Whosoever Is Fearful and Afraid, Let Him Return…

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Whosoever Is Fearful And Afraid, Let Him Return And Depart Early…

Introduction

Two months ago I mentioned to Mitch that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the volume of e-mails concerning the heresies we were dealing with at that time. I was telling Mitch how much I appreciated the way Ayo had helped me to cope with the heresies that were attempting to creep into the flock at that time. Mitch suggested that I take a break from doing the weekly Sunday studies, and let him give me a break. Steve Crook also made the same offer as he had a subject God had laid on his heart to present. That sounded like a great idea to me, so Mitch began his studies which took four studies to complete, and Steve’s studies took four weeks to complete. Both series served to confirm the Word of God to us all, and to show us what God is doing with His body in the world, while showing us that prayer is a way of life which will keep us in the Word of God, and keep us caring for each other.

So what was meant to be a break for Sandi and me, instead, by God’s sovereign design, turned out to be a time for me to simply get caught up on my e-mails while Mitch was giving his studies, and then to suffer with my precious wife while Steve was giving his studies. We thought the first incident was just an severe upset stomach. It went away, and we went back to our normal way of life. The next week it was even worse, and the next week was even worse. The last episode was while we were visiting Wendy, and we finally realized that this was far more serious than just an upset stomach. We went to the doctor, and the doctor took blood samples which when analyzed by the experts revealed Sandi had a severe liver dysfunction. The doctor told Sandi that the numbers were what was seen in “end stage liver cancer”. He sent her to a hepatologist, a gastrointestinal doctor who specializes in the treatment of the liver. The hepatologist sent her for a cat scan of her liver. The cat scan revealed Sandi has gallstones, and both the specialist and the doctor insisted that if Sandi did not have her gall bladder removed she could die. Sandi and I had already made several changes in our life style. We had begun walking about a mile every morning, we cut back on the amount we were eating, and we stopped eating anything after 6 P.M. so we insisted that another blood test for the liver be taken, and if things did not improve at least a little, then we would consider having her gallbladder removed. The doctor told us that taking another blood test would not change anything, but he agreed to re-test to pacify us.

We asked all of you to pray for a miracle for us so Sandi would not have to undergo surgery to have her gall bladder removed. You prayed with us, and the Lord, according to the doctor, performed “a medical miracle”. The doctor said he had never seen anything like what that new report showed. Sandi sent you those miraculous numbers. I remember one went from over six hundred down to 70, and the others were just as much a miracle. So we have been given mercy by our Lord, and we want to do what we must to stay healthy servants of our Lord and able to be of service to His body.

Again, I want to thank both Steve and Mitch for feeding you all while Sandi and I were being chastened of the Lord to repent of our unhealthy ways and to become far more serious about our own physical health, and be a better example for all of you. Keep us in your prayers as we continue to do what we know we must to avoid the Lord’s chastening grace upon our unhealthy eating habits and our lack of exercise. Christ said “if you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”

Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Getting off to a good start is not good enough to be a “disciple indeed”. We must abide in our Lord’s word faithful to the end, and Sandi and I must be faithful in our new lifestyle if we are to overcome this affliction, and not bring upon ourselves something even worse.

Joh 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

We are confirmed in our Lord’s love because of His chastening grace which He has abundantly supplied upon us, and I see this entire trial which Sandi and I have just endured, and from which we have been miraculously delivered, as a physical type of the spiritual battle which we have just endured and in which we live every day within the body of Christ.

So our study today is dealing with the lessons we have learned from the struggle we have endured to overcome our own afflictions and how we must stay vigilant after being granted such great mercy to be miraculously delivered from a life-threatening disease within the body of Christ. I cannot express to you the gratitude and the joy that came over me when I heard Sandi repeat that doctor’s words “This is a medical miracle”. That is the very same gratitude and joy I am also feeling as I am witnessing the spiritual healing and restoring to health that has taken place within this body of believers who come through this purging process, and the removing of the unhealthy and diseased branches on the vine that is our Lord Himself.

Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Now ye are clean through [all] the word which I have spoken unto you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Whosoever Is Fearful and Afraid, Let Him Return and Depart Early…

I have recently been told, “We must be doing something wrong because so many people are leaving the fellowship.” Another person asked me, “Will there ever be a time when the trials are not so constant and continuous?”

We need to ask ourselves, “Is there any Biblical basis to think that because we have lost several people from our fellowship that we must be doing something wrong?” What do the scriptures reveal about whether we should expect to be losing brothers and sisters from the body of Christ?

The scriptures actually reveal that anyone who is squeamish about losing members of his own family, physical and spiritual, is simply not being equipped by God to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Christ doesn’t hold back when He tells His disciples what they should expect if they really want to follow in His footsteps. This is what He tells us, right up front:

Mat 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

If we take these words in their literal sense only, then we are missing their primary spiritual meaning, which is the death that is believing in another Jesus with another doctrine than “the doctrine of Christ”.

2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

The words “endureth to the end” in Mat 10:22 give us our answer to that second question “Will there ever be a time when the trials are not so constant and continuous”. The words “the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death” tell us, in effect, that if we never lose any family members, then we must be doing something wrong.

Back in the Old Testament, God’s instruction to physical Israel, the nation that typified “the Israel of God”, demonstrates for us what we should be expecting if we want to follow in His steps. Here is what the Word of God tells us is how we are to deal with both of these concerns.

Mat 10:21-22 informs us that if we follow Christ then we live in a constant state of spiritual warfare, and this is what we are told to do under those conditions:

Deu 20:2 And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
Deu 20:3 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
Deu 20:4 For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
Deu 20:5 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
Deu 20:6 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
Deu 20:7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
Deu 20:8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.

Does it not matter if another takes your house after you have dedicated it? Does it not matter that another takes and eats of your vineyard if you ate of it first? Does it not matter if a married man dies in battle? Of course, it matters in every case. Are not all of these examples of those who do not have their heart in the battle, and whose halfheartedness will infect the rest of the soldiers of God’s Israel?

A modern English way of saying what God is telling us is, “If you cannot stand the heat, then just stay out of the kitchen”.

Notice how this parallels these words of Christ:

Luk 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
Luk 14:17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
Luk 14:18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
Luk 14:19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
Luk 14:20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

There is always a ‘good’ reason to avoid the constant vigilance of a very hard fought battle. Now what are we to do when someone doesn’t want to face the daily rigors or being a soldier in what the scriptures call “the armies of heaven”?

Here is the story of Gideon, from which I have taken the title of our study today, “Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early…” :

Jdg 7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
Jdg 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
Jdg 7:3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
Jdg 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
Jdg 7:5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
Jdg 7:6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
Jdg 7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

“By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you”. That is just how much God values the virtue of constant vigilance within those He will use as “saviors on Mount Zion” (0ba 1:21).

This is what God did in ancient Israel, and this is what He is doing now in the process of producing faithful over-comers who fear Him and tremble at His Words more than they fear what families and friends and the world think of them. This is what the story of Gideon is saying:

Eze 20:37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
Eze 20:38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

The twenty-two thousand feared the battle and the losses that are part of all battles. These are those who fear men more than they fear God, and if allowed to remain, their fear of what men think would infect the rest of the armies of heaven:

Deu 20:8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.

It is so appealing to the flesh to say smooth things like, ‘There is nothing wrong with blending in with the traditions of society.’ It is so appealing to our flesh to answer those who ask, ‘Will the trials ever stop?’ with a lie like: ‘God does not want us to do anything that would cause us to lose those who have been part of our fellowship.’ But that would be “speaking smooth things”, and it would be a bald-faced lie against everything the scriptures actually teach concerning what we should all expect in this age. Christ specifically tells us, up front, that we be “hated of all men”, and that only “he that endureth to the end shall be saved”.

Conversely, we are also told this about those who claim to be His people, but who don’t even see the need to be obedient to any commandments of God which require us to deliver anyone in our fellowship over to Satan, and to “have no company with him”

Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
Isa 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Isa 30:11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.

1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2Th 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

1Co 5:5 and 2Th 3:14 are “the law of the Lord” which “lying children… will not hear”. They will not hear those “law[s] of the Lord” simply because they fear men more than they fear God, and if we tolerate their heretical ways, we become “partakers of their sins”, and “his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart”. Before we know it we are all more afraid of offending men more than we fear to disobey these “laws of the Lord”. Disobeying these commandments of God, “deliver such an one unto Satan… have no company with him”, that disobedience is twisted into ‘standing in the gap before the Lord and in Israel’s defense’.

Eze 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

It might seem that this just cannot happen to someone we have come to know and love and who we thought loved God and feared God, nevertheless we have just witnessed how the Lord can cause “the light that is in [us] to be darkness”, and we have seen “how great is that darkness”.

Mat 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

What is Christ’s doctrine concerning whether His disciples indeed should expect to lose family members and friends? Here are His Words on that particular issue:

Mat 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Mat 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
Mat 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Mat 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Mat 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Mat 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Christ goes on to teach us that His Words will never pass away:

Mat 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
Mat 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Mat 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

The “all these things… My words” in this 24th chapter of Matthew begin with these words:

Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? [Greek – aion, age]
Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Mat 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Mat 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Mat 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The apostle Paul fills in a little more of the picture with these words:

Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

1Co 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Gal 2:20 I am crucified [daily] with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The Words of Christ which must be fulfilled in “this generation” are all His Words, not just the words of Matthew 24. They include the entire revelation of Jesus Christ, and that revelation begins at Gen 1:1, and it ends at Rev 22:21.

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand

Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

This is what is called “war in heaven” between the flesh and the spirit:

Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Less than one third remained to, in type, “fight the good fight of faith”. Out of thirty-two thousand who responded to the call to battle, “twenty and two thousand… departed early” from the battle to deliver Israel. Of the remaining ten thousand only 300 were diligent and vigilant enough to be chosen as saviors of Israel.

This is the Truth which this story foreshadows:

Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Only 300 men were chosen to depend on God to fight for them and to go into battle knowing that God was their salvation even though they were vigilant to hold on to their weapons while they were drinking water. By this “remnant of Israel” God has determined to deliver Israel, and He will “let all the other people go every man unto his place”.

These 300 men out of a total of 32 thousand, symbolize those who know that they must “work out [their] own salvation even as they acknowledge that “it is God that works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure”.

Php 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

When we read “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” we know that God is telling us that He is working in us both to “lose [our] first love” before we come to truly be “crucified with Christ”. Then we also know that it is God who works in us to “die daily ” with Him as we “fight the good fight of faith… daily”. These three hundred are willing to die for Israel’s defense, but the 31,700 who did not endure to the end, were in effect, sacrificed for those three hundred who were chosen to stand up and fight against those who would destroy God’s Israel. Our “old man” is sacrificed for the sake of our “new man”.

So if you are shaken by the loss of the majority of those who say they love God and their brothers even as they openly tell you that it is the commandments of God which are causing the gap before the Lord, then you are following the wrong Jesus. The true Jesus of Nazareth, as we have seen, tells us that we should expect to lose family and friends if we want to follow in His footsteps.

But it is all for a very worthy cause, and the rewards of being faithful to Christ through the loss of friends and family are more than any natural man can appreciate.

This is what we are told:

Rom 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

We tend to apply these words to Babylon, and indeed they do apply to Babylon. What we forget is that Babylon is God’s own rejected anointed, just as King Saul was God’s rejected anointed. It was God who had Samuel to anoint King Saul:

1Sa 10:1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his [Saul’s] head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?

Our adversaries are just as anointed of God to be our adversaries, and our “old man” is just as anointed of God to be our ‘old man’, as our new man is anointed of God to be faithful to the Lord’s commandments. Obedience is the litmus test by which we know who are and who are not the children of God:

Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

It is the “old man” in all of us who rebels and will not keep His commandments. This again is what God is now doing, and this is what He will be doing tomorrow:

Eze 20:37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
Eze 20:38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

God is purging the rebels that transgress against Him who disregard and disparage His commandments. When “the rebels” have been purged from among us, then we will know the Lord, as He knows us. The ‘purging of rebels’ is part of any war, and we are certainly engaged in a great spiritual warfare.

It should be of great comfort to us all to know that our Lord is a warrior, and that the war in which we in Him are involved has already been won, and Christ and His Christ are already declared the victors:

Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Rev 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Rev 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Rev 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rev 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
Rev 19:18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
Rev 19:19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Rev 19:21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

The next chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ ushers in the millennial reign of Christ and His Christ. Christ has given us the kingdom His Father gave to Him, and the thousand year reign of the Christ and His Christ will be used of God to set the stage for the beginning of the process of destroying “the last enemy… which… is… death”.

The next couple of weeks we will be taking an overview of the entire plan of God and our calling and our function within that glorious plan for the salvation of all in Adam. Our function is clearly stated in both the Old and New Testaments, and still the truth of our part in the atonement for the sins of mankind is denied and is called blasphemous, but the honor we have been granted does not depend upon the doctrines of men. They rely only upon “that which is written” (1Co 4:6).

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