As of September 11th… America has been Gripped by Fear! Fear has gripped us as a nation like an object in a vice! And that should not surprise us! Now… the recent events should sadden us… but not surprise us!
In speaking of His second coming… Jesus said in Luke 21.25-28, ”And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress (anxiety) of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
The fact that ”men’s hearts are failing them from fear” should cause us to ”look up and lift up our heads, because your redemption draws near.”
In 2 Timothy 3… Paul describes the condition on earth ”in the last days.” 2 Timothy 3.1-5, ”But know this, that in the last days perilous (stress) times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.”
Somebody says, ”Ernest, are these the last days? Are we living in the last days?” Are you listening? Don’t misquote me! We are living in the last days! These are the last days! The perilous times in which Paul spoke of to Timothy have arrived!
And if you don’t believe it… listen to Hebrews 1.1-2, ”God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds,”
You see… on God’s timetable… we have been living in the last days now for 2000 years! ”…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…”
Jesus spoke of these days in Matthew 24.3-8, ”Now as He sat on the Mt. of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My Name, saying, ”I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Verse 14, ”And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Last week… for the first time in human history… Dr. Billy Graham spoke to the entire world through video hook-ups sharing the gospel of the kingdom!
Verse 21, ”For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
It is no wonder… that as a nation… we are Gripped by Fear! In Los Angeles and Houston this week… security was tightened-up at their water supplies in fear that terrorist will strike with poison… contaminating the water supply!
Crop-dusters have been grounded due to fear that terrorist will use them against us with chemical warfare! There is a waiting list for gas masks.
The Airline Industry is now considering armed Air Marshals during flights in fear of more high jackings. Antibiotics are now available for Anthrax. A sixty-day supply for $580.00.
And as America continues being Gripped by Fear… Bible sells are up 20%… Church attendance is up… Prayer meetings are up… Divorces are down… Patriotism is up!
But may I say that it is wonderful that Patriotism is up! I too am a red-blooded… flag-waving… proud- to-be an American! And as wonderful as it is that Americans are becoming more patriotic and waving old glory… friend… Patriotism alone will not save America! Patriotism alone will not spare America! Patriotism alone will not safeguard America!
Only a turning back to God will save us now! We will either turn back to God or God will turn His back on us! Our battle is more than a battle against terrorism… our battle is against the forces of evil!
Ephesians 6.11-17, ”Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which you were able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Now… that is my introduction… now here comes the message! And the message tonight comes from Genesis 15.
The events of Genesis chapter 15 is a result of chapter 14! And Genesis chapter 14 we find the first battle in the Bible… the first war in the world! And since then… we have had one war after the other!
Now the battle recorded in chapter 14 was fought by ten Kings. Nine of them of godless and only one… King Melchizedek… ”King of Salem”… was godly! And by the… the name ”Salem” means peaceful… secure… complete.
And do you know what city Salem was later called? What city was included in its name ”Salem?” J e r u SALEM! You see the name ”Jerusalem” comes from two words: ”Jeru” which means ”city” and ”Salem” which means ”peace.” When you put that together you have ”city of Peace.” And we are told in the Bible to pray for the ”peace of Jerusalem”… peace for the city of peace!
So in Genesis 14… we have recorded the first war on earth! Abram heard that his brother’s son Lot was in Sodom and was taken captive! We read beginning in 14.14 that Abram went after him! Now you know… Abram could have said to himself, ”I’m not going after Lot! After all… He is in this mess because he moved toward Sodom and Sodom moved into him.”
You see… Lot was a backslider! In fact… the only way we know he was saved is by what we read in 2 Peter 2.7, ”and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked.”
And what Abram did for Lot… we need to do for every Lot of our church family! Backsliders need the body of Christ to rescue them! If we don’t rescue them… who will? The Mormons will! The Jehovah Witnesses will!
James 5.19, ”Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Back in Genesis… we read in 14.16, ”So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as we as the women and the people.”
Then there was a meeting with the King of Sodom and the King of Salem. The King of Sodom said to Abram in verses 21-24, ”Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the King of Sodom, ”I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, and I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ”I have made Abram rich’ except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me…”
Now that bloodshed had taken place… we read beginning in chapter 15 that Abram… like present day America… was… Gripped by Fear.
Genesis 15.1, ”After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
Now what Abram feared in many ways is what we fear today.
(1) He Feared for his Safety.
And like Abram… America is fearing for her safety these days. We have learned that our shores are no longer unreachable by our enemies. We have learned that across our land… our enemies have infiltrated! No longer can we talk about our enemies over there. Now we are talking about our enemy over here!
And now… like Abram… we are fearing our safety! Our safety in air travel! Our safety in drinking water! Our safety with the threat of chemical warfare!
Abram feared for his safety! And look at God’s two-fold pledge in verse 1.
…I’ll be your protector.
”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield.” Abram was like a sheep among wolves… a stranger surrounded by hostile nations and God said to him, ‘I am your shield.” And what does a shield provide? Protection against the enemy! Protection during war!
And notice that God didn’t say, ”I will provide you a shield.” He said, ”I am your shield.” Now did you notice who God sent to help Abram? Righteous King Melchizedek… King of Salem! And if you know anything about King Melchizedek… you know that He is a type… a picture of King Jesus… the Prince of Peace!
In fact… some believe that King Melchizedek was an Old Testament appearance of Jesus! But look what God did for Abram! He provided a King to protect him.
Verse 18 tells us that Melchizedek was also ”the priest of God Most High.” That tell us that God also provided a priest to pray for him! A King to protect him and a priest to pray for him! And may I tell you tonight in the midst of all your fears…that God has sent to us A King to protect us and a Priest to pray for us and I am talking about King Jesus! Priest Jesus who ever lives to make intercession for us!
So as Abram stood in a war-torn land… fearing for his safety… God said to Abram… ”I’ll be your protector.”
(1) Feared for His Safety.
(2) He Feared for His Success.
Now God pledged not only to be his protector… He said… ”I’ll be your Provider”
Genesis 15.1, ”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Not only his shield (his protector)… but his reward (his provider).
Now notice that God didn’t say, ”I will reward you.” But rather He said, ”I am your reward.” He was the reward!
Now it is wonderful to know that one day God is going to reward us for winning souls and being faithful! And as wonderful as that will be… they will not come close to the chief reward… the matchless reward! And that reward is our savior… our sustainer: the Lord Jesus Christ!
Through Jesus… we not only have protection… we have provision! ”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
Now look up here. If you know Jesus personally tonight… if He is the song in your night… you can take out Abram’s name… and put in your name in verse 1, ”Do not be afraid, ________. I am your shield (protector), your exceedingly great reward (provider).” He is not only our Defender… He is our Rewarder! And that double title will shut out all fear and give us peace! And for that… He wants us to be doubly sure!
”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
And tonight… if you are gripped by fear… may I tell you that it is time for you to stop fearing and start faithing!
The future has two handles. The handle of fear and the handle of faith! And it is up to you which handle your grasp!
But before you choose which handle you grasp… know this: fear falls before the fortress of faith!
Deuteronomy 31.6, ”Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them (enemies of God); for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Matthew 10.28, ”And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Psalm 34.4, ”I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Verse 7, ”The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
Just put it down: fear goes when we fear God! The greatness of our fears reveal the smallness of our faith!
Do you know why America is gripped by fear? It is because we fear man more than we fear God!
Rather than being gripped by fear… be guarded by the Father! And the way to be guarded by the Father is to be guided by faith!
”… faith is the victory that overcomes the world.”
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