no matter the outcome.
Truly, in this battle against the evil of Boko Haram, the entire fight– and it’s victory– belongs to Christ. May all those who fight against evil, whether it would be the Nigerian army, vigilantes, or those walking in Christ’s light, go out with this promise, ready and willing to conquer. As Caleb, a man of Faith in Christ, once said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 
 Numbers 13:30, NKJV. Bible Gateway.
While this post was not initially written with this in mind, this post is dedicated to the late Deputy Cpl. Nate Carrigan of Colorado, who passed away in a shoot-out on February 25th, 2016.
Dedicated to Christ, and to the community around him, Deputy Carrigan will be deeply missed.
Please pray for his family, friends, and loved ones. Thank you.
Do you know Jesus?
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. …[God] has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”
(Romans 5:6; Colossians 1:13, NASB)
The original sin of mankind was done out of unbelief. As satan tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he planted doubt in Eve’s mind about Jesus’ Goodness (Genesis 3:4-5); and, seeing the fruit as more fulfilling than having a relationship with Christ, she and Adam chose to eat of the fruit (Genesis 3:6-8).
Since this time, we, as humankind, have been separated from God by our sin, and unfaithful in every way (Romans 3:10). But, God has remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). Knowing that we could never rescue ourselves, He became the Mighty Warrior we needed, dying in our place so that those who believe in Him might become His Sons and Daughters, His People, and His Faithful soldiers (John 3:16; John 1:12; 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 6:10).
Christ died for us, the ungodly, that we might personally know Him as our Lord and Savior– and He forever rescued all those who believe on Him and what He did from eternal death. Meet the Conquering King, here.
Please pray for…
- The Nigerian military.
- The Nigerian police force.
- Citizens in high-risk areas.
- That Boko Haram would be defeated; and that their members would come to know Jesus Christ personally, as Lord and Savior.
- That the Chibok girls would not be forgotten; and that Christ would employ whomever and whatever He wants to save them, both spiritually and physically.