Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shelter so we can endure

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Nussbaum.

Oct. 10 – Shelter so we can endure

”Don’t be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.” Phil. 1:28 (NLT)

Though we mentioned last week that we are with the Messiah on a mission to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8) and this week we also see “destroyed” in the verse above, we have to realize how rarely we find the language of attack and destruction in the New Testament. The Messiah used three main activities in his mission himself and told us to use the same three when we represent him—proclaiming, healing, and enduring. None of these are destructive and even if combined they hardly amount to an “attack” in the normal sense of the word.

The whole emphasis of the New Testament is not on how to attack or counter-attack but how to endure the attacks that come because we are proclaiming the Messiah’s reign and healing in his name. The Messiah’s orders and training are not aimed to help us conquer or destroy our attackers. Instead we are equipped to endure and outlast them. As the Messiah’s representatives we are not going to conquer the world; we are going to inherit it. (Mt. 5:5) "Therefore we are not God’s aggressive soldiers but his meek sons and daughters, sent out like sheep among wolves." (Mt. 10:16)

From a human perspective this is an utterly ridiculous and hopeless strategy to take over the world. As sheep we have no shelter from the wolves. We will be ripped to shreds. Yes, we will, but that is not the end of us. We can afford to risk becoming dead sheep because we worship a dead sheep, or almost. “The Lamb that appeared to have been killed” is now standing at the throne of the universe, very much alive and in charge. (Rev. 5:6)

With the risen Lamb in our line of sight, we make our proclamation that the Messiah is taking charge now, calling the whole world to follow him. When the wolves tell us to shut up, we keep proclaiming. When the wolves tell us to quit healing in his name, we ask them whether we should obey them rather than God. (Acts 4:19)

Eventually the wolves quit growling and start biting. This really hurts us but it cannot stop us. The Messiah’s enemies were able to inflict pain on him but they could not defeat him. They can inflict pain on us too but they do not have what it takes to defeat the Messiah in us.

We, however, do have what it takes to endure anything and everything his enemies throw at us. We know the risen Lamb! We know what happened to him and how it turned out. His victory cannot be undone, so our faith cannot be shaken. We also have the impenetrable armor of the soul, the Holy Spirit. When we are attacked, our joyful resilience and our refusal to be intimidated show that we will win and our opponents will lose. (Phil. 1:28)

Perhaps the whole Season of Shelter should be called the Season of Endurance instead. Shelter is what is outside us and around us, done for us by God. Endurance is what God gives us on the inside and what he enables us to do (endure) even when our shelter seems to be gone. On the other hand, the Messiah is also the Good Shepherd, our shelter, and the season opens with the Festival of Shelters. (Comments are welcome on the possible change of name for the season. Currently I am leaning toward changing it but not quite sure.)

Welcome: Jesus, Messiah, thank you so much for coming. With you here, we are sure to be attacked but we cannot lose.

Affirmation: The cross of Jesus the Messiah can get us through any difficulty it gets us into.



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