Beth Moore - The Shield of Faith, Part 2
Why would Abram be afraid? I read one commentary today, and I'll always think that a scholar knows better than I do. But it still sort of hit me strangely, as he said, he talked about the fear of the armies that had fled from the four kings. And he said, "But Abram was not a man of fear". I believe that, I believe that, I do, I do. But I don't know how often God would waste breath to tell someone not to be afraid who wasn't afraid, or wasn't about to be afraid, or hadn't been afraid. I just don't know why would he waste that. When he says then to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1, "Do not be afraid". Is it because Joshua's not afraid? I mean, he'd have to be. You don't tell someone not to be something when they're already not that.
So somehow, there was a fear he was coming to undo. Now, I thought and thought, what would be some of those reasons? What are the possibilities? I thought one, I don't know if I can explain this one. I'm gonna try to. But I wonder if Abram had looked back over that battle. Would you remember with me? He took his 318 trained men. Now, these trained men, I don't know that they've ever warred like this. So, you know, you have your training. They're mostly all shepherds. You know what I'm talking about. It's like, let's do some calisthenics. Let's do some push-ups. Let's get a hold of the oak trees and the limbs and let's, you know, pull up. And so, he's trained these 318 men. And he goes against these armies that could not be defeated by five kings and their armies, and he defeats them. But have you ever done something really, really brave and later thought, "Are you out of your mind"?
Anybody ever had that come back on them? Like you did it at the time. I remember when I was in wreck, and it was on 610 at the loop in Houston. And we literally went all, I wasn't driving the car, but I was right in the front seat in the passenger's seat. And we literally went all the way 360 degrees all the way around. And you talk about everything, I could see everything in absolute color. And it seemed like it took us forever for that car to spin all the way around before it hit the embankment and stopped. And I wasn't even, I kept saying in the seconds that it could, it could only have taken seconds. But I kept saying over and over again because one of my daughters was at the wheel. I kept saying to her, "We're still okay. We're still okay. We're still okay". I had absolutely no fear through the whole thing. Afterwards, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Anybody? Anybody?
Because you think about it later and sometimes you think when you've been through a furious battle, you fear going through it again. Say, for instance, you have fought cancer and fought valiantly and fought courageously. And you can look back on that and you know you did, you know you did. You know you stood steadfast in your faith. But the very thought, even though you knew you were victorious... am I speaking anybody's language in the house? Even though you knew you were victorious the last time you had the occasion to do it, somehow there's nothing scarier than having to do it again. So, I wonder if that was it? Should I have taken some of those goods? You know, have you ever replayed later?
Now, I'm not saying this... I'm just saying scenarios, possible scenarios. Have you ever thought later, "I wonder if I was rude". Because would it be dangerous to burn that bridge with that particular king, that particular person in power? Maybe I should have been nicer about it. Maybe I should have taken a little token from him. I've raised my hand in oath to the Lord. The people of God don't make deals for shields. The people of God don't make deals for shields. We have a shield, and he is the God Most High. Our shield is the Lord himself. But maybe neither of those are correct. Maybe God is telling Abram not to be afraid, not because of what he has been through, but because of what he is about to go through. And not because it's going to be with an enemy, but because it is going to be with his God, and it is going to want to scare him half to death. Anybody stepping in that with me?
Remember, when John, the apostle, who has literally leaned on the chest and shoulder of Jesus himself when the Word was made flesh and dwelling among them. Then sees him in a vision on the Isle of Patmos, and he drops as a dead man at his feet. And the Lord says, "Don't be afraid". I'm not sure I would have come to that on my own. But it was this commentary excerpt that brought it to life for me. This one reason why teachers love to dig into commentaries for moments exactly like this. So, here's what I'm suggesting to you. Maybe God is telling him not to fear the revelation he is about to receive.
Now, this is Dr. VP Hamilton and his commentary on Genesis and it says this. He says, "This formula," and my formula he means the formula of do not fear. And there, of course, countless hundreds of times in the Word of God that God says that to his people or to a person. "This formula occurs frequently in the Old Testament on the lips of a prophetic spokesman when he encourages a group or an individual not to be intimidated by an enemy who is shortly to be encountered. Of whom need Abram be afraid? The juxtaposition of chapter 14 and chapter 15 suggests that it is not nearly as fearful to meet an antagonist on the battlefield as it is to encounter the deity in a vision. Abram may confront Chedorlaomer," and that's that primary king, "and live, but can he confront Yahweh and live"?
Remember when God said to Moses after Moses said, "Show me your glory. Show me your glory". And God said, "You know, you cannot see my face and live. And I'm gonna have to hide you in a cleft of the rock and cover you there with my hand until my glory passes by. Because you cannot see my face and live". And I thought, what a crazy, wild thought that God is a shield to us against our enemy. He is even a shield to us against fatal sights of his own glory before we have immortal eyes that cannot die at the sight. Now thankfully for us, God's promise to be shield was not just limited to Abram. It was not just limited to an individual. It became something that was given as a promise to the people of God under Moses to all the Israelites.
I love Deuteronomy 33:29 that says this, "How happy are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is the shield that protects you, the sword you boast in". Here's the shield that protects you, the sword you boast in. I love references like this because it is no accident. Then we get to places where it talks in the rest of Scripture about the shield and the sword, these two pieces of weaponry. One defensive, the most important defensive weapon that was given to the warrior, and the other the sword, the only offensive weapon that was given to the ancient warrior. So, since he brings it to Moses and all the Israelites, he's not only a shield within the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, but over and over again in the narrative of David. And then through the Psalms, the Psalms of David, and then the Psalms of other psalmist, he makes the same promise. I'm gonna read you just a smattering of occasions. There are many, many, but just a few of the occasions in the Psalms when he talks about being a shield for us.
Psalm 3:3 is probably my favorite of all. It says, "But you, Lord, are a shield around me, My glory, and the lifter of my head". I just can't think of a time when we could use our heads to be lifted more than right now, I'm talking about collectively. Perhaps, we've had other times individually, but I'm trying to collectively, the lifter of our head, our shield, the glory about us. Repeatedly in Psalm 18, and it's coming out of where he said it in the narrative in 2 Samuel chapter 22. So, it's almost identical in Psalm 18, verse 2 says this, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold".
You know, David is called the man after God's own heart. God himself calls him that. And so, it gives us insight into the fact that God loves it when we see him, God, as ours. You look at David's life and you think, thank goodness David shared because honestly, my God, my refuge, my fortress, my strength. See, that's coming into a true relationship with God when you realize he's not just like the whole, corporate body. Their shield, the fortress of the church, the defender, the keeper, but he is yours. He is yours. And I'm gonna tell you something. So, often we will not ever come to the conclusion to the marrow of our bones, that he is our fortress, our deliverer, our shield, until nobody else can be.
Okay, I'm just dying for you to turn with me to Psalm 91, Psalm 91. Now, so who wrote this psalm? We don't know for certain. In the Hebrew, it is not attributed to an author, but Hebrew tradition attributes it to Moses. You think, well, that's wild. Why in the world would it be? Well, notice with me when book four of the Psalms begins in Psalm 90. If you look at the heading on Psalm 90, you will see that Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses, the man of God. Now, the Septuagint, the Greek Septuagint, attributes Psalm 91 to David. So, which is it? Well, we don't know for certain, but it could be, and probably is, that Moses originally penned it and then David takes it and puts it, he, under the inspiration of God,. puts it down on the page in what would become the sacred songbook of our Holy Writ, the Word of God, the Scriptures.
So, Psalm 91, and a very significant occasion where God is described as a shield. I want to read verses 1 through 4. "The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say concerning the Lord, who is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust: He himself will rescue you from the bird trap, from the destructive plague. He will cover you with his feathers; You will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield". His faithfulness will be your protective shield. Please listen very, very carefully to this because it is so easy for us to get confused. Not your faith in your faith. Our faith in our faith will not be a shield for us, that we're just gonna like, I'm not gonna even let myself have a second thought. I'm not even to think about another scenario. I'm gonna believe this. If it kills me, I'm going to believe this. I'm not gonna let myself, for one second, doubt this. This is the way it's going to go down. I will believe this and I will not veer to my right or my left.
This is what I believe. That is faith in our faith, and it will not be our shield. It will not be our shield. Your shield is not your faith in a desired outcome. It's not, in fact, that can really mess with us because if we think our faith that it's gonna shield us by us thinking we're going to get what we ask for and the outcome that we're looking for, that that's gonna be our shield, what happens if, for some reason known only to the sovereign mind of God and one day known to us, when we come into full knowledge and we know as we've been known, what if it doesn't happen? Faith was not your shield. Faith was not my shield because my faith was in the desired outcome. Your shield is not gonna be your faith in getting what you asked. Mine's not gonna be my faith in getting what I asked.
Our faith, listen carefully, our faith is not gonna be a shield by way of faith in a prophetic Word that we were absolutely certain we received. In other words, somebody speaks a Word over us, so we're gonna have faith that that Word is gonna come to pass. That is faith in a prophetic Word that is spoken by man that is altogether different than God and his Word. And that's not what he says will be our shield. You talk about something that can mess us up. Like, I feel like there's some things. I mean, this is legitimate. We see this, that we can just sense in prayer, I mean, over a length of time, not just in one flash of a moment that we just decide, "I really believe God put this Word on me. I really believe that this is something he told me to count on". That can be legit. I've recorded that kind of thing in the Word. I've seen some of it come to pass. But that's not gonna be a shield for me, that I'm gonna think every single time, well, I really believe that God promised me this about my children.
So okay, what if it doesn't come to pass? That's no shield. That shield just dropped to the ground and those fiery arrows just went right through my chest, right through my heart and singed and burned its way in. Faith is a shield when our faith is in God's faithfulness. Listen, listen, listen. When faith is a shield for us and can extinguish every flaming dart of the evil one, it will be a faith that trusts in his faithfulness. You know what will save you over and over again, what will put out every, listen, listen, every one of them, is that every one of them, in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one, every single last one of them. What kind of faith is that? Trust that my God is faithful and no matter what is to come, no matter what is to come, my God is faithful.
Listen, God as shield, even though he said, "Abram, I am your shield," said to Moses and the Israelites, "I am your shield," said to David and the psalmist, and then to the congregation that sang it, "I am your shield". It was never understood by Abram, Moses, or David, or under any of their covenants, that what God indicated to them was that they would never have difficulty, that they would never be challenged in their faith. Faith is believing in something we cannot see. I mean if we're just like, I mean, there it is. That's not faith. So, it was already inherent in the whole process, in the whole journey. I can tell you something. Because we can look at a psalm like this and we can think, "Okay, I need to memorize this," especially because of what we've gone through with the pandemic.
I want to know how a plague will not hit my house. I mean, don't you? I mean, listen, if it would have been appropriate to put blood on our doorposts, wouldn't we have done it? Just ever looking for a formula, what would be the thing, what would be the thing we could do, the thing we could say, the thing we could believe that would always assure us that no danger will come our way? Man, wouldn't we be thinking of it? He who dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. The formation is get behind God, and he is ever before you. And when he has ever before you and you are a follower of Jesus, and not trying to lead Jesus where you want him to go, when I am a follower of Jesus, I'm in behind him. And that means everywhere he leads me, he first goes. And I will dwell in the shadow.
Now, I do not want the limelight. I want the shadow to come over me. You want the shadow to come over you because that is your shield to get in behind Jesus and go, "I want to go where you're going. I don't want to go anywhere but where you're going". I don't know, I'm probably so wrong about this. I've been wrong about so many things that every now and then, I mean, it's the strangest thing that for so long, we just had to quit going to church. Sometimes you think, did he send us all home and go, "You know what? I'm so sick of performance, I could spew you out of my mouth. You're using me as your backdrop so that you can perform. And I'm tired of it. I'm refining my church. I will refine her through fires that purify".
So, knowing and choosing to believe God is absolutely and always faithful, is our shield then in sickness and in health, in thriving and barely surviving, in winning and in losing, in warring and in resting, in living and in dying. Imagine just trusting God enough to die, when the time comes, in peace. My God's faithful. I'm gonna shut my eyes here, I'm gonna open them there. I will see my God, and then there's life forevermore. Imagine, imagine the shield that would be, our shield in singing and in sighing.
And listen carefully to this. In times of seeming immunity and vulnerability, every now and then we can go through something, maybe an event or a season, that for whatever reason, we almost feel immune to the enemy's attack. It's just like, I've had one. I've had one that it was just like, I can't even explain what it was like, times of immunity. And then there are times of just complete vulnerability. Now, I can't think of a time, I've lived over six decades, that we have ever been more vulnerable, collectively and globally, than we are right now and that we have been in these past months. See, there's just nothing like believing that God is your shield when you feel completely vulnerable. See, that's what a shield is for.