So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of Hosts was with him. These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. I Chronicles 11:9-10
David was a warrior, a soldier among the mightiest of soldiers, who ushered in Israel’s most glorious days of God’s blessing and peace that the world has ever known. He served the Lord of hosts—literally, the God of armies, a term used 235 times in the Bible.
I Chronicles 11 details the exploits of David’s mighty men. They endured exhaustion, constant danger, hunger and thirst; and they slaughtered the Philistines, the Egyptians and the Moabites. They crouched in a barley field while civilians, women and children, fled in terror; and they valiantly fought to victory. There was hand-to-hand combat. One mighty man killed a seven-foot Egyptian by knocking his spear down with a shepherd’s staff. He then killed him with his own spear. Gut wrenching bleeding and dying. “And the Lord saved them by a great deliverance.” (v. 14) These soldiers knew the Lord of hosts.
David named their names and chronicled their exploits, and it was a splendid Veteran’s Day celebration. As I read the details this morning, the glaring flaw in our Veteran’s Day celebrations became very clear. We honor the men and women, but are so careful never to mention the mission. We have failed a generation who knows little of war, and even less of the Lord of Hosts.
Our children do not know about the Bataan death march. They are ignorant of the bloody tyrant, Joseph Stalin, who murdered at least 18 million people. They have never heard of the Khmer Rouge, a regime that slaughtered half a country. Then there was the Chinese engineered famines that targeted religion and wealth for extermination. Nameless, faceless people died, including valiant mighty men who stood against evil.
I am not so naive to ignore the fact that wars are fought over money and power, corruption and lies, and media leading people like blind sheep to believe it all. But from the beginning of the Fall, and the evil rebellion that overtook the heart of man, the epic battles of good against evil have raged, and will rage, until the Lord of Hosts sends His Son to conquer in the final battle of the ages. Until that time, wars rage in the heavenly realm. Wars rage on earth. And the Lord of Hosts has called brave men and women to “serve.” The word has become so sanitized and nondescript. God calls soldiers to stem the tide of evil that would overtake our world. Communist atheism and freedom under the one true God are still lines drawn in the sand. And though God blesses the peacemakers, and calls us to seek peace and pursue it, I want my children and grandchildren to understand this Veterans Day that the fight of good against evil is led by the Lord of Hosts. Unspeakable carnage continues around the globe as we have closed out the bloodiest century in history. Christians are persecuted and mass slaughtered as I write. The divine calling to be a soldier is from the Lord of Hosts. He singles out those who have a strong sense of justice, and are willing to bear the burden of war. They are like David’s mighty men, physically strong, completely loyal, and fierce in the face of evil. Their commission comes from God. “Thank you for your service” doesn’t cut it for me. Thank you for your courage, your extraordinary bravery, your loyalty to our nation, your willingness to bear the unspeakable perils of war. Thank you for living, and being willing to die for a righteous cause. Thank you for accepting the high calling to be a soldier.
God bless the soldiers who have lived and died for my freedom. May the Lord of Hosts lead you to glorious victory in your lives today.