Right now as America is in the middle of protests, riots, looting, and vandalism across our land, a new fear has reared its ugly head. With COVID 19, it was fear of the unknown, but with the onslaught of these violent public disturbances the fear has become much more personal in nature. That’s why these verses in Isaiah are so important for us today. We don’t need to dread, or be fearful of harm or danger because our God is not only our kinsman redeemer but also our avenger. He is always with us even when we go through fire and water, bringing us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:12) That’s because we are His treasured possession, (Deuteronomy 7:6) and He will fight for us; we need only to be still.(Exodus 14:14)
As the persecution not only persisted but increased for the Church in Thessalonica, Paul wrote this second letter to comfort and encourage them. He exhorted them that in spite of all the hardship they were currently enduring, they needed to continue their good works…which evidenced their faith. For fundamentally, good works and faith go hand and hand to show not only who a person is but how they are to behave. Later in this letter, Paul used the motivating statement, “Stand firm!” Right now, that statement is something all Believers need to hear. Stand firm in the face of fear and anxiety. Stand firm in the face of danger and trouble. Stand firm in the face of hardship and tribulation. For our Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (II Thessalonians 3:3)
King Hezekiah’s message to his people was simple…your source of strength comes from God and not from mortal man…and you need to rely on Him, for He is always with you. In II Kings 6:16-17, Elisha echoed these same words of encouragement when his servant could only see enemy horses and chariots surrounding the city…”Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed that the Lord might open his servant’s eyes, and suddenly the servant saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire. Today, if you’re afraid or discouraged, I pray that God would open your eyes to His promises…that He would show you His perspective, plan and purpose in your situation…and that you would experience revelation knowledge of where your strength truly lies.
Paul and Silas had only a few times to teach in Thessalonica before they were forced to leave. And after they left, the early Church there came under great persecution, thus Paul feared he had not had enough time to firmly ground them in the Gospel…so he sent Timothy to complete the work he had started. In this letter, Timothy has returned with the good news of the Believer’s faith and love and Paul is praising God for it. Earlier in this letter Paul wrote, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 1:3) What Paul was talking about here is the agape love we have for each other is an expression of our faith, and hopefully both our love and faith are growing and increasing together each day.
A proverb that goes right along with the theme of this one is Proverbs 18:7, “A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Anytime we speak before thinking, we open ourselves up to the consequences of our hastily spoken words…and all the potential havoc and calamity that comes with having little regard in the power of a offhand remark. Especially now, we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…(James 1:19) For there’s real wisdom in holding your tongue…and besides, even a fool is thought wise as long as he keeps his mouth shut! (Proverbs 17:28)
In the Bible many Valleys were known for only death and destruction…the Valley of the Dry Bones, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the Valley of Despair. But in this particular Valley it was quite the opposite for the men of Judah. That’s because the vast army that had sought to annihilate them, had instead been annihilated by God. So the Valley of Death and Destruction suddenly became the Valley of Praise. Over the course of the last months many of us have been in the Valley…a Valley filled with fear, anxiety, sadness, isolation, and discouragement. But we need to realize that God is the God of both the mountain-top and the valley…the highs and the lows…the good and the bad. That’s because He’s with us always, so our praise shouldn’t stop either, no matter where we find ourselves. For while we all long for those mountain-top experiences…we also have learned that many a hard-fought lesson comes while in the Valley.
God allowed Moses to see the Promised Land, but forbid him from crossing over the Jordan River and claiming it. It stemmed from the incident where God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock for water to flow, but out of frustration and anger, Moses had struck the rock instead…allowing the people’s whining and complaining to get the better of him. (Numbers 20:1-13) Likewise, God gave David the vision of what the Temple should look like and charged him with procuring all the building supplies, but forbid him from actually starting it…for he was a man of war with blood on his hands. Instead, God gave the task to David’s son, Solomon. Both Moses and David could of become very offended with God’s decision not to let them finish the mission He had given each of them. And they could of become very insulted when God told them to encourage someone else who would complete it. But that’s when we have to step back and take a look at the BIG picture…that’s when we have to ask God for His perspective and His ultimate plan and purpose.