Just asking. Can you make a mind-picture of a flying sheep? I do not mean a cartoon or a funny image. It is serious – a shiny and healthy sheep with gigantic wings that peacefully and confidently navigate the wind and enjoy the view from up high.
One of the challenges of this history-in-the-making-period that we are living in at the moment, is uncertainty. We cannot predict when things are going to be back to normal. Some things might forever change. If things change, what exactly will the new normal look like. Will we even like the changes? We have already said that a time like this comes around once in a few generations.
We are completely at the mercy of the government for decisions that greatly impact our daily lives. Somehow it is frightening how much power the authorities can wield if circumstances demand. The loss of income of the individual citizen, the restrictions on movement, decisions on the how, when and why of daily life in such a crisis, expose government and ruling parties like seldom in history. The formidable finger of the ruler under whom we find ourselves living, is in our faces.
Let us turn our thoughts and heart towards the true ruler in our lives. After all, to God this is a moment in the time frame of which we earth dwellers are the prisoners. This is how Isaiah exclaims the majesty of God’s rule.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance? (40:12)
Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.(40:15)
I like to elevate my thoughts to the level of my ancient mentor Isaiah, and “see” in the Spirit that the daunting number and span of the nations of this world, are just the dust in the scales of our God.
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
The Bible often uses images to illustrate and explain. Visions are mind-images, dreams are images of the sub-conscious. The early church painted the stories on the walls and crafted them into the windows for all the illiterate peasants that flocked to the church for guidance. We can all read – do we need images? I would like to challenge you to make a mind-image from the words you read or hear today.
Often the Bible uses animals to describe concepts and visions. Daniel saw fierce and terrifying animals which were meant to describe cruel Empires who killed and destroyed for power and wealth.
- The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings.
- A bear with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth.
- A leopard with four wings of a bird and four heads,
- A fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.
Those were bad and very proud beasts described in images of animals that we know and can conjure a mind-picture of some sort. Some additions to the animals, the wings and multiple heads, were out of the ordinary.
The true church of Jesus – not organized religion – the invisible body of believers who seek the face of God, wants revelation. We do not want to see like everybody else. We want insight. We heed the strong warning of the Lord in Isaiah 8:11 – not to fear what they fear. Not to call a conspiracy what they call a conspiracy.
Rise up, church of God and listen to the Word of God. Be ready for revelation. Let us turn to the book in the Bible with the name that echoes through the ages.
After God spoke to John about the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, John must have had a hard time taking it all in. Then his vision proceeds:
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”(Revelation 4:1)
With those words John enters the throne room of heaven. It is the magnificent world of the unseen.
Revelation also has descriptions of animals: (Revelation 4:6,7). Around the throne John sees four living creatures, full of eyes in front and in the back. They are not all animals; there is one man amongst them
We know all these creatures are symbolic of the character of Jesus, portrayed in the four Gospels:
Matthew wrote for the Jews and proved Jesus to be the expected One, the Lion of Judah.
Mark’s emphasis was on the humanity of Jesus – the man
Luke’s emphasis was on the sacrificial animal – the calf. Jesus as the innocent blood spilled to redeem us from sin.
John’s Gospel is the interpretation, the insight, the revelation knowledge. John has written the Gospel after his Revelation. He sees Jesus glorified and then writes his life with revelation knowledge – the eagle.
These animal images were used to describe the indescribable greatness and multifaceted character of God and how God became a man for us to know. Jesus is God amongst us. Jesus is what God would have been as a man.
What about us? Is there an image for us? The Bible describes us as sheep. John records the seven I AM-sayings of Jesus. In one of them, Jesus says: I am the Good Shepherd.
Way back on our farm we had sheep. Sheep need a lot of care. Sheep had to be inspected one by one. We fought against quite a few diseases – one of them was called Footrot. It is a painful and contagious disease which had to be treated in each individual sheep. To treat it, each sheep had to be caught and put down on its back. Its feet had to be carefully inspected and if traces of the disease are found, it was cleaned out and salve and a bandage were put on.
We walk on the rotten soil of our broken earth. Now and then, like now, our feet are pulled from under us. We have no choice in this matter. We are carefully inspected and treated… and I want to add – fitted with wings.
While we are on our backs and it feels as if our normal way of life, our normal way of walking and thinking are pulled out from under us, we have to look up and know God is adding something to our outfit – wings. The wings of an eagle. Colossal and grand and strong wings that can lift a sheep and make it fly. That is expected of us. When we are weary and heavy laden, we must fly. Let us read more in Isaiah 40. In fact, just go ahead and read the whole chapter.
God says: “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. (40:1)
But those who wait on the Lord. Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (40:31)
We are called up! See the open door in heaven, which leads into the presence of God. Let a new perspective be revealed. Raise the level of your expectation from God. Put out the jars so that the oil flows. It was in a time of drought and unemployment when the widow in 2 Kings 4 had to put out her jars. It was still drought and she was still unemployed when the oil flowed.
Think of the oil of provision and fly. We are sheep fitted with eagle-wings.
We will have dominion over this virus. We will find the cure. God will make all things work to our benefit. He will put our circumstances and the beasts of disease under our feet.
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)
We will renew our strength.
How will we conquer this foe of uncertainty and fear of the future? Just like we ought to. With endurance.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now thejust shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:36-38)
Strong’s concordance defines endurance as follows:
Hupomone= hupo+ mone
The combination literally means to “remain under”. It describes the capacity to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat.
I like these words – hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat.
Could I encourage you to memorize this definition and forever pronounce patient faith with a shout of victory against doubt and defeat?