It’s not often I’m moved to tears during a Church service… maybe it’s because I was going through a pretty tumultuous time of life, or because this is a particularly moving testimony, or more likely both. This is a bloke from our church sharing about his tough, but rewarding journey in life. This testimony penetrates a generation gap and shows that our faith is best placed in the Lord Jesus.
For my bible college preaching portfolio, I was asked to write a short piece in common spoken form. Hopefully it reads as if I were speaking.
G’day. In 2010 I was sent to Afghanistan as an Army Medic. One of the more nerve racking experiences was waiting on the flight line for the sick and wounded to arrive by chopper. This would happen a few times a week. We’d wait as a team; ready to move a patient from the chopper and take them to the hospital. It was a 300m drive in the back of an ambulance. We never knew what to expect, usually we’d receive a couple of details about the injuries by radio. But it was never enough to give us a full picture.
Patients who had died during a flight have to get 15 minutes of life support when they land. Only then can we say that the patient has died.
My heart is now pounding. My job is to help carry the stretcher from the chopper to the ambulance. After the short trip to the hospital I am working with a team of doctors, nurses and medics to help save his life. My next task is to get a cannula in his arm so the doc can pump in drugs to try and restart his heart. For those who don’t know a cannula is the little plastic valve used to put medicine straight into a patient’s blood. Yeah I reckon landing a good cannula in someone’s arm is pretty easy… unless someone is bouncing on their chest – shaking their limbs everywhere. Or they’re dead and have no blood flowing through their veins. Lucky for me I hit the flat vein and land the cannula first shot. The doc is impressed.
When the dust had settled we found a gunshot wound to his shoulder. And an artery had been split. The guy had no chance, he’d lost too much blood. You know… it was then that I realised that the guy had no hope. Nothing I could do could save his life. And to be honest I felt pretty useless as a medic. Even though he was an enemy, I felt sorry because chances were he’d never had the chance to meet Jesus.
EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
1. I believe the Exodus verse is more of a translation issue: The Hebrew more literally says “the Lord is a warrior: the Lord is His name.” the word translated as ‘man of war’ is the Hebrew word milchamah which is used 319 times throughout the Old Testament. In many cases it’s used in its plural form and translated as men of war. or Warriors.
Again, the context for this text is poetry, or a song or a warriors bard if you want to call it that. Moses is rejoicing and giving thanks to the Lord that the people had victory over their adversaries.
Romans 15:33; is the closing of a letter to the church residing in Rome. A few thousand years later, and a massive event involving the recent life death and resurrection of Jesus. One would assume that ‘peace/harmony/reconciliation/unity’ (words translated from the same greek word ‘eirene’) is a good word to be used when God’s people came to the realisation of the gravity of God’s act of salvation. An act that changed the way in which God dealt with sin.
2. In today’s age we have many people in authority that have authority over military forces. Let’s take Julia Gillard as an example. (A bad one I know, but it’s late) She gives jurisdiction and authority to Australian troops to operate in Afghanistan. We must all agree that it hardly makes her a ‘woman of war’. In the same way myself, serving as an Army medic, would not say that I am a ‘man of war’ but I can see a need for it, and I am willing to serve in it, in order to serve my country. I might be a warrior, but most definitely not a ‘man of war’. In the same way, God is not stereotyped as a MAN OF WAR, yet He does wage a war good versus evil. He does give authority (at times) for his people to participate in war both defensively and offensively.
3. So is God a man of peace or of war? In pushing back, I would ask the question, Do peace and war need to be mutually exclusive? In a fallen world with people operating outside of God’s ideal, then there needs to be some form of control measure, there needs to be some form of protection. The bible paints a picture of a pre-fallen world where war wasn’t needed. God had no intention for there to be war. In that context without hesitation, everyone must acknowledge that God is a God of peace. However, post-fall is a little more complicated, man’s greed, lust and selfishness led him into battle after battle. In a wider theology of the entire bible we can see God allowing mankind to make his own decisions and also often giving man what he wants. Their actions come hand in hand with their punishment. (cf. Num 11:31-35 eating quail unto death). When man craves war, God gives it to him. It seems to be in mans nature to create conflict. I think (and correct me if I’m wrong, as I am sure you will) that after man had chosen to make his own decisions, to create his own destiny, it was man who sought out war. The Lord will use even man’s evil behaviour to benefit his Kingdom.
Therefore I think the Lord is a warrior. He has warrior like qualities. He at times supports conflict in order to achieve His aims through men. But I find it difficult to give God the primary characteristic of WAR or WARLIKE especially when His first and most perfect creation was filled with PEACE.
[Just a quick edit, if you didn’t read Part one, you can do so by clicking here ]
So, I was sitting in a chapel at the Army Recruit Training Centre in Kapooka, NSW. I was listening to the Padré retell a story of how Jesus and his disciples went from town to town sharing the good news about God’s Son. Continue reading “What defines you? To whose family do you belong? Part 2”
This is part one of my story. It’s about how I came to be a co-heir with Christ.
I was two years old when my parents decided that they could no longer be married. An event that I was oblivious to at the time, and one that would define my childhood. Continue reading “What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?”