WHEN SHALL WE GO AWAY FROM WHERE WE ARE?
“But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another; for truly I say to you, In no way shall you have finished the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes”, Mat 10:23.
The word of God does not allow us to feel like someone who is giving up on something, not even that. Even in prayer, It says “pray without ceasing”, it meaning nothing but without giving up on something before we have an answer from God Himself. Why then are we to flee to another town if we are not allowed to give up on something ever, if that happens to be the will of God? Is it correct to say it is because we are persecuted there? Did Paul ever turn his mind away from going to Jerusalem, even to die there for sake of the gospel? Did Jesus, whose example we are to follow, turn His holy mind away from the cross, ever? Wasn’t His mind set on It, always? When and why should we flee into another town then? Shall we fear people and go because of that? Let’s see.
This is given to us as a commandment, rather than a fearful option. We have many cities to run to, as many as there are in lostness and sinning. Jesus says Himself we shall never be able to run them all down. So, we are warned not to loose our time in many ways, especially with those stones which refuse to be turned into the likeness of Abraham. We have too many, too great, too marvelous things to do and achieve where people will hear and do not persecute yet. Why should we loose our time anywhere else then?
But there are many other ways to loose time without being at the gates of unrespectful utterance against the Gospel of Jesus Almighty. Let’s have a look unto some of them when we enter a city somewhere in this lost world of ours upon that command of the Lord Jesus Himself.
When people accept us and our gospel, we may incur into disobeying God very easily as well. We find Jesus refusing to stay at places after heaving performed many miracles, having people imploring Him stay a while more, Mk 1:38. We find Him, also, doing the opposite at other places, Luk 24:29. If we are, however, fully aware of the Will, which has brought us thus far into a township of sin, we will never really care if we are well received or not as long as we abide within the boundary of the will of God. If, in some case, people receive us well, along with the genuine gospel of Jesus, when we preach like John the Baptist as straightening as a sharpening sword, we may not, after or before we have finished the whole of our work there, want to settle down because we that town is friendly for we must carry on to another (even to an unfriendly towship of sin). John thought he would settle down and start a family – perhaps – and therefore started doubting because he had finished his works and things were not working out any more since he proclaimed sin and went to jail when it did never happen before.
We must have a kind of heart which will never turn away from that specific work God has delivered into our own hands to achieve and fully do it to the end. But, once a work is done, there is no reason to look back even if death is before us - the next victory task. We read: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” and “turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven”, (Heb. 2:1). We hear Paul finished his sermon before being taken away to be killed in Rome. At the door of death he still asked to be able to deliver his speech as he received it and prayed for people, including two of them sent there by Nero who asked prayer from him then. This matches with the words of Jesus: “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord will find watching (doing their work) when he comes (and death coming is as good as Jesus coming). Truly I say to you that he shall gird himself and make them recline; and coming up he will serve them. (38) And if he comes in the second watch, or comes in the third watch, and find it so, blessed are those servants” who are found doing whatever the Lord has told them to watch over", (Luke 12:37-38 MKJV).
It is harder to carry out a proper work where we are well accepted, than where we are withstood and rejected, even though it might be hard there too. When people reject us because we are clean and upright before our God, we keep that inner assurance from God Himself upholding us all along, for God is still with us for as long as we keep a clean track in His eyes. But, when people treat us well there, if we happen to be outside God’s reaching will because we wish to be treated well and stay where it so happens, we are tempted not to perceive it that God has left us. We feel like settling down in there where people love us most. If, however, against God’s holy will within, not being as sanctified as we should always be, right through, we have a heart which settles down in a friendly town, we surely have a heart too that will move away from where the gospel is hated. Every coin has another side if turned upside down – so has any heart. There is always a counterpart of it. A heart that settles down is a heart that might just as well move away because of hardships. A tongue that speaks bad things out at the right time, is also a tongue that says the right things at the wrong time. A bad tongue is one which is moved away from doing and watching as it should when it should, where it should.
Whenever we are feeling well at some place, we will want to buy a house there, cook for people and care for them where they say grace and treat us thankfully with the pretext of wanting them to be thankful. Because there is no persecution, we shall not be tempted to go away from there even though we know that temptation is never to be accepted as a command of God. Nevertheless, it might still be a need for those who stay and those who have to go on.
But, there are various reasons why people either accept us and why they reject us. I am excluding sin from here, seeing people might just as well accept us because we are like them or even reject us because we are not as holy as they are. Let’s assume we entered there with the right gospel, having a cleansed heart. Now, if we are accepted there with such a heart: is it because people accept us, or because they reject our gospel? I mean that people feel guilty on the spot when looking upon a holy face. Immediately, they put on their best face so they might not be charged by holiness to repent, resenting to feel guilty and accused within their own world. These start judging others so as to uphold themselves as spotless, or even hide behind some good works because they know the Bible and have a conscience and an awareness of truth revealed within. People might treat us well because they reject us and not because they are accepting and receiving towards the message. People who reject you if you are truthful, are honest concerning the assumption of what they really happen to be inside - they either hide it not or are in that awkward position of not being able or willing to hide it any longer.
But, if we hinder not the work of God, we will not be bought off by a glass of water – we will still charge repentance upon people who seemingly love us (perhaps even more and with greater freedom to do so), all people, good and bad people, if and when we have repented ourselves already. If we are like Elijah, being fully aware of the presence of God even before an Ahab, surely, if people accept our gospel then, they will never loose their reward, even if they do not give us water to quench the thirst and dryness of a speaking tongue. Whoever accepts such a prophet as prophet being a genuine prophet, surely, he or she has a heart that matches up with the one which has come into their township. If such a prophet has a face that will not turn right or left according to the desire of flirting, yet people accept and match up within the standards of the gospel, their heart has been changed and speedily they will bring a glass of water unto us out of pure thankfulness and love. If they but hated us, they would not. John says “We are of God. He who knows God hears us. The one who is not of God does not hear us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (7) Beloved, everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. (8) The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love”, (1John 4:6-8 MKJV). People may never “love” us because they feel guilty, even if they grant us water to drink but because they are thankful towards a gospel that reveals all, including Christ as He is to lostness itself. To achieve this one needs very few words - only to do our work properly.
People do not like it when they see in others that whatever they are saying is truthful, that their condemnation is assured, especially if the preachers match up with whatever they came there to hear about from a most Holy God. People easily accept people and hear words, disregarding them, for the kind of people we happen to be. If we are truthful, genuine, refined as the most pure gold, they seeing we live out more ourselves than we preach unto them, the reactive mood is suddenly become serious and people will have to either accept those who preach, or reject them. By this we may easily fulfill the commandment of Jesus which states: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit”. Mat 12:33. And all trees need becoming known so the gospel will have less reasons to stumble and to be hindered. Any half hearted christian is a gretaer hindrance to the gospel than any kind of gun will ever be.
Here people feel they cannot buy off their peace from conscience, nor will God be bought off with to present peace to any kind of hypocrite - and there are many kinds, even of such who preach like truthful ones. If God would ever be bought off, surely, Ananias and Sapphira would have never died. So, if we are as pure as God, working as He does, not “turning left nor right” according to the mood we find in people around, telling any happy and joyful Sapphira she will surely die too, if people come and love us still, they have a heart as ours and will receive a reward as ours, for they have the same God as we have. "Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" Amos 3:3
It is not the amount of work that is able to work out the size of any reward from God, but rather the kind of heart which God has been enabled to find from us. Therefore, many last ones will be first ones because they have reached to a better heart than even those who came there to preach and have more working hours written upon their diary and sealed books than those who hear and believe them. There will be many servants like their masters, matching and even surpassing them in goodness having less working hours to put forth. Their reward will be the same for their heart is alike; the amount of work, the kind of work, they are still able to do and achieve for and from God, is one and the same. Therefore, one who gives a glass of water to a thirsty prophet has the same heart as the prophet who came there. Such will, therefore, receive the reward of a prophet. (Mat 10:40-42 MKJV) “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (41) He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a just one in the name of a just one will receive a just one's reward. (42) And whoever shall give to one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink, only in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, He shall in no way lose his reward”.
But there are problems we find as a consequent result from truthful preaching. People have not a heart as ours, they receive not our Lord as He is. If we live up to the standard of Life the Lord has Himself, those rivers of living waters which confronts people in sin, having a life and a living expressively and obviously contrary to theirs, seeing there are still many other cities to go to, we must find a moment to leave our hometown and go to Sodom or to the Queen of Sheba, that queen of the south, even if she lives in Gomorra. This is where these words from Jesus start to make sense then: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another”. They would not make sense if mirrored up against the words: “But I will warn you of whom you shall fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear Him”, Luke 12:5 MKJV. We must not fear people and flee. Paul was told and warned by God, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and be not silent”. We may never cripple His own words according to taste and fear – we may not reshape anything He said and to which He gave a specific meaning.
Paul did this very often, even though he never heard any of this from the Lord as did Peter and John and Mathew. He often did gather the disciples as soon as there were persecutions and commotions in the cities he preached. We read that “But when the Jews from Thessalonica knew that the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the people. (14) And then immediately the brothers sent Paul away to go towards the sea, but both Silas and Timothy stayed there. (15) And those conducting Paul brought him to Athens. And receiving a command to Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed. (16) But awaiting them in Athens, Paul's spirit was pained within him, seeing the city full of idols”. We see here Paul went to another town and preached there, for there were still many to go to. Only in Corinth we read the Lord made him stay there, saying: “And the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, Do not be afraid, but speak, and be not silent. (10) For I am with you, and no one shall set on you to hurt you, for I have many people in this city. (11) And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them”, Act 17:13-16; 18:9-11 MKJV.
Are you ready to stay in Corinth? Are you ready, as Paul, not to go to Jerusalem unless it is God’s will that you be bound in the belt of violence and rejection so you may go to Rome in bondage instead of with freedom to save some people in an Island on your way there, and because you have no money to go that far in the will of God? Will you do God’s will upon Cesar’s expenses? Will you? Are you prepared to leave then for the sake of the Gospel? May it be so indeed, for your blessing will be great. So will God’s name be among the nations you go to, if they are made as you are. Amen.