BIG LITTLE PEOPLE - URIAH, LOYAL SOLDIER
Dear Christian friends,
I have been a pastor for almost forty years. One thing that I have noticed is that our government has gotten more hostile toward the Christian Church during these years. Abortion is legal even though it is sin. Through Obama care abortifacients disguising as birth control are paid for by our tax monies. The definition of marriage has been changed to include what God defines as perversion.
More keeps coming. In California their legislature is supporting the LBGT agenda. If Christian schools call their lifestyle perversion and sin, such schools and universities will be punished. A news article came out of Concordia Lutheran University at Irvine, affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The articles states, “The most troubling provision of this bill (SB 1146) limits the religious liberty to integrate faith and learning throughout the educational experience. The bill effectively eliminates the religious exemption under current law that allows religious colleges and universities of all faiths--Lutheran, Buddhist, Evangelical, Jesuit, Jewish, Muslim, and Roman Catholic--to operate in accordance with their beliefs, including the freedom to hire only Christian faculty and staff. If passed without amendments, the new law would also very likely disqualify students attending California faith-based Christian colleges and universities from eligibility for Cal Grants, a key state-level student aid program.”
The president of Concordia further wrote, “As adopted by the Higher Education Committee, SB 1146 severely limits Concordia’s ability to live out our convictions in a manner consistent with our religious tenets. The bill limits our religious freedom by keeping us from teaching and applying our Christian beliefs in all of our classes and co-curricular programs and by punishing us for adhering to moral codes of conduct consistent with our Lutheran Christian faith.” According to the state of California the good Lord, who makes the rules, is himself a bigot.
It might seem to be a contradiction what we say this morning that a government is a gift from God when government can and does oppose the LORD at times. On this July 4th weekend we begin a new sermon series on “Big Little People” in God’s kingdom. It is all about little known people who show big love for the Lord. We begin with Uriah, David’s loyal soldier whom his commander in chief betrayed. Let’s take a look at 1) Government is a gift from God; 2) Government consists of sinful people; 3) Government needs Christian people to support it.
Government is a necessary gift. The need was created by the events of Eden. After the first sin, sin began to avalanche. Cain killed his brother Abel. There was murder in the second generation but in the first degree. Genesis four is a history of generations that followed. Lamech bragged that he was a bigamist and a murderer. Order collapsed. The Bible says, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” The Bible says God regretted creating humanity. He flooded the world. Only Noah and his family found favor in the eyes of the LORD and were saved.
After the Flood, the LORD proclaimed the need for government. He spoke about the necessity of protecting life, man’s time of grace. “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” Not vigilante justice. Not personal revenge but other humans to protect life - government.
Romans 13, a reading for today, states, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” God establishes government. “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” To rebel against government is rebellion against God. “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong…They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
David, an unlikely candidate because he was the eighth son of Jesse, was chosen by God. The prophet anointed him to the surprise of all. He succeeded Saul, who himself was God’s choice to be the first of Israel’s kings. Neither was perfect – not by a long shot. But, then, no government is. We will talk about that in a minute.
Government has become the object of our scorn. Why? Certainly some of it is deserved, but sin makes people cynical and pessimistic. Government is often the focus. How many conversations would be silenced over a cup of coffee if there were no government to complain about?
Our country has existed for 240 years. It has been and continues to be threatened by forces of evil. Has our government always been right? Has our government treated people fairly? Not by a long shot! While we ask God to “shed his grace on thee!” remember that he has. There is a reason why so many people want to live here. If we spent as much time praying for our country as complaining about it, our country might not have some of the problems we do. Be thankful!
But it is a reality that government consists of sinful people. David was one of the best kings that Israel ever had, but he committed a series of sins as bad as any king could. You know the story! He got up in the middle of the night and strolled on the roof of his palace. He saw Bathsheba. His thoughts were not godly. Luther once compared temptation to a bird flying over your head. You can’t stop that, but you can keep the bird from nesting in your hair. David didn’t say no. Temptation nested.
Ego combined with an enormous surge in his testosterone led to a scenario that Hollywood would drool over the movie rights to get - illicit sex, unwanted pregnancy, a cover-up that led to murder. This wasn’t fiction, this was real. Adultery and murder done by a man whom the LORD had chosen to be the king of his people. This was the man through whom Messiah would be born. In fact, the Messiah was referred to as “the Son of David.”
The flaws among those serving in government are real and overwhelming. It is fact that some who have served the highest offices of our land have done some of the most ungodly deeds. Shame on them, but shame on America for not batting and eyelash at it at times. Yet whether a person is a king or president, scientist or teacher, plu[L1] mber or even a pastor, we are all corrupt inside. “No one is good, not even one.” If our thoughts and secret sins were completely exposed, we would all want to crawl in a hole and never come out. Yet they are all exposed before God. Nothing is hidden from him.
How America has stayed together and prospered for so many years is not
because we deserve it as a nation. We sing
“God shed his grace on thee,” and he has. The reason? The LORD rules. We say “amen” to this doxology of Paul, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The LORD is our real ruler.
Our nation, any nation, needs godly people who love the LORD and live for him. We need a nation of Uriah’s. After the tryst of Bathsheba and David, Bathsheba became pregnant. David planned a cover-up. Uriah, Bathsheba’s away-at-war husband, was called home to take some R & R. The scheme was to get husband and wife back together for more than a handshake to cover up the pregnancy. “So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going.” David could have gotten that information from a messenger and not from a valuable member of the infantry. “Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.”
Uriah’s sense of patriotism was so strong that he didn’t think he had the right to have the pleasures of being with his wife while his fellow soldiers were at war with the Ammonites. David’s cover up was foiled by his patriotic and loyal soldier.
There are some things to know about Uriah. He was a Hittite. The Hittite empire began in Asia Minor or western Turkey about 1400 BC, around the time Moses was leading Israel out of Egypt. There was a time when the only mention of the Hittite Empire was found in the Bible. Critics of the Bible said the Hittite Empire was a myth. Archeology has proved them wrong. Christians smile, because the Bible never lies.
The Hittites were pagan. Isaac and Rebekah were displeased when their son Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, married Hittite women who took him down the wrong path. When Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, the Hittites occupied the Promised Land and needed to be gone. This was Uriah’s ancestry. They were pagan. He was not. The name Uriah means “Light of the LORD.” He was a godly patriot.
He was a gallant and brave soldier. At the end of II Samuel there is a list of men in David’s army who were part of an army “Hall of Fame.” They were David’s army rangers or Navy seals. Thirty seven are listed and Uriah is one of them. Uriah was a soldier’s soldier…. in Israel’s army and God’s army too. David had him killed by scheming with his Chief of Staff, Joab, to put Uriah in a vulnerable place. What a sad ending to such an asset of God’s country!
One place every person needs to visit is Arlington National Cemetery or any military cemetery in our country. Arlington is a solemn place. 624 acres. 400,000 plus graves with hundreds added each year. People say it became famous only after President Kennedy was buried there. There is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its perpetual guards. We see how much blood has been shed for our country.
There is the Viet Nam Memorial. That one is very personal. Jerry Rouse, from my hometown, a year ahead of me in school, was killed in Viet Nam. Panel 38 just below center his name is listed. A good guy, a tough guy (state wrestling champion) lost his life in duty for his country.
I pray there are not Uriah’s who lost their lives in vain because someone’s ego got out of control. The odds are, however, are very high. War starts because there is sin. David tried to cover his sin for more than nine months. God knew. We praise God that David’s conscience didn’t get rock hard. He wrote in the psalm, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” It is an amazing thought that David and Uriah are in heaven together and will be with us not because we are so great or cast out because we are so bad, but because God is a God of grace and forgiveness.
Martin Luther said about government, “God wills that we honor the government as his minister, through which he bestows valuable blessings in life…. If you knew that someone had saved your child’s life you would heartily be thankful to him. Why are you not thankful to your government which daily protects you, your wife and children from murder? For if the government did not check the wicked people, when would we be safe? Therefore when you look upon your wife and children, you should bear in mind these are God’s gifts which we have by means of the government. As you love your children, so you should love your country and its government.”
Are there times that those in government lets God down and us down? Surely! If you think you can do better, get involved. If you don’t like something exercise your vote. If you see sin, call it out. But be careful of self-righteousness and pray for forgiveness for yourself and for those who do wrong. Above all, look for the day of perfect rule, not here but there. It was given to us by him who endured the greatest form of injustice this world has ever seen so we could be declared forgiven fully, freely and forever.