What answer shall be given to the envoys of that nation? “The Lord has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge” (NIV).
For whom has the Lord established Zion? “His afflicted people”. The Lord Jesus knew well what kind of people he was coming to save, and it is not an attractive group to the proud of the earth. He calls us poor in spirit, mourners, meek, hungry and thirsty, and persecuted (Matthew 5:3-12). Yes, it seems like Jesus is King, but King of the misfits. Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 CSB)!
So then, the Lord reaches out to a needy people. Most people don’t like to think of themselves as needy, but rather as self-sufficient. Look at their needs. They were persecuted by God’s enemies. Israel’s great enemy at the time was Assyria, which was perhaps one of the original terrorist states. The church’s enemies now are the many antichrists and other deceivers that have arisen in “the last days”. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour (1 John 2:18 ESV). Some are bent on physical destruction (2 Corinthians 11:23-25). Some are masters of deception (2 Corinthians 11:4). We also must realize that many people would like to see Christians and churches destroyed.
We must do all that we can to help those oppressed. Surely we should pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering. And we must stand for the truth when so many in the professing church put little value on the truth. Most so-called “churches” are more interested in drawing a crowd than in saying, “This is what the Lord says….”
They were harassed by sin. Israel’s tragic problem was that they could not keep the law or old covenant. It was a yoke that they could never bear (Acts 15:10). The Church’s ongoing struggle is that we rejoice in the one who has fulfilled the law and has himself become a new covenant for us—our Lord Jesus Christ! Yet we still struggle against remaining sin. The traitor within mars our sweetest moments.
We want to reaffirm that we followers of Jesus are all strugglers. You will not find any perfect people in any local church. While believers strive to follow our risen Lord, we often fail. Yet we know there is power in the blood of the Lamb, and we accept one another as Christ has accepted us (Romans 15:7) to bring glory to God.
They suffered the weaknesses of the flesh. Israel’s constant problem was a wrong way of thinking. They supposed that they could become righteous through the law (Romans 10:2-3). The Church also has a problem. We wrongly imagine that we can make progress by human effort: living by sight instead of faith, or by doing good works, or keeping laws, standards, rituals, programs, or getting involved in power politics, and even turning ministers into heroes or superstars (1 Corinthians 3). To rely on any of these reveals a reliance on the weakness of the flesh (Galatians 3:1-3).
The true Christian way of life is by faith in Christ through the power of the Spirit and according to the Scriptures. The product in the lifestyle is love for God and people. It is our privilege and duty as the people of God to reach out to all people regardless of skin tone, ethnicity, social status, educational level, economic wealth or poverty, political preferences, or religious background. We must do this now, and we begin with our closest neighbors. Start with a friendly greeting. Look for other ways to show personal concern and kindness. Please, for Christ’s sake, show others that you genuinely care.
Grace and peace,