” … there is but one alternative], … take hold of My strength and make complete surrender to My protection.”
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In Isaiah 27:5 the Lord gave Israel just one option to avoid being burned up with their “wicked internal foe” and “that they might make peace with [Him]!” Verse one of this chapter reveals the means by which He would deal with this “internal foe”: “His sharp and unrelenting, great, and strong sword” – the Sword which is the Word by which He upholds all things (Heb.1:3; 4:12). How relevant this imperative to Israel is to the Church today, that we would by Grace through faith take hold of His strength and completely yield ourselves to His protection. We of course already enjoy having peace with God (Rom.5:1), but such surrender affords us the protection of the peace of God (Phil.4:7). The Lord elsewhere in the Old Testament warned His people of the results of choosing any other alternative.
” … The strength and protection of Pharaoh shall turn to your shame, and … refuge in … Egypt will be to your humiliation and confusion.” (Isaiah 30: 3)
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God sent this warning through Isaiah to His “rebellious children … who … flee to the stronghold of Pharaoh and … strengthen themselves in his strength and … trust in the shadow of Egypt!” (verses 1,2) What a stark contrast to taking hold of the Lord’s strength and surrendering to His protection! These verses clearly and simply delineate trusting in the Lord with all our heart, completely, to provide for ALL of our needs or running to the, at best, temporal solutions the world has to offer for our various needs and desires. During these unusual days of people all over the world being physically isolated from one another, we hear an emphasis in some circles of the “brotherhood of man”, and of how vital it is to treat one another kindly because we are one human family. There are positive aspects to lives lived as such, but where is the “Fatherhood of God” in this equation? Jeremiah 17:5,6 makes it clear what the consequences are of “the strong man trusting in frail man, making weak human flesh his arm”. Such whose hearts and minds turn aside from trusting the Lord shall be like a person naked and destitute in the desert and shall not see when good comes. BUT, “blessed is the man who … trusts in … the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. [He] shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought …”. (verse 7) It is clear, then, that trusting in the world’s wisdom and ways will ultimately disappoint, because confidence is being placed in that which is temporal. Yoga, alcohol, drugs, increased physical activity and exercise might offer a temporary fix, but they don’t address the deepest need of the soul: peace with God and the peace of God. These worldly offerings might promise peace and healing, but they heal a wound only “lightly, neglectfully, and slightingly”, and declare “peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jer.6:14; 8:11)
“Hold Thou me up, and I will be safe.” (Psalm 119:117)
The all-encompassing protection and impenetrable strength of the Lord are promised to us as believers in every single aspect of our lives – e.g. spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, as well as for our hearts and our wills. We read in Psalm 145:14 He “upholds all those of His own…”. But how does He do this? How does He uphold us in all these areas?
“He upholds all things by the Word of His power.”
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Indeed, He “upholds and maintains and propels the universe by His mighty Word of power” (Heb.1:3, AMPL); and “in Him all things [are held together]” (Col.1:17b) Remember, He IS the Word of God (Rev.19:13)! There are beautiful examples of men and women in the Bible who really grasped the power of His Word. The psalmist in 119:116 cried out, “Uphold me according to Your promise”. Mary, in Luke 1:37,38, perhaps didn’t fully understand the magnitude of what the Angel was saying to her, but she knew and trusted God enough to declare, “Be it unto me according to Your Word”. We read about the centurion, a Gentile, but who perceived the Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, and trusted His Word enough to heal his servant without the Lord even being present! “Speak the Word only and my servant boy will be healed.” (Matt.8:8b) Then there’s Paul who, in a seemingly hopeless situation, asserted firmly, “I believe that it will exactly as it was told me [by the Lord].” (Acts 27:25) These examples are so encouraging to us in these confusing, dark days when many in the world are crumbling under the weight of depression, anxiety, unmet needs. But as Christians, we need not sink in this storm!
“Underneath are the Everlasting Arms” (Deut.33:27)
Truly, there is not one single aspect of our lives where He is not upholding us. He holds us up: (1) spiritually. In Psalm 142 and 143 David’s spirit was overwhelmed and fainting, but he cried out to God Who raised him up and held up his spirit. Job recognized that it was God’s visitation to him that preserved his spirit (Job 10:12). As of us, when we experience a heavy, burdened, failing spirit, “He gives a garment of praise” (Isaiah 61:3). He also promises to “revive the spirit of the humble” (Isaiah 57:15). We read in Psalm 3:3 that He is “the Lifter of my head”; He upholds us (2) mentally. “His left hand is under my head …” (Song of Solomon 2:6; 8:3). We are also upheld by Him (3) emotionally …All throughout the Psalms David cried out to the Lord with strong, often bruised emotions, and “The Lord heard [him] and delivered [him] from all [his] fears.” (Psa.34:4). We have the assurance, too, of being upheld (4) physically. The greatest example of this, of course, is the Lord Himself in Gethsemane and on the Cross. The Father held Him up until the Work was completely finished. Only then did He give up His spirit. Another clear example of God upholding one of His own physically was Moses, in Exodus 17. “But Moses’ hands were heavy and grew weary. So [the other men] took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands…; so his hands were steady …” (v.12) and Israel prevailed (v.11). Finally, one of my favorite illustrations of the Lord’s strength and protection, is the wandering lamb that was carried home on the shoulders of his shepherd (Luke 15:5).
“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” (Psa.61:2) (5) David knew that it was the Lord Who strengthened and held up his heart. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm strength of my heart and my Portion forever.” (Psa.147:26) He must have known, too, what Solomon later wrote: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord…; He turns it whichever way He wills.” (Prov.21:1)
Finally, we see in Peter’s decision to walk on the water towards Jesus in the storm, trusting Him to be faithful to hold him up, that (6) the Lord upholds our will as we trust Him by faith.
“He carries us day by day … “
What a Savior, what a Friend, what an assurance we have in Him! “Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries [upholds] us day by day, even God Who is our Salvation.” There’s not the tiniest piece of us that He doesn’t uphold and hold together by His power. We are indeed “complete in Him” (Col.2:10) and He indeed is our Refuge and our Strength, a very present help in trouble (Psa.46:1). How reasonable it is then for us to “take hold of His strength and make complete surrender to His protection”!