The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,
Turned back in the day of battle.
As I lay in bed quietly thinking I heard a voice “Turn around”. What or who was that, I wasn’t dreaming and I didn’t imagine it as it was a clear voice. Turn around from what? Sin, my direction in life, my selfishness that creeps in. The voice lingered in my head as I tried to fathom why I would hear a voice with my ears with no explanation.
Ephraim were not known for cowardice, but the psalmist records this historic event were the warriors of Ephraim were expected to go forward in battle and they turned with fear. We are ready! Trained and ready to fight the battle against the enemy with prayers and thanks to God.
Ready with hope, the hope of our faith in Jesus and that we will suffer no retribution from God as Jesus has washed us clean. But very often do we seem to focus on the how instead of the central message of why. We focus on trying to come up with explanations for the acts that we encounter rather than trying to understand the message and what God wants us to do. I read it again and again when we people encounter Jesus, he says “Be of good cheer!”, or cheer up. God has comissioned us to go forward into battle and we must be confident and have no fear as God is with us – literally.
We were at an event waiting for people to turn up but they were not turning up but we just kept waiting on a sofa. Eventually I had a look around. I saw a leopard staring miserably through bars, but the leopard was at the end of a large pipe and the other end was open. The country looked lush and ready for exploring if only the leopard would turn around and look out, but it kept looking the other way through the bars.
As I travelled around the supermarket I could see people busy about their shopping. A mother was loudly protesting that her husband didn’t buy the correct butter, children were running up and down and a lady sat in a wheelchair waiting. Should I go over to her? Did she need anything? I carried on. Later I saw an old man waiting, but I was distracted by people as they had messages and things for me to do.
Later I realised I was the leopard, hiding in the tube. I could leap out of the tube at any point but I cower in the end peering through the grate that was there. Peering out making myself think I am trapped. Fear convinces us that we are trapped, or we convince ourself through our constant beatings that we sometimes do. Others also trap us and we must find time and energy to look away to the freedom of God’s beautiful kingdom. As the leopard sits there and starts to gather energy to look away and realise it is free, spectators come up and make it mad, angry, and distract it away from the joy it would feel if it just turned around and leapt from the pipe. We are special, we are royal, we are God’s children adopted through choice, through blood and sacrifice. We are royal leopards.
34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
It was a Sunday morning as I opened up the church but the sun was rising. Beautiful and alive, God’s message in the sky that he loves us still despite our misgivings. The dried leaves from the beech tree danced in the breeze and the sunlight warmed my heart. I put the key in the lock of the church door and turned it. The dark was almost unbearable, dead like a tomb. The Holy Spirit was still dead in some peoples hearts, but the hope is through Jesus, through us we can raise a new generation.
In the old testament the glory of the Lord followed the tribe around as they travelled in the desert but in modern times we have this privilege that God’s presence, His Holy Spirit dwells within us, that is if we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. God never chose a city to dwell in , He chose a man David, and despite David not being perfect, God chose him. We now are chosen, but we must learn the lesson that the children of Ephraim teach us and that is fear must be conquered through hope and hate must be conquered through love. We can not enter the Holy of Holies because we literally are the Holy of Holies, the tabernacle is within us and there dwells the Holy Spirit. How awesome, praise God that we are blessed with God’s presence.
Three final thoughts on the week;
- Fear can stop us from achieving what we set out to do – fear not we have Jesus.
- Self pity and believing what other people say about you also stops you turning around and leaping from your prison – God loved us in our sinful state and He loves us now.
- Gods awesome presence is available within and that is enough to make anyone turn around and be earth shakers setting fire to souls.
Let us all step out in faith,
Turn around and see the beauty and work to be done,
Be of good cheer and get on with the reaping,
all in Jesus name