Do Not Look Down! Look Up!

Sun am 28 October 2018 – Johan Esterhuizen

Ps. 121:1-8; Phil. 3:13-14; (Luke 10 :30-35); Deut. 6:4-7; (Deut. 10 :11-13); Jer. 10:12; Jer. 33:2; Prov. 22:6; Heb. 13:6; Rom. 8:28, 37-39

 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever (Ps. 121:1-8). This psalm was central in the Jewish faith in those days. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14). This is my paraphrase of that scripture: you are not there yet, so do not stop now. Paul says, “I press”, some translations say, “I strain”.

Nothing worthwhile in life comes easily and that refers to our walk with God. If you do not believe me, read the great chapter of faith in Hebrews 11; how people pushed forward through great adversity. Psalms 121 to 130 are called “the Psalms of ascent”; they are the Psalms of the pilgrims, the travellers. Maybe we are just pilgrims passing through. In those days, Psalm 121 would be recited and sung by families as they embarked on the great trip up to Jerusalem where they would celebrate the great feasts: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. They would embark on a dangerous journey. They would sing and recite God’s protection. The psalmist says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills”. This is not a declaration of adoration; this is declaring concern because in those hills there were thieves and wild animals, it was a dangerous journey. I think so often about the Jew who fell amongst thieves, he was attacked and the Good Samaritan came to his aid and helped him (Luke 10:30-35). 

From where will my help come when calamity comes? My help comes from the Lord. Life is a journey; life is a process we go through. We need faith, hope, love; we need wisdom to travel through life. How do we get that? Just praying for wisdom does not work. Wisdom comes by us seeking it and desiring it. Wisdom is a set of principles found in the Word of God. I have found that God will stretch us, God will expand us, He will put us through a process where we have to practice love, hope and faith. The size of the fish is determined by the size of the tank. A fish will never grow to a bigger size than what the tank will allow him. We have to leave our cage of confinement and go on our journey. 

The Jews in those days and even today have a mazupah– a little cylinder that they put on their door. In this little cylinder they put Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and Deuteronomy 10:11-13. Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart(Deut. 6:4-6). How shall these commandments be in my heart? You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up(Deut. 6:7). Train up a child in the way he should go,Even when he is old he will not depart from it(Prov. 22:6). Children want to go away and want to do their own thing. We have to train our children. Parents, God never called you to be a friend and a buddy to your children, you are a father and you have to train them in the way that they should go. We have become afraid of government, afraid of our children just to keep the peace. Today even, the orthodox Jew will touch that mazupahwhen they leave their home. What was so important in those days is that they trained and developed their children. 

From these Psalms, three important principles arise: 1) the Creator is our Helper. 2) The God of Israel is our Protector. 3) The Lord will keep you from all harm. As we embark on this journey, we need to know and experience these things. The Creator is your helper. It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens(Jer. 10:12). This is an incredible Scripture about creation. In Genesis, the word ‘God’ is ‘Elohim’, Yahweh is put in front of Elohim. Yahweh is the covenant-making and the covenant-keeping name of God. When they wanted to talk about the greatness of God they used Yahweh. Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name(Jer. 33:2). 

Our Creator God is our helper. “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”(Heb. 13:6). They are embarking on this journey, they are crying out to God for help. Then the God of Israel is your Protector: He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel. Will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night (Ps. 121:3-6). 

The word ‘watches’ appears six times. There were two dangers in the Hebrews’ mind-set. One was sunstroke and the other moon-stroke. The Lord will protect you not only physically but also mentally. The battlefield is in the mind. The Lord will keep you from all harm. The Lord will keep you from evil. 

How easy it is to sin! It requires no effort. Why? Because we are bent towards sin. We like it and we are good at it. We need the Lord to protect us from it, to keep us from temptation. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposeWhat then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Rom. 8:28, 37-39). I am convinced of this fact. When we embark on this journey, let us make sure that it is Him we trust. In Him we move and have our being (Acts 17:28). We have to become pro-active. We have to pray for our land. The Lord is going to heal our land according to our repentance, changing our ways and seeking His face in prayer. The time has come for us to really believe that on life’s journey our belief, our faith in God the Almighty, the Creator will make a difference.