"Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem,the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you. Shake yourself from the dust, arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck. O captive daughter of Zion. For thus says the Lord: You have sold yourselves for nothing. And ye shall be redeemed without money" Isaiah 52:1-3, New KJV)
There is a thrilling Old Testament story that best illustrates what it means to be kept by the power of God. It is found in 2 Kings 6.
Benhadad, King of Syria, declared war on Israel and marched against them with a great army. As his forces advanced, he often called his war counsel into his private chambers to plan the next day's strategy. But the prophet Elisha kept sending word to the King of Israel, detailing every move of the enemy troops. On several occasions, the Israelites escaped defeat because of Elisha's warnings.
What welcome news to the child of God shattered and torn by warfare in the soul: He maketh wars to cease. Blessed relief; the battle in my soul is His battle, and He alone can end it. My loving Father will not permit the flesh or the devil to bully me into defeat.
My war is clearly defined by James, who wrote:
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?...Ye fight and war..." (James 4:1,2).
There are three great truths I would like to bring to your attention. Each is a definition of what a true Christian ought to be.
Three anointed men of God best exemplify these truths and they are John the Baptist, Stephen, and Peter. John was the voice, Stephen mirrored the glory, and Peter took the daring step of faith. Their examples should be the goal of every true believer who is devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Please forgive my references to personal struggles, but I must tell you of some recent troubles we've endured to share with you the lessons learned from it all. My family and I have just gone through the most severe testing of our lives.
It is the night of the passover. The Jews are shut up in their houses, for God has warned that death is coming to Egypt this night! The blood of an unblemished lamb has been sprinkled on the transom and two side door posts of every home, according to the Lord's command. "The blood shall be to you for a sign upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:13).
"And all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground." (Ezekiel 38:20).
There is an ominous Scripture in the Bible that is a source of comfort to many Christians. It is Matthew 7:22,23: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
God's ways seem like paradoxes to the human mind. He says, To live, you must die. To find your life, you must lose it. To become strong, you must first become weak.
One of the greatest paradoxes of all is this — to be truly free you must become bound. To gain the greatest liberty in God one must give up all rights and become a lifelong bondservant to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a glorious love–slavery that leads to the highest form of freedom and liberty. It is a voluntary surrender born out of love and affection, causing one to consider servitude even greater than sonship.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a placed for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.
I want to show you the most tragic man in history. He is not Judas; he is not Herod; he is not even a hater of God. He was a son of David, a king in Jerusalem, and in type the saddest, most pathetic man on earth.
Please hear me out when I tell you that an Old Testament king, years before Bethlehem and Calvary, missed Christ. How can a man miss Christ, centuries before He was born?