If you got hauled off into exile, you’d certainly be hoping for them to spare your life. By the time this group of 74 people consisting of dignitaries, priests, and even poor folk were collected and taken to the king, many others were already hostage in Babylon. Would these people have knowledge of where they were headed from hearing word from those exiled or was it a total unknown?
No matter what these people knew or didn’t know, they endured emotional upheaval which led to the resolution of death. These prisoners would not be captive for long. Certainly they had seen death all around them when others had been taken or attacked. Now it was their turn. This was not a pleasant time to be in Jerusalem.
You are witnessing a milestone for this devotional blog! This is the 1,800th post! I chose this Bible passage especially for this occasion. The children at church sang a song about the armor of God yesterday–complete with battle gear made out of something indestructible that looked much like brown construction paper. The visual was incredible, but watching their innocent faces as they shared this timely message is what brought tears to my eyes. I knew this was the message God wanted me to share with you today.
We find ourselves living in challenging times. While true today, this statement could be said by many, if not all, past generations as well. Have no fear, God has set us up for success! Keeping our focus on God is the first step. Next, we have the “armor” Paul talks about here to give us all the security and hope we need. Let’s take a look at what we have access to.
What is the secret? Paul says this about it, “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” If I was hearing this for the first time, my first question would be, “How does it work to have Christ inside me?”
If that’s your question, too, Paul doesn’t get into those details here. But in 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul’s counsel in another setting speaks to the Holy Spirit, a person of the trinity with Jesus. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” Take a moment to reflect on what shape your temple is in to host God himself!
It can be dangerous to be chosen by God for service. Jeremiah learns about the threats to his life directly from God who also promises to punish these offenders. Have you ever been fearful to share your faith or do the work you are doing for the kingdom?
I wasn’t concerned until I read recently that I live in one of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. According to an article in Christianity Today, Mexico is 37th of the 50 countries on a watch list for extreme persecution. Despite that, I do not feel unsafe. I have confidence in the one who is fighting my battles.
You may or may not know that Philippians is one of my favorite books. As I grow deeper in my faith, I realize that I look forward to the day when I can be friends with Paul like the Philippians were. They had a deeper relationship than most because of the faith they share. When we can find friends who share a similar faith focus, that’s golden!
If you want to get a little more about the background of what’s happening, I wrote on a similar passage in Philippians five years ago. Here’s a link to that blog post if you’re curious.