A Soldier Of God”
During World War I a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain who moved on with his unit was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church. Permission was granted. But then the priest ran into a problem with his own Catholic Church authorities. They were sympathetic, but they said they could not approve the burial of a non-Catholic in a Catholic cemetery. So the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence.
Years later, a war veteran who knew what had happened returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The first thing he did was ask to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence. "Ah", he said, "I see you got permission to move the body." "No", said the priest. "They told me where I couldn’t bury the body.
But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence." There are many stories of wars that brought people together that never would have connected under normal circumstances. But there are also many stories of camaraderie, commitment and sacrifices recorded in the history of wars in our world that secured our freedom. Those
stories should be passed on to the next generation and to the ones that will follow, because we should always remember what was given. My friends, we all can relate to this time of the year when we wear poppies and think with gratitude what so many sacrificed. In the 2 World Wars an estimated 35 million soldiers gave their lives. But it’s not only the 2 World Wars we remember - there were many other conflicts where our freedom had to be defended. At this moment in time we have those in uniform defending us. Not just in Canada, but on every continent and country we can think of.
This morning we’re going to look at one of the most prominent figures of the Old Testament - Enoch. There isn’t much we read in the Bible about him, but what was recorded about him is profound. He was a man who faithfully walked with God. We can say that he obeyed the Great Commander-in-Chief and therefore he was A Soldier Of God. First we learn from Genesis 5: 22 about 1 The Devotion In Enoch’s Life - “Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years…” The walk of a person with God in the Bible means that since you have committed yourself to God there is no other direction in life you even want to think of going in. No, it’s only God’s way that is the right way. I think we all can confess that other ways are coming before us as God’s children, but then we see the goal before us and that is to please God. There is a beautiful verse in 2 Timothy 2 that gives us an analogy of a soldier for Christ that wants to obey Him. We read about that in verse 4, ”No one serving as a soldier gets
entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
Let’s think of any war situation. What is a strong driving force for any soldier to persevere and even sacrifice? Yes, it’s obvious that they do it for their countries. But you will agree with me - they also do it for the ones under whose command they are. Devotion is more a spiritual term than loyalty that would be used in military circles. But the idea is the same. A soldier will keep that loyalty till the end for those above them. In the same way as a follower of Jesus we want to honour Him with everything in our lives. In the time Enoch walked with God he was seen as a ridicule by many - just like
those who saw Noah as a ridicule and laughed at him. Enoch’s decision to make God the highest priority of his life, placed him far above the rest of the people of his time. I think we can say even all generations after him, including ours. Because we read about
something extraordinary in Hebrews 11: 5 that happened to him - “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” To be taken away by God without dying is something I think we can't say will happen to us, but don’t you think that the greatest honour of our lives will be when other refer to us as “A man of God” or “A woman of God”? Rudyard Kipling, the famous author was asked a few months before his death - “What would you like to be remembered for? Poet? Children’s author? Magician of words?” Kipling responded without hesitation - “I want to remembered as a man of God.” Do we have the devotion of Enoch that we will be fit to be soldiers for Jesus? Fit for the spiritual battle we face every day? Let's think about it - what made war heroes different from other people? They were disciplined and committed to the cause they
fought for. In the same way we have to be disciplined and committed to be A Soldier Of God.
We appreciate 2 The Duty In Enoch’s Life. When we think of men and women in uniform we remember the duty that drove many to the point to lay down their lives for others. Duty made them not to quit, but to keep on going until the battle was won. We are grateful to those serving today who live out their duty. What was true in
Enoch’s life? We read twice in these few verses that he walked faithfully with God. That walk with God didn’t mean that he was passive or like a puppet on a string - just going from place to place with God without doing anything. No, he was someone who
lived out his duty. He acted as a prophet of God; he told people what it was God expected from them. He was actively busy to prophesy against ungodly people. We read about ungodliness in Jude verses 14 and 15, “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of
all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” How seriously do we take the duty of taking out the Word of truth to others? I sincerely hope we take it more seriously than one of Campbell Morgan’s grandsons. Morgan was a preacher in the time of the famous Charles Spurgeon. A Presbyterian deacon once asked one of Morgan’s grandsons if he intended to become a preacher like his grandfather, his father, and his uncles. All of Morgan’s four sons went into the ministry. "No, sir!" said the boy. "I’m going to work!"
I realize that many people think that preaching is not work, but our Soldier Of God, Enoch, was a worker. His work, his duty was that of preaching. To each one of us the duty of taking out God’s message has been given.
On this Remembrance Sunday we are filled with gratitude about the devotion or loyalty of war heroes and others who followed; we are also filled with gratitude about them fulfilling their duty. And as we go forward as soldiers in Christ service we commit ourselves to genuine devotion and duty to Him.
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall