Monday, 12 August 2019

Jesus Christ gifts His Shield

About a week ago, I got this Bible verse stuck in my head.

 Proverbs 2:7 “He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless”. 

I thought, what a great verse! God is my shield - continuous, present tense! But then I started to wonder, who are the blameless? Am I blameless? It's a word used often in the bible so I decided to investigate what it really meant. For how could I say 'He is my shield', if I didn't really comprehend what it meant to be blameless? There is a condition to be fulfilled here to receive the blessing.

My Interlinear bible translates this verse as

“He is a shield to the ones who walk in integrity” 

So I decided to look up all the verses that use this same Hebrew word to gain more insight. My journey started in Genesis 20 where Abraham had just given his wife to Abimelech, a foreign king, telling him “she is my sister” so you can have her. Not a good plan! God speaks to Abimelech in a dream and basically says this is someone else's wife and you are to give her back and not touch her. Abimelech is horrified! He'd had no idea. He declares his integrity, that he had done this with a clear conscience and clean hands. What's interesting to me here, is that God then tells Abimelech that He knows he'd done this unwittingly but that it still mattered. He particularly points out that now that this sin had been revealed to Abimelech, he was going to be held accountable for it unless he repented and changed the situation. Abimelech was not being given the option of sweeping the whole issue under the carpet.

What struck me, was that no sin of commission had occurred. There had been no evil intention behind it. He had not done it knowingly at all, yet had done something bad enough that God felt it necessary to let him know in a dream that it was going to kill him unless he changed his ways. There were still significant consequences even though it had initially been a sin of omission – of zero intent.

 God help me!

How many of those are in my life? 

I started to fear but realised that my God is a God of revelation. He did not call Abimelech to account until the sin was revealed to him, for how could he deal with it, aka repent, if he did not know about it. I thought of the times in my life, when God had revealed something new to me as “sin” , something which up until that time, I had never thought of as sin before. When this happens I am typically horrified that I had never seen this truth before. I ask myself "how could I have previously thought that was innocuous? It's so obvious!"

Roy Hession talks about this well in his brilliant little book “The Calvary Road”.  You see, God hates the sin of commission more than the sin of omission, but He longs to deal with both, as both harm us (v7). 1 Kings 9:4 sums up this beautifully. It teaches that blamelessness means obedience to all that God has revealed to us to obey.

So who is described as blameless in scripture I wondered? In Job 2:3 God describes Job as a man of integrity – maintaining a clear conscience, clean hands and obedience to God despite circumstances being brought against him, with the aim of inciting him against God. I learned here that I can't justify a lack of obedience to all that has been revealed to me, by claiming current circumstances as extenuating circumstances! Ha! How there are times when I long to do that!

“But I'm tired Lord, it's OK to be cranky”, 

“I'm sick Lord, it's OK to have no patience”, 

“But the kids are constantly at me Lord, so it's OK to push them away...” 

I could go on! But it is because of this walk in integrity, this blamelessness, this upright life, this fearing of God, this shunning of evil, that God is a shield to Job (1:9), to Satan's frustration. God let me be like that!

"Do I shun evil?" I asked myself. 

Am I like the Lord in Genesis 6:5,6 where God says he is so grieved by the ungodliness and wickedness of the world that it causes Him deep pain? 

There are times when I am like that, but unlike God, typically I turn my anguish into despair. I despair that He has a solution to this mess. Psalm 43 says it's okay to be grieved by the ungodliness of the world. That is a holy thing. But it is an unholy thing to then despair (v5). We are to put our hope in God and praise Him instead of despairing – that is an opposite response. There is a part of me that doesn't want to do that. The sinful nature wants to despair, not praise.

In Genesis, amidst the evil that was so great it resulted in the catastrophe of the flood, lived a man called Noah (Gen 6:22). Amidst all this wickedness, Noah did everything just as God commanded. He was blameless. He did all he was asked to do. All that was revealed to him. He was rescued. Proverbs 2:6-12 says the blameless are rescued through God's wisdom. Noah was given wisdom from God in both an intellectual sense and a practical sense. He was told of the coming wrath of God and he was told what to do practically so that he would be rescued.

Me, I often just want the intellectual wisdom of what to do but not the responsibility of having to do something practically to aid in my rescue. I want the Canaan but not the battles. Genesis 6:5 says that all mankind had inherited the sin / the brokenness but Noah, although he had inherited this brokenness, chose to remain blameless before God. How? By repentance of this inherited sin – as it was revealed to him.

In Ezekiel 14:12-23 Noah, Job and Daniel are used as examples of men who are famous for their righteousness and for their subsequent rescue / deliverance amidst severe suffering and trouble. Hmmm... And here I stood, wanting the blamelessness to mean I didn't suffer -  but it doesn't say that. 

It says I am delivered – God's definition of deliverance, not mine. 

Noah still went through the flood. He wasn't whisked away prior to the flood, which would have been my preferred option. Rather, the same water that brought God's judgment was also the same water that rescued Noah. The same event that caused the wicked to perish also caused the righteous to be rescued. The only difference was that one person listened and obeyed God and the others didn't. God is the difference between death and life. 2 Peter 2:9 says that God knows how to rescue the godly. Paul puts it another way while writing 2 Timothy, chained and imprisoned in a cold dungeon, awaiting death by execution.

  “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim 4:18). 

Why did he say this? Because back in 3:10-13, he lists God's faithfulness in rescuing him in the past. It is God's past faithfulness that gives him confidence in God's future faithfulness.

God help me remain blameless before you.
Help me raise my children to be blameless.
Thank you for your wisdom.
Thank you for your deliverance.

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