Bible verses about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
This exchange with Melchizedek, right before the Passover evening, occurred on the heels of Abram returning victorious from a fight against multiple kings and their armies. Protection and deliverance from enemies are conclusive themes in the biblical use of the title, “Most High.”
Christians should consider this in relation to their enemies. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our fight is not with the people arrayed against us, but with the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness. These are the enemies who sow division within the church, who encourage offense to be given and taken, who fan the rumor mill, who stir the pot of circumstances, who work in the background to distract God's people from what truly matters.
The fiery darts of the wicked one fly and find their marks on any whose armor is deficient. These principalities often try to convince God's people that they are not good enough, that they are not worthy. They hold up sins as evidence, trying to blackmail Christians into giving up.
The Most High, though, blesses us with protection, if we ask for it. He blesses us with forgiveness, if we ask for it. Is there any righteous work God will not perform or any good thing He will not provide for His people?
Another enemy is the one we all face within: the carnal man, the old man, the flesh. This part of us will probably never completely die until we are incorruptible spirit beings, but we can hold it at bay through God's strength. All of our human efforts and setting of our wills would be useless without the Most High giving the victory.
In Romans 7, after Paul bewails the continual struggle he finds within himself, he asks, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (verse 24). He answers his own question: “I thank God—[He will deliver me] through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verse 25). Once again, we see Christ, the Lamb, being provided as a blessing from the Most High as a means of deliverance.
The last enemy is death (I Corinthians 15:26). It will not be overcome until everything else has been overcome, and this does not happen until the resurrection from the dead. Our resurrection—our victory over death—is possible because our Captain went before us and blazed the trail (Hebrews 2:10). He is called the firstborn from the dead, showing that others will likewise rise from the dead. Thus, we see the Most High providing the life, death, and resurrection of His Son as a blessing to us so that we can follow in His footsteps, and even have the great enemy, death, delivered into our hands.
David C. Grabbe
Passover of the Most High God
This phrase, "all who were able to go to war," appears 14 times in this one section! What is the significance of God commanding a census to be taken of all males twenty years old and above and able to go to war? Obviously, God wanted Israel to comprehend the size of its army. God was preparing the Israelites for the certainty of warfare with the people of the land.
Notice the precise dating in verse 1: It was "the first day of the second month, in the second year" following their flight from Egypt. Exodus 19:1 tells us, "In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai." The giving of the law, then, occurred three months after they left Egypt. Exodus 40:17 adds another time marker: "And it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was raised up."
Thus, after receiving the law and making the covenant, God gave instructions concerning the Tabernacle, and it was constructed. It was erected on Abib/Nisan 1, the first day of the first month, of the second year. At this point, the Israelites have now been out of Egypt just two weeks shy of a full year. Once the Tabernacle had been erected and was in operation, God gave to Moses all the instructions in the book of Leviticus, and the priesthood began to put the ceremonial practices into operation.
In Numbers 1:1, thirteen more months have passed, and Israel is still at Mount Sinai. However, their stay is soon to end. The events of Numbers 13 and 14 did not take place until near the end of this second year after leaving Egypt. Therefore, before the Israelites even began the serious part of their trek to take over the Promised Land, the initial preparation for their being forged into an army, a force intended to fight against the people of the land, had already taken place.
They fully understood that Exodus 23 was not an unconditional promise that God would fight all their wars for them. They knew they would not just walk into the land and take it over while hornets maddeningly buzzed around their enemies' heads!
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part One)
Obviously, God's initial favor toward the "vine" did not produce lasting peace and prosperity. Something occurred in the meantime to change God's favor to anger (verse 4). Isaiah 5:5-7, in the form of warnings and promises gives us some indications of what happened:
"And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; and break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned or dug, but there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it." For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, weeping [a cry for help].
Ezekiel 17:9-10 and 19:12-14 speak of the dire consequences the "Planter" allows or causes because of the "vine's" disobedience.
The Garden of God
Applying this to the church, we have all witnessed the hedge being taken away, and the protection that God had placed around it is not what it once was. In addition, God withholds rain from it, and growth slows or stops altogether.
Many may not have had the opportunity to live on or near a farm, but a hedge, fence, or wall is very important in the protection of the crop. Once when I was out hunting near a cornfield, I noticed that the surrounding forest was covered with corn shucks. Now the field had a fence around it, but it was full of holes and broken down in some places. Varmints could come and go, freely taking the corn off into the cover of the forest to devour it. Since the hedge was broken, the field had no protection from the dangers that were lurking all around!
Ronny H. Graham
The Dew of Heaven
This prophecy, beginning in verse 14, falls within a prophecy of judgment against Assyria. The sinners and hypocrites in Zion can be one of two things: The phrase can certainly apply to the land of Israel, Zion being a part of Jerusalem where the Temple was built. The prophet could be alluding to the fact that there are hypocrites among the people of Israel. It can also be dual and refer to the church, because God frequently symbolizes the church by using the name "Zion." There can be, among those who are part of the church of God, sinners and hypocrites.
These people are responding to the harshness of the prophecies aimed at Assyria, and they are wondering, "Who can ever survive this?" God, through the prophet, gives an answer about who will be able to survive what is coming: "He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppression, who gestured with his hands refusing bribes, who stopped his ear from hearing of blood shed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil." When people live righteously, God extends protection to them so that they will not have to go through the terrible times that are coming.
Where will this protection take place? He says at a "fortress of rocks." The stronghold of rock will be a place where it will be necessary for food and water to be provided. It is such a wilderness, so desolate, that sustenance will have to be provided, and the implication is that it will be provided miraculously by God. The place is so desolate, so forsaken, such a wilderness, that it will not support life to any great degree. Certainly, it is dry, maybe getting only two or three inches of rain a year, but that's not enough to grow anything. It will not support life.
The comments regarding the scribe, "Where is he who weighs, where is he who counts the towers?" are indications of military personnel, personalities in an army. One translation says the scribe is "the general who comes," and that has to be tied to verse 19 because the people in this place of protection—those who have lived uprightly—are not going to see the army that is coming against Israel.
Here we begin to see clearly a turn in Scripture, as it begins to provide admonishments and encouragements urging people to make an effort to try to be in this place of safety, to turn their life aright, to produce qualities that God will look for in the people who will receive His protection from what is coming.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 3)
God is, of course, speaking of the nations of Israel. They will be going through it—we know that for sure because "they shall be saved out of it." In other words, their protection will not come until they have gone through perhaps most of it. They are going to suffer through it. Then God will intervene—save them out of it. If God does not save them out of it, then what Jesus says in Matthew 24:22 ("no flesh would be saved") will come to pass. They will all die in it. It is going to be that bad!
We must put ourselves into this because the church of God is largely located in the nations of Israel. The overwhelming majority of us are in the United States and Canada. Are we consigned to the same fate as Israel (in this prophecy) because we live in Israel? My hope is that God has a place of safety, and that I am worthy to escape. Nevertheless, you can see that we, as a nation, are facing very terrifying times.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 1)
One of the spirit beings who had "charge over the city" (verse 1) carried, not a battle-axe like his fellows, but a writer's inkhorn (verse 2), and he was also dressed differently, in linen. His is a different purpose. God charges him to go ahead of his fellows, saying in verse 4: "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it."
The others follow him, obeying God's command to go through the city killing and not having pity (verse 5), but in verse 6, God warns, "Do not come near anyone on whom is the mark."
Those people who sighed and cried somehow found a place of safety from the conflagration and the terror. They had God's mark on them, protecting them from His judgment. Sighing and crying over the abominations and the sins of the larger society, then, must be enormously important to us, too, as we also stand on the brink of similar tribulation.
The Torment of the Godly (Part One)
Notice, the message for them to flee came from God! Does God expect us to flee, or does He expect us to stay put and let Him put an invisible shield around us so that we are impervious to what is happening around us? No, God Himself sent a message by an angel to Joseph, and he fled immediately by night. The implication of those two scriptures is that he hopped up out of bed, gathered Mary, Jesus, and their things, and took off for Egypt while it was yet dark. Apparently, he did not even wait until morning to leave. Joseph, hand-picked by God to be the surrogate father (or stepfather) to His own Son, had enough spiritual know-now to flee. There is nothing cowardly about fleeing.
Why would God want us to flee? Obviously, there are things to be learned from fleeing that cannot be learned if God is always protecting us from the damage that we may sometimes bring on ourselves.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)
Acts 20:28 and John 3:16-17 show that the pruchase price for the field, the world, was His own blood—His all. So what is the lesson in the Parable of the Hidden Treasure? Our Lord and Savior, finding the treasure of His elect in the world, conceals and protects them against all the depredations of the enemy. Our being hidden is the protection part. He, with His own life's blood, redeemed us with joy.
This should give us great confidence in our spiritual battles. The greatest battle has already been won, and that is not all. Since we are His treasure, and since He hides and protects us, sanctifying us through His truth—and do not forget that He prayed for our protection from the evil one—we have it better than it seems. We have more going for us than we might think, despite the spiritual battles we still have to fight.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure
Of the gospel writers, Mark is the only one to record this account. These verses are similar to both Matthew's and Luke's versions of Christ's commission to the apostles (Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:36-49). However, only Mark includes the "signs [that] will follow those who believe." Are they commands for the followers of Christ or promises? In particular, does Jesus say Christians should handle snakes, or does He promise to protect them if they are bitten?
Many in the church believe, and it may well be, that Christ was speaking only to those God has called to preach the gospel. After all, in verse 15, He had said to the eleven remaining disciples, "Go into all the world." Combine this with the fact that we can see examples of the apostles fulfilling these signs in the New Testament and a case can be made for this view.
A snake bit the apostle Paul while he was on the island of Malta, and no harm came to him (Acts 28:1-6). However, he did not go looking for the snake in an effort to prove his faith. The snake bit him unexpectedly, in front of others, and God protected him as promised.
Luke writes that "the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17). He also records in Acts 5:12, ". . . through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people." It is quite possible that this section of Mark applies to the apostles and perhaps is further limited to their lifetimes, that is, the first century. A slight problem with this conclusion is that Mark 16:17 says, ". . . these signs will follow those who believe." It would appear that these verses apply to all believers, all Christians, regardless of when they live.
In Matthew 4, Satan tempts Christ in various ways. At one point, he tries to get Jesus to throw Himself off the roof of the Temple, saying, "For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge concerning you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'" (verse 6). Here Satan twists Psalm 91:11-12, which says, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone." God is promising protection to His people here, telling us that He will place His angels about us. He is not telling us to attempt to hurt ourselves in a deliberate effort to see if He will come through for us.
Interestingly, the next verse tells us that we will "tread upon the lion and the cobra" and that we will "trample underfoot" the "young lion and the serpent" (verse 13). Again, within the context of Psalm 91, God is promising His protection.
When Satan attempts to persuade Christ to jump off a building to prove that He truly is the Son of God, He answers the Devil, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God'" (Matthew 4:7). Certainly, Jesus knew that God's angels were all about Him, but He also knew not to test God deliberately. Christ was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16, where hundreds of years earlier, He Himself had said this very same thing to the Israelites.
In Deuteronomy 5, through Moses, He had rehearsed to the children of Israel the Ten Commandments. Then, in chapter 6, He told them to "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (verse 5). He further told them to teach God's ways to their children, fear Him, stay away from other gods, and do "not tempt the LORD your God" (verses 7, 13-14, 16). As Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 show, God's blessings would flow to them if they were obedient—blessings that include the promise of protection.
In Luke 10:17, the seventy that Christ had sent out returned with great joy, amazed that even the demons had been subject to them. Jesus responds:
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (verses 19-20)
Protection is promised here, not a command to flaunt their God-given authority. He specifically instructs them "not [to] rejoice in this" because it was not of their doing, not a show of faith. It was God's protection pure and simple.
The prophet Isaiah pens words of God similar to these in Isaiah 43:1-3, 5:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; . . . you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . . Fear not, for I am with you.
Throughout His Word, God has promised us His protection. He is especially watchful over those He has commissioned to carry out His work, as well as all those whom He has called to make a witness for Him. The Bible is full of examples of His power to deliver His servants from life-threatening situations.
However, He does not guarantee to cover our foolishness when we put ourselves into potentially dangerous situations. He abhors being tempted—tested—as if He needs to prove Himself and His power to us. Psalm 78 shows His distaste for the Israelites' constant testing of Him in the wilderness. The last thing He desires is for members of His church to follow their example of unbelief (see Hebrews 3:7 through 4:2).
Should Christians Handle Snakes?
The theme here is protection. Satan quotes from Psalm 91:11-12, which has the same theme. He is quoting back to Jesus the very words that He had inspired, but he does it without quoting the entirety of the two verses. He leaves out one phrase: "in all your ways." Jesus immediately replies, showing him that he had misapplied it: God does not guarantee He will protect us "in all our ways."
Will Jesus protect us in our rebellion? Will He protect us if we are downright foolish? God certainly expects us to do things involving faith in Him, which the unconverted may consider to be foolish or dangerous. But willfully exposing ourselves to any danger, presuming that God is going to protect us, is tempting Him. Man has no right to dictate to God what He should do.
It is as if Satan is saying to Jesus: "Since you are God's Son, certainly He will protect You from whatever danger You may get into. His angels will always be there to help You. You cannot be hurt. Deliverance will always be there. You can trust Him." It sounds good, but it is built upon a presumption.
Some ministers, when they are counseling people on a trial, say, "You just do what I told you, and everything will work out." The implication is that, even if the minister's counsel is wrong, God will smooth it over and make it work simply because he is God's minister and they are God's people. From this temptation of Jesus, we can see that He does not believe that. We cannot tempt God and expect His promises to force Him to rescue us. God may, in His mercy, rescue us because of our ignorance, but that is not the spiritually mature way to think.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)
When Jesus was faced with violence, He fled the area. His work had to go on, so God intervened. Psalm 91 came into play here, in that Jesus was the victim of something He could not foresee. He was not tempting God in any way. He was doing His job, and persecution quickly arose against Him, so God protected Him from the immediate danger. Jesus fled to another area, to Capernaum.
God is not illogical, nor does He defy His own laws. He expects His people to use both faith and wisdom—maybe we could say, common sense.
Because of faith, God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves—as He did for Jesus in protecting His life, miraculously enabling Him to pass right through a very angry crowd. But Jesus' wisdom is also clearly shown in this case. God wants us to do something physical to remove ourselves from the danger, as Jesus did in leaving the area. There is a faith factor as well as wisdom. The wisdom is a fruit of one's faith.
In addition, there is a third factor. God is deeply involved in working in us. He knows how far along in the process of His work He is. So we have our faith in God, we have wisdom or common sense, and we also have God working with us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)
1 Peter 1:1-5
First, Peter reminds us who we are. The term "elect" is the very ground of our comfort because it means (when connected to the foreknowledge of God) that God knows us personally. A lot of people would like to know that the President of the United States knows them personally, but God knows us!
Some like it to be known that they are known by some person they respect very highly. Whether the person is a millionaire or a billionaire, a well-known athlete or entertainer, or somebody well known in the area, people like to drop names. Peter says if there is any name you want to drop, drop God's. He knows you!
Before God called us, He watched our lives because He wanted to make sure that we would be able to work with Him and that He would not lose us. He is sure that with His help we can make it. He can prepare us for whatever He has in store for us.
That is the ground of our hope. God knows us, and because of this, He will do things for us. He is in the position to do them. All He has to do is give the word. God can open any door anywhere for us. And He will do what is right for us.
Peter goes on in verse 3 to say that He is the Author of an act of mercy by which He has given us a sure hope of being brought into our inheritance. Even though we may have to go through sore trial, it can be done! God has not given us something impossible to do. He has begotten us again to a living hope.
Our hope is living because Jesus Christ is alive! He is our High Priest. And He loves us in a way that we cannot even begin to understand. He loves us so much that He gave His life for us. He loves us so much that He is willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we will be in His Kingdom. We have access to the highest of all places. We have friends who have names and power so awesome that there is nothing greater.
We do not need to fear what is coming because God is able to bring us through it. If we had to face it ourselves alone, there would be no hope for us.
The apostle calls our inheritance "incorruptible" (verse 4). The contrast is being made between Canaan or Palestine and the Kingdom of God. Which is better?
Lastly, it is "undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation." Kept can easily be translated "guarded," "surrounded," "hedged in." God is watching out for us in a way that He is not watching out for this world. Because we are the apple of His eye, and because He is preparing us for something, Jesus Christ will faithfully discharge His duties as High Priest in our behalf. He is guarding us—protecting us—from the worst of what is going on around us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Don't Be a Prudent Agnostic
Before examining this promise, it may be helpful to understand what it does not say. Note how conventional wisdom would paraphrase this verse:
Because you consider yourself to be a Philadelphian, and because you are with the church organization that is doing the most to preach the gospel to the world, I will keep you from the hour of trial and will take you to the Place of Safety where you will be protected while all those who disagree with you will go through the Tribulation.
"Conventional wisdom" is not actually wisdom! It is what is generally held to be true by many, yet it may, in fact, be fallacious. This rendering of Revelation 3:10 is the conventional wisdom in some circles, illustrating how many take narcissistic liberties with this verse. It also shows why there is such an emphasis today on which church group is the best: because we are averse to pain and tend to try to avoid it. Thus, some convince themselves that they will be safe from what lies ahead because they are with the right church—rather than being right with God. This is extremely dangerous, as it indicates that they trust in the wrong thing.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are written in large part from a perspective of "if the shoe fits, wear it." In each, Jesus concludes with "he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches"—plural—meaning we should glean all that we can from each letter rather than focus on our favorite one.
In this light, a way to approach Revelation 3:10 is that perseverance is part of what Christ uses to define who a Philadelphian is. Thus, an individual is a Philadelphian because he keeps His command to persevere, in addition to exemplifying the other things He says, such as keeping His Word and not denying His name (Revelation 3:8). In short, a person cannot conclude that, just because he is fellowshipping with a particularly faithful group, he will be carried along in its positive momentum and benefit from the promise of protection and other blessings. An unfaithful individual in an overall faithful group will reap what he sows, not what the rest of the group sows.
Christ says similar things in other places, as in Matthew 10:22: "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (emphasis ours throughout). He makes no mention of group membership but addresses the enduring individual. Similarly, in Matthew 24:12-13 and Luke 21:36, He emphasizes what we do as individuals—our personal faithfulness and endurance—rather than the merits of a particular group. Just as Laodiceanism can be found in each of us regardless of the church we attend, so each of us can persevere and courageously endure no matter where we fellowship.
David C. Grabbe
Who Will Be Kept from the Hour of Trial?
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