Patience is an iron tool forged in the fires of adversity.
Repeated successes only produce impatience and hopes too quickly dashed. Lost battles can refine the tactics and resolve of an army. Lost opportunities can strengthen the hearts and sharpen the minds of the disappointed. Patience is a hard-won virtue that turns today’s defeat into tomorrow’s victory. Jesus said:
“In your patience possess ye your souls.”
What need have we of such an iron tool? We have some heavy work to do for the Lord Jesus.
One Temple, under construction, seemed to rise a little higher against the sky each week. With the elevating walls and ramparts, the hopes of the people rose as well. Would this Temple be the site of Messiah’s prophesied ministry? Would their avenging hero return though these city gates and enter these Temple Courts to defeat the pagan Romans? Was this man, Jesus, that Hero? His words and deeds indicated that it could be so.
The other Temple was the body of Jesus, the earthly tabernacle where divinity condescended to dwell in the earth. “It is appointed unto man to die.” Everyone knew this, but Jesus knew that His story would not end with death. He knew that death was doomed to defeat like an invading army ill prepared for battle with a superior foe. His unexplained use of “this temple” as a metaphor for His life would become part of the indictment against Him.
The questions about the destiny of Herod’s Temple came from sincere hearts, not critics. As they admired the beautiful structure under construction, Jesus warned that it would all too soon come crashing down. Naturally the people wanted to know when this would happen. What would be the signs of it?
Deception and Confusion
The answers Jesus gave were for those days and for ours. The purpose of deception is confusion. Many would come claiming to be Messiah and proclaiming the time of deliverance was near. These false messiahs were not to be believed. To follow them meant to be deceived. Confusion would reign at all levels of society as competing groups with competing narratives explained the world to hapless listeners. With so many false messiahs and so much false hope, despair and disillusionment would hang in the air like a toxic fog.
The End Is Not Yet
Jesus warned that these events were not to be long in coming. When they started to unfold, it was time to find and hold to the truth, to live in the hope that patience gives. These are the signs:
- Political strife—nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom,
- Natural disasters—earthquakes,
- Human disasters—famines, devastating diseases, and
- Never-before-seen signs in the sky.
Before the end, political power will turn against the followers of God.
- It will begin with persecution, and
- Will continue with loss of rights and imprisonment.
- A fierce, unreasoning hate will arise against the People of God, and
- Family members will betray each other.
Through it all a witness to the truth would be seen and heard as supernatural speech poured forth from the faithful.
“…settle it in your hearts…”
Jesus was speaking to the citizens of Israel. Within a generation, the armies of Rome would destroy the city and the new Temple. His words are also meant for us today. Amid the confusion of life today we must settle in our hearts that we believe the Word of God and follow Jesus. The truth will guide us through the confusion like an unfailing beacon, giving us patience.
Patience is an iron tool forged in the fires of adversity. What need have we of such an iron tool? We have some heavy work to do for the Lord Jesus.
Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, “These things which you see — the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.
James 1:2-8 NKJV
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Lord Jesus, You are the master of all time, the Master of my days. My hope is in You, my trust in Your Word. Whatever this day may bring, You are the Master of it. Whatever enemies may assault my life, You are the Victor over them. Help me to take the temporary setbacks and momentary defeats and forge a mighty Hope in these fires. This iron hope will be the strength in my patience. You are the master of all time, the Master of my days. Amen.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Words: Martin Luther; Music: Traditional
1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same;
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4. That Word above all earthly powers no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever!
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved