What does the Bible teach about serving your country?
The Bible does speak about serving in the military, and the Christian can be assured that being a soldier is highly respected throughout the scriptures.
The first example of military service is found in Genesis 14 when Abraham came to Lot’s aid by gathering 318 trained men of his household to defeat the Elamites. Here we see armed forces engaged in a noble task – rescuing and protecting the innocent.
Later in its history, Israel developed a standing army and Saul was the first to form a permanent force (1 Samuel 13:2, 24:2, 26:2). King David established a system of rotating troops with twelve groups of 24,000 men each serving one month of the year (1 Chronicles 27). The standing army continued (though divided along with the kingdom after the death of Solomon) until 586BC when Israel (Judah) ceased to exist as a political entity.
In the New Testament, Jesus marvelled when a Roman Centurion (an officer in charge of one hundred soldiers) approached Him. The centurion’s response indicated his clear understanding of authority, as well as his faith in Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13). Jesus did not denounce his career, but praised him, and many of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament are praised as men of good character (Mark 15:39-45, Luke 7:2, 23:47, Acts 10:1-48, 21:31-32). The position of soldier seems to have been highly respected and Paul does not hesitate to describe Epaphroditus as a “fellow soldier” (Philippians 2:25). The Bible also uses military terms to describe being strong in the Lord by putting on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20).
It is reasonable to conclude that Christian men and women who serve their country with character, dignity and honour, can be confident that the duty they perform is in line with the Scripture.