JOB 29:17 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Aug 14-21)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth.” (Job 29:17)
As our society declines morally, Christians are increasingly finding themselves in the crosshairs of persecution. Why is that? We know that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces; however, flesh and blood are employed in satan's war against God. What does that look like on a more practical level? How do the spiritual forces entice flesh and blood to wage war on the Church? What makes Believers a target for attack?
Well, there are many ways to answer that question. Let's just look at one particular attribute of the Church that brings it into conflict with wicked powers in society. The Body of Believers is charged by Christ to love their neighbor as much as they love themselves (to want the most good for them for their entire lives) - even to love their enemies and do good to those who hate and abuse them. Additionally, the Church has always been a hedge around the most vulnerable and exploited in society. This is because the vulnerable and the unprotected can easily be made a prey by the wicked if no one stands up for them. God constantly refers to the fatherless (orphan) and the widow in His Word as examples of the most vulnerable and helpless in society, which He sees and cares about. And He has charged His people to watch over and protect the "weak" who are preyed upon for their living, their labor, and their very lives.
So, what can the wicked do to get their vulnerable out from under the protection of the Church? In order to plunder the poor, the "hedge" around them must be removed - in order to destroy the protections of the weak and vulnerable, their "protectors" must be neutralized. And so, a campaign of bearing false witness against Believers ensues. They are accused of worst kinds of behavior (usually everything that the enemy is actually doing) - labelled traitors, terrorists, racists, haters, bigots, etc. Their character is assassinated again and again in public to demoralize them. The worst motives are insinuated for their every word and action. Eventually, the mobbing of Believers becomes so frenzied that the character assassination becomes real assassination and violence is done. Beaten down by the constant assault, Believers will naturally retreat and leave their vulnerable neighbors exposed to the clutches of the wicked. Now the society is laid defenseless for despoiling.
Increasingly, in the 21st Century, the agendas of the wicked to despoil the west are running into resistance from Christians and they are beginning to acknowledge Christians as a "problem." From seeking to prey upon our neighbor's children and the unmarried mother to economic upheavals and radical social change that forges generational chains, the wicked are active and intent on their prey in these last days.
Rather than being beaten senseless by the constant assaults on their character and actions, Believers must see the attacks against them for what they are - an attempt to undermine their ministry to their neighbors of protection that keeps society stable and free. May we never cease striving to fulfill the First and Second Commandments in our daily words and actions.
May we seek the wisdom of God in facing the attacks of the evil one. May we not weary in doing good, even if we are attacked for it. While we witness against evil and do the works of Christ in our community, may we always affirm that Jesus is the only solution to man's helpless estate and we pray for His return to rule and reign in righteousness.
Other verses to consider:
GOD INSTRUCTS US TO PROTECT THE VULNERABLE
"A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation" (Psalm 68:5).
“You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge” (Deuteronomy 24:17).
“When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 24:19).
THE LIFE OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN IS AN OBSTACLE TO THE WICKED
“And Job again took up his discourse and said, ‘Oh that I were as in months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me; When His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness; As I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent; When the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me; When my steps were bathed in butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil! When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square, the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the old men arose and stood. The princes stopped talking and put their hands on their mouths; The voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to their palate. For when the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it gave witness of me, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth. Then I thought, “I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. My root is spread out to the waters, and dew lies all night on my branch. My glory is ever new with me, and my bow is renewed in my hand.” To me they listened and waited, and kept silent for my counsel. After my words they did not speak again, and my speech dropped on them. They waited for me as for the rain, and opened their mouth as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they did not believe, and the light of my face they did not cast down. I chose a way for them and sat as chief, and dwelt as a king among the troops, as one who comforted the mourners” (Job 29).
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27).
THE WICKED SEEK PREY
“‘Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’” (Deuteronomy 27:19).
“‘Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:5).
"There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her" (Ezekiel 22:25).
“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long. Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, Falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue” (Psalm 52:1-4).
“Why are times not stored up by the Almighty, And why do those who know Him not see His days? Some remove the landmarks;
They seize and devour flocks. They drive away the donkeys of the orphans; They take the widow’s ox for a pledge. They push the needy aside from the road; The poor of the land are made to hide themselves altogether. Behold, as wild donkeys in the wilderness They go forth seeking food in their activity, As bread for their children in the desert. They harvest their fodder in the field And glean the vineyard of the wicked. They spend the night naked, without clothing, And have no covering against the cold. They are wet with the mountain rains And hug the rock for want of a shelter. Others snatch the orphan from the breast, And against the poor they take a pledge. They cause the poor to go about naked without clothing, And they take away the sheaves from the hungry. Within the walls they produce oil; They tread wine presses but thirst. From the city men groan, And the souls of the wounded cry out; Yet God does not pay attention to folly. Others have been with those who rebel against the light; They do not want to know its ways Nor abide in its paths. The murderer arises at dawn; He kills the poor and the needy, And at night he is as a thief. The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, Saying, ‘No eye will see me.’ And he disguises his face. In the dark they dig into houses, They shut themselves up by day; They do not know the light. For the morning is the same to him as thick darkness, For he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness” (Job 24:1-17).
“There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords and his jaw teeth like knives, to devour the afflicted from the earth and the needy from among men” (Proverbs 30:14).
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation" (Matthew 23:14).
“The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people, ‘It is you who have devoured the vineyard; The plunder of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing My people And grinding the face of the poor?’ Declares the Lord God of hosts” (Isaiah 3:14-15).
THE WEAPON OF CHARACTER ASSASSINATION
“Then the two worthless men came in and sat before him; and the worthless men testified against him, even against Naboth, before the people, saying, ‘Naboth cursed God and the king.’ So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones” (1 Kings 21:13).
“Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, ‘This man stated, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days”’” (Matthew 26:59-61)
GOD COUNTS OUR LABORS OF LOVE FOR HIM
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:34-40).
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).