During World War I and prior, veterans noted in thousands of letters and journals the memories that music had played during the wars. Drum beats and fife tunes were commonly heard, but as war progressed, the bugle became the instrument of choice because it enabled soldiers to hear over musket and artillery fire. Buglers were required to memorize all the calls not only for the telling of time and duties in camp, but also to guide the actions of troops in battle. In short, they became the mouthpiece for the general. Those in command kept the bugler by their sides at all times so that orders could be issued for the sounding of calls. However, this made the bugler a strategic target for the enemy as cutting off lines of communication was an essential objective. Such was the case in the battle of Camas Creek on August 20, 1877. During a raid by Nez Perce Indians on a U.S. Army encampment, only three of the troops were killed. However, one of them was 1st Cavalry, Company B bugler, Bernard Arthur Brooks. Bernard was riding immediately behind his commanding officer, Captain Jackson, when he was shot and killed. Now, without a means to communicate orders, three companies of U.S. cavalry were in disarray and went into retreat which led to their defeat.
As one surveys the landscape of American social, business, political, and religious life, it is quite obvious that we are living in some strangely backward times. Lies have become truth. Wrong has become right. Darkness has become light. We are in a delirious state of confusion because there are so many mixed signals. We have the opinions of experts, the formulas of scientists, the rhetoric of politicians, and even a weekly dose of sermons. But, lost in the debate is the clarion call of the trumpet of God. In 1 Corinthians 14:8, Paul wrote, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” We no longer hear the piercing sound alerting us to our post, but rather the sweet tunes of the flute leading us to do those things which are right in our own eyes. While the battle for truth, decency, and the soul of a nation rages, the trumpet has gone silent. The trumpet no longer sounds in the public square nor in the halls of government. The trumpet is muted in our educational systems and even muffled in the house of God. Is it any wonder our children now march to the cadence of their own drums. George Orwell said, “During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” We are losing a sense of purpose and direction because the sounding calls are missing amidst the fog of war. We are desperate for those with courage to sound the trumpet while all around them are sounding a retreat. What are the signals we must look and listen for?
We must sound the trumpet of wonder. In 2 Chronicles 13:12, King Abijah called out, “...behold, God Himself is with us for our Captain, and His priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you...” At the sound of trumpets being blown in war or worship, God’s people were filled with confident assurance of His presence with them. It was a way of reminder to remain captivated and concentrated on Him. As we face the issues of our day, there is a tendency to “stare drive” and become focused on the events and the decisions. The longer we stare the more we are filled with offense, bitterness, and anger. Soon thereafter we are fighting in the strength of the flesh and have lost a fresh sense of the wonder of God. There is very little hope of succeeding against the many challenges before us until our focus is first drawn back to Him. We need a fresh reminder that He is our only source of hope and help. The great danger we face is the threat of forgetting God while claiming to be fighting for God. Stephen Olford said, “Any form of irreverent familiarity in holy things is the evidence of stagnation and backsliding. God have mercy on us if and when things of the Spirit fail to fill our souls with wonder!” There is nothing that confronts us in any greater need of repair than our view of God. He has been engaged with these foes and battles since the dawn of time. And by way of reminder, He has never lost a one!
We must sound the trumpet of wisdom. In Joshua 6, Joshua gave detailed instructions as to how the city of Jericho would be conquered. He said in verse 5, “...and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall down flat...” The sound of the trumpet was a sign of obedient and decisive leadership that trusted the counsel of God. Over the past few years we have come to find that our nation is struggling to find competent and capable leadership in nearly every arena of life. We search intensely for leaders who know how to set the sails and chart a confident course. We are desperate for uncompromising and unafraid leaders capable of steering the ship in the storm. The challenges we face are so complex that it is like trying to unravel a box of a thousand strings of Christmas lights. However, Scripture never leaves it to men to figure out solutions to the things God already has the answer for. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Surely the essence of wisdom is that before we begin to act at all, or attempt to please God, we should discover what it is that God has to say about a matter.” Wisdom is always found in truth. It would serve us well to remember that truth is what God has said, not what we think about what God has said. It is those lives that are in tune with the Word of God that give sound to the melodies that are always wise, right, and best.
We must sound the trumpet of warning. In Ezekiel 33:2-3, the prophet writes, “...take a man...and set him for a watchman. If when he sees the sword come upon the land, he blows the trumpet, and warns the people.” The watchman had one duty and that was to sound the trumpet when danger was approaching. I am convinced and convicted that most of the difficulties we face in our land lies at the doorways of the church. We have abandoned the post of our duty as spiritual watchmen, and are reveling in pleasures as the world burns around us. We have become highly skilled in the art of negotiation to the point of allowing things to happen on our watch that would cause our forefathers to roll over in their graves. It has been a long season since we have brought a startling and arresting Word from the Lord to our people. Our nation deserves better from us, and it should be demanded of us. It is not more politicians we need as much as we need spiritual statesmen. A politician only worries about the next election, but a statesman is worried about the next generation. While we will never stop the incredible train wreck that is coming, we can at least save as many as we can from the wreckage. Vance Havner said, “It is later than it has ever been before, and the smartest things any man can do is to set his watch by God’s clock.” How can we remain silent when so much is at stake?
Tucked away in a brief Old Testament book are these powerful words in Amos 3:6-7, “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?...Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” I wonder to whom God may be speaking? Is there anyone that can hear anymore? Perhaps someone will stand tall and sound the trumpet so all can hear above the cries of pain and pleasure. If someone does not play reveille soon, the next sound we hear may just be the sound of Taps.
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2016 Alan Stewart