Living Under the Protection of God - Part 2
A Short Review
In Part One of this series, we looked at the workings of fear in our lives. We saw how fear negates faith. We looked at the examples of Moses and David as they sought to balance fear and faith. Now we will turn our attention to Elijah and Peter.
Elijah, a Man of Like Passions
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17). He faced fear and battled through it. He also faced fear, and it nearly destroyed him. We read the account of his amazing victory in I Kings 17, “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
Think of the boldness of Elijah as he approached nasty King Ahab. This is the first mention of Elijah. We know nothing of him up to this point in Scripture. And the first thing we see is Elijah taking on King Ahab head to head - eyeball to eyeball; and pronouncing a curse on Israel, and the king.
During the ensuing famine we see God protecting Elijah every step of the way as God leads him first to the Brook Cherith, and then to Zarephath before sending him back to confront Ahab again.
Think of the boldness of Elijah as he approached 450 Baal worshipers and 400 false prophets, one man against 850. He faithfully stood his ground although there was easily enough manpower to overcome him. The satanic worship of the 850 is seen in chapter 18, verse 26 as they leapt upon the altar. The use of the Hebrew word pâsach (leapt) seems to indicate a dance of some sort. Further on we read in verse 28, “And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.” The man Elijah was protected from all harm as he followed his God into battle.
From obscurity to turning a nation back to God – what a wonderful event accomplished by a man subject to like passions as we are! Revival took place because Elijah simply heeded the Word of the Lord and fearlessly applied it.
Let us not forget that he was a man of like passions for in chapter 19:1-3, we see Elijah running from one woman. ”And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life . . . .”
This one man, who had just defeated 850 enemies of God was now on the run because of one woman. What had changed for Elijah? He allowed fear to enter in. Now he was facing defeat from a different face. We would do well to realize satan’s tactics here. Elijah had a mountaintop
experience on Mount Carmel, but fell to the valley shortly after. Perhaps the only godly trait that satan possesses is persistence. He does not give up. When he failed at Mount Carmel, he switched to plan B and it worked.
Quite frequently you and I will be attacked again after a major victory. Could it be that Elijah had gotten prideful? Maybe, but I personally believe Elijah was just worn out or maybe even burnt out. A tremendous amount of physical and spiritual energy was expended by Elijah just prior to the threat of Jezebel. He had been through negative encounters with the king. He had traveled during the famine. He personally saw to the execution of 850 false prophets. Now he was tired.
Have you noticed that often when you are physically tired your entire being is touched.Tiredness affects our body, but it also affects our emotions. It affects our thinking and decision making. We become moody and self-centered. Weariness, even if weary in well-doing affects our spirit, Have you ever fallen asleep while praying or reading your Bible? Too often the flesh wins, but Elijah must have been exhausted.
Depression began to set in. As he ran he convinced himself that it was he against the world. God had to gently remind that there were 7,000 other people serving God. Where and when did God remind Elijah? At the end of the journey; when Elijah finally came to the end of himself in a lonely cave.
God exhibited His power through tornado winds. He sent a great earthquake. He sent fire all too familiar to Elijah. Perhaps Elijah recalled the day he stood on Mount Carmel and called fire down from Heaven. Now instead of fearing one wicked woman, Elijah came face to face with the fear of God. In God’s ever so gentle, loving way He spoke to Elijah in a still,
small voice. Sadly, Elijah was to anoint his replacement as prophet – Elisha. Elijah’s ministry was coming to an end. Fear has no place in ministry. Still, God’s protection was upon Elijah. God’s mercy and compassion are new every morning.
Peter: Fear or Faith
We could look at many examples of God’s protection in the Scriptures, but let us go to just one more. As Acts chapter 12 opens we find Peter in prison guarded by four quaternions of soldiers. A quaternion is a squad of four. That is, Peter was watched over by sixteen men. Four men alone should have been able to subdue a rowdy prisoner, but Peter was special – and Herod knew it. He was well aware of the risen Jesus of Nazareth, and he would take every
precaution necessary to procure His followers.
In verse 6 we find Peter sleeping between two of the soldiers bound by chains. “And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.”
Think of the uncomfortable circumstances. First, Peter is in prison – cold, dark, and miserable. Then he is bound by chains. The chains link him to two armed guards. He was awaiting execution. Yet he is sleeping like a baby. How would you react in the same conditions?
Peter’s lack of fear is evident in his response to his captors. Consider the testimony Peter had as he slept peacefully between the soldiers, maybe even snoring! Again we are told in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear. . . .” Even as Peter looked into the eyes of death, the perfect love of God filled him for both his enemies, and his God.
Fear was cast out of the way. We are told in verse 16 of the same chapter, “. . . he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Peter had learned well the lesson of fear versus faith. Peter was a different man now. He is not the one who betrayed the Lord three times in a single night. He no longer cowered in the shadows.
Remember the end of the story? “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61, 62). One penetrating look from the Saviour was all it took to bring conviction to Peter’s troubled heart.
Peter had grown spiritually by leaps and bounds from that single confrontation. He raced with the other disciple to the empty tomb. He had seen the resurrected Lord. Now his fear was turned to faith by the love of God.
Following Jesus’ ascension, Peter preached to the disciples (Acts 1), and on the day of Pentecost Peter preached to the lost and saw 3,000 come to Christ (Acts 2). He ministered to Cornelius in Acts 10. Peter was on fire, fueled by faith in the Son of God. All this allowed him to rest peacefully between two Roman soldiers.
No doubt it was his love and faith that eventually freed him from his prison cell. Of course God is a prayer answering God, and I am sure the prayers of the church aided not only his
rescue, but his freedom from fear as well. Living in the presence of God, Peter was protected from harm, and God allowed his ministry to increase through the man, Peter.
Where do you stand? Do you rest assured of God’s presence in your life as Peter did? Are you aware that He has a plan for you, and wants to include you in His great work as He included Elijah? Do you cast fear aside and boldly step forward for the Lord as David did? What about Moses? Are you living in the presence and protection of the Lord on a regular basis?
It is time to cast fear aside and let the love of God reign in your life. Live under the umbrella of God’s protection. His presence is His protection.