The Creator of heaven and earth, and all that is in them, said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
One truth here expressed in the words of our Lord is that the world offers a form of peace, but the peace they offer is not like the peace of God. Particularly in countries like the United States, people are obsessed with the peace one has when one feels 'safe.' Laws requiring the use of safety devices like seatbelts, helmets, and elbow pads make us feel like the government is deeply concerned with our personal well-being.
Even in the churches, we have been brainwashed into trusting the power of man to protect us from harm. As we have assayed to build for ourselves large, wealthy congregations, we have come to depend more and more on the system of this world. The words of God to Judah echo now to us, "O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders . . . Thus saith the Lord; 'Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord' " (Jer. 17:1-5).
And so we go, trusting in the arms of a beneficent government for our existence. We trust in the financial arm of our tax-exempt status. We trust in the legal arm of our Constitutional rights to freedom of religion, speech, and peaceful assembly. But, most important, we trust in our "God-given," "unalienable right" to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let us not forget, however, the eternal truism, "Stand up, stand up for Jesus / Trust in His strength alone / The arm of flesh will fail thee / You dare not trust your own."
Nonetheless, Satan knows mankind's little secret: "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job 2:4). So, for a promise of a less bumpy ride down the road of life, in unison, saint and sinner, we cast aside convictions and embrace the hope of safety under the shadow of the wings of the would-be angel of light.
I recently found myself in one of the high places of the religion of Safe-ism. As I approached the temple, designed by some of the greatest architects of our time, I was astonished. Thousands of people flocked to worship at this most sacred of ground of Safe-ism. Almost anyone could pass through the outer court of the temple, but only a select few could pass through the gates to the inner court. As I approached the gates, one of the gatekeepers said to me, "Take off your shoes."
Obviously, I was about to enter holy ground. The masses were more than willing to comply, for they knew that all who would enter, must yield to the spirit of Safety, and thus would all be safe. Nevertheless, my life, my safety, my hope is in the Lord - always has been, and always will be.
If you have not figured it out, this high place of Safe-ism was an airport. I was amazed at the willingness of people, great and small, to yield wholly to the arm of flesh. If we would be so diligent to follow the instructions of our Lord when we desire to come before His presence, we would truly experience the peace and safety which He promises for His children.
Prior to 9/11, people felt safe, as they traveled through the skies above the fruited plains of America. But as we watched in horror as the towers fell, we suddenly realized that we were not so safe. Hundreds of men and women passed through the security gates that fateful morning, hearing the NTSB and FAA as they cried, "Peace and Safety," only to have sudden destruction come upon them moments later.
Today, with the addition of the Department of Homeland Security, and increased security at transportation hubs and at the borders, we are no safer - for we have only continued to trust in the sure-to-fail-us arm of flesh.
You will either trust the Lord, or you will trust in man. The Lord expressed the only two possible outcomes. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."
In the case of the fruit of the earth, man cannot promise a good crop. With all of his pride and self-reliance, he is only able to plant the seeds. Man may even water (if God provides the wherewithal), but it is God that gives the increase. Man does not grow crops. God grows crops. Likewise, if we are to truly bear fruit as the Lord has called us, we must reject the promise of protection from men all too eager to provide it, and put our trust in the Lord of all.
King David understood this truth, and when he rebelled against it, he paid dearly. The Lord had fought and won many battles for David, and established him as king over all Israel. But the time came, when he lost his focus and turned to the "strength in numbers" philosophy of the religion of Safe-ism. So, God caused him to number the people.
Joab, the captain of the host, tried to talk him out of it, saying, "Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?" (2 Sam. 24:3). He was saying, "Let the Lord multiply the people a hundred times, but what is your motivation for this census."
Still, David's will prevailed, and the people were numbered. "And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men" (2 Sam. 24:9). So, you see, it wasn't simply a census. David wanted to know how many soldiers he had - how strong his nation was in comparison to those around him. It was about determining his strength. He had an army 1,300,000 strong. Not bad!
David, however, immediately realized his error, and he cried out, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly" (2 Sam. 24:10). He had put his trust in the arm of flesh, and had turned from the arm of God that can save by many or by few. Because of David's sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23), God brought a pestilence upon Israel and 70,000 men died. That day, David fought an internal battle over where he would place his trust, and five percent of his army was lost.
David remembered where the victory really lies. He saw that true strength is not in the sword - but in the Lord, and he sang a song to the Lord: "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: Then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psa. 124).
"Our help is in the name of the Lord." Let this echo throughout all of Christendom. Our help is in the name of the Lord, for He that is our God is the God of salvation!
If we can begin to trust in God for our help, for our health, and for our happiness, then can we enjoy the blessings of God as He promised to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 33:26-29.
"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places."
Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and Amen.