Throughout the New Testament there is scripture where we get to read about their questions, requests for healing, blessings given to them by God, and their Salvation. I will bring all these specific scriptures out in this study and discuss the importance of how this impacts Christians who are called to serve in the Armed Forces today.
I’ll begin with the soldiers that link up with John the Baptist in Luke chapter 3. In v3-6 we understand that John’s purpose is to go out into the country and preach about the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin;
v3-6: 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”
I include these verses to point something out; John’s purpose was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. In v4 it is stating that John will prepare the way for the Lord, making paths straight to the Lord for people to follow. With John’s ministry and preaching to people they will be brought to understand that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and through Him you will be saved.
In verses 7-9 we have John warning those he talks to, who are requesting to be baptized, that by being baptized is not a way to escape the wrath of God. By being baptized you must then produce fruit or be cut down and thrown into the fire. Further study of John 15 will assist in understanding the bearing of fruit.
A series of people begin to ask John questions about what they should do and John answers them all. Eventually a group of soldiers ask John what should they do and John answers in v14;
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
We see that John instructs the soldiers of three things. First he tells them not to intimidate anyone. A soldier is person in a position of authority and in the times of Jesus and now for that matter, could use this authority to take advantage of or intimidate others. Second he tells them not to accuse anyone falsely. In combat a soldier is trained to destroy the enemy and an enemy soldier who has surrendered or has been rendered combat ineffective is no longer an enemy combatant and cannot be engaged. In effect, if any soldier then or even today was to engage such a non-combatant then they would be effectively falsely accusing this enemy. Today such an action would result in charges of murder or a war crime.
Lastly, John tells the soldiers to be content with their wages. Not once does John inform these soldiers that they should leave the profession they are in. As I continue with future additions to this study we will find that this is a common fact in all situations where soldiers or centurions are found in scripture. Not once are any of them told to leave their profession as a soldier.
What does this mean for you as a soldier today? It means for you to be happy with your wages, not to take advantage of others, and not to accuse anyone falsely. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong or even a sin to be a soldier. If it was, why did John not take this chance to inform us that if it was even the slightest sin to be a soldier, to bring that fact out while answering the soldiers.
As I mentioned earlier in this study, John was foretold by Isaiah that he would make paths “straight” to God (Luke 3:4-6). If by remaining a soldier would cause these men to not be on a straight path to God, then this prophecy would not come to pass.