Comparative to all military matters throughout time on earth and in heaven, earthly military forces are physical and temporal, while the heavenly military forces are spiritual and eternal. For example, the United States has historically, militarily, and officially recognized about every yearly November 11 as “Veterans Day.” While it was formerly used to honor all of the US Veterans who served in World War I, Veterans Day is now used to honor all US Veterans who serve in all wars. This honor is intended to be extended to all military veterans as US soldiers who are/were a part of the US government (Rom. 13:1-7), except those who receive/received dishonorable discharges.
Comparably, September 2, 1945, is also the day Japan formally surrendered to the Allies bringing World War II to a costly end. Since then, that day has been and is still referred to as V-J or Victory-Over-Japan Day. However, in the physical and temporal realm, this moniker will most likely end when the US (at least as we now know it) will cease to exist. The Bible teaches us that God raises nations when they suit His purpose and then brings them down when they willfully go beyond that purpose (Job 12:23; Habakkuk 1:6, 11-13; 3:16; Acts 17:26). This United States is no exception.
Conversely, in heaven’s spiritual and eternal domain, the Scriptures infer there is a V-J or Victory-In–Jesus Day for all believing and obedient Christian warriors who die faithful to Him. For instance, Jesus sent a Holy Spirit-inspired, biblically recorded written message via the apostle John to His battling warriors in the church at Smyrna (Asia Minor, modern Turkey) in the middle A.D. 90s. While engaged in a daily life-and-death struggle against satanic Imperial Roman persecution, His message of encouragement to them stated in part, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10, NASB Update). As Christ’s New Testament spiritual warriors (including myself), we must war against our arch-enemies Satan, sin, and death every day we live.
Consequently, whenever His faithful spiritual combatants on this earthly battlefield die physically, they receive and will forever enjoy their triumph in the spiritual and eternal realm with God. Aptly, there are two significant variances between the US’ literal V-J Day and God’s figurative V-J Day.
First, America’s victory over Japan has come and gone. Besides the WWII nuclear blast ruins in Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most of what remains are the memories of the (physically and/or spiritually wounded) veterans and warriors who lived through it all and remain alive even this day. Second, all faithful Christian warriors who die victorious in Jesus are spiritual veterans who will live eternally (along with all other types of citizens) in the kingdom of heaven. After all, whether living or deceased, that is where all of their biblical citizenship has always been (Phil. 3.20-21).
In Bible summation, my true feelings and thoughts about Christians participating in earthly wars are three-fold. First, just as there is a visible physical and temporal realm, so is there an invisible spiritual and eternal realm. Second, just as there are earthly wars, so are there heavenly wars. Third, just as God uses Christians to fight the heavenly wars, so does He use Christians to fight the earthly wars. Concluding, just as there are human veterans, so are there Christian veterans whom God authorizes (via the Bible) to fight in both the earthly and heavenly wars (Gen. 1:1-Rev. 22:21).
(Tom is a Veteran of the Vietnam War who was stationed in Okinawa. He is a student in the doctoral program at TBC and preaches in Peyton, Colorado)