Keep us Safe, Lord

Genesis 31:22-30

22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. 27Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?

28You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods?”

Synagogue

Have you heard about the attack at a synagogue (Jewish congregation) lately? Synagogues in Winnipeg are making sure nothing to that extent will happen here. Congregation Shaarey Zedek is not only the largest and oldest synagogue in Winnipeg, but also in western Canada. And because of its size and history, security at the Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Winnipeg has always been a major focus, particularly in recent years.

Hatred against Jewish people is historical. Likewise, hatred against other religious group including Christians is never a secret. Fear of possible terrorist attack amplified the presence of fear in one’s heart. What are you scared of?

Some people are scared of heights, water, insects, or reptiles. Others are scared about their safety. Some people won’t dare to drive because they are afraid of many things: afraid to fail, afraid of accident, afraid to accept limitations. Fear of anything can deprive anyone to explore the many possibilities in this life. Sometimes, God allows us to be scared to keep us safe from possible tragedy.

And, fear can possibly repress our testimony as Christians. We could be cautious about anything but fear should not dictate our lifestyle. King David prayed in Psalm 140:4, 9, 4Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet. 9Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me.

King David was brave but cautious to possible dangers. He was victorious in all his battles because he never failed to seek God’s guidance. He was very prayerful, and God gave him wisdom and military tactical expertise.

Doing what’s right in the eyes of God attracts evildoers but it should not scare us. Instead, fear should warn us to be cautious. We should trust that God will keep us safe and secured until He accomplishes His wonderful plan for us.

When Jacob escaped with his family, did he not perceive that Laban can overtake them? Jacob trusted God that he will be safe until he returns to Canaan, no matter what Laban planned to do. Indeed, God had cautioned Laban.

1. Caution

22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

An angel of the Lord instructed Jacob in his dream to return to his native land in Canaan. Without hesitation Jacob obeyed and didn’t inform Laban.

Previously, when Jacob informed his father-in-law about his plan to return to Canaan, Laban prevented him. Laban admitted that he was blessed because of Jacob. If he allowed Jacob to go, Laban assumed that his blessing will stop. He even told Jacob to name his wages but he changed Jacob’s wages ten times. It proved that Laban had dishonest practices. He only cared about his welfare.

Laban had treated Jacob unfairly but God made Jacob more progressive than him, and their relationship had worsened. Because of Laban’s hostility, Jacob may have suspected that if he would inform Laban about his return to Canaan, Laban would not readily allow him to take his wives, children and all his properties. Escaping or not telling Laban about his plan was his best practical option to make sure he could take everything he had accumulated on his journey.

Jacob believed it when the Lord promised to be with him and watch over him until he returned to Canaan. Probably, Jacob prayed for safety before they traveled secretly. Indeed, the Lord was faithful to His promise and kept Jacob safe when He cautioned Laban in his dream on how he should approach Jacob.

When we trust the Lord about our own safety, there are many intangible or things that we may not perceive or prove by our senses that God does without our permission or not even prayed about. As long as they are in accordance to God’s wonderful plan for us, the Lord will work things on our behalf.

King David

We can easily find great examples of God’s wonders in the life of David after he was anointed king. But before he was installed as king of Israel, King Saul tried to kill him. It narrated in 1 Samuel 23:16-17, 16Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”

When Jonathan help David find strength in God, he exemplified deep friendship with David. Jonathan should have been the next king of Israel after his father King Saul retires but he was also very sure that it was the will of God for David to become king of Israel. And, no matter how King Saul tried, he cannot kill David because David was not installed yet as king.

In 1 Samuel 23:26-28, 26Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines.

Those were just few instances where the Lord kept David safe and secure. No danger, no scheme can stop God’s designed for David to become king of Israel. And, King David has personally experienced God’s faithfulness to him.

With his experiences of God, King David rightly advised in Psalm 37:1-3, 1Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

When King Saul stopped pursuing him and went to fight the Philistines instead, it was clear that God favored David. God also favored Jacob when He warned Laban in his dream to be cautious of what he should say to Jacob.

Even when Laban confronted Jacob, he did not show any hostile behavior.

2. Confront

25Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. 27Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?

Jacob may not have expected Laban’s pleasant behavior toward him when Laban suggested some kind of farewell sendoff. Nonetheless, Laban said that he felt deceived that Jacob didn’t inform him when they secretly traveled west. He asked for answers but he sure knew why Jacob escaped. Actually, Laban was furious but he mellowed down when the Lord warned him in his dream.

Have you ever done something that others consider as unacceptable and confronted you about it? Others may confront you about your attitude, your words, or what you have done. Like Laban, they would make you feel guilty or even threaten you. How do you normally, respond when you are threatened?

Andrew Brunson

An American pastor, Andrew Brunson worked as a pastor and lived in Turkey for 23 years before he was detained in 2016 with his wife. Brunson’s wife, Norine, revealed that she was released after 13 days in prison, but her husband would be held for two years. Pastor Brunson was officially charged with espionage and being a part of a terrorist group. Brunson said 2 Timothy got him through the hard parts of his prison stay. “I read 2 Timothy where Paul talks about suffering and finishing the race well. This became my prayer. I want to be faithful and endure and finish well,” Brunson said.

It says 2 Timothy 1:7, 7For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

We may not necessarily be detained or charged in courts but to be accused of wrongdoings could discourage anyone to continue serving the Lord.

Paul teaches also in 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17, 15Stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

No matter how difficult your situation is, find encouragement in God’s word.

Laban may not be very sincere when he told Jacob about the possibility of farewell party with singing to the music of timbrels and harps to send Jacob off but for sure, Jacob was not scared of possible harm from Laban. Laban revealed that he reconsidered about his plan to harm Jacob after God warned him

3. Consider

28You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods?”

Jacob was proven right not to inform Laban about his travel to Canaan. He may have sensed the hatred Laban and his sons had against him. Once again, God was in control of Jacob’s situation. He continued to keep Jacob safe even when Laban pursued him. Laban suspected also that Jacob took his gods.

Laban’s idols were not only precious to his religious practices but they were valuable. They may have been made out of gold or silver. His daughter Rachel took them because she may have considered their monetary value.

Did Jacob feel afraid when Laban and his men overtook him? When Laban confessed to Jacob that the God of his father Isaac warned him to careful of what he may say to Jacob, it certainly have encouraged Jacob to trust much more that the Lord will certainly fulfill His promise to be with him and watch over him until he returns safely to his native land.

Strangers

It is not infrequent that strangers come knocking at the church building door asking for money. Some have asked money for fare, others asked money for gas, and still others asked money to buy food from McDonald. The risk of entertaining stranger is not absent.

It advised in Hebrews 13:2, Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

How could we perceive angels disguised as strangers and strangers who masquerade as needy? Stranger who present themselves as needy Christians but have aggressive behaviors are deceivers why take advantage of others.

The Spirit of Christ in us will certainly fill us with compassion to the needy and also to be wary or cautious about deception, treachery or possible danger.

There are times when we are threatened and scared about our situation. God may allow us to be scared to serve as warning of possible threat or danger.

But remember: Just as the Lord fulfilled His promise to Jacob, the Lord who watched Jacob in his journey is the same Christ the Lord, and will certainly fulfill His promise to all disciples in John14:1-3: 1Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

So, as we wait for the coming of the Lord, we must continue to live a lifestyle acceptable to Him. Do not get out of the gate of this building not making sure that you have eternal life. You may not understand everything but ask Christ to be the Lord and Saviour of your life.

Ask and pray also for Christ empowerment to make disciples.

Church members or not, all believers are mandated to proclaim the Lord’s death and resurrection until He comes. This is another reason we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every month for us to be reminded of Christ’s command for us.

Consider to pray for opportunity to make disciples every single day.

Be reminded to make disciples as many as God allows you to have each time you join the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

The more disciples God gives you, the more eternal treasure you’ll earn.

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