ALL THE BAD NEWS
WHAT DID JESUS DO?
AS IN THE DAYS OF NEHEMIAH
WORDS OF COMFORT AND HOPE
My Bible study group is studying prophecy. We recently discussed how extraordinarily to point the nations of the world are fast aligning themselves with key events foretold in books of the Bible such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation.
At an almost breathtaking speed.
Such bad news heretofore tucked away in the books cited above is now featured with increasing regularity in the news. World leaders—some, it seems, invoking their inner despots–are sending their newest war machines into (biblical) hot spots poised for conflagration while shamelessly wresting what control they may from the populace.
Meanwhile, those who understand the prophetic end-game are increasing efforts to alert the segment of the world’s citizenry unaware of the spiritual ramifications of all of this mayhem and what can be done on a personal level to avoid the worst outcome .
In the midst of all this, one wonders how to keep a calm heart and head lest the fear-mongering and the reality of what is actually taking place keep one distracted, making it difficult to know how best to respond.
Although those of us who discern the “end of the story” of prophecy have every reason to rejoice and to “look up” for our “redemption is nigh” (Luke 21:28), as evil seems poised to override good on a global scale it is still hard sometimes to maintain mental, emotional, and spiritual equilibrium.
What to do?
WHAT DID JESUS DO?
When Jesus walked among us the first time He daily faced bad news of His own, indeed, He faced enemies who wanted to kill Him (though they did so only when He allowed). Here are two responses He employed available to us, too, to help quell the fury:
- Jesus did not re-act to His accusers, He pro-acted. He didn’t respond to His adversaries with confusion, fear, terror, or (unrighteous) anger fueled with frustration as you or I might, but He took every opportunity of interaction to preach, teach, and heal—to further Truth.
- When He faced opposition head-on, He employed the power of the metaphorical “two-edged sword,” that is, the Word of God which alone quells “principalities and powers” (Ephesians 6:12)—the real “enemies” at work in the world. Consider how He used this to still the devil at the end of His forty-day sojourn in the desert (see Luke chapter 4). The end result for Him—and now for us when we employ the same?: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
In short, when faced with evil, Jesus used the circumstances to further both the Word and work of the Father. He was prepared. We can be, too.
Here is a little practical advice to equip us, too, for such “spiritual battle”:
“(Be) strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”(Ephesians 6:10-18, NIV).
(For a good exposition of the above passage, see footnote 2.)
Spiritual preparedness is as essential as physical preparedness so that we are better equipped to over-come instead of just over-react.
Jesus also gave us this advice for how to conduct ourselves (in the midst of our adversaries) while He is yet “away” and until He “comes back” (Luke 19:13): “Occupy (from the Greek meaning to be occupied with business) until I come.” One apologist expands the definition of “business” this way: “be active, productive, diligent—not in the strength of the flesh or with human strategies, but in the power of the Spirit and guided by the Word of God “ .
In short, like Jesus, we are to be about the “Father’s business” as well: preaching, teaching, witnessing, exhorting, comforting, praying for the sick, interceding for the lost and weary, and caring for each other and for those yet outside the Body of Christ. For Jesus has not ceased to desire that all come to a saving knowledge of Him (1 Timothy 2:4) and to understand that He is on their side.
And as any serious prophecy student will tell you: the days may be short.
AS IN THE DAYS OF NEHEMIAH
In one sense, these are truly “Nehemiah days,” you might say. Nehemiah, charged with re-building the wall around Jerusalem, at one point directed workers to continue working on the wall while keeping a sword at the ready as their enemies, too, were relentless (Nehemiah 4:15-23).
Our job as believers in our day is similarly two-fold: understanding how to respond to the evil of our day by securing what physical needs are warranted, and, most importantly, “storing treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).
And always, as my sister Claire often reminds me, “remaining in the love of the Lord” (John 15).
And here are some words of comfort and hope to keep near:
7 […] Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity” (Psalm 37:7-11).
Take heart, brothers and sisters in Christ, for in Him we can face fear with faith, and crisis with clarity.
 How to avoid the worst outcome? Receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord today. Here is an explanation written many years ago that, I think, encapsulates biblical instructions with clarity and grace: http://www.godssimpleplan.org/gsps-english.html
Photos from the public domain.