"Gott Mit Uns" has been used on German Army insignia for at least 400 years; and was also on insignia of Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus in the Thirty Years War of the early 1600's. It goes back to the late Roman Empire logo "Nobiscum Deus" (God With Us). During World War I, it became common for British soldiers who spotted this logo would add their own , irreverent answer: We got mittens, too!
I think this response is more than simply a flippant bilingual play on words. I see it as a recognition that nobody has a monopoly on God's presence. Unfortunately, in the history of the last four
thousand years, there have been times when God was seen as a supporting player to man's ambitions.
Yes, there are times when God is very much with us. But tragically, too many times there have been conflicts where both sides believe in God, and both believe that their side of the conflict is the Godly one. Sometimes one side is mistaken, sometimes both are off the true center. We have to be very careful!
When Moses came back from Mt Sinai with the instructions for the Ark, the people needed an illustration of their calling to be a nation saved and dedicated to God. Unfortunately, it became almost a “magic” talisman, to the point of in First Samuel 4, they got the idea of picking up the Ark from Shiloh, to take into battle—and Eli’s corrupt sons gave it to them. The battle, and the Ark, were lost to the Philistines. Finally recovered at the time of David, they discovered that it could be a dangerous thing. There is the story of the first attempt to bring it back, in a cart, that led to Uzzah touching it and being killed by the attempt. One tends to think of a “zap” from above, but I wonder if it was probably something inherent in the Ark itself—and the people of that day believed that God Himself lived there, so it would have made sense to have the power come from it. It was placed in the Holy of Holies in the Temple when it was dedicated, and disappeared at some point in the last days of the Kingdom of Judah. It was time for the people to realize that God was not localized in a box. There are several theories of what happened to it; it may have been taken by the Babylonians; there are mentions that indicate that the priests of the day may have hidden it either under the Temple or somewhere outside the country. The Ethiopians believe that they have it, in a church under guard, and they have processions on holidays where replicas of tablets are carried. The “Last Word” is in Revelation, where it is seen in the Throne Room with God.
The Jews learned that God was with them, wherever they were. We know that as well. But we sometimes still use the idea of God’s Presence as our own property. The question is not whether God is with us—He is with all who know Him—but are we with God? Do we recognize and follow Him wherever we are?