Friday, February 06, 2015

It's Prudent to Sing "Days of Elijah" Out of Uniform

The above video has gone viral. It is a group of United States marines singing the song Days of Elijah. This song, based on Psalm 91, is a celebration of the coming of the Messiah. An examination of Psalm 91 clearly shows that Elijah was prophesying the coming of the Son of God to Bethlehem to inaugurate His eternal Kingdom.

Jesus Christ is quite clear to His followers about the kind of kingdom He came to establish. When Peter drew a sword to defend His Lord from arrest, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders" (John 18:36). When Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world' it doesn't mean His kingdom is not in this world, because it is. Rather, Jesus told Peter to put up His sword because the methods by which Jesus' kingdom is advanced are not in the same methods by which the kingdoms of this world are advanced. 

The kingdoms of this world, including the United States and all other nations, advance their interests through force and military might, which the Bible calls "the sword." Jesus, however, advances His eternal kingdom through His followers loving their enemies, not demanding back anything  that is taken from them, turning the other cheek when struck,  refusing to retaliate, and by praying for and blessing those who wish to do them harm (see Luke 6:27-38)

When the kingdom of Jesus has advanced throughout this world - and it is guaranteed that His kingdom will eventually overtake the entire world at some point in time - then "the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).

Unlike many who praise the video above, I don't like it. Don't misunderstand; I am pro-military, pro-Israel, pro-NRA, pro-conservative, pro-...well, you get the idea. In a world gone wicked, governments of civilized people should bear the sword to strike at the root of evil. Natural law also demands that weapons be used to punish evil doers in those nations intent on protecting individual liberties and personal rights. In addition, the Bible tells us in Romans 13:4 that governments are "God's servant(s) for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." Nations advance the principles of liberty when evil doers are punished by the government's 'sword.'

But the eternal kingdom of Jesus only advances when individuals give up their personal rights and love their enemies.

Soldiers in uniform are on a mission for the state. I am grateful that our marines, airmen, army and special forces are the tip of the spear for our government in bringing temporal justice to evil doers who behead children, burn pilots, subjugate and rape women, and perpetrate evil. We should increase our military spending, not lessen it. I am an honorary commander this year for an Air Force Base. I love our men and women in uniform.

However, it may be prudent for men and women in the American armed forces to refrain from singing a song like "Days of Elijah" while in their military uniforms (edit: or, as one commenter wisely wrote, 'refrain from publishing the video'). Why? When the enemies of the United States watch this video -- and they will -- they will falsely associate Jesus and His eternal kingdom with American snipers, billion dollar jets, techno-savvy drones, and the finest fighting men and women in the world.  In other words, they will think they are fighting Christians intent on killing them. In reality, they are fighting Americans intent on bringing temporary justice.

Our American fighting force is needed in a world full of evil; but nobody enters the eternal kingdom of God at the tip of a sword (are you listening Islamists?) - rather, people find entrance into the eternal kingdom by encountering people who choose to love their enemies, just as Christ chose to love us and die for our sins.

The United States government and the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ are not the same. I tell the men and women in our church who are employed by the the United States government to serve in our armed forces that they should always remember one thing: 
"If an enemy dies on the field of human conflict, the one who kills should be identified as a soldier of the state, and not as a follower of Jesus Christ. A Christian can have enemies, but a Christian can never be the enemy." (Wade Burleson)
For those followers of Jesus who cannot separate government service from the personal commands of Jesus to 'love your enemies,'  something that I have no problem doing, they should become conscientious objectors to military service. However, those followers of Jesus who have chosen to take on the task of killing evil doers on behalf of our United States' government by bearing the sword of temporal justice, might consider the wisdom of being filmed singing "Days of Elijah" while in military gear.


Rex Ray said...


Watching the video reminded of: “It’s not important how high you jump but how straight you walk when you come down.”

I noticed a few were standing without moving…I would have been one of them.

I was wondering when you wrote the post and I see it is recent because you wrote “…burn pilots…”

That video makes me want to get my gun and join anyone that wants to do away with what our President won’t say: “radical Islam.”

Wade, was he talking to you when he said, “…don’t get on your high-horse”?

David Cecil said...


I do not praise the video, but would not be so harsh to those singing. I can't confirm where this was filmed, but the room is a dead ringer for a classroom at MCRD San Diego. These are most likely not Marines, but Recruits (confirmed on a second viewing, the BC eyewear is a dead giveaway). A technical distinction for most people, I suppose, but you don't earn the name till your last day.

I believe this is important because the men in the video have no choice but to wear their uniforms when they worship. Most of the time, military personnel do dress in civilian attire when they worship. However, when in the field or at a Recruit Depot, where everything has been taken away from them, they worship in uniform.

I believe the greater issue is the invasion of their privacy, as even their DIs won't interfere or hold their worship against the recruits. Such worship should not be filmed and posted.

If the issue is worshipping in uniform (and all worshippers, even Muslims, abide by the same structures in the field and boot camp), then we move to recommending that worshippers strip first or be denied the freedom to worship while in boot camp or deployed.

Are you for denying them the ability to gather freely in worship while deployed or in training?

I'd rather we just not film their worship.

Wade Burleson said...


"I'd rather we just not film their worship."

Better idea than mine.


Anonymous said...

I think its a little harsh to criticize a group of military members lifting their voices to God regardless of what they wear. But without actually wearing the uniform to serve in the military and understanding the constraints of service, I think its more prudent to not comment on such a video. I have served in the military for 14 years and to see a group of members singing praise is a glorious and rare sight. For some members this might be the only exposure to praise and worship they ever get given the enormous distractions in the civilian culture! I don't have any Bible verses to quote in my response but I bet somewhere or somehow God was present during the filming of such a prudent atrocity...

Wade Burleson said...


Appreciate your service to our country.

I particularly am grateful for believers in Jesus who serve in our armed forces.

My point, which I admit is difficult to understand, is that there is a huge difference between being a patriotic American and a devout follower of Jesus Christ. They are not the same thing.

Beth D said...

Normally I agree with you, but as a Navy "brat" I can't quite at this time. My Dad was my Dad whether he was in his uniform or not. Likewise, Christians in the military are Christians whether they are in uniform or not.
I do see your point about there being a difference between being a patriotic American and being a Christian - I've visited churches where the pastor doesn't get this and it drives me cookies. I also see your point about America's enemies getting the impression through videos like this that they are fighting Christianity, not fighting America. But I do agree with David Cecil, the bigger issue was with this posted on the net. Since at times, military have no choice to worship in uniform if they are to worship, worshipping in uniform is a GOOD thing. Posting it, maybe not so good.

Beth D said...

After going away from this article for a few minutes something occured to me. There is another reason why we Christians have to be careful not to present America as a Christian nation to our enemies, and this reason is why it drives me batty when I hear a pastor get too political on the pulpit. The reason is we are a post Christian full of post Christian decadance. The world sees this decadance. We don't need this decadance attached to Christianity. But I still think it's good for believers to worship in uniform, just not put it on the 'net.

Wade Burleson said...

Beth D.

Two excellent points - Your first comment points out a flaw in my article - I don't have a problem with Marine's singing hymns in uniform - even when they give the HOOYAH in the middle of it (three times) as they did in Days of Elijah - the bigger problem is the video. I think it is prudent to keep state and church separated (a strong Baptist position throughout history).

Your second comment is superb (in my opinion). Thanks for thinking (and returning).

Bill Moss said...

I watched the video. What I saw was a very good thing. I read the post and all comments, many if not all valid and technically accurate. However, what I see is quite a lot of close examination of individual trees, and not much seeing the forest. In uniform, in civilian clothes, other clothing options, no other options, etc.

Really? Out of concern for what? That our enemies could misunderstand or be confused? I sure don't want them to have misconceptions, as they hate and kill. Evil doesn't need an excuse!

But I'll admit, although I accept the distinctions between the world and the Kingdom, as well as patriotic American vs. Christian, I believe many Christians misapply the concept. We maintain our homes, though they are temporal. Yet many are not politically involved. Maybe our temporal home would be quite different if less concern was put on separating the Kingdom from the world. For the time being they are intertwined.

Rex Ray said...


You wrote:
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders (John 18:36) When Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world” it doesn’t mean His kingdom is not in this world, because it is.

I believe the NLT makes this scripture more clear.

“My Kingdom is not and earthly kingdom…But my Kingdom is not of the world.”

“I assure you; today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

That’s the location of His Kingdom! It’s Heaven! GLORY

BTW Wade, you haven’t turned into a Jehovah Witness have you? :)

Wade Burleson said...


Jesus said, "The meek will inherit the earth." Unless you know of an earth other than the one on which you live, this earth - with the curse reversed - is the inheritance for you and all others who believe in Jesus!

Wade Burleson said...

Bill Moss,

Thanks for the comment!

Christiane said...

there is a time and a place for the conjunction of the 'military' with a person's faith . . .

for example, my father's Catholic funeral at graveside with a flag on the coffin and four uniformed military present as guards

then my niece, a Navy nurse who while stationed in Afghanistan, was asked to pray by a young man whose life they ultimately could not save, and yes, she was there for him as nurse, as Christian woman, as a blessing to a dying service man

and then the memorial to the 'four chaplains':

there is no shame in celebrating faith in our military . . . the shame comes when some try to proselytize at the expense of the conscience of those of other faiths, and these people ususally are of the 'Dominionist' ilk, and may God forgive them their abuse, and may we as Americans defend the right of all of our people to follow their consciences, whatever religious tradition they may follow, or even if they are atheists

our freedom is precious to us, it has been paid for in blood, and we must defend it honorably

Steve Mills said...

No self-respecting Marine says "Hooyah";that's an Army thing. :)

OORAH and Semper Fi!

Rex Ray said...

My cousin had a pastor in Yazoo, Mississippi by the name of Jerry Clower. Jerry was a comedian, and related what happened when he played football at Mississippi State.

Jerry was spitting dirt and yelling at an opponent who had rutted his face in the ground.

The guy replied: “The meek will inherit the earth”

So “inherit” has more than one interpretation. :)

The Bible tells us of another earth because the present one will be destroyed.

“…the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire…” “…we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised…” (2 Peter 3: 7, 13 NLT)

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared.” (Revelation 21:1 NLT)

Wade Burleson said...


Thanks for the OORAH correction.


New earth means is this earth renewed for the Bible teaches explicitly that this world is without end.

Rex Ray said...

I believe Webster teaches “renewed” and “disappeared” have different meanings.

“…In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor…” (Matthew 20:20)

Wade, when Jesus returns, will he be returning to this world because you say His kingdom is in this world?

If the world was the kingdom of Jesus, how could the world belong to the devil?

The devil kept his greatest temptation to Jesus until the last when he said:

“…the devil…showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. I will give it all to you if you will kneel down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

If the devil was lying it would not have been a temptation.

Wade Burleson said...


The great John Owen, Greek and Hebrew linguist and 18th century evangelical theologian par excellence says...

"We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,' etc. But what is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God shall create these new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?

Says Peter, " It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell."

But now it is evident from this place of Isaiah, with chap. lxvi. 21, 22, that this is a prophecy of Gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of Gospel ordinances to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed Heb. xii. 26-28.


Rex, I know you believe the "new" heavens and "new" earth is something upon which you will live in heaven in some far away place, but I would ask you to consider that your view is not the historic view of Christianity - and possibly not the biblical view either - for according to John Owen's, the destruction of the "Old" is the end of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the "New" is the launch of the gospel age.

Just food for thought.

Wade Burleson said...

Finally Rex,

You ask: "If the world was the kingdom of Jesus, how could the world belong to the devil?"

The same way you get back what was stolen - you take it back, and that is precisely what Jesus did through His death, burial and resurrection - He was enthroned as King of Kings over this world - and one day His Kingdom will overtake all the nations.

Beth D said...

Ooh, love the partial preterist vs premillinealist debate! :-)

Rex Ray said...

I think we’ll agree IN the world today are Christians, the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit.

You say I believe that I will live in heaven in some far away place.

Yes I do because Jesus said, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home…I’m going to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2-4)
“…we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

My oldest cousin died in China when she was five years old. The last thing she said was: “Mama which one is our house?”

My grandmother said: “It’s so beautiful. I see Papa.”

Did Moses and Elijah come from some far away place like heaven when Peter saw them? (Matthew 17:3)
“So he is the God of the living not the dead.” (Luke 20:38)

Curious Thinker said...

I'm not sure I'm getting what you are saying. Are you saying Christians shouldn't be in the military fighting in combat and killing the enemy because the are suppose to "love your enemies"? I don't really see that, as many Christians in the military may not have a choice but to bear arms and kill to save lives and not just their own, but the fellow comrades and innocent lives. One can be a Christian and still be in the military. Haven't watch the video though.

Anonymous said...

Man, I love this post! It is full. Thanks for posting it, Wade. Gives us something to consider.

When I first watched the video, about a week ago, I was touched and proud that we have those in our military who are depending upon God. Whether these men are in boot camp or not, they most likely anticipate going into battle for the purpose of sacrificially serving their country to protect those rights and the freedom that has obviously been given to this nation and maintained by God. I believe that these troops are on the side that God would have them serve; fighting to free the oppressed and to protect us all from being controlled by Hitler-minded maniacs.

I wish that there were Muslim-American troops praying and singing to their gods as they prepare to do battle with the demonic terrorists too. How about Hindu and Buddhist-American troops? I suspect there are American troops with those backgrounds but we just don't see those pictures publicized, but wouldn't it be great if we did?

I don't believe that our military or individual citizens should ever feel inhibited about expressing their faith as they go into battle for Godly principles. But I do understand Wade's concern as well.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

" 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10 &
"3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?2 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."

I realize that we can seek to justify the position "that God will not totally and utterly destroy this planet and create an entirely new heaven and earth" contrary to what this passage vividly describes, by searching for some other passages with less descriptive portrayals but which may hint to the contrary.

This is true in our methods for establishing positions on many doctrines where the context of Scripture seems to clearly say what it means but those who don't agree can find passages that seem to contradict the most obvious. For instance, those who say that "God" makes certain people to be saved and some to go to hell and that Christ died only for those who God chooses to save. Or maybe the argument by some that Christians will not be present during the "Great Tribulation" period, etc.

Personally, I don't believe we will ever know these answers for sure until the final judgment. But in such controversial debates prior to that time I prefer to choose the side that best coincides with the literal depiction portrayed in Holy Scripture. Why debate something as explicit as this?

How could anyone see a different position than mine? (Joke)

Christiane said...

can't remember who said this, but sometimes in the presence of mystery, silence is the more appropriate response . . .

somewhere between the 'Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End' and Christ's promise to make 'all things new',
we know there is something wonderful happening in Creation

and we have been invited to enter into it

once again, we may all be looking at mystery from different perspectives,
but even if we all shared what we had discovered, there is still room within the mystery of Christ for contemplation in silent awe, and for a response of deep thanksgiving on our part as a people

Anonymous said...


Beautifully said, but I often learn by "listening" to the responses of people who have different positions than I on Scripture and express the basis for their position, don't you? I know that when I express "my" viewpoints it often may come across as my being dogmatic and as my being someone who thinks he has finally reached the conclusions on all aspects of God's mysteries, but honestly, I am far from being there and do anticipate and appreciate those times when others respond with differing opinions. I often differ from Wade's positions on doctrines but I have learned a whole lot by his being open and expressing his views. I hope to keep growing until I die!

But I also believe, like you, that it is often good to simply be silent and seek to be immersed in the awesome and infinite nature of our Lord too.

Gordon said...

We are never going to be able to withstand the onslaught of resurgent Islam on the world, unless we resist them in the name Jehovah. Their worldview is far stronger than that of the current decadent, materialistic West. Our Christian moral and religious values have been greatly weakened so that Samson is about ready to fall into the hands of the Philistines.
Far from discouraging our troops from singing and going forth in the name of the Lord, we should rather promote a new national Christian Crusade to stem the tide of darkness, intolerance and tyranny. Let us not forget, nor be ashamed of, being one nation under God and in Him we trust.
Victory will ensure, at least, that doors are kept open for the preaching of the Gospel.

Fred said...

I don't think this video was ever intended to be American propaganda for the enemy and frankly after watching the 'healing the believers chest' video I don't care. Political correctness is a bunch of junk and we should be very careful not to fall into that trap. Wade, I typically read your blog and think you are spot on...don't agree on this article. I believe a soldier can live a seamless life when in war for his country and be a devout Christian... Luke 22:36 "And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one." Just like being called to serve as a pastor a soldier can be called to serve as well...knowing that the ultimate mission of the military is to kill people and break their stuff.
I think there should be more video's like this because the people who see it can also be a previous blog said worship was about us any way.
Whether I agree or not, that is the joy of this Nation...that we can share our opinions and not get beheaded. I mean terrorist groups believe that Western secular culture is an abomination. They aren't wrong...but the caveat is we all have sinned therefore no one can righteously judge another. I mean if God rained down fire on everyone who has lied...there would be no one left.
Knowing Christ has given me a love and deep respect for people and his creation. Having courage to do what is right may result in the destruction of another human.
If America didn't have people with courage we would have a society of cowards and queers....or maybe we would have that anyway.
I took a slight rabbit trail but my point is I think there is nothing wrong with posting the video, wearing a uniform to worship or both. I just wish Christian's had more courage to not worry about what others think when they say or do things (like posting this video).

Rex Ray said...


What do you think of Wade saying the Kingdom of Jesus is in the world?

Jesus said the world would hate us (Christians).

Do you believe the Kingdom of Jesus is Heaven?

Fred said...

Well, Theologically I understand his perspective however practically...when I step back and look at the evil perpetrated in this world, I would really hope there is another place to go. But really, I don't care where as long as I am not eternally separated from God because that would be hell.

Rex Ray said...

It seems you were not raised under the preaching of Jesus saying: “…be thrown into hell where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out:” (Mark 9:47-48 NLT)

You say to be separated from God would be hell, but most of the world is separated now and seem pretty happy. They’re like that dumb song: “If I can’t go the heaven just put me off in Texas.”

Science says for an instant, lighting is hotter than the sun.

The devil may have felt some heat when: “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lighting!” (Luke 10:18)

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray,

Sorry for the delay in responding but I had some things going on.

You asked:"What do you think of Wade saying the Kingdom of Jesus is in the world?"

We KNOW that God is allowing Satan's kingdom to run rampant in the world right now along with all the consequences of despair, disease, death, hopelessness, loneliness destruction that it brings. BUT I do believe that the presence of God's Kingdom IS in the world right now!

IT IS REX RAY! Hallelujah for that!

The presence of God's Kingdom is here but not dominant in the sense of ruling over the world as it will be eventually. Christ brought The Kingdom of God into the world as He redeemed those who responded and are following Him. They are the ones who inject the Kingdom of God into the world and although right now are the minority, Christ WILL establish His Kingdom and it will be undeniably dominant.

Of course, the home base of God's Kingdom is in heaven. God's Kingdom is present in two realms at this time but there too, post millennium, God will establish His Kingdom within one realm and there won't be "a heavenly and earthly realm" but one.

That's what I think and believe because that's what GOD says.

THANKS a lot for asking.

Fob James III said...

Wade, ouch. Jesus told his enemies to their face, "You will see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven." This is what Robin Marks' song, "Days of Elijah," is about - the coming of the Lord in His glory and His salvation being revealed to the world "out of Zion." The words are wonderful and the one about Whom the soldiers are singing is worthy of their worship, regardless of whether they are in uniform or not. My reaction to hearing the song is to want to sing alone. I hope the video is seen "unto the uttermost parts of the earth" because this Jesus who was crucified is worthy of all worship, including that of American soldiers in uniform.

You know my aversion to authoritarian perversions of the faith. And for the record, I consider so-called christian reconstructionism to be a satanically inspired counterfeit of the gospel.

But I don't get at all your objection to the wide spread distribution of any video where anyone is genuinely worshipping the Lord. If the soldiers were singing this from their hearts to the Lord, let the whole world see it and let the rocks cry out.

In the Lord, Fob

ArrowISU said...

I'm always suspicious of a group, marines or otherwise, acting in this manner.

Who taught them all the swaying and hand gestures? To close to becoming radicalized. Don't say it can't happen. Just look at the groups that stormed the Capital. And the lyrics are made up of pieces of the bible taken out of context. You just don't start sing and joining in the choreography without being taught.

When I was in the Air Force I disliked other airmen coming around and witnessing. If these marines are recruits then they don't always have free choice regarding the wearing of the uniform. But active duty military can wear uniform to churchs on base and civilian clothes for going off base.