The Word This Week

2 Timothy 2:1…

When the enemy is at the gates the color of the walls in your living room doesn’t matter any more.

When a soldier prepares for and anticipates a battle they don’t think about anything but being as prepared as they can be for the fight. How can the enemy be defeated? How can I survive the battle with honor?

This is the point of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to be strong in grace, because the strength of God’s grace is going to be required to survive what can now be anticipated to come next.

Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, the attacks of the enemy are sort of a nebulous thing, and we never really can anticipate when they will come or who they will come against. But there are and have been moments in history when the forces of the enemy are arrayed just outside the city walls, and when you can see his forces aligning, and when you can see the overwhelming size of the forces he has arrayed.

This process of bringing the bulk of his forces into clear view is designed specifically to induce fear. In order to ramp up the fear even more, verbal taunts and accusations and assertions of certain defeat will follow to further undermine the faith of those within the walls. The design is to make it appear there is no way to survive this onslaught. The enemy forces are too numerous, and they appear to have more power than we do.

When Paul was arrested and the persecution of Christians began at Rome, it came with such a swiftness and brutality of force Paul could foresee its violence against Christians spreading throughout the known world. (He could also foresee this religious persecution by the pagan forces of Rome spreading to the Jews as well, in an attempt by Satan to rid himself of all those who stood in opposition to those who refused to worship at his feet.)

Nero, at 26 years of age, had a political problem which could only be solved by inventing a political enemy to destroy.

The fire at Rome he may have been responsible for had incited the people to rise up against him, threatening his rule and his life. Inspired by the spirit of anti-Christ, he came up with a solution which would save and momentarily strengthen his empire. The solution was to blame Christians for starting the fire, and burn them instead. The citizens of Rome, homeless and aggrieved, readily jumped on that false bandwagon of hatred  which would last three centuries and cause the deaths of millions of Christians.

From the depraved depths of the Mamartine Prison, Paul sensed all of this coming, and his warning to Timothy about the coming onslaught and how to be prepared for it rings out across the centuries.

Pastor Bill