Steve’s Devotional – Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
AUGUST 9, 2023
Are you worried? I am.
On Steve Brown Etc. we have interviewed a whole lot of people about the economy, war, the environment, world poverty, politics (and the list goes on) and the general impression is that we’re all going to die!
It’s bad and it’s going to get a lot worse.
There is a wonderful story in 2 Kings 6. The king of Syria was at war with Israel. Israel, though, had a powerful “secret weapon” in Elisha the prophet who kept warning Israel of the troop movements of Syria. The king of Syria was ticked and sent a large army to take out Elisha. When Elisha’s servant got up in the morning and went out, he saw the great Syrian army, panicked and then ran to Elisha, only to find Elisha calm, cool and collected. Elisha said to his servant that he should chill out because “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (vs. 16).
The servant looked around…and it was only the two of them.
It was then, I suspect, the servant figured out he was following a crazy man. Elisha prayed, “Lord, show him.” The text says, “So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vs. 17).
If you’re worried, there is plenty to worry you. You could lose your job, you could lose your house, you could become homeless or you could get cancer from the carcinogens everywhere. The economy could tank. And if that doesn’t happen, you could freeze to death from global freezing, be cooked to death from global warming or starve to death from global famine.
The “all news-all the time” news channels pound us 24/7 with “news alerts” that tell us to be afraid…be very afraid. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it and I’m not going to take it anymore. I’ve asked God to let me see the armies.
It’s about God, Stupid!
In order to see the armies, you have to know the Commander of the armies “for from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36). That would be pretty scary except for the joyous words of John 1: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace…” (vs. 14,16) and “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (vs. 12-13).
During every election, it seems like someone says, “It’s the economy, stupid!” I don’t even remember who first said that…but they are quite wrong. It’s not the economy or the wars or the terrorists or the fearsome specter of death and destruction. It’s about God, stupid! It really is.
Behind the surreal news, the surmise of “experts” who don’t know what they are talking about any more than we do, the silly atheists who say that we’re on our own, and the shallowness of what everybody says is important…there is a Commander of the armies who rules, sustains and works all things according to his will. If you forget about the Commander, it will drive you nuts.
Thank Him for the Mess
But there’s more than that. If you want to see the armies of God, you have to thank him for them. Paul said to the Ephesians—whose situation was seemingly even more perilous than ours—that they ought to continue with their lives, “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
Giving thanks for everything? Does that mean…? Yeah, that!
One of the advantages of being an “old white guy” is that I’ve watched the false prophets screw it up so often and so badly that I don’t listen to them much anymore. That doesn’t mean I’m silly or unaware of what they are saying. I’m a news junkie and fascinated by the seriousness and gloom of the “we’re all going to die” crowd. I’ve seen God’s circuitous ways so often in bringing “dry bones” to life, in removing pompous and arrogant leaders and replacing them only to replace the replacements, and in glorifying himself in the timeline of history, that I’ve decided it is all above my pay grade and “all things do work together” for those who are on the side of the Commander.
So I’ve decided I’ll just thank him for the mess and then take a nap.
I’ve decided to thank him for the mess. That, of course, doesn’t mean I’m going to necessarily like the way God works it out for me personally, for the nation of which I’m a citizen, or for the world. I’ve often told him that, if I were him, I would do it differently. But he has the armies and I don’t. He’s my Father and the Commander. So I’ve decided I’ll just thank him for the mess and then take a nap.
Let the Dead Bury the Dead
There is one other thing about seeing the armies. You have to act on the reality of the truth that has been revealed.
In Matthew 8, Jesus gets together a bunch of ragged, sinful, needy and confused followers. (I always thought he could have done better in his choices…but then I remember that I’m one of his weird choices too.) One of his choices says that he will follow Jesus, but he needs to first bury his father. It seems reasonable until one realizes that his father isn’t dead yet…not even close. So his excuse was an option to run.
Then Jesus said something that will haunt you if you think about it much, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (vs. 22).
You can’t let the dead bury the dead unless there’s something better than the cemetery…and there is.
So I have this list where I ask myself what I would do, how I would act and what I would think if the Commander of the supernatural armies were my Father and if I trusted him to do it right. Then I act on the truth that I know.
I still get scared and listen to the wrong voices on occasion. I sometimes still hear the “harsh bark” of the con artists and become enamored by the bright wares of the trinket salesmen. But in my finer moments, Jesus comes and prays for me. He says to the Father: “Father, show him!”
That’s when I see the armies.
He’ll do that for you too.
Time to Draw Away
Read Psalm 139-140, Isaiah 41:10 & Romans 8:28
What does it mean to you to have God as your “Commander of the armies”? In your fear, turn to God and trust him. After all, he’s sovereign and loves you. And he’s got you covered.