This post is dedicated to the four American green berets that lost their lives fighting terror in Tongo Tongo, Niger, along with the countless men and women who give their lives every day in the military.
On October 4th, 2017, four soldiers from the United States were killed in a fire fight between US/Nigerien soldiers and ISIS. In the firefight, one soldier named Sargent La David Johnson, was separated from the rest of the team. After the fight had ended, it took an extra 48 hours to find his body, to bring it back to Dover Air Force Base on October 7th.
This sad, sad news reminds me that it is not only civilians that are suffering in this insurgency, that has now spread to most of the Middle East and Africa. Be it Boko Haram, or ISIS (they are one in the same– Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015), this insurgency is killing hundreds of innocent soldiers, soldiers who have given their lives so that Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are vanquished.
These men and women are not just numbers and statistics. Behind every fallen soldier is a mother left without a son; a man left without his best friend; and a wife or husband left without their spouse. Millions– millions of people outside of those directly attacked by Boko Haram– have lost their fighting loved ones to Boko Haram.
Honestly, when I read of soldiers passing away in this fight against ISIS, the soldiers in Niger are not spoken of nearly as much as American soldiers when they pass away. Yet, there they are: and the war they are fighting in is finally highlighted, as these brave American men were lost in the warfare.
Uriah the Noble Hittite Soldier
The men and women currently fighting in this war can remind me of Uriah the Hittite, the husband of the woman King David slept with. The biblical account goes like this: King David, instead of going to war in the spring with his army, stayed at home in the palace. “Staying home,” he looked out from his palace and saw Bathsheba, a beautiful woman, bathing on her rooftop.
Yielding to the sexual temptation that arose in his mind, King David sent his messengers to go out, and ask who this beautiful woman is. When he found out who Bathsheba was, he called for her, and slept with her. King David’s sin had the potential to be found out, when Bathsheba sent him a message: that she is pregnant.
2 Samuel 11 tells us that Uriah the Hittite was a man who was very loyal to King David; in fact, He was so loyal to his men that he went to sleep with the palace guard, instead of going home to be and sleep with his wife, when King David encouraged him to in trying to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:10-13).
Truly, this man was of noble character, and was committed to the war that was before him– and was even killed, per David’s order that he be put first in line when fighting against the enemy. King David’s order not only made King David a murderer; it further unveiled what a dedicated, honest, good, moral man Uriah was, in obeying– even when it could mean certain death (and it did).
Soldiers for Christ
Reading this post by E. Luminous Aghosa on his blog, ‘Unto Christ’s Fullness,” it got me thinking: Like Uriah the Hittite, and like the many dedicated men and women who are currently fighting and losing their lives today, Jesus calls and equips us to be a part of His army. Does this bring back the memories of the Christian nursery rhyme that went, “I may never zoom o’er the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army?”
While it is a bit of a Christian cliche, it is true, nonetheless. Jesus says, in Matthew 16:24-25,
“Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again.'”
(Matthew 16:24-25, TLB)
Jesus is not messing around, here. He is asking something very difficult for many to do; in fact, many of Jesus’ very radical statements caused people to walk away from following Him, completely, like at times where He told the masses that they must “eat my flesh and drink my blood” for eternal life (Matthew 6:54).
“For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. Everyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood is in me, and I in him.”
(Matthew 6:55-56, TLB)
Jesus called His Disciples to a walk of faith in Him that were, at times, very difficult. Everyone loved when Jesus fed the masses (Mark 6:41-42); but many left Him when following Him meant giving up their former lives (Matthew 16:24; John 6:50-65).
How true is this for us, today? The Prosperity Gospel has run rampant for years in the West, and the belief that the walk we have with Jesus is meant to be easy, and at arm’s length, is popular among many who profess Christ, today. (This is not to say that one should abandon God’s Blessing on their lives; He has told us to enjoy all things [1 Timothy 6:17]).
Nor am I trying to say that we become right with God by doing things and striving for God’s Salvation, Acceptance, and Love; one can only be made right with God through Grace by Faith alone in Christ (John 6:27-29). The main point is this: Jesus doesn’t want a half-warm, half-hearted, arm’s-length relationship with us; He wants all of us– will, mind, body, and soul, completely. He wants soldiers that are sold out to Him– and willing to do whatever it is that He asks, knowing that He is the One and Only True King.
Jesus, Our Loving King
Unlike Uriah the Hittite, we do not serve a King who is flawed or evil. Paraphrasing John Piper from his sermon “Is God for Us or for Himself?,” “The best gift an infinitely beautiful God can give us is Himself.” In reality, while many of the things He calls us to do may be hard, Jesus only asks us to do things He knows will bring us the most good, and He the most Glory. Because of this, we can trust Him; knowing that He rewards His servants with Grace and Mercy that could only come from such a Loving God as Himself.
God has given us all we need to be His soldiers (Ephesians 6:10-18), and He has given us marching orders, The Great Commission (Matthew 28). So, while it is still the day, let us fight the good fight– by the help and empowerment of God, who fights for us. “‘And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.’ So the Israelites did this. …’The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)
Do you know Jesus?
King Jesus is not a God who did not first do the difficult thing for us. In fact, He Himself died, and rose again, so that we might know Him personally– and be with Him for eternity.
Jesus obeyed His heavenly Father perfectly, and died the worst possible death we deserved. He was innocent, and yet, “He loved [our] hearts, to death” (Shane and Shane, ‘You Loved My Heart To Death’).
Learn more about this outrageously Loving God and King, and His sacrifice to bring us back to Him (David Crowder, ‘Here is Our King’), here.
Please pray for…
The armies of Nigeria and Niger. Please pray for their salvation, and protection, as they continue to fiercely fight Boko Haram/ISIS/Radical islam.
For the families of those fighting. Please pray for the mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, and loved ones of those currently fighting these wars. Please pray for their salvation, safety, and comfort, as they continue to miss their loved ones. Please pray for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones, in the warfare.
Please pray for yourself and fellow Christians. Please pray that they would stay true to Jesus in these last times, and that they would take Jesus’ marching orders, in living for and sharing Him with others, very seriously, as the last of the day is here, and the night– the time for God’s judgment on the world, is near!
Thank you for your prayers!!!