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BIBLE READING: PSALM 11
TEXT VERSES: PSALM 11:3 AND LUKE 21:21
TOPIC: WHEN TO FLEE…
Beloved in our Jesus Christ, in my Topic for today’s sermon I have asked the question when do we need to flee?
I think this is a relevant question in our times. More than four million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the European Union over how best to deal with resettling people.
The vast majority arrived by sea but some migrants have made their way over land, principally via Turkey and Albania. Winter has not stemmed the flow of people – with 135,711 people reaching Europe by sea since the start of 2016. The conflict in Syria continues to be by far the biggest driver of migration.
But is this crisis only a European crisis? Hungary’s prime minister has called on nations including Australia to take in some of the asylum seekers flowing into Europe. It’s not fair that Israel doesn’t take any at all, that Australia doesn’t take any at all, that the rich Arab countries are hesitant. And last year the government decided it can fill all of a special 12,000-place Syrian refugee resettlement allocation this financial year. The face of the West has changed and our politics will be changed in the years to come!
We know that we as Christians need to do everything morally and ethically to change the circumstances of the refugees, pray for them and provide for them in a responsible way. We have to find an answer to deal with this tough question about the refugees. There is no easy answer! Christians, and especially government leaders, have a moral obligation to love not only foreigners, but their citizens, as well.
My sermon today will not be about the refugee crisis, I used that as an example. I want us to reflect about the question, when to flee, closer to home. We will be challenged with a question that will become more and more relevant in our times. When do we need to flee from sin that are changing the Christian culture or foundations in our country?
Genuine repentance or the dying-away of the old self is to run away from it according to Lord’s Day 33.
Would you stay in a church that advocates abortion, married people of the same sex in the church and made illegal drugs and pornography available in the church? Of course not.
But why are we silent, knowing that our taxes are used to promoting and debating these causes, knowing that our tax money help kill infants in the womb. Our prophetic voice must never be silent!
All the examples given are signs of the end of times! This is when the Christian foundations are destroyed. By this word must be understood the principles of morality, which are the foundations of society. King David asks in Psalm 11:3 “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
Wicked enemies of David were preparing to attack his armies and his advisors were saying to him that he should run to his mountain, presumably Jerusalem (Mount Zion). They know what they are talking about. The danger is immense! There he will be save. Please king David listen to our advice and flee to the mountains! We are very much in the same situation as King David. The foundations are destroyed and will be destroyed. The foundation of our society is marriage, the family, the church, culture and our schools. These are only a few examples.
What should we do as believers? This question lives in our hearts. People are breaking down the foundations and we should be concerned. We should be concerned about the attacks on the family, with sky-high abortions, child neglect, drug and alcohol abuse, same-sex marriages, our high suicide and divorce rate, safe school programs, pokies and our gambling problem, the using of the Lord’s name in vain on television and every radio station.
Should we flee to the mountains? King David gives a different answer and a short answer: “In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain?”
What can the righteous do? He answered in verse 1, already: “In the Lord I take refuge.” The Lord is my refuge, not the mountains. In the deepest danger he confesses his faith in verse 4: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes see, His eyelids test the children of man.”
This is an enormous confession!
God governs, God tests and God sees. John Calvin said that although there is a storm on earth it is still quiet in heaven.
God is in control and everything is in His hands. Do not forget that! Christ will come as the Judge and He will rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup (verse 6).
This Psalm is a prophecy about Christ as Judge, what He will do when He comes again! Jesus explained that in Luke 21 when He will come as a Judge to judge this wicked world.
Jesus comforts with the confession of David in Psalm 11 in the difference between the behavior and reaction of believers and unbelievers. These 2 actions are contrary to one another. In Luke 21: 25 we read that the nations will be in anguish and perplexity. Desperate they will seek sanctuary, and want to flee, but cannot go anywhere.
They will be desperate, like an animal trapped in a cage. So will the unbeliever be trapped before Christ through their own wickedness. They will and cannot get away from Him. Everywhere on the earth the sea will roar. The people will have painful sores and the sun will scourge people with fire. The people will gnaw their tongues in agony. There will be flashes of lightning, rumblings and a severe earthquake. There will be no islands anymore, and the cities of the nations will collapse. You can read more about this in Revelation 16.
At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory.
But in contradiction to this is the comfort that Christ gave to us in our Passage in Psalm 11 and Luke 21. We will not be distracted by this in anxiety, the Spirit will comfort us.
In contrast to the unbelieving despair, anguish and terror of humanity, the believer will stand up and lift their heads. He will seek refuge in the Lord! These upright-standing of the believer on Judgment day is not in despair, but with determination and conviction. Men, women and children will stand and wait with lifted heads, to meet Christ and the armies of heaven, this is the believers who is in heaven now, will follow on white horses and will be dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
People, who are afraid, run away. Someone who is scared or ashamed by his or her actions is looking down, but someone who is hopeful is looking up.
The righteous expects something entirely different. The righteous expects full salvation. The world is collapsing, people will faint in fear, and walk around in confusion, but those who belong to Christ can stand straight and look up to the heavens because they know their salvation is at hand. That salvation to which they longed through the ages, David already in Psalm 11, came at last.
Our comfort is that we can expect Christ in the midst of all sadness and all the prosecution. We are also comforted that with His coming, He will take away all the sorrow and persecution. We expect him as our Savior, but also as the great Judge who has already stood trial in my place before God.
We belong to Him for this very reason! Should we be scared about rumors of wars, the persecution of His Church and when the foundations of society are destroyed? No, we confess that His Headship brings for our church the greatest glory. He defends us and keeps us safe from all enemies.
Those who are comforted that they belong to Christ, will also be for the same reason comforted by His return, because we are the property of Christ, we belong to Him! It is therefore not a day of fear, but a day of celebration. Not a judgment, but a day of solemn celebration. Christ our Mediator has freed us from the fear and the anguish of the Judgment.
Some believers are afraid of Jesus return. The believer must not fear the day of the Lord. It must not be a day of terror. It is a day to look forward. It is an anchor that gives us hope in the future; it gives us perspective as a Church in our Mission to reach out in the community and in the World. We see reality as it is – we will be saved, and the Judge will judge. We are comforted by the confession of Christ’s return.
Therefore, the church is expecting Jesus, and take their refuge in Him!
Graciously God is helping us with this expectation. The Holy Spirit creates this expectation and faith in the hearts of believers themselves.
What is the Lord asking from us now that the foundations are destroyed in Australia? Firstly, faith in the knowledge that Jesus governs! What is faith in the context of our Bible Reading? Faith is to take refuge in the Lord, and to flee to the Lord.
Faith is to flee away from sin and flee to the Lord. Flee to the Lord in earnest prayer, flee to His Word that comforts and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness. Flee from the wickedness of the world, flee from sin, flee from anger, flee from hate and never let our prophetic voice as a church be silent! We need to speak out against injustice!
To take refuge in the Lord is to flee, but not to the mountains, but away from sin and to the Lord! In 1 Timothy 6:11 we read: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
The Lord is the rock in which I will find refuge. Flee to Jesus with all your questions and despair! He comforts: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”