Monday, August 20, 2018

More Afraid

More Afraid
August 20, 2018
Ezra 3:3  "Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both morning and evening sacrifices."

The Israelites were disobedient and the Lord allowed them to be plundered and punished by the hand of their enemies. Their enemies scattered them and smashed all that was sacred to the Israelites at one time. After a humbling time of living in fear and shame, some of them started to come back from hiding and began to rebuild a small semblance of their lives. It took courage to come out of hiding as a Jew. They were specifically targeted for their race and their land and their wealth. But they began to come out of hiding and moved back to their old stomping grounds, after a time of repairing their relationship with the Lord. They once again feared the Lord, the kind of fear that instills reverence and respect, and wanted to honor Him with their lifestyle.

When they moved back home, and found their sacred places smashed to pieces, they began to rebuild. The Bible says when they rebuilt, they did so with the understanding that the enemy might come back and attempt to destroy them again. The Israelites understood that their presence back home, their presence rebuilding their land, was a direct stance against their enemies, a bold statement of their commitment. Their bold stance could have easily been interpreted as an act of defiance, an act of hostility, inviting further war. The Israelites were knowingly inviting a potential battle, that could cost them their lives. But they revered their relationship with the Lord more than they feared what their enemies could do to them. They were honest about their enemies' capabilities, knowing they'd likely lose, but they took their stance out in the open, regardless. They rebuilt the alter to the Lord in order to offer their sacrifices to Him, knowing that this public declaration was going to be noticed by their enemies. If they were going to be attacked, it was going to be at the place they were building, the center of their service and worship to the Lord.

Christian, your enemy is aware of your lifestyle and what you are doing. He notices who you are serving and how you are living for the Lord. The more bold of a statement you make in serving the Lord with your life and your lifestyle, the more you are likely a target for attack from your enemy. Your enemy does not want you to succeed or build or live or thrive or serve or care or love or forgive. Your enemy wants to see you fail, and fail in front of the Lord. The Israelites, however, were aware of this and they did it anyway. They put their shoulder to the work, knowing they were inviting a potential beating from the enemy, knowing the enemy could kill them during their efforts. 

But like the Israelites, we have to fear the Lord, out of reverence, and honor, and respect, more than we fear being attacked or killed by the enemy. The enemy can take your body but not your soul and the Israelites were willing to accept this in their stance to serve the Lord and rebuild their lives of worship unto Him. Your life should be a life of continual worship to the Lord, publicly. If you are ashamed of the Lord, scripture says He will be ashamed of you. If you fear the enemy and what the enemy can do to you, more than you fear the Lord, then you are not likely to stand for the Lord. Stand for the Lord, in front of the world, risking what the world can take from you, knowing it is better to fear the Lord than fear the world. Be more afraid of the Lord than you are the enemy's attack. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ezra 3:1-6, Matt 10:32-29, Mark 8:38, Rom 1:16

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