Today’s thought was triggered by something I read in David Wilkerson’s writings last week. Some of you may have read it also. The subject was monsters and vultures – not pleasant creatures! – in the context of the book of Job. At the end of the book God speaks to Job about the crocodile and hippopotamus, over which he is helpless: the only one who has power over these is God. Then Wilkerson talks about Abraham when he had made sacrifices and had laid out the carcases. As darkness descended the vultures came to steal the carcases, and he drove them away. Wilkerson is picturing the assault of hell at times, and how we are all subject to it. The monsters can be those of thoughts, discouragement, depression, fears and anxieties. The vultures are things that can interfere with the sacrifice of a life to God. He writes powerfully about getting rid of them and driving them away.
It caused me not just to think but actually to be aware of God speaking to me about His defence of us personally, but also of His church – not just Struthers Memorial Church, but the church of Jesus Christ in which we are included. It really is a wonderful picture: the thought of God dealing with the monsters. It gives a tremendous sense of security. Abraham drove away the vultures, and sometimes we have to do it, but again and again God comes to our rescue and He does it for us: He drives away the vultures. The vulture is not a very pleasant creature – at least, I don’t think so. I started to watch a little video of them, but stopped, because I thought: ‘This will give me nightmares, so I’ll just not bother.’ But those of you who are bird lovers might like it. They prey on the dead carcase, obviously, but they also prey on the wounded and the sick. And that, of course, is what the enemy does. He picks out those in the flock of Christ that are rather defenceless, or are at a vulnerable moment even though normally strong, and he looks for our weak points.
We are so dependent on God. I have a picture in my mind that in a small way illustrates this. One night many years ago three of us (Miss Taylor, my sister Mary and myself) were sitting alone in the hall in our Greenock church. In those days we didn’t worry about locking doors, so the back outside door was open. It was late after the end of a meeting, and we were alone, except that in the little recording room off the hall my father and Chris were doing some business. It was a soundproofed room for recording purposes. At the back door of the hall appeared three youths intent on mischief, who started to tease and torment and mock us. I don’t know how my father and Chris heard, but suddenly erupting out of that room like a wild bull came my dad and behind him Chris, charging down the passageway. I’ve never seen people disappear so quickly as these three youths at the open door. I’ve never forgotten the scene. Suddenly the fear was transferred from our hearts to the hearts of these youths, and there was no fear at all in the two that had suddenly erupted out of that room! It has always left me with a picture of how fiercely God looks after His own, how He defends us, and how foolish it is to be anxious or fearful or afraid of the enemy – because sometimes we have conquered all our other fears, but we’re afraid of what he might do. There is a cruelty in him, and a darkness. When Diana was preaching one Sunday morning recently she mentioned something about a darkness that may have attached itself to you. I don’t think she meant because of something wrong that anyone had done, but sometimes we are oppressed as he’s after us. And God is so powerful, and He is so on our side. He loves His church and He acts in defence of us. Again, there’s a lovely picture that I connect with this:
When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it. (Isaiah 31:4–5)
We know that a bird will give its life to protect its young. It will perish in a fire so that its young emerge unscathed from under its wings, rather than desert them. And of course we know that is actually what God has done for us, in that He spread His wings and gave His own life, that we would emerge safe. Having done that, is He going to leave us in any danger? In the ongoing dangers of our daily life, the dangers to our spirit, He defends and He protects.
The name of the God of Jacob … send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee … (Psalm 20:1–2)
When we stop and think of where that help comes from: it’s the sanctuary that we associate with safety. We use that word when speaking of seeking sanctuary, or of someone or somewhere being a sanctuary, not necessarily now a holy place, but a place of refuge. But it’s also very beautiful, God’s sanctuary, heaven – His own being. He is our sanctuary, and He sends us help from there. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary (Psalm 96:6). And so there comes to us an invincible strength that is of God to chase away the attacker, to chase away the monsters who could try to raid our peace, to chase away the vultures. It is His strength, but it also comes pouring down to us from that place of strength and beauty, the beauty of God, the beauty of His own peace, the beauty of strength. Some of those animals that are strong are also the most beautiful, such as a lion or a horse. In this they are but a pale reflection of their Maker. The beauty of God is part of His strength, and His strength is part of His beauty. We need both. We need the strength of the lion, we need the gentleness of the lamb, and they’re both found there in Jesus Christ, who is our sanctuary.
Rest confident in His love and His overpowering defence of us. Think how we would defend our own children or anyone that we love: we would give our life for them. Think of the fierceness of the defence of a mother for her child. And think of the defence of our God for us. We might say: ‘Ah, but … I’m a sinner.’ We all are. That’s why Christ came. Thank God, the Bible records for us His rescue again and again not only of the Daniels, but of the Jonahs, the Davids, the Peters, and Paul before he was saved. He rescues the penitent as well as the ones like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who seem to have no fault. He is on our side; He is not against us. Festo Kivingere, who preached in Britain, America and elsewhere in the 1970s, said he felt that what Western Christians needed was the actual breath of the presence of the love of God. We all need it, and in that love is our sure defence.
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