“Encouraged you and charged you to …”
Joshua 2, Isaiah 8, 1 Thessalonians 3-4
Our readings today provoked two opposite thoughts: well, in truth, several others also. What were the thoughts in the heart of Rahab as she took in the Israelite spies and hid them? She said of her people,
“as soon as we heard it, (i.e., the conquests of Israel beyond the Jordan) our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth …” (Joshua 2:11).
It was the honesty of this declaration of her belief in God that was surely the key factor in her and her relatives being saved as Jericho is destroyed. These words would have “encouraged” the spies – and also Joshua – when they were reported to him. Should not we be “encouraged” today by these inspired “words” today?
Then Isaiah tells us how
“the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me”
and “warned” him
“not to walk in the way of this people … do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread …” (8:12).
Our world is increasingly fearful of the future although, as much as they can, they put it at the back of their minds.
Isaiah is told,
“The LORD of hosts … Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary …”
These words surely “encouraged” Isaiah as his nation lost its vision of divine things more and more. How would he feel (and fear?) as he was told the LORD will become
“… a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem … They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken” (verses 13-15).
We can see how much these words apply to our world today.
Isaiah is told
“… seal the teaching among my disciples … To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (verses 16,20).
There is “no dawn” for this world – only increasing darkness, and increasing “fear” and “dread”. When those who truly “fear” God experience this – they turn with ever greater urgency to their Saviour and Lord. May we do this.
Finally, we are greatly “encouraged” by the words of Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians. May we “encourage one another” in our “work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3) and, with all our hearts,
“wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (verse 10).
Finally, in chapter 2, Paul reminds them how we
“encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (verse 12).
May our constant reading of God’s word encourage us to really do this and
“establish (y)our hearts blameless in holiness … at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (3:13).
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