The End of an Era

Continued from God’s Delight


The Departure of Abraham; the Rise of Isaac

BibleAtlas.org
Once again journey with me back in time to the Biblical days Abraham, in particular, we are reading the Bible at Genesis 25:1-18. Abraham is well advanced in years; his time for departure from this earthly temporal realm is near. The era that commenced with him, however (see Genesis 12:1-3), continues on to this day and beyond (see Acts 1:6-8).

At a “ripe old age” Abraham remarries – a concubine (see 1 Chronicles 1:32-33) whose name is Keturah. Through her Abraham fathers six sons: Zimran, and his five brothers – Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

But to Isaac, Abraham’s principle heir – son of his first wife, Sarah – will go "all of Abraham’s property and authority", from the Life Application Study Bible. To the other sons and grandson, however, and to Keturah, many other gifts from Abraham are given.

Abraham then dies having lived 175 years. “His sons Isaac and Ishmael bury him in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite … where he had buried his wife Sarah” (Genesis 25:9-10; cf. Genesis 24:17-20). Ishmael’s years numbered 137 then he too breathed his last, and joined his ancestors.

God’s blessing to Abraham is passed on to Isaac, who settles in Beer-lahai-roi in the Negev.


  

The Era Moving Forward

Let us fast forward now to the first century A.D. in particular to the year of our Lord A.D. 30. We are reading in the Bible at Matthew 27:45-56, 28:1-7, 16-20.

God had come to earth as a man (see John 1:1-5, 10-14) in the person of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah) around 6 or 4 B.C. Jesus begins His public ministry around 30 years of age proclaiming the blessing of Abraham (see Galatians 3:14-15), which is for all generations.

“He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him” (John 1:11). Finally, He is tried. At His trial, He is mocked and ridiculed, and accusations are made against Him. At last, the people cry out, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22), asking that Barabbas be released instead (see Matthew 27:21).

Though nothing is found against Jesus He is hung on a cross where He dies. Three days later the borrowed tomb where His body is laid is found empty. Early on that third day, the two Marys go to visit the tomb (see Matthew 28:1). Finding the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body gone, fearfully they wonder what had happened. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said to the women, “I know you are looking for Jesus…. He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead. Just as He said would happen. (Matthew 28:5-6)

“Now go and tell his disciples,” the angel said to them (see Matthew 28:7). “Tell them to go to Galilee; they will see him there.” At Galilee Jesus meets with His disciples one last time on earth. He issued His Great Commission, for the era to move forward: “Go and make disciples of all the nations [peoples]” (see Matthew 28:19).


Consider further, read The Blessing of Abraham


Continuing Through Time

From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya
Fast forwarding now further through time we come to the late 17th century. The year is A.D.1690; the place, Moravia, and we witness the birth of a boy to a devout Roman Catholic family. He is Christian David. Through his youth, he, too, is devoted to Roman Catholicism – zealous in observing rituals, holidays, and adoring the Virgin Mary.

In growing up however he searches to find more meaning to his life, not finding it totally in Roman Catholicism, or among Lutherans, or even among Jews. Traveling about – from Moravia – he searches for the truth. He finds it in the Bible, recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Traveling about David meets hundreds of persecuted Christians, longing for a refuge. That stored in his heart he shares with Count Zinzendorf and together they establish Herrnhut.

Married at the age of 27 and encouraged by his wife, Anna, “he becomes a traveling lay preacher,” Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. Also, Tucker writes that other than Count Zinzendorf, David, too, is most involved in forming the Moravian church.

Johan Hörner, Hans Egede, c. 1745,
Danish Museum of National History
Eager for work in evangelism, he is commissioned, along with other Moravian Christ followers, and sent as missionaries to Greenland. There, in meeting with Lutheran missionary Hans Egede, they work side-by-side proclaiming God’s Good News, which is for all generations – The Blessing of Abraham (see Galatians 3:14-29).

For more on Christian David and Hans Egede read
Ruth A. Tucker’s From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.

God’s Delight

Continued from A Good Neighbor


A Wife for Isaac

Journey back with me in time to the Biblical days Abraham, in particular, we are reading in the Bible at Genesis chapter 24.

At this time Abraham, living in the land of Canaan, is very old and has been greatly blessed by the LORD. Not long ago he buried his wife Sarah, also well advanced in years (see Genesis 23:19). Now, before he dies, Abraham wishes to find a wife for his son Isaac, but he wishes her not to be found among the Canaanites, but among his own relatives.

Abraham calls for his oldest and most trusted servant, Eliezer (see Genesis 15:2-3), and instructs him how to find Isaac a wife. Eliezer promised as Abraham has asked. Then loading up ten of his master’s camels, and with gifts, he travels to Aram-Naharaim (Mesopotamia), where Abraham’s brother Nahor lives.

Eliezer is obedient, as Abraham had instructed. Arriving at Aram-Naharaim, kneeling before God, Eliezer prays that he would know for certain that the woman God sends his way is the choice for Isaac’s wife. God answers even before Eliezer finishes praying, as is His delight in hearing His people pray (see Isaiah 65:24; Jeremiah 29:12; 33:3; Psalm 50:15; 91:15). Rebekah comes with her jug to dwell water from the well.

Speaking with her, and realizing she is God’s choice, as the culture of that day Eliezer “put a ring on her nose and bracelets on her wrists.” And he meets Rebekah’s father Bethuel and brother Laban. He tells his story of how the LORD had answered his prayer. Hearing the story the father and brother give Rebekah to Eliezer to be Isaac’s wife. In showing gratitude Eliezer then gives the relatives gifts of no little expense.

Eliezer remained overnight with Abraham’s relatives. The next morning Eliezer with his men, Rebekah and her nurse and servant girls, returns to his master Abraham, and to find Isaac.

Isaac is seen walking in the fields, meditating when he is found. Rebekah, properly attired, is introduced to him. She becomes Isaac’s wife; Isaac is at last comforted after his mother’s death (see Genesis 24:65-67).

Consider further, read the study guide A Bride for Isaac.



Peter Miraculously Set Free

Fast forward now to the first century A.D., in particular to the year of our Lord A.D. 44. In the Bible, we are reading Acts 12:1-19.

King Herod Agrippa I is ruler in Judea. He’s a ruthless man, persecuting believers of the Christian faith.  Seeing the Jewish people pleased in his having the Apostle James killed with a sword, he then has Peter arrested and imprisoned, heavily guarded by four squads of soldiers. Herod Agrippa's intent is to bring Peter to trial the next day after the Jewish Passover. The church, hearing of Peter’s imprisonment, however, prays earnestly for him. And God answers even while they speak, as is His delight in hearing His people pray.


Peter sleeps, “fastened with two chains between two soldiers” (Acts 12:6); other soldiers guard the prison gate. Suddenly a bright light shines in the cell; an angel of the Lord stands before Peter. “Get up,” the angel speaks (Acts 12:7). The chains fall off. Dressed, sandals buckled, Peter walks out, not realizing what is happening. The soldiers are undisturbed and unawakened.

Out of prison, Peter realizes what had just happened: “The Lord sent his angel and saved me from Herod and what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” (Acts 12:11). He then hurries to the home of Mary, John Mark’s mother, “where many were gathered for prayer” (Acts 12:12). Peter knocks at the door. Rhoda, a servant girl, arriving at the door recognizes Peter’s voice. She is so excited, and before opening the door rushes back to the people. “Peter is standing at the door!” she exclaims (Acts 12:14).

At first, they don’t believe her. Peter continues knocking. When the people finally arrive at the door and opens the door they’re excitedly overjoyed at seeing Peter standing there. Quieting them, Peter shares his story of “how the Lord had led him out of prison” (Acts 12:17).

Consider further, read the study guide James is Martyred, Petet is Set Free.


God Knows the Plans He has For Us

Journey on now further through time to the 13th Century, in particular to the year of our Lord A.D. 1232.We witness the birth of Raymond Lull (or Ramon Llull) to a wealthy Roman Catholic family of Majorca an island off the coast of Spain.

Perhaps an unlikely candidate to be considered for missionary service, yet he was the first missionary to Muslims. Though married and with children, he had mistresses on the side. In his own testimony he relates, “I lived a life of utter immorality.”

God, however, had other/better plans for Lull, as He does for all of His people (see Jeremiah 29:11), and brought him to repentance and faith through visions. For one, “the Savior hanging on His cross, the blood trickling down from His hands and feet, and brow, look reproachfully at Lull.”


The vision appears a second time and Lull commits his life to Christ, but not without doubts. “How can I,” he said, defiled with impurity, rise and enter a holier life.” And yet a third time, making him conscious of his responsibility toward others, he considers that his missionary call. That, too, is God’s delight – as the Scripture says, “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”  (Luke 15:7, 3-6, NLT).

In yet another vision God convinces him that he was to evangelize the nomadic Muslim Saracens, and he launches on a nine-year study of the Arabic language. Lull’s missionary focus as Ruth A. Tucker states in her book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, “is primarily that of apologetics – to persuade people to accept the Christian faith because it is true.”

Up in his 80’s Lull continues preaching Christ in Islamic Noth Africa, until he is stoned. He passes from this temporary physical realm on board ship in sight of Majorca.

Consider further, read Raymond Lull, Troubadour for God

A Tarnished Crown, A Bloody Cross, An Empty Grave

Man: the crown of God’s creation (see Genesis 1:26-27). But the serpent was crafty and sly. In his deceptive ploy, he came to the woman and caused her to question God’s word.

“You will not surely die,” he hissed. “Rather, you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eyeing the fruit, the woman liked what she saw. Seeing that it was good for food, pleasing to behold, and desirable to gain wisdom (see Gen 3:6; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14; James 1:14-15; 1 John 2:16), she ate it, and gave it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. All of a sudden, shame having attacked their very souls they sewed (perishable) fig leaves together to cover their newly recognized nakedness (see Genesis 3:1-7).

Hearing the LORD God walking in the Garden, they hid from him (but quickly learned that was impossible). They were deceived, desiring worldly pleasures more than God’s purposes for them.

As disobedient children, God disciplined them. Creation’s crown now tarnished, they were put out of that Garden to manage in their own way; they had chosen by their act to live a life of struggling to “make ends meet.” A great gulf was fixed between God and humankind, invoking misconduct, immorality, and terror throughout the earth. It continues today, humans still having the rebellious nature inherited from the “first Adam,” the sentence of death being the final payment (see Genesis 3:22-24).

Yet, God still loved his human creatures. He provided for their physical need, a more durable covering, and when the time was right, a return to his presence (see Genesis 3:21).



The Time Had Fully Come

“But when the time had fully come [some 2000 years ago], God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (see Galatians 4:4-5; cf. Mark 1:15; Romans 5:6; Ephesians 1:10).

Shepherds listened to the herald angels singing; the Good News of great joy for all the peoples, they're bringing! "A Savior has been given to you – Christ, the Lord!" (see Luke 2:11) Then, once seeing Him, they go around spreading the word about Him. All are amazed when they hear.


Magi (royal astrologers), too, came from far across the desert sand following the star they had seen in the East. They arrived in Jerusalem and inquired of the one who was born king of the Jews. To Bethlehem their journey concluded, the star looming brightly over the house where the Child was, with Mary His mother. Overjoyed when finally seeing Him, they bowed down and worshiped Him and presented their treasures – their gifts to Him – of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Yet, He had been born to die, from the manger to the cross, paying the price in full for the sins of all – from the poor as the shepherds to the wealthy, as the Magi – bloodying a rugged cross on a hill, paying the price in full for all of humanity, made effective to those who believe, receiving Jesus as Lord.


He was buried in a borrowed grave! But he didn’t stay there. On the third day, as the Scriptures had promised, he rose from the dead. With the grave empty (of Jesus’ body, the clothes that wrapped Him remained) He appeared first to Peter, then to the Twelve, and then to more than 500 others at the same time—such strong evidence indeed of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.



Then, as his disciples stood watching Him ascend into the sky, returning to his Father, two men in white apparel appeared with them, and spoke, “This same Jesus, as you see him go into the heavens, will so come again in like manner, at the Father's will.”

Until then, as Jesus has commanded his disciples (and us), we're to proclaim this good news, as a shining beacon of God's glorious truth to all peoples of the earth.

For further reflection, consider –
Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:8-20; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1-5, 10-14; Acts 1:1-11; Romans 5:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:9-11

A Good Neighbor

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, dies. She's 127 years old. (Read it in the Bible at Genesis 23:1-3.) Weeping, Abraham mourns her passing. But then, where is he to bury his beloved spouse, who bore their one and only son, Isaac, in their ripe old age?

Recognizing himself a stranger and a foreigner living among the Hittites, Abraham bargains with them to buy a plot of land to “lay his wife to rest”. The Hittites recognize Abraham’s good reputation among them, so they’re willing to give Abraham the land. Abraham nevertheless pays the agreed-on price of 400 pieces of silver for the land at Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron).

("An investment of time and money in serving God often earns a pleasant return – a good reputation and respect of others [in being a good neighbor]," notes the Life Application Study Bible.)



Centuries later, New Testament times, we see Jesus being asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replies with a parable. (Read it in the Bible at Luke 10:25-37.) Here summarized: A Jewish man, “traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho,” is beaten and robbed, and left for dead. A priest comes by and sees the man, but, perhaps muttering, “I have no time for this,” he ignores him and continues on his way. Later, a Temple assistant (Greek: a Levite) comes along. He too passes on by. 

Lastly, a despised Samaritan sees the hurt Jewish man. Moved with compassion, even though Jews and Samaritans don’t get along (John 4:9), the Samaritan stops and cares for that one in need.

Jesus concludes by asking, "Who was the good neighbor? Was it not the stranger and foreigner with compassion? Go and do likewise.”




Henry Appenzeller
Continue journeying we come to the 19th Century and meet Henry Appenzeller. He arrives at Inchon, Korea, on Easter morning, 1885, one of the first ordained Methodist missionaries there. Reared in a German Reformed church in Pennsylvania, at age of 21 he joins the Methodist Church. And as Horace Allen will say of Appenzeller, he becomes “a most ardent Methodist of the John Wesley type. In Korea, Appenzeller serves God, being a stranger and a foreigner in a foreign land. In less than a year of his arrival he opens a liberal arts boys’ school. But, his calling is preaching, not teaching. Therefore he sees evangelism as the school’s purpose, even though proselytizing is officially banned in Korea.


Horace Allen

Ruth A. Tucker writes, “More than anyone else, Appenzeller laid the foundation for Methodism in Korea.” Read more on Henry Appenzeller in Tucker’s work From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.


Christ-followers today reside in a world that is fast making them more and more foreigners and strangers in it. Nevertheless, as the apostle Peter admonishes (as we read at 1 Peter 2:12), “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors....” We're to remain faithful to our “calling” as Christ’s ambassadors. (See 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.) As Jesus commanded us, “Go into all the world…” Mark 16:15.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1, NKJV


For Further study, consider

Leviticus 25:26
1 Chronicles 29:15
Psalm 39:12
Luke 2:52
Ephesians 2:19
Hebrews 11:9

Tested and Tried

Continued from Restored to Follow

Abraham faces his ultimate test, we see, as we join him at Genesis 22:2, “Take your son,” God says to him, “your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much … sacrifice him as a burnt offering….”

And, as we watch this historic event, Abraham is obedient to God’s call to him. But does he understand it? Does it come easily for him to obey God’s command, he and his wife Sarah having waited so long a time for their own son? Can we Christ-followers today understand the tests God sends our way? how long would He have us to wait? For what purpose? Yet, as the Life Application Study Bible notes, “not to trip him and watch him fall, but to deepen his capacity [toward obedience] … to develop his character. [Likewise,] God refines us through difficult circumstances [which may include waiting].”

As Abraham and Isaac are traveling to the place that God will show, the boy asks, “Father, I see we have the fire and wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

“God will provide, my son,” Abraham answers. (See Genesis 22:7.)

And indeed God does provide – a ram caught in a thicket. His care, protection, and provision, just as He promises.

Ours is but to trust and obey.



Centuries later, and we're seeing another historic event: Jesus, the Christ (Messiah), knows to trust and obey. There in the Garden of Gethsemane He prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done,” (Luke 22:42)

“When the right time came, God sent his Son … to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his own children.” (Galatians 4:4-5, NLT.) God’s provision to rescue us from our evil, darkened nature; He, too, loved His own Son so very much.

And God so loves us. “Even before he made the world … God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4-5; John 1:12 –13; John 3:16.) How great is the Father’s love!

 “This is why we work hard,” writes the apostle Paul, “… for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.”
(See 1 Timothy 4:10.)


Zooming still further ahead through history, we arrive at Horace Allen. Born in Delaware, Ohio, in 1858, he is educated at Ohio Wesleyan University, and Miami Medical School in Ohio.

He is appointed by the Presbyterian Church and first serves God’s
Kingdom with his wife Frances as a medical missionary to China. However, because they are bombarded through the night with calls from opium addicts, they soon become dissatisfied with being there.

“Sleep was quite impossible,” he declared.

Agreeing, his wife stated, “Life was made miserable.”



And so, serving less than a year in China, the Allen's are transferred to Korea. Yet, largely
Allen's residence in Seoul, in 1904, 
under armed guard.





due to Korea's way of relating to missionaries, Allen and his wife find no happiness there either. Though tested and tried, even amidst political strife, including Korea’s struggle with Japanese imperialism, the Allen's nevertheless keep at it.





After just a few months in Korea, and perhaps because of having saved the queen’s wounded nephew, Allen is invited by the royal couple to establish a hospital in Seoul. Later, at the request of the Korean king he serves as a diplomat representing Korean interests in America.  (Allen’s works Things Korean and A Chronological Index relate his life in Korea and his diplomatic experience.)



In some respects Horace Allen may have failed as a normal missionary, but as author Wi Jo Kang writes: “[He] left behind a rich legacy of Christian witness to political justice....” It was he, more than anyone else, Ruth A. Tucker writes, “Who paved the way for the long-term presence of Protestant missionaries in Korea.”


“When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing(James 1: 2-4, NLT.)



Information gathered from Ruth A. Tucker’s From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Second Edition, and WikipediA.

Restored to Follow

Previous, see Genesis chapter 20: Abraham, living in a land not his own, fears for his life. “Lest they kill me for you,” Abraham said to his wife Sarah, “say you are my sister.”

Abimelech does take Sarah for himself but commits nothing immoral with her, since God has given him a warning in a dream. So even though Abimelech is not a believer, God protects him from sinning (and of course protects Sarah as well).

Giving Abraham many gifts, and returning Sarah to Abraham, Abimelech sends them away, saying, “Let this compensate you for any wrong I may have done to you,” (Genesis 20:16.) Note, though, that Abraham also did wrong. (Should he have lied and deceived to save his own skin?) Abraham prays to God on behalf of Abimelech; God restores Abimelech and his household.

Now (Genesis 21:22-34), Abimelech visits Abraham again. “It’s obvious God is with you,” he says to Abraham, “Helping you in everything you do. Will you promise me that you will never deceive me, or my descendants? Be loyal to me and this country where you are living as a stranger.”

After settling a complaint Abraham held against Abimelech about a well that Abraham had dug (Genesis 21:24), the two agree together. They settle their differences, agreeing at the well-named Beersheba, “well of the oath".

Abraham had lived for a long time a foreigner in the country of the Philistines. Yet to come: Abraham is about to face his ultimate test…




Fast forwarding now to the New Testament era, when God walked the earth in the person of Jesus, the Son. He, too, was a stranger in the world, even that which He created. (See John 1:10-11.)  Even his own people rejected Him. (See Isaiah 53:3.) All who do accept Him, however, by God’s marvelous grace and love are born again into His family. (See John 1:12, 13; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9.) God calls them to share with the world the wondrous story. (See Matthew 4:18-19; Acts 1:8; Isaiah 6:8-9.)

Peter is one of those disciples, called – with his brother Andrew – out of his livelihood to become “fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19-20.) Though denying three times that he ever knew Jesus, he repents; Jesus restores him – three times – and predicts how he will die. (See John 21:15-19.)

And so, in the Bible book that bears his name, Peter admonishes and warns, [We, too,] as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ [in this world should] keep away from worldly desires … [And] be careful to live properly among [our] unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse [us] of doing wrong, they will see [our] honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world…” (1 Peter 2:11-12.)

And as Jesus has called the twelve, so He calls us as strangers in this world, “Follow me.” Answering the call, we can be assured that

He will lead us all the way;
He will teach us what to say.
(See Exodus 4:11-12.)



Fast-forwarding now to the 18/19th Century we meet Henry Martyn “pioneer missionary to Muslims.” Previous: Born in Cornwall, England, in 1781. Graduated with top honors from Cambridge. Turned from God in his youth. But the death of his father, plus the influence of family, friends, and the writings of David Brainerd transformed him spiritually; and gave him a vision for Christ’s Kingdom work on earth.

Continuing: In his desire to glorify God, Martyn set out to practice self-denial. Also celibacy, seeing how the single life offered greater opportunities for “heavenly mindedness.” (See Colossians 3:1-4.) Later, however, he found himself distracted by affection for Lydia Grenfell, his cousin’s sister-in-law, six years older than him. But, convinced he can serve God most effectively unmarried (See 1 Corinthians 7:32.), he bids farewell to Lydia (though he will keep in touch by letters), and sails for India.

A deep confidence in Scripture, translating the New Testament is Martyn’s passion. But he is not unhindered by hostility (the evil one continually working to disrupt Christ’s Kingdom work on earth). Of such Martyn writes, “I wish a spirit of enquiry may be excited, but I lay not much stress upon clear arguments. The work of God is seldom wrought this way.”

Finally, frail in health he seeks rest and recuperation. At this time, he hopes to renew his relationship with Lydia. But before that can happen, he dies in Asia Minor, "a stranger in a strange land", in 1812. Upon his first arrival in India, Martyn had written, Now let me burn out for God.”

“… We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus [restored to follow], so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10.)

Do Not Be Afraid, God Cares

Continued from TRUSTING GOD: TURNING OUR WORRIES, DOUBTS, AND FEARS INTO LAUGHTER AND JOY. The Scripture for this post is  Genesis 21:8-21 and Matthew 1:18-25.


Time-traveling to the Old Testament era, we find Hagar in the wilderness with her son, Ishmael. Having been driven out by Abraham (because of Sarah's jealous demand); she is wandering and about to perish. Her water container (given to her by Abraham when he sent her away) is empty. Afraid, Hagar abandons her son; she doesn’t want to see him die. She weeps.




Flash back: “I heard you walking in the garden," Adam replied to the LORD God, “so I hid because I was afraid, being naked” (Genesis 3:10). And so fear enters the world of mankind, seemingly for the first time.

Before Genesis chapter three, however, Adam and his wife, Eve, walked with God in peace and harmony (hence, no need to be afraid). But then, since mankind’s disobedience, God has to remind His created beings, Do not be afraid.” And God continually reminds us through His Word that we have nothing to fear, but can trust in His care.


Returning to Hagar: (Genesis 21:17 – Hagar was Sarah's maidservant): Hearing her crying, God sends His angel to her: Do not be afraid, Hagar. God cares for you. Go back to the boy. Be assured of God’s promise: He will make a great nation from your son’s descendants.” (Genesis 21:18.) God provides a well full of water there in the wilderness. Hagar refills her container and gives her son a drink.

(This is not the first time, however, Hagar was driven from Abraham and Sarah’s presence. Earlier (Genesis 16 we saw Sarah’s impatience at not being able to have children. We also saw there God’s care for Hagar, the same care He has for all of mankind whom He created in His own image [even though that image was distorted through Adam and Eve’s one act of disobedience]. Thus, that one act sets up God’s continual plea to us, “Do not be afraid. I’m your God who cares for you.”)


Our "time machine" takes us now to the New Testament era, and to Joseph’s dream (Matthew 1:18-25) He is that Joseph who is engaged to Mary, the mother-to-be of the promised Messiah, Jesus.

Do not be afraid, Joseph, to take Mary as your wife,” the angel of the Lord says to him, For the child within her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Waking up, Joseph obeys the angel and lets stand his betrothal to Mary. She gives birth to her son on that blessed Christmas morn in the little town of Bethlehem – the city of David – south of Jerusalem (while she is still a virgin) Luke 2:8-11.
.
Then, the news rings out to the shepherds abiding in their fields. The angel of the Lord encourages them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people…” (Luke 2:10.)

Hurrying to the village, where they find Mary and Joseph, the shepherds’ faces brighten in seeing the baby Jesus lying in the manger. It was just as the angel had said to them about this child: “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today…” (Luke 2:11.)

Witnessing this great event in their lives, the shepherds return to their flocks, giving glory and praise to God, and telling everyone their story, to the astonishment of all those who heard (Luke 2:16-20).



Flash forward: The Jews in Corinth resist the Apostle Paul’s message to them about this Jesus, who was born their Messiah and Lord (Acts 18:1-11). Paul is discouraged. Then, while sleeping one night, in a vision the Lord encourages Paul – and Christ-followers today in sharing the Good News to their neighbors, co-workers, and the ‘nations’: “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city [and around the world] belong to me” (Acts 18:9-10.)

Ours is to Go, as Jesus commissioned, and find His people (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20)


  

We zoom ahead once more, now to the 18th Century, and meet Henry Martyn. As Ruth A. Tucker puts it in her work From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, he is “sometimes described as the pioneer Protestant missionary to Muslims.”

He is born in Cornwall, England, in 1781. Completing his formal education, he enters Cambridge University, graduating from there with top honors in mathematics.





Flash back: Martyn drifts from God in his youth. However, the death of his father, the
David Brainerd
influence of family and friends, and in particular the writings of David Brainerd, bring about his spiritual transformation and a vision for missions.

Of Brainerd, Martyn says, “I long to be like him. Let me forget about the world and be swallowed up in a desire to glorify God.”






And so in 1805 Martyn sails for India. He serves as a chaplain with the East India
Company. He then meets William Carey who recognizes Martyn’s brilliance, and encourages him to do Bible translation. This becomes the yearning of Martyn’s heart.

Martyn serves on military posts, preaches to Europeans and Indians, and establishes schools. He also finds time to work on translating the New Testament into Urdu, and later into Persian and Arabic; his closest assistant is a Muslim convert.

Henry Martyn persists in the work God has called him to despite difficulties (even hostility) and ill health; he is not afraid. At only 31 years of age Henry Martyn departs the physical realm (through death) from Asia Minor in the autumn of 1812.


As the apostle Paul encouraged young Timothy, so it is for Christ-followers today, as we labor in Christ’s cause for the ‘nations’: Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. [He’s your God who cares for you.] Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (2 Timothy 4:5.)