Earlier this year on the day before Valentine’s day, my Bible study at that time was on the subject of ‘witnessing’. It included a text from Luke I considered to be appropriate, given the task I was about to embark on. In the text, Luke quotes Jesus, saying:
‘And he said to them, “The Harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.”‘Luke 10:2
The following day, I met with some friends at our church to hand out Valentine’s Day roses to passers by. Attached to each rose was a brief greeting and invitation to attend our church services.
I explained to one of my friends that I’d felt unwell that morning and almost declined to attend. I reasoned I was probably being coerced into feeling that way. Satan wanted me to stay at home.
My friend replied that this was to be expected. While we remain inside our churches, singing our happy songs and enjoying fellowship, Satan leaves us alone. But once we venture outside – to witness or spread God’s word – we become a threat.
This threat is also reflected in Luke as he continues to quote Jesus:
‘… behold I am sending you out as lambs into the midst of wolves.’Luke 10:3
Matthew also refers to this quotation in his own gospel:
‘Behold I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’Matthew 10:16
The wolf metaphor intrigued me so I reflected on why it should be used. Why wolves? What was it about wolves that prompted Jesus to choose them? Among those things I found were these:
- Wolves are relentless predators
- They hunt in packs
- They begin to devour their prey while it’s still alive
It’s fair to say I’ve often felt as though I’m being devoured at times – sapped of spirit or wearied by a world changed beyond all recognition from the one of my youth. A world in which we’re assailed by an endless parade of headlines that appear to have one of two agendas:
- To divide us
- To make us ever fearful
Now, it is the Coronavirus ‘pandemic’. Before that we had:
- Bird Flu
- Ebola (1 & 2)
As a backdrop to this we have ‘climate change’ and numerous terrorist events and other acts of mindless violence, all of which – to those with eyes to see – appear to follow a defined playbook.
Today, evil activities and agendas previously conducted covertly have breached the surface, visible for all to see.
Satanic symbolism is flaunted openly, transgenderism encouraged, abominations and perversions applauded and countless thousands of children and babies murdered by traffickers and abortionists alike.
What happens to the bodies of these innocent victims? The victims of wolves in the form of men and women? Here the word ‘harvest’ takes on a new and horrific connotation.
We all know what a wolf looks like.
How do we recognise a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Truth about our world is far more horrible than we could ever imagine. But truth will out – it always does. And when that happens, we need to be ready.
One thing the Bible teaches us, however, is that we’ve been here before.
The previous quote from Matthew took me to the book of Ezekiel, chapter twenty-two. In it, Israel is being judged and found wanting. The wolf metaphor is used once again.
‘Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain.’Ezekiel 22:27
‘Destroying lives for dishonest gain.’
This paints a familiar picture. One has only to consider today’s geo-political chess-game, the perpetual wars, terrorism and misery. The text continues:
‘The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted the sojourner without justice.’Ezekiel 22:29
If this image isn’t yet familiar, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary provides clarification:
‘All orders and degrees of men helped to fill the measure of the nation’s guilt. The people that had any power abused it.
It bodes ill to a people when judgements are breaking in upon them, and the spirit of prayer is restrained. Let all who fear God, unite to promote his truth and righteousness; as wicked men of every rank and profession plot together to run them down.’Matthew Henry’s Concise Comentary
Where am I going with this?
I’ve painted a picture of a small number of Christians going out, roses in hand, into enemy territory. It is a territory of ravening beasts tainting God’s creation with their evil, perversions, greed and corruption.
Under such circumstances it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, except God has left us with numerous reassurances scattered throughout the Bible. Such as:
‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’Romans 8:37
On Valentine’s Day there were three ‘conquerors’ manning the front line.
This has since put me in mind of the TV series, ‘Band of Brothers‘. In one scene depicting the eve of a battle one officer warns another: ‘Looks like you guys are going to be surrounded.’ To this the series’ hero replies: ‘We’re paratroopers, lieutenant, we’re supposed to be surrounded.’
In another, the film ‘We Were Soldiers‘, Mel Gibson and his troops face off against the Vietnamese in a Hollywood account of the first major land battle of the Vietnam War.
In one scene, the situation is dire as Mel’s boys are about to be overwhelmed by advancing Viet Cong. All appears lost when Mel snatches a radio mike, contacts HQ and calls in an airstrike, saving the day.
As Christians we not only man the front line, but we operate behind enemy lines, surrounded and vastly outnumbered – on the earthly battlefield. But, just as Mel Gibson could rely on his wireless link to headquarters, we have a direct link to God.
We need no radio, microphone or antennae. We simply pray.