11/17/W – Don’t Be Afraid

Joel 3:1-21; Revelation 1:9-20; Psalms 127:3-5; Proverbs 27:23-27

OT: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will cease their shining. The Lord will roar from Zion and make his voice heard from Jerusalem; heaven and earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the Israelites. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.” (‭‭Joel‬ ‭3:14-17a‬ ‭CSB)

The Hebrew word for decision also means a place of threshing and judgement. Threshing is the process that separates wheat from chaff. After threshing, the wheat kernels are kept, while the chaff is burned up. On that ultimate day of the Lord, there will be a valley of decision. In the valley will be multitudes upon multitude – everyone who has ever lived. The time for people to decide will be over. The one doing the deciding will be the Lord God, the judge of all. It will be a terrible and terrifying time, but those who belong to the Lord… those who have placed their faith in the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ… those who have been redeemed through faith in Christ and declared righteous… those who are found in Christ with their names written in the Book of Life need not be afraid. Instead of a source of terror, the Lord will be a refuge for His people. On that day, people will either be assured of eternal life or they will be assured of eternal death.

Even now, in this age, those who are in Christ diffuse a fragrance of the future to come. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 that those who are in Christ are in a triumph processional, and that through us, God spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. To those who are have chosen to walk with God through Christ, the fragrance they smell is the aroma of life leading to life. To those who have rejected the word, will and ways of God, the fragrance they smell is the aroma of death leading to death. Our time to decide between life and death is now. Eventually, on the day of the Lord, we will no longer have the opportunity to decide, and all the deciding will be done by the Lord God of All.

NT: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet… Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. The hair of his head was white as wool — white as snow  — and his eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look — I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.”” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭1:10, 12-18‬ ‭CSB)

In the midst of all the horrible persecution that was terrorizing and taking the lives of believers in Rome and Jerusalem,  John was exiled on the island of Patmos –  “off the grid” and removed from society. I imagine all of that was weighing heavily on him as he walked along the beach, praying in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. Suddenly, from behind, he heard a loud and piercing voice. As he turned to see who or what it was, he saw a man so amazing and terrifying that he passed out.

John was one of the disciples who was present on the Mount of Transfiguration. He had seen the glorified Jesus before. Yet, when he saw the glorified Jesus this time, it knocked him off his feet in shock and awe. Worry, concern and fear can really influence our perspective and cause us to forget things that we know. Perhaps in John’s concern for the church and his inability to do anything about it, to some degree he forgot who Jesus was. I know that I am guilty of that from time to time, and I have to be reminded of the great God that I serve.

After John fell on his face, unconscious from the shock of what he had just seen, Jesus graciously bent over, placed his hand on John, and said, “John… don’t be afraid… It’s Me.” In an instant, Jesus took away John’s anxiety and fear by reminding him of Who He was. Jesus is the First and the Last. He was at the beginning and He will endure through all things. He is  the Ever Living One… the source of life itself. He is alive forever and He holds the keys of death and hades. John had no reason to fear… for his life or for the lives of those who were in Christ by faith. In Christ we do not need to fear. We don’t need to fear the trials and tribulations of this life, nor do we need to fear the end of days. As long as we are in Christ, we will love forever.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that as I remain in You by faith, my future is secure. I don’t need to fear present circumstances, for you hold the keys of death and hades in Your hand. I don’t need to fear the great tribulation nor the end of days, for in You, I am not appointed to wrath, but to eternal life with You. Help me, by Your Holy Spirit, to never lose sight of who You are, and who I am in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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