Andrew Murray wrote that
Covenant was above all to give man a hold upon God as the Covenant-keeping God, to link him to God Himself in expectation and hope, to bring him to make God Himself Alone the portion and the strength of His soul. (The Two Covenants)
Have you been persecuted, maligned, slandered, or otherwise unjustly treated? Are you bitter and/or unforgiving as a result of such unjust treatment? Then the truth about Jesus as our Covenant Partner and Protector may be just the truth you need to hear. Jesus declared that "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free...(and) if therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." (Jn 8:32, 36). The truth about your New Covenant position and partner can indeed set you free. Years ago I taught this truth to one of the young men I was discipling and it supernaturally liberated him from longstanding unforgiveness and bitterness and he is today actively involved in a disciple making ministry. So if you struggle with sin in this area, dare to ask your Covenant Keeping God to enlighten the eyes of your heart (cp Eph 1:18-note) to understand the truth concerning His role as your Covenant Defender so that this truth might set you free to be free indeed!
GLOBAL REMNANTS OF
Even as virtually all cultures possess remnants of truth about the global flood, so too various aspects of truth about covenant permeate virtually all cultures (see examples below). Here is an interesting example that I read in the Global Prayer Digest (Sept 23, 1994)...
FROM GLOBAL PRAYER DIGEST SEPT 23, 1994: "Force the impious foreigners of our midst!" Screaming & cursing, the unruly mob of wild Tibetens, stormed the home of William Christie, missionary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance on the Kansu-Tibetan border. Walking to the gate of the Pao Ngan mission station, Christie faced the crowd. He learned that they represented twelve Tibetan clans in the area, whose crops and grazing land had recently been ruined by drought. Their lamas (priests) hated the missionaries and, as a way to drive them out, blamed them for the devastating lack of rain. As superintendent of the mission, Christie had to face the situation head-on. A gifted linguist, he was an expert in both Chinese and Tibetan and tried to reason with the mob. At the same time he ordered his servant, in Chinese, to run to the Chinese fort for help. Without turning his attention from the Tibetans, he spoke in English to the missionaries, urging them to pray and prepare to defend themselves. Suddenly he recognized in the crowd a Tibetan man who had once invited him into his home when he was traveling. Christie remembered the Tibetan Law that said that by accepting his hospitality, William could count on that man to be his friend for life. Thereafter he must assist him in time of need. Christie identified himself to his friend (Recall that in the Bible "friend" is a covenant term) and claimed his help, thus averting a crisis which might have claimed the lives of all the missionaries on that station. No wonder he became known and respected as "The Apostle to Tibet."
Remember however that as you study the concept of covenant, be careful to stand firm on the Word of God and not the interesting extra‑biblical examples.
Recall that covenant is the most solemn, binding, intimate, inviolable contract known in the Bible and in the world in general ("covenant remnants").
In the previous study, the symbolism of the The Exchange of Robes associated with the cutting of covenant by Jonathan with David (1Sa 18:1, 2, 3,4) was discussed with particular emphasis on the practical parallel truths that occur when one enters the New Covenant cut by Christ. This present study focuses on the symbolism of the exchange of the armor, weapons and belt and the associated New Covenant applications.
This series on covenant should give you a deeper understanding of the Word of God as you begin to view the Old and the New "Testaments" (another word for covenant) through the "lens" of the truth about covenant. And as you progress through these studies on covenant (see list above), you will begin to notice the concept of covenant in passages that don't have the actual word "covenant". For example, the essence of the New Covenant is succinctly summarized in Paul's familiar phrase "in Christ ". How so? Most of the Pauline uses of "in Christ" can be paraphrased as "in union with Christ". Webster's defines union as "an act or instance of uniting or joining two (or more) things into one as in the marriage union" (which in fact is a covenant in which two become one flesh - Ge 2:24, see Covenant of Marriage). Thus "in Christ" is simply another way of describing the believer becoming one with Christ when he or she enters the New Covenant by grace through faith. Similar reasoning could be used for the phrase "with Christ" (Ro 6:8-note) although one needs to check the context, but a number of the uses of "with Christ" describe the new life in Christ for all who have entered the New Covenant in His blood.
Another example of the "covenant motif" is found in the familiar verse Galatians 2:20...
Recall that in the previous study (Covenant The Exchange of Robes) Jonathan cut a covenant with David...
As a result of this covenant, Jonathan, the next in line to be king of Israel, gave David his royal robe in an act which many interpret as Jonathan surrendering his right to rule. The result was that David "clothed" himself with Jonathan so to speak, so that now he was identified with him in the oneness of covenant (in which two lives become one - cp Ge 2:24 - see Oneness of Covenant and Oneness Notes). We see a clear parallel in our New Covenant partner Jesus Christ becoming a man so that He might be able to cut a covenant in blood with sinful men (see Heb 2:14-note, Php 2:6-8-note, Lk 22:20). As a result of Jesus' humbling Himself and becoming obedient to death on the Cross, sinners can now enter that New Covenant by grace through faith. When we enter the New Covenant, we are baptized into (identified with - see study of baptizo) and clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27) so that the Father now sees us through His Son. We have laid aside our former filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and put on Christ (Some have referred to this as the "Exchanged Life"). The exchange of our sinful robes ("clothes by Adam" - 1Co 15:22) for the perfect righteous garment of Christ ("clothes by Christ" - 1Co 1:30, 2Co 5:21) calls for a commitment to honor our Lord by putting on His robe of righteousness daily or as Paul says in Colossians...
Salvation is not just about getting us from earth into heaven, but is about getting more of "heaven" into us on earth! Now that Christ is our identity (positional truth = justified = declared righteous = a one time event - see related discussion of the "Three Tenses of Salvation") the call on our lives is to live like Christ, to put off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, to put on Christ in our daily conduct (experiential truth - referring to our progressive sanctification or "present tense" salvation, our lifelong growth in Christlikeness) (Ro 13:12, 13, 14).
The night is almost gone (this should motivate a sense of urgency beloved! cp Jn 9:4 Are you apathetic and indifferent or urgent and expectant?), and the day is at hand (See Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming). Let us therefore (motivated by the doctrine of Imminency) lay aside (put off) the deeds of darkness (even as we would discard dirty, smelly clothing). Put on the armor of light (Practically speaking = the deeds corresponding to those who live in the light. Light is what others see and the only way for them to see us in Christ's light is by observing our behavior - What "Gospel" are you preaching with you conduct? Light [and deeds of light] counters and exposes darkness and thus serves as "armor".). 13 Let us behave properly (walk becomingly) as in the day ("clothes by Christ"), not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy ("clothes by Adam"). 14 But (contrast - think of contrast as a "change of direction" in this case from darkness to light) put on (enduo) (aorist imperative = command with sense of "Do it now! Do it effectively". It's urgent!) the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision (pronoia - word study) (present imperative + a negative = stop doing this, implying they were making provision) for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Left to ourselves, we don't even have the "want to" or the desire to lay aside these old "friends" of the flesh, but as we learn to surrender to the Spirit (die to self [Mk 8:34, 35], yielding our will to His as an act of faith), He gives us the desire and the power to work out our salvation (See Php 2:13-note, Php 2:12-note, cp Ro 8:13-note). Now as we walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16-note), and are led by the Spirit (not a set of "laws" - Gal 5:18-note), we will not carry out the desire of the flesh. The deeds that we carry out will be Spirit empowered and will look like those that the Lord Jesus Christ would carry out (See the fruit of the Spirit = each aspect of the fruit being perfectly pictured in Christ's life - Gal 5:22-note, Gal 5:23-note). That's what it means to put on Christ and live like Him. We will be showing forth Christ's "clothes" to a lost and dying world.
Wayne Barber says it this way...
You can't do any more now in your own strength than before you were saved...we must continually bow down before Him and accept His the transforming power of His grace do its work...and ultimately when people see us, they see Christ. The glory goes to Him and not to us.
Now let's look at the exchange of armor in the covenant between Jonathan and David.
Recall that there are two Hebrew words for covenant - Beriyth [word study] - a contract made by passing between pieces of cut flesh and Karath - Divide or cut in two, make a covenant. The phrase make a covenant in our English Bibles is almost always the Hebrew idiom Karath Beriyth which more literally can be translated "cut a covenant". Jeremiah records an account of King Zedekiah cutting a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to emancipate their slaves so that none of the Jews should be in bondage, a covenant they initially obeyed, but then disobeyed (Jer 34:8,9,10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
From this passage it is clear that in Scripture covenant is a solemn, binding, intimate, even inviolable contract. As we shall see in later studies, even death of a covenant partner does not invalidate the promises of the covenant to partner who remains alive.
Let's now look at the solemn covenant Jonathan cut with David in 1Sa 18:3, 4.
What else besides his robe did Jonathan give David as a symbol of their having cut covenant? (1Sa 18:4)
His armor, his sword and his bow and his belt.
Armor is the Hebrew word mad (04055) which refers first to that which is measured and then to a cloth garment. Mad can denote a priest's garment (Lev 6:3), a soldier's fighting garb as in the present context (1Sa 17:38; 1Sa 18:4; 2Sa 20:8) or an outer garment (1Sa 4:12; Jdg 3:16).
Expositor's Bible Commentary notes that...
Saul had earlier tried to put his tunic and armor on David, but to no avail (1Sa 17:38, 39). Jonathan now gives his own tunic and armor (including a type of belt that was often used to hold a sheathed dagger; cf. 2Sa 20:8) to David, who apparently accepts it without further ado. "David can receive from Jonathan what he cannot receive from Saul" (ibid., p. 80).
What did the exchange of armor, sword and bow in 1Sa 18:4 symbolize?
When Jonathan gave David his military accoutrements, it symbolized that as his covenant partner, Jonathan was now obligated to protect and defend David no matter the cost. In other words this ritual symbolized a clear commitment that each covenant partner would defend and avenge the other partner. It follows that whoever is one partner's enemy is the other partner's enemy. Conversely, the friend of one partner is also the friend of the other partner. It is interesting to note a remnant of this truth in the secular "proverb" "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." (Wikipedia)
Max Anders writes that...
Israel used swords of bronze well into the time of David, since the Philistines alone knew the secret of forging swords from iron. In fact, when Jonathan gave David his sword (1 Sam. 18:4), he gave him a great gift because in all Israel only the king and his son had swords and spears of iron. (Holman Old Testament Commentary)
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary notes the record of...
the exchange of armor between Glaucus and Diomede when they met before Troy and thus confirmed the pledge of old family friendship (Homer The Iliad VI. 230).
Why was this aspect of their covenant so significant at this particular time in David's life?
David's life was in danger. As Jehovah prospered David (1Sa 18:5, 14, 15) Saul progressively became angry (1Sa 18:8), suspicious (1Sa 18:9), fearful (1Sa 18:12) and full of dread (1Sa 18:15) toward David finally culminating in his desire to "put David to death" (1Sa 19:1)
How binding is the covenant between Jonathan and David according to 1Sa 19:1, 2, 3, 4, 5? Specifically how does the loyalty to one's covenant partner compare with family loyalty?
Jonathan reassures David he is committed to his safety and he proves it by interceding with his father King Saul which temporarily caused Saul to renege on his desire to put David to death. Clearly loyalty to one's covenant partner takes precedence over loyalty even to one's own family!
How do we see the binding nature of covenant and the putting of the interests of the covenant partner above personal and family interests in 1Sa 20:1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 9, 10, 11, 12?
Background: In 1Samuel 20 David and Jonathan work out a plan to find out whether Saul is really out to kill him. We see Jonathan honoring his commitment to David and we see how covenant is a sacred pledge to defend one another.
Jonathan commits to David "What you say I will do for you". David asked Jonathan to "deal kindly (hesed) with your servant" in view of the fact that he had "brought (David) into a covenant of the LORD" with him. (1Sa 20:8) Jonathan reaffirms he will tell David of any evil his father plans against him (1Sa 20:9) Jonathan invokes an oath in (1Sa 20:12NIV) "By the LORD, the God of Israel", stating that he will relate any plot by his father to kill David. Thus again we see how solemn and binding Jonathan considered their covenant.
Note that both David (1Sa 20:8) and Jonathan (1Sa 20:14, 15) appeal to the Hebrew concept of lovingkindness (hesed), the loyal steadfast love which in the OT is frequently associated with covenant.
Lovingkindness (02617)(Hesed/Chesed/Heced [see word study]) is the idea of faithful love in action and often in the OT refers to God's lovingkindness expressed in His covenant relationship with Israel (His "loyal love" to His "Wife" Israel [cp Hos 2:18, 19, 20-see note, Is 54:5, Je 31:32] = His "loyalty to covenant"). God's hesed His denotes persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy, a relationship in which He seeks after man with love and mercy (cp God immediately seeking man Ge 3:9, who was immediately hiding Ge 3:8 trying to cover their shame Ge 3:7 - contrast God's lovingkindness manifest by spilling blood to provide skins to cover their shame! Ge 3:21). Hesed expresses both God's loyalty to His covenant and His love for His people along with a faithfulness to keep His promises.
How serious is Jonathan about the covenant with David (1Sa 20:13)?
Jonathan declares in essence may the LORD (Who is the Witness of their covenant) take his life if he does not protect his covenant partner David. Jonathan understood that covenant was serious and binding and that the covenant partners were obligated to defend one another even to the death. The Berkley Version translates it this way
DOES GOD DEFEND
What does Ps 105:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (see notes) teach about God's defense of those in covenant with Him?
God Remembered His covenant (Ps 105:8)! The basis for His defense was His covenant with Abraham which is forever, everlasting (Ps 105:9, 10). Based on this God, Israel's covenant defender, "permitted no man to oppress (Hebrew = abuse of power or authority, trampling or crushing those of lower social status) and reproved kings for their sakes." (Ps 105:14)
Explanatory Note: God was in covenant with Israel and as they moved, God put a shield of protection around them to protect them from their enemies (cf Nu 21:33, 34, 35). God did not remove His shield of protection as long as Israel walked in obedience to the covenant. (cf "the blessing and the curse" in Dt 30:19 - see Dt 28:1ff, Dt 29:1ff, Dt 30:1ff) When Israel was disobedient, God lifted His shield of protection and let her enemies afflict and chastise her in order to bring her to her to confession and repentance (see Daniel's great prayer Da 9:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19- see notes).
Application: As believers in Jesus Christ, we are in covenant with God. How do we treat God's covenant children? Do we remember that they are also in covenant with God? Do we choose "not touch God's anointed ones" (Ps 105:15)? Or do we fight with God's Covenant partners?
Beware, because if we do, God is bound to come to the aid of His Covenant partners! Chew on that thought the next time you think about demeaning, denigrating or otherwise "touching" one of God's "anointed ones". 1Sa 26:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 records the story of David taking King Saul's spear and water jug while Saul was sound asleep. Clearly David had an opportunity to kill Saul (who was seeking to kill David) but but would not touch God's anointed, declaring "The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD'S anointed".
by Isaac Watts
Our God, our help in ages past,
Let's look at another example of God defending those with whom He is in covenant...
In one of many examples of God's defense of His people with whom He was in covenant note that when the Moabites and Ammonites came against Judah, King Jehoshaphat, (one of the godly kings of the Southern Division) was afraid and this prompted him to respond by seeking his Covenant Defender. This truth alone is worth remembering the next time we sense an impending attack, especially an attack because of our faith in Christ. Scripture records that...
In response to the King's plea to Jehovah, Israel's Covenant Defender, sent an answer via His prophet Jahaziel who declared...
Second Chronicles goes on to record that the Israelites sent a choir to meet the enemy! (Read this account in 2Chr 20:18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 -- As an aside remember that "God inhabits the praises of His people" Ps 22:3KJV-note). God confused their enemy so that they killed themselves! God acted just as He said He would. And He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (He 13:8-note). His promise are yea and amen in Christ our Covenant Partner (2Cor 1:19-20KJV)! Hallelujah!
God defended His people and destroyed the Moabite and Ammonite armies. This is one of many Old Testament examples in which God showed Himself to be Israel's Covenant Defender and Protector.
DOES JESUS DEFEND
(1) Agreed with putting Stephen (filled with Spirit, grace, power Ac 6:3, 5, 8, 7:55) to death
(2) Ravaging the church (Ac 8:3)
(3) Putting Christians in prison (Ac 8:3)
(4) Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Ac 9:1)
Explanatory note: The fact that Stephen was stoned to "sleep" does not mean God was not fulfilling His obligations as Stephen's Covenant Defender. As discussed below God is responsible to protect us and He does unless it serves a higher purpose for us not to be delivered. Stephen ultimately was delivered into the presence of the Lord, a far better deliverance! And only eternity will reveal the impact (the higher purpose) that Stephen's martyrdom had on the heart of Saul! (see Acts 7:58, 59, 60)
Who did Saul encounter on the road to Damascus and what is His question (Acts 9:3, 4, 5, 6, 7)?
And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said," I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one.
Comment: Saul encountered Jesus - notice that Saul was not seeking Jesus, but Jesus was seeking Saul! Note also that Jesus did not ask Saul "Why are you persecuting Stephen or the disciples...but Me"? When a person is in covenant with the living God and someone comes against that person they are also coming against that person's covenant partner, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a God who stands to defend His covenant people who have entered into His covenant by faith.
Where was Jesus? What is the implication of the question He asked Saul?
Jesus was in heaven and yet was still Saul of persecuting Him through his persecution of His covenant partners who now wore His robe and possessed His armor. As the result of the exchange of identities, when Saul persecuted disciples of Jesus, He was persecuting their Covenant Partner, the Lord Jesus Christ! To persecute the members of His body, the church, is to persecute Jesus the covenant Head. And because of the New Covenant in His blood, He is obligated to defend those in covenant with Him.
Rightly did the hymnwriter Johann H Schroder make the plea...
Help us, O Jesus, Thou mighty Defender,
R Kent Hughes writes that Paul...
now understood the spiritual unity between the Savior and the saints. (Hughes, R. K. Acts: The Church Afire. Preaching the Word. Crossway Books)
John MacArthur concludes that...
Our Lord's words "Why are you persecuting Me?" reflect the inseparable link between Himself, as head of the body, and its members. No blow struck on earth goes unfelt in heaven by our sympathetic High Priest (Heb 2:18-note, Heb 4:15-note). By persecuting Christians, Saul inflicted blows directly on their Lord. (MacArthur, J: Acts 1-12; Acts 13-28 Moody Press)
Stanley Toussaint comments that...
The reference to Me (Acts 9:4) gave Saul his first glimpse into the great doctrine of Christians being in Christ (Ed: See notes on the truth of "in Christ"). (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor) (Bolding added)
Kistemaker notes that...
Saul was victimizing Christians. However, the Lord told Saul that Jesus and the church are one, so that when believers suffer for Christ, both Jesus and his followers endure the pain. (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. NT Commentary Set. Baker Book ) (Bolding added)
Erwin Lutzer encourages all believers to...
...not think of Christ as so far removed that He is only remotely affected by our personal pain and struggles....Our trials never escape His notice; the heavenly circuits are never overloaded...When His people hurt, Christ hurt. When they felt alienated and rejected, He felt likewise. He is “touched with the feelings of our infirmities.”...
Savonarola gained fame as a preacher in Florence, predicting that a flood of judgment would come upon the city if it did not repent. He attacked the lax, corrupt citizens through fiery preaching and censorship. During the carnival in 1496 he orchestrated “the bonfire of the vanities” a ceremony where people brought their gambling artifacts, lewd books, and cosmetics to be burned. He was excommunicated for refusing to stop preaching against the pope, and later he was tried for heresy and executed. Despite the reversals he experienced, and though the truth did not triumph in his day, before his death he said, “He who believes that Christ rules above, need not fear what happens below!” (Ed comment: Beloved, this saint of yore understood the timeless truth of our eternal covenant relationship with Jesus!) (Lutzer, Erwin: Christ Among Other Gods)
Kay Arthur asks...
Have you ever been afraid? Were you afraid your enemies would overwhelm you? Ever been so weak, so void of strength that you couldn't go on? You have a Covenant Partner. He has cut covenant with you. That covenant causes Him to defend you against your enemies; to lend you His strength....(Your Covenant Partner Jesus in essence) says "I am now bound to defend you from your enemies. So if anyone comes against you...because we are in covenant and covenant is the most solemn binding agreement that can be made between two parties, then I by covenant am bound to defend you from your enemies. I must come to your defense, be your protector." Christ...is our Covenant Partner and He is bound to defend us from our enemies.
J Vernon McGee has a pithy personal application from Acts 9:4 commenting that Christ...
may be saying the same thing to some Christians today. Although they profess to know and to love the Lord, He asks, "Why are you persecuting Me?" They would protest, I'm not persecuting You, Lord; I love You!" Then the Lord would answer, "Then why do you criticize Mr. So-and-So so severely? Why are you so opposed to those who are giving out the Word of God today? Why is it that you have become a hindrance instead of a helper?" May I say to you, we must be careful about saying we love Him and then showing our hatred to other believers. It is impossible to talk about loving the Lord while you spend your time trying to destroy the ministry of someone else. That is just blatant, bald, bold hypocrisy. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
John MacArthur makes the interesting observation that...
There is an Old Testament parallel to this truth. Zechariah told the nation of Israel, "He who touches you, touches the apple of [God's] eye (Zech 2:8). The apple of His eye" refers to the pupil. God was saying those who persecute Israel are poking their finger in His eye. That is precisely the same kind of relationship Christ has with the church. He is seriously irritated when anyone offends His chosen ones (cf Mt 18:6, 10). (Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World).
What does this teach about those who have entered the New Covenant with Jesus?
Two become one when they enter into covenant. If you "touch" (eg, to harm or injure) the covenant partner, you are "touching" the other partner also because of this mystical but very real identification! Based upon the solemn and binding nature of the New Covenant, Jesus is "obligated" to come to the defense of His covenant partners. Can you begin to understand some of the practical implications of being in covenant with Christ? Do you believe this truth? If you are born again, you can rest assured that Jesus is your Covenant Defender today and forever. Hallelujah!
Believers are in Covenant with the living God, Who is our Protector. We are not to take our vengeance beloved but leave that to our Covenant Partner who is our Avenger. Of course, this truth does not guarantee we will never be harmed or never experience times of persecution. In fact, persecution is one of God's "promises"! (2Ti 3:12-note, cp Mt 10:22, 23, 24, 25, Jn 15:19, 20, 21, 17:14, Acts 14:22, Php 1:29-note). But the oneness of covenant guarantees that God will avenge wrongs done to us either in this life or in the future time of judgment.
GOD'S PERSPECTIVE REGARDING
What was the church at Thessalonica experiencing? (2Th 1:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 )
Persecutions (in the plural!), afflictions (in the plural!), suffering (present tense = continually).
BDAG defines "persecutions" as "a program or process designed to harass and oppress."
Afflictions is the picturesque Greek work thlipsis which was used in medicine of the pressure of the pulse (allowing one to count the heart beats). It is a pressing together as of grapes. It conveys the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure or crushed beneath a weight. When, according to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead guilty, had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, this was literally thlipsis. Thlipsis thus refers not to mild discomfort but to great difficulty.
Morris rightly notes that...
Martin Luther wrote that...
In his letter to the suffering saints at Thessalonica Paul writes...
2 Grace to you and peace (interesting! They weren't experiencing external peace but persecutions and yet Paul asks God for peace for them in the midst of their afflictions, which practically means that such a supernatural state is possible form them! Practically, beloved, such a supernatural state is possible for you also dear beleaguered downtrodden covenant partner of the Most High God Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. May you too experience His peace that passes all human understanding even in the midst of the storms you are experiencing, all only possible by hiding in your Covenant Partner Christ Jesus. Amen) from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We ought (literally "owe a debt" - have a strong obligation to) always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;
4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance (hupomone) and faith (pistis) in the midst of all your persecutions (diogmos) and afflictions (thlipsis) which you endure (anechomai).
5 This is a plain indication of God's righteous (dikaios) judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering (pascho). (Comment: Their enduring the "fires" of persecution proves that their faith is genuine and thus they are "worthy" for the Kingdom. Their endurance does not merit or earn their salvation but proves it is genuine because the only way one could endure such afflictions to the end is by being supernaturally enabled.)
7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire (Second Coming - see Mt 24:30, 31, 13:41, 42, 25:31, see also Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming),
8 dealing out retribution (= vengeance - see ekdikesis) to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (Note that the "definition" of one who has not entered the New Covenant and thereby into intimate communion with Christ [this is knowing God] does not obey the Gospel. Obedience like perseverance does not save anyone, but it does "prove" or demonstrate that they are saved, because if one is truly born again from above, they are a new creature in the New Covenant and have a new indwelling impetus [the Spirit of Holiness] Who impels them toward holy living - not perfection but certainly in the general direction of heaven rather than living a life generally in the opposite direction. It is this latter group who will experience the vengeance of the Almighty, Holy God).
9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction (olethros = not annihilation but a state of utter ruin), away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (Note the "definition" of "hell" is separation of those created in the image of God from the presence of their Creator - this is a most painful truth regarding hell and serves as strong motivation to share Christ whenever God gives me an opportunity.)
10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled (Beloved - we will not be bored in eternity - to the contrary we will be astonished, struck with wonder and admiration! O, glorious day when we behold His glory face to face. Maranatha! Amen) at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed.
How were they responding to their adverse circumstances?
They were enduring (anechomai) which conveys the idea of holding out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or complaints and not seeking to retaliate. What must they have known that "enabled" them not to retaliate? Did they understand the concept of Covenant Defender? We can't say for certain but it is certainly possible given that their teacher Paul had an up close encounter with the truth that Jesus defends those who are in covenant with Him (Acts 9:5). In that case Jesus defended them by saving Saul the one who was persecuting the church!
What does God promise those who are experience persecution and affliction because they are in covenant with Jesus?
God will repay with affliction those who afflicted them. He will deal out retribution. Our persecutors will pay the penalty of eternal destruction!
What is our Covenant Keeping God's promise to believers who are experiencing fiery trials in this presence evil age?
God will give relief to all who are afflicted! Hallelujah!
Does the fact that Jesus is responsible to defend us mean that nothing bad will ever happen in our lives?
No. Obviously that is not the case as these passages clearly explain. What can be counted on is the truth that God keeps all of His covenant promises, although He does so with an eternal perspective. Situations may occur in which we think (or feel as if) our Covenant Partner has abandoned us, but the reality is that at that moment, we do not possess God's eternal view of our afflictions. And it may not be until His return that the repayment of affliction against us is paid in full (cp Ro 12:14-note, Ro 12:17-note, Ro 12:18, 19, 20, 21-note).
What our Covenant Partner is reminding us through Paul's letter to the Thessalonians is that there will be "pay day, some day". We can count on that, for God is not a man that He should lie (Nu 23:19). We need to let that living and active truth penetrate into our heart (He 4:12-note) and "renew our mind" (Ep 4:23-note), transform our thinking (Ro 12:2-note) and energize holy conduct ( = a worthy walk - Ep 4:1-note). And it is this revelation of truth which will counter the lies (cp Jn 8:44, 8:32, 36), those fiery missiles (Eph 6:16-note) that Satan throws at us to create doubt and despair, shouting/whispering imprecations (invocations of evil) like "God doesn't care about you. Look at the suffering He is allowing you to experience. Where is your God now that you need Him? And you're going to trust a God like that?, etc, etc." Paul extinguishes these destructive fiery missiles with truth that undergirds our faith and empowers us to live as more than conquerors in and through our Covenant Defender Christ Jesus (Ro 8:37KJV-note). Glory!
THE BATTLE IS THE LORDS:
What do you as those who have entered the New Covenant not have to do now that you understand Jesus is your Covenant Defender?
You don't have to defend yourselves anymore. This is radical! Beloved, when you lay hold of (you believe) the divine maxim that the all knowing, all powerful, perfectly just God is your personal Covenant Defender and even better when that truth "gets hold" of you (you obey it and act upon it rather than reacting like you did when you were clothed with Adam), you will find this truth about your Covenant Defender to be one of the keys to the "victorious Christian life." When you understand and believe and act on the truth that your defense is God's responsibility and not yours, it is liberating. You begin to live in the reality of the truth that "the battle really is the Lord's!" This truth is part of what Paul was referring to in Php 4:11 when he said...
When we put on our Covenant Partner's garment of righteousness, we put on His nature, His person and His character, we become a partaker of everything that He is. All that we are for all Christ is! What an incredible transaction! And what does this look like when I am living in concert with my new clothing of Christ? This equates with being filled with His Spirit (Eph 5:18-note), of walking by His Spirit (Gal 5:16-note), of walking in the Light (1Jn 1:7), of abiding in the Vine (Jn 15:5), remembering that apart from our Covenant Partner's sovereign enabling grace we can do absolutely nothing of eternal value. In short, we need to live in the light of the truth that now we no longer have the right to defend or avenge ourselves. We have surrendered our rights to our Covenant Partner (cp 1Co 6:19-note, 1Co 6:20-note), Who is also our Master (cp relationship of a slave = doulos to their Master = kurios), and He is responsible to defend us. Now we are to conduct ourselves in such a way that we protect His name.
Are you bitter at someone who has done you evil? Many Christians are bitter at others who have done evil, hurtful, sinful things to or against them. You may experienced or currently are in a marriage that is very painful and you are harboring bitterness against your covenant partner (see related study Covenant As It Relates to Marriage). You may be bitter toward a coworker, a mother, a father or other relative. What you need to remember is that the sinful attitude of bitterness is the very robe that Jesus Christ wore to the Cross when He became our sin (including the sin of bitterness) substitute (2Co 5:21, 1Pe 2:24-note). Now, when we stand in His robe of righteousness (1Co 1:30), having been made a partaker of His divine nature (2Pe 1:4-note), there is no place for bitterness. We are no longer to seek to defend our self but to trust our Covenant Partner. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, in a way that defends our Covenant Partner's Name. As Peter puts it, those who are in the New Covenant are called to imitate the Covenant Head Who left...
an example (hupogrammos) for you to follow (epakoloutheo) in His steps...and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (1Pe 2:21-note, 1Pe 2:23-note)
Comment: What divine dynamic do you see in the phrase "kept entrusting Himself to Him Who judges righteously?" Jesus knew that His Father would judge the evil doers righteously and in His perfect timing would (will) deal out retribution which is due His revilers and persecutors. And God promises to do the same thing for those in covenant with His Son! (see preceding discussion on 2Thes 1:2-10)
Wayne Barber observes...
How often in counseling does the embittered party say "You just don't understand what they have done to me." I want to say back to them "But you don't realize that you are just like them. The same hatred in them that has caused you the hurt, is also in you and you want to inflict it back on them. You have forgotten that Jesus bore that ugly robe to the Cross so that now you can put on His robe of righteousness and respond like He would respond."
A COVENANT PARTNER'S
Bless ("eulogize them" - Webster says eulogize = to extol praise highly in speech or writing!) those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
Comment: Bless is the Greek word eulogeo [word study] from eu = good + lego = speak. Present imperative calls for this to be our habitual action! Literally eulogeo means to speak well of! How can I do this? You are probably like me, saying there is no way I can respond like this. I simply can't do it! Good! As Major Ian Thomas used to say (the saying below is paraphrased) in reference to living the supernatural, Christ life...
To speak well of one who is an adversary (and really mean it as a genuine reflection of one's heart attitude!) is only possible filled with Christ's Spirit, and is not possible by relying on self, for the residual sinful flesh will always seek revenge, to "make it right", to get 'em back!
Curse not is also in the present imperative which combined with a "negative" means to "stop an action that is already going on". The implication is that the saints at Rome were responding negatively to persecution. Paul says "Stop cursing them!" Live in the garment of the Christ, not the dirty rotten rags of Adam!
Never pay back evil for evil. Respect what is right. Be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge. Leave room for wrath of God -- see (Note).
Comment: Pay back is in the present tense and in this context conveys the sense of a command. The point is that we are continually never to seek pay back evil! Never ever is the idea! Try to accomplish this instruction in your own strength!
Why do this (Ro 12:19-note)? Or how can you do this?
From an intellectual (truth or knowledge) viewpoint, we can do this - Knowing that... Vengeance is God's and He will repay (See David's OT Example). From a spiritual standpoint we can only do this by yielding to Christ in us, allowing Him to give us both the desire and the power to comply. There is simply no other way. And don't be discouraged if you don't always experience "success", for this is a life long lesson of learning to lean on the Lord and His sufficient strength. (cp Php 4:11, 12-note, Php 4:13-note)
Beloved, you can be absolutely certain that God will repay those who have wounded, hurt, abused, mistreated, or even tried to destroy you. I have personally experienced His protection in a work situation where a co-worker was literally trying to destroy my reputation. I won't say what God did in this situation, but suffice to say "Vengeance was His" in the fullest measure! There are other times His defense has not been so "real time" but I remain fully convinced that the timing of His just retribution is perfect and always has a divine, even eternal, purpose.
How else should we respond to our enemies (Ro 12:20-notes)?
"Feed and water" them where both verbs are present imperative which are commands calling for this to be our continual, habitual practice! "Heap burning coals" on head. Do not be overcome by evil. Overcome evil with good
How are believers to respond to their enemies in light of the truth that Jesus is our Covenant Defender (Mt 5:44 see notes)?
In sum, we are to respond as Jesus would respond. How? Strengthened by His Spirit, each time you are "tempted" to take revenge, die to self. Remember that a key to living the so-called "victorious" Christian life is living in light of truth that the battle is the Lord's.
Comment: Love is the verb agapao which is not an emotion but a volitional (Spirit enabled) choice of our will. The root is agape which is the love of serving with humility, the highest kind of love, the love which is not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that true agape love is a sure mark of salvation. Agape is unrestricted, unrestrained, and unconditional. Agape is a love that denies self for the benefit of the one who receives the love. Agape is the love which the Holy Spirit has poured out within the heart of the every New Covenant believer (Ro 5:5-note)
The following phrases summarize how we can carry out Paul's instructions regarding abstaining from revenge and practicing agape love...
It is Impossible
Death to self.
Caution: (click) Since God will defend us and will repay every evil deed, we are to stand firm in this truth but not with the attitude that "I'll be kind to you now because I know God will get you later!" Our attitude is to be that of Stephen (Acts 7:60) and of our Lord (putting "on the Lord Jesus Christ") (Lk 23:34) both of whom prayed from their murderers as they themselves were dying!
What does Jesus say will be true of those in covenant with Him (Jn 15:18, 19, 20, 21)?
John 15:12 (Jesus speaking) This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 "You are My friends, if you do what I command you....18 "If ("If" = first class condition which signifies that what follows is true) the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 "He who hates Me hates My Father also.
Comment: "Friend" is a covenant term. To be a friend of Jesus is to do what He says. And because we are in covenant with Him, His enemies now become our enemies. The world hates us because we are not of the world (Jn 15:19). Believers are now in the world but not of the world. A boat in water is by design. Water (world in a Christian) is disaster. John 3:20 gives another reason the world hates us - the light of Christ in as (especially as we are wearing His garments and living out His life) exposes the deeds of those who do evil. For this reason they hated Jesus and they will hate His covenant partners. And the world will persecute them. (See related notes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount regarding the meaning of salt and light - Mt 5:13-note, Mt 5:14, 15,1 6-note).
The Greek word for "world" is kosmos which in this context describes this present evil man-centered (humanistic) world-system ruled and directed by Satan. John writes that the whole world lies in the hands of the evil one (1Jn 5:19). Kosmos is the world apart from God and opposed to Him. God called to Himself a covenant people out of this world to live distinctively different from everyone else on the face of the earth (this idea is the inherent in the root meaning of "holy" or "saint [see study]). That puts them at enmity with the world. Why? The world does not love God. It hates Jesus Christ because the world lies in darkness and in the hands of the evil one.
For completeness note that God's enemies include the the world, the flesh and the devil. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1Jn 5:19, cp Acts 26:18, Ep 2:2-note). When Christ cut the New Covenant in His blood, He defeated all three enemies and now in covenant with him they have no power over us except the power we allow them to have. Because of the Cross, we are dead to Sin but alive to God in Christ (Ro 6:11-note), the devil is rendered powerless (Heb 2:14-note) and the evil world system is crucified to us and us to it (Gal 6:14-note). Now believers have the power to choose not to befriend the world (the flesh or the devil), which is discussed below.
What do believers have to do now?
They must "wear His robe" by being "Salt" to preserve from evil and "Light" to dispel darkness (Which causes world to hate us as explained above)
We are called out of the world to live as Christ lived. We have exchanged robes. We have put an the identity and the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so not surprisingly when by the power of His Spirit show forth His, the unrighteousness of the world is condemned. Believers are in the world but not of the world. We are in covenant with Christ and therefore cannot be in covenant with the world system intractably opposed to God. His disciples are now given the high calling and privilege to be the salt of the earth, a world which is being corrupted by the lusts of deceit. And as salt we are to serve as preservatives from evil (Mt 5:13-note). We are also lights of the world (Mt 5:14, 15, 16-note), and as such are to dispel darkness and expose evil. So it is not surprising that the world hates us (cp 2Ti 3:12-note, Php 1:29-note).
THE BELIEVERS INTERACTION
How are we as God's covenant partners to respond to His enemies? (1Jn 2:15, 16, 17)?
Do not love the world (stop loving the world - see explanation below) and Do not love things of the world
Do not love (agapao [word study]) (present imperative + negative = stop doing this) the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever. (1Jn 2:15-note 1Jn 2:16-note 1Jn 2:17-note)
What is it specifically that we are not to love about the world? (1Jn 2:15, 16, 17)?
Lusts of the flesh, Lusts of the eyes, Boastful pride of life.
Why else should we not love these things (1Jn 2:17-note)?
The world is passing away, even its lusts.
What does James teach about taking on God's enemies (Jas 4:4-note)?
Don't be friends with the world
You adulteresses (Greek word moichalis = one unfaithful to marriage vows. Figuratively as in this verse of one who is unfaithful toward God as an adulteress is unfaithful toward her husband. In the Greek OT it is used mainly of those who forsook God for idols)! Don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God. Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy with God. (Jas 4:4-note)
The Amplified Version of James 4:4 is even more direct:
You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.
Why not be friends of the world?
We would be adulteresses and friendship with the world is hostility toward God. Because of covenant we are obligated to defend God against His enemy the world. We do that by not becoming bound to the world, not loving the world, not becoming friends of the world.
When we become friends with the world while waiting for the heavenly bridegroom to come we are acting like a harlot. Paul picks up on this picture of those who are in covenant with Christ, betrothed to Him as our Bridegroom and we as His bride forever, writing...
The Biblical concept of betrothal unlike our modern idea of engagement was a much more serious matter and was essentially analogous to a covenant. To break that pre-nuptial covenant, a bill of divorcement was required. If impurity (any unfaithfulness was considered adultery) was found in the bride, then the bride could actually be put to death. Paul is acting like a Jewish father who is giving his daughter, the Corinthian believers (and by analogy all believers), to their bridegroom, Christ. Betrothal lasted for about twelve months, during which the home was to be prepared by the groom, and the wedding clothes would be prepared by the bride. In summary, as those in who are in covenant and betrothed to Jesus Christ, we should hate our Bridegroom's enemies and so keep ourselves
Since the world is God's enemy, we must understand that we are understand that even though we are in the world we must consciously, constantly make decisions that reflect our separation from the world. Paul addressed this truth in his letter to the Corinthians writing...
What is the message?
When we live like Christ, empowered by His Spirit, we will feel out of step with the world and will continually be tempted to stand with one foot in the world and one foot in Christianity which is another way to "spell" compromise and which creates great anxiety. Such compromise reflects a divided loyalty, when in the New Covenant our loyalty is to be continually directed to our covenant partner, Jesus. We will continually be tempted to become friends (remembering "friend" is a "covenant term") with this evil world system so that it might be "easier" to live in the midst of their darkness and the world's ever present anti-god attitude and actions. The temptation will continually be to compromise our walk (and our witness), but, whenever that temptation comes, we are to gird our minds for action, consciously, intentionally recalling the truth that the world (irregardless of how soft, sensual or seductive it might sound and appear) is our Covenant Partner's mortal enemy and therefore is also our mortal enemy because of our solemn, binding covenant with Christ our Friend. When we stand on truth, we are enabled by our Covenant Partner to stand against the lies of the world and it's bitter enmity toward us. Jesus alluded to the danger of a divided heart teaching that...
Are there some ways I have been siding with God's enemies
What is the symbolism of Jonathan giving his belt to David? (1Sa 18:4)
In the ancient world the belt (Hebrew = hagora) may have been a symbol of a man's strength so that Jonathan may have been symbolically giving his "strength" to his covenant partner. While this is a somewhat speculative conclusion, this Hebrew word and its cognates are often used in a military context.
For example, the related word chagora is used in a military context in...
The related verb form chagar is used of the girding on of a sword...
And David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them." And David took them off. (1Sa 17:39)
Gird Thy sword on Thy thigh, O Mighty One, In Thy splendor and Thy majesty! (Ps 45:3-note)
Baker comments on the belt...
was a valuable and desirable part of a soldier’s military uniform (2Sa 18:11). To stain or to put the blood of battle on one’s belt was to be guilty of violent bloodshed (1Ki 2:5). To put on a military belt was to prepare for war (2Ki 3:21).
Adam Clarke comments that the...
The military belt was the chief ornament of a soldier, and was highly prized in all ancient nations; it was also a rich present from one chieftain to another. Jonathan gave his to David, as the highest pledge of his esteem and perpetual friendship, 1Sa 18:4. And Ajax gave his to Hector, as a token of the highest respect.—Homer Il. vii., verse 305.
While one needs to be cautious in concluding too much from this aspect of the covenant ritual, we should not let that distract us from the truth of that covenant with God provides a "Partner" who is willing to give us His strength in exchange for our weakness as discussed below.
Premise - With the omnipotent God as covenant partner, His partners have access to His inexhaustible strength.
Let us begin by looking at a famous Old Testament passage Isaiah 40:31...
Isaiah 40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
What does Isaiah 40:31 teach about what we can expect from our Covenant Partner?
We will gain new strength. There is an exchange our strength for God's strength. (Read Devotional)
What is the result of this strength exchange?
Mount up with wings like eagles (Septuagint of "mount up like eagles" = "they shall put forth new feathers like eagles"), run and not get tired, walk and not become weary
What is the condition we need to fulfill?
Wait for the LORD
Asaph alludes to this same principle writing
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps 78:26-Note)
Warren Wiersbe has an insightful comment on Isaiah 40:31 writing that...
F B Meyer has a devotional on Isaiah 40:31 entitled...
CHANGING OUR STRENGTH
(2) 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9,10
What did Paul learn after entreating the Lord to remove the "thorn in his side" three times to no avail (2Cor 12:8, 9, 10)? (See in depth notes)
God's grace was sufficient for his need.
2Cor 12:8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it (the "thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to buffet" Paul, cp Ge 50:20, Ro 8:28) might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for (My) power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Comment: What Paul is writing now is from the vantage point of 14 years of having experienced the sufficiency of God's grace - See Chronology of Paul - 2Corinthians written about 58AD - 14 years earlier would be circa Paul's First Missionary Journey, possibly even the time of his stoning in Iconium = Acts 14:19. What looks to us as a "thorn in our flesh" at a moment in time, quite often takes on a different "hue" over time, if we grow in grace rather than allowing ourselves to become bitter rather than "better"!
Note the "key word" in the preceding passage -- What is it? What does Paul mention repeatedly? Have you ever considered your weakness is the starting point for God's grace and strength?
I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. I am well content (think well of) with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties (tight situations, no escape), for Christ's sake.
When I am weak then I am strong - Paul is saying that he exchanged his weakness for Christ's strength!
This "exchange motif" is seen many times and in many ways in Scripture. One of the most beautiful pictures is the offer by our Covenant Partner Christ to all of us who are wearied in the work of this Christian life, tired of fighting against the intractable, seemingly overpowering enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil. To all weary workers and warriors, Jesus casts out this eternal offer...
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. (Mt 11:28, 29, 20-note).
Comment: What can we do? How do we exchange our weariness for His strength? We must come. We must be willing to humble ourselves, to say "I can't" but "You can and you always said you would." It constitutes a conscious choice of our will. It calls for a brokenness, a giving up on our so-called natural "strength" while trying to carry on supernatural work. It calls for a yielding of our pride, a death to self, a dependence on His Spirit, a trust in His Word of promise, that Jesus will do what He says He will do for His covenant partners. Do we really believe He will give us rest, not just physical rest, but deep soul rest? If not let us cry out like the father with the ill son who declared "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mk 9:24). And when we practice partaking of these truths in real-time situations (those "divine pop tests" God either allows or sends), we will like Paul learn the secret of contentment and find that His grace is sufficient, enough for our every need. Glory!
Jesus is saying to Paul and you dear covenant partner "My grace is enough for you...it will suffice in any and every weakness, insult, distress, persecution or difficulty you might encounter." Peter in [see 1 Peter 4:10-note] explains why God's grace is enough for every situation, every need, every trial, writing that it is ''the manifold (variegated) grace of God.'' God's grace is variegated so that whatever "color" trial we are facing, God has a hue of grace perfectly matched to our need. Jehovah Jireh: The LORD Will Provide is His name, the God Who provides. Solomon prayed...
What is the lesson we need to learn (and re-learn)? Is it not to learn to thank God for whatever we are experiencing. He is El Elyon: Most High God - Sovereign Over All and whoever dwells in Him will abide in the shadow of the Almighty, El Shaddai (Psalm 91:1 -note). And that knowledge is enough for any contingency.
Paul was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh (whatever that was is not important...it "pricked" him in some way and afflicted him - note at this time he had been afflicted 14 years, most of his time in NT ministry! 2Co 12:2 - So how was Paul able to minister so powerfully for the Lord? Do you think the "thorny experience" had anything to do with it?) and he asked God to remove it (3x - cp 2Co 12:7, 8) and Jesus told him
We would not have known this truth if Paul had not persevered in the midst of the furnace. Praise the Lord. The Lord more uses our weakness more than our strength: our strength is often His rival; our weakness, His servant, drawing on His resources, and showing forth His glory.
Man's extremity is God's opportunity;
God's way is not to take His children out of, but to give them strength to bear up against trial. The story of martyr Thomas Hauker (England, 1555) illustrates this principle in the hour of need. This story is entitled "I Have to Know"
Trouble and the grace to bear it come in the same package. Annie Johnson Flint (see more poems) put it this way...
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
F B Meyer in his devotional Our Daily Homily comments on "When I am weak, then am I strong" writing...
F B Meyer has the following devotional on 2Cor 12:9 entitled...
GLORYING IN INFIRMITIES!
(3) PHILIPPIANS 4:11-13
How does Paul explain the exchange of our weakness for Christ's strength in Php 4:11, 12, 13?
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.
Comment: (See note on meaning of "strengthen") In short, the confidence to declare Philippians 4:13 is a learning process. Don't give up...keep on keeping on even though you stumble... seek to learn the secret... then you too can say "I can do all things...." (Php 4:11, 12-note, Php 4:13-note)
J Vernon McGee recommends some caution when interpreting "I can do all things" writing
Through Him is literally in Him (See related study on In Christ and in Christ Jesus), a key phrase here and in all of Paul's epistles for it speaks of the believer's New Covenant union and identification with Christ, so that even as a branch apart from a vine can bear no fruit, even so a believer apart from abiding in the "Vine" can do nothing of lasting import. It is all from Him, through Him and to Him be the glory. Amen. Because Paul had learned the secret of continually abiding in Christ, Paul justifiably felt that it was impossible for life to confront him with anything that he and the Lord could not handle, no matter how severe or how favorable!
Strengthens (1743) (endunamoo from en = in + dunamoo = strengthen) (Click for detailed discussion of endunamoo) means to enable one to do or experience something. Robertson say it means "to pour power into one" and thus "Paul had strength so long as Jesus kept putting His power into him". Endunamoo is in the present tense indicating that Christ is continually able to infuse or pour in the power we need for the need of the moment. If we experience a "power outage" or "power failure", it is not because of a failure in the Source but a failure to depend on the Source.
Kenneth Wuest and William Barclay both translate endunamoo as "infuse" an excellent rendering for it gives us a word picture. For example, Webster says that to infuse something is to to cause it to be permeated with something else (in context of Php 4:13 [note], this would be Christ), the infusion resulting in an alteration which is usually for the better -- this is a good picture of what happens to the believer who is constantly "infused" with Jesus! Ponder another definition of infuse as to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout with the implication that there is a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance! Let your life be infused with your the life of your New Covenant partner Jesus! This "infusion of strength" is based upon the believer's living union and identification with Christ, our Life.
Galatians 2:20 (see commentary note) brings out the vital nature of this union for Paul declares
Paul uses endunamoo commanding the Ephesian saints to
Paul used endunamoo repeatedly in his epistles to Timothy, initially writing
Knowing the trials that Timothy would experience, Paul exhorted him
In the last recorded writing and knowing that his death is imminent, Paul affirms the trustworthiness of the Lord's empowerment, writing to Timothy that
From these uses of endunamoo note how from from beginning to end Paul expresses his need for and dependence on the empowerment of His Lord.
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Illustration of Php 4:13 (note): Missionary Dan Crawford had a difficult task—following in the steps of David Livingstone, the missionary who gave his life in ministering the Word of God in Africa. Crawford didn’t have the imposing personality of his famous predecessor, so at first he had trouble winning the loyalty of the tribal people. Even the people in his church back home weren’t sure he could carry on the work. With God’s help, however, he did a magnificent job. When he died, a well-worn copy of the New Testament was found in his pocket. A poem, evidently his own, handwritten on the inside cover, revealed the secret of his success:
Coward and wayward and weak,
(4) 2TIMOTHY 4:16-18
What was Paul's predicament in (2Ti 4:16-note)?
At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.
How did Paul experience his Covenant Partner's strength (2Ti 4:17, 18-notes)?
The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me (on the inside), in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth.
And our Covenant Partner will stand with us in our hour of trial.
What was Paul attitude toward the ability of his Covenant to protect and defend him (2Ti 4:18-note)?
The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
CAN COVENANT PARTNERS
Does Scripture describe any way in which we can give the LORD God Almighty our "strength"?
Jesus declared that the foremost commandment is... 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30)
The audience understood what Jesus was calling for, one of the scribes remarking that
"to love God with all... the strength..." "is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Mark 12:33)
In sum, we can give the Lord our strength when we love Him supremely!
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The Power Of Two - In G. K. Chesterton's novel The Man Who Was Thursday, an undercover policeman infiltrates a lawless group that is dedicated to throwing the world into chaos. He is gripped with fear until he discovers an ally within the group.
Chesterton writes of the policeman's feelings at finding a friend
When David was being pursued by the jealous and irrational King Saul, he had a friend who risked great danger to stand with him. Jonathan, Saul's own son, pledged his loyalty to David and warned him of his father's intention to kill him (1Sa 20:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42). Later, when Saul pursued David into the wilderness, Jonathan "arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God" (1Sa 23:16).
What a wonderful gift we give by standing faithfully with a friend in need! There is incredible encouragement and power when two people are allied in life. Whose hand can you strengthen by being a friend today?—David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, help me be the kind of friend
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F B Meyer has a devotional from Our Daily Walk (September 26) which is very apropos to the call to be strong in the Lord's strength not your own strength. Meyer writes in his devotional entitled "Beautiful Garments"...
God is the Defender of those with whom He has entered into covenant. The godly leader Joshua discovered that being a defender of one's covenant partner is serious business which is what Joshua discovered when he was duped by the men from Gibeon. His orders were to destroy the pagan, idol worshipping nations and not to cut covenant with them (Dt 7:2, Ex 23:23, 31, 32, 33), and yet he foolishly cut covenant with them and by "default" became their "covenant defender"! This sad saga is described below and it serves to reiterate that being in covenant with another party obligates one to be the partner's covenant defender. Covenant is solemn, binding and indissoluble!
In Joshua 9 we see the principle of covenant and how covenant binds one to take on the other covenant partner's enemies. Joshua had entered Canaan which by virtue of God's promise in the Abrahamic Covenant was to be Israel's permanent possession. Joshua strategizes to take defeat the enemies occupying the land with a three‑pronged attack. The people in Canaan are trembling because they have heard about the defeat of Jericho by Joshua's army (really by Joshua's God). The iniquity of the Amorites is full and the children of Israel are going in to take the land. It is right that they do so because God is judging the land of Canaan for their sins (cf Genesis 15:16). After they go in there is a group of people, the Gibeonites, who are very much afraid.
Joshua 9:3-27 records this fascinating but sad interlude in Israel's history...
As we have noted, remnants of truth about covenant were known throughout the peoples of the earth. The Gibeonites knew about covenant though they did not know the Covenant Keeping God. And yet even though they were pagans, they knew that covenant was a solemn, binding agreement. They knew that if they duped the leaders of Israel into cutting a covenant that Israel would be bound to protect them as their covenant partner and would would not be able to destroy them as God had decreed.
Did Joshua fulfill his promise to be the covenant defender of Gibeon? When the Gibeonites were attacked by Adoni-zedek the Amorite king of Jerusalem along with 9 other kings, the men of Gibeon appealed to the solemn covenant with Israel, Joshua 10 recording that...
Joshua remained true to his covenant vow and experienced a supernatural victory (brought about by Jehovah Israel's Covenant Defender!), relieving the besieged city, pursuing the attackers down the ascent of Beth-horon and winning decisively.
How serious and long-lasting was Israel's covenant with Gibeon?
Saul appears to have broken this covenant, and in a fit of enthusiasm or patriotism to have killed some of the Gibeonites and devised a general massacre of the rest. Israel would reap the consequences of Saul's failure to keep covenant with Gibeon, the consequences of which would include a 3 year famine in Israel and the death of 7 of Saul's descendants at the hands of the Gibeonites. God is serious about keeping covenant. This tragic story is recorded in 2 Samuel 21:1-6 where we read as follows...
When David tried to arrange matters with them they stood upon their ancient covenant rights, claiming life for life, which is in keeping with the solemn nature of covenant when it is broken by one of the parties. The Gibeonites would accept no "blood money" but instead demanded blood from the family of the slayer of their people. And so seven men of Saul’s descendants were given over to the Gibeonites, who hung them “before Jehovah”—as a kind of sacrifice—in Gibeah, Saul’s own town! God is serious about keeping covenant!
A three years’ famine in the days of David was attributed to God’s anger at the crime of Saul in slaying the Gibeonites. He did this “in his zeal for .... Israel and Judah” who may have fretted at the inconvenience of having the Gibeonites among them. The latter believed that Saul’s desire was to destroy them utterly. This demand David could not resist, and handed over to them seven sons of Saul (2 Sa 21:1 ff).
NOT TAKING REVENGE
David's Example of not taking his own revenge but leaving room for the wrath of God.
David understood the principle of covenant. David was pursued by Saul who wanted to kill him because of the favor David had attained with the people of Israel as a result of his victories over the Philistines. Saul was filled with anger directed against David and had twice tried to pin David by throwing his spear at him.
1Samuel 26:6-11 records the story in which David took Saul's spear and water jug while Saul slept. He had opportunity to kill him, but would not touch God's anointed.
David understood and respected covenant. He knew that the promises of God that he would one day reign as king were Yea and Amen. He knew that if God had anointed him to be the king of Israel, then he would be the king of Israel. David also knew he had a mighty Covenant Defender in whom he would place his very life. For example when he fled from his own son Absalom David acknowledged...
In Psalm 18 David acknowledges God as His Covenant Defender...
In short David sought his Covenant Partner's will above his own will and his own personal ambition. David had presented himself to Jehovah as a living sacrifice (cp Ro 12:1, Ro 6:12, 13) and put the surrender of his rights into practice by choosing to respect what was right in the sight of all men and as much as was possible in him to be at peace with Saul, ever refusing to take his own revenge, instead choosing to leave room for the righteous wrath of his Covenant Keeping God Who promised "Vengeance is Mine. I will repay." The result of David's surrender to and dependence upon God to be his defender and protector was that David's conscience was clear. What a godly example David provides for us to imitate (cp He 6:11, 12-note) enabled by God's Spirit (cp Ep 3:14-note) and His grace (1Co 15:10-note).
Clay Trumbull in his book The Blood Covenant has a section subtitled "The Bond of Covenant" in which he describes the obligations of covenant partners in oriental countries...