Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, and more specifically, is found in verses thirteen through twenty-nine of the forty-first chapter. This set of verses is but the second portion of the forty-first chapter and carries with it a tremendous amount of weight and volume as it builds upon what was already written. Consider how this set of verses opens—with a powerful word of hope and encouragement to the audience which the Lord of hosts was speaking. “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13). Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous weight and significance of this verse—the reality that the Lord of hosts is speaking to Jacob and declaring unto him that He would hold his right hand. THE LORD WHO HOLDS YOUR HAND! What an absolutely incredible promise and encouragement is found in just this verse alone, as the Lord proclaims that He would not only stretch forth, but also would extend His hand to Jacob in order to take hold of his. As I sit here and read these words I can’t help but see a powerful picture of the Lord stretching forth His hand to lay hold of the right hand of countless individuals, yet the Lord cannot and will not force Himself upon any individual. In order for the Lord to lay hold of and take one’s right hand, there is both the stretching forth of His hand, but there is also the reaching of one’s own hand. In other words—while it is true the Lord of hosts is one who desires to lay hold of take us by the right hand, it takes us actually reaching and stretching forth our right hand before Him as our right hand meets His hand. What adds even more weight and significance to this passage is the picture you get when you consider the tremendous partnership that exists in the earth. Scripture reveals that when Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, He sat down at the right hand of all glory in heaven. This reveals the tremendous reality that Jesus is the extension of the divine authority, power and strength of the Lord. When I read this particular passage I can’t help but see this picture—the Lord high and exalted, seated upon His throne in heaven, the eternal Word of God seated at the right hand of the Father in all glory, and then to His left we see the outstretched arm and outstretched hand of the Lord of hosts as He lays hold of and takes men and women by the right hand.
THE LORD WHO DESIRES TO TAKE YOU BY THE HAND! THE LORD WHO LAYS HOLD OF AND HOLDS YOUR RIGHT HAND! It’s actually quite interesting when you consider the reality that the Lord takes and holds our right hand, for the right hand signifies and represents that place of strength within our lives. In the eighth verse of the sixteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms, David declares that He “set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8). In this passage, David wrote how the Lord was at his right hand, and that because the Lord was at his right hand, he would not, he could not be moved. In this particular passage in Isaiah we read how the Lord of hosts actually takes and lays hold of our right hand. In other words, the Lord isn’t simply at our right hand, but the Lord actually desires to lay hold of and take us by the right hand. This powerful concept of the Lord laying hold of and taking us by the right hand speaks wonderfully of the Lord’s desire to walk with us—and not only walk with us, but also be joined with us. When I read the words of the prophet Isaiah in this passage of Scripture, I not only see this as a picture of the Lord holding our right hand as He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, but I also see these words as a picture of how the Lord holds our right hand to walk with us. The prophet of old asked the question how two can walk together except they be in agreement, and these words speak to and reveal the reality of an agreement the Lord desires to have with us. The Lord not only desires to walk with us through this thing called life, but He also desires to be in agreement with us—an agreement that is more us aligning ourselves with Him and coming into agreement with Him. The words of the prophet in this passage powerfully demonstrate the reality that the Lord not only desires to take us by the hand and lead us, but the Lord also desires to take us by the hand and walk beside us.
Please don’t miss the incredible significance of these words, for the Lord of hosts not only seeks to take hold of our right hand to lead us, but He also takes hold of our right hand to walk with and walk beside us. There are times in our lives when the Lord will lay hold of our right hand as He desires to lead us in His paths of righteousness. There are times in our lives when the Lord lays hold of and takes us by our right hand in order that He might bring us into those places He has destined and prepared for us. There are times when the Lord takes hold of our right hand, for by laying hold of our right hand He is able to lead us in a direction that only He knows. The Lord never lays hold of our right hand without an express reason and purpose, and one of those purposes is to lead us to lead us—perhaps even to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. Remember when David wrote of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, yet his fearing no evil because the Lord was with him. In this passage of Scripture within the prophetic book of Isaiah we not only find a declaration of the Lord holding our right hand, but we also find a declaration of the Lord spoken directly to Jacob—“Fear not; I will help thee.” The Lord lays hold of, and the Lord takes us by the right hand because where He desires to lead and take us may very well be dark and dangerous and treacherous places. The Lord takes us by the right hand because in doing so He is able to strengthen us on the journey, and encourage us in the midst of our fear. The Lord lays hold of and takes us by the right hand because by taking us by the right hand He proceeds to lead us into unknown places we are not and have not even been aware of. The Lord lays hold and takes us by the right hand in order to lead us and take us into places we have never been before. I am thoroughly convinced that when the Lord prepares to move us to a place we have never been before, He extends and stretches forth His hand in order to lay hold of our right hand, and in the process of doing so, He encourages us to completely and utterly releases all our fears. I am incredibly thankful that the Lord doesn’t just extend His hand to lay hold of our right hand, but He also encourages with a word that completely dispels and drives out all fear. WHEN THE LORD LAYS HOLD OF YOUR RIGHT HAND AND DECLARES UNTO YOU, SAYING, FEAR NOT!
The words of the prophet as revealed and set forth in this passage are incredibly encouraging to any saint of God who not only desires intimate fellowship and communion with the Lord, but also to follow the Lord wherever He desires to take us. The account that comes to my mind when consider this reality is the apostle Peter when he responded to the Lord’s presence in the midst of the storm and upon the waters, saying, “Lord if it’s you, bid me to come.” The apostle Peter witnessed Jesus walking on the water in the midst of the storm—in the midst of the waves, in the midst of the wind, in the midst of the rain, and perhaps even in the midst of thunders and lightning—and I would dare say there was a tremendous confidence and courage that completely surrounded and enveloped Christ in the midst. This was the same Christ who earlier slept soundly and peacefully in the boat as a storm threatened to drown and destroy the disciples and their Master. When Jesus heard the words of the apostle Peter He bid him to step out of the boat, to step on to the water as if it were solid surface, and then proceed to walk toward Him. It wasn’t enough for Peter to merely step out of the boat, for he had to actually make his way to Jesus upon the very waters that were undoubtedly threatening the boat he had just stepped out of. I can’t help but think that it is safe to say that many times it is safer on the waters in the midst of the storm with Jesus than it is in the boat itself. There are far too many times when we remain in the boat because we prefer the security and comfort of the boat—this even in the midst of a storm that rages all around and upon us. The apostle Peter stepped out of the boat, stepped on to the water, and then proceeded to make his way to Jesus who was standing there upon the water in the midst of the storm waiting for him to come. I would love to know how far Jesus was from the boat, and how far Peter actually made it before he began looking at the wind and the waves all around him. Eventually, Peter’s doubt and fear began to emerge and rise up within his heart, and as a result, he began to sink. Please don’t miss the importance of this, for it was only when doubt and fear began creeping into his heart that he began to sink.
There is a part of me right now that wonders how many men and women are right now in a place where they feel as though they are sinking. How many men and women right now feel as though they are not only sinking, but also drowning? I am convinced there are men and women who right now are drowning because of their fear, and are drowning in their fear. I believe there are men and women right now who are drowning in their doubt, and drowning because of their doubt. I would dare say that one of the single greatest reasons why men and women experience the sensation of drowning in their lives [of course I am speaking in spiritual and emotive terms] because they have allowed doubt and fear to creep in. What’s more, is that I would even dare say that unbelief plays a major role in this feeling as though one is drowning. So long as Peter’s eyes remained upon Jesus rather than the waters, the wind and the waves all around him, he was able to walk on the water toward Jesus. It was when he took his eyes off Jesus and directed his attention to the storm that raged all around him that he began to sink. We dare not miss the tremendous relevance of this reality, for it reveals a great truth concerning and within our lives as saints and followers of God. It was when doubt, unbelief and fear began to consume Peter’s heart and soul that he began to sink. I can’t help but wonder how long Peter walked on the water, and even how far he walked on the water before he allowed himself to get distracted—not only distracted from the path he was on, but also distracted from the One who stood upon the water in the midst of the storm waiting for him to come. There is a very large part of me that wonders what may have happened had Peter actually made it to where Jesus was standing upon the waters in the midst of the storm. If the apostle Peter had made it to Jesus upon the water in the midst of the storm, is it possible that he could have turned back and encouraged the disciples to come and do likewise? Could you imagine what it would have been like for Jesus to stand upon the waters in the midst of the storm with each of His disciples standing before or around Him in that very same place? COMMUNION UPON THE SEA IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! FELLOWSHIP UPON THE SEA IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! A PRAYER MEETING UPON THE SEA IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! REVIVAL UPON THE SEA IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM!
What if Peter had made it all the way to Jesus, and what if instead of sinking he stood firm, stood fast upon the waters of the sea? STANDING FIRM UPON THE WATERS IN THE SEA IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS! There are those among us in the pews and seats of our churches who have found a place standing upon the waters of the sea in the presence of Jesus, while there are others who find themselves sinking in those very same waters. Have you ever looked at those around you and wondered why others seem to be able to stand upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the storm while you find yourself sinking? Have you every found yourself growing increasingly frustrated and discontent because you seem to be sinking in the midst of the storm you are facing while others around you are standing upon the waters in the midst of their own storm? I can’t seem to shake my curiously surrounding what could and what would have happened had the apostle Peter not only stepped out of the boat, not only stepped on to the waters of the sea, but also walked upon those waters and made his way to Jesus in the heart of the sea. [As a side note, there are times when we encounter Jesus on the shoreline as He comes upon us mending our nets after labor int all night, yet catching absolutely nothing. There are times when we encounter Jesus at the shore, He encourages us to remove our boat from the shore, and there in the midst of the waters He encourages us to take our net and launch out into the deep. There are other times when we encounter Jesus in the midst of the sea upon the waters as a storm rages all around us.] What happens when one disciples makes it from the seeming comfort and security of the boat to the very presence of Jesus removed from the boat as He stands upon the waters of the sea? What would have gone through the minds of the disciples if they witnessed Peter step out of the boat, step on to the waters, and make the journey from the boat to the presence of Jesus? Do you want to know what I think? I think that standing there upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the storm was the safest part of the storm. Far too often we perceive the boat is the safest place to be in the midst of the storm, yet Jesus comes walking upon the waters in the midst of our storm, and bids us out of the boat, on to the waters, and calls us to take the journey to Him.
What if all twelve disciples had stepped out of the boat, stepped on the waters of the sea, and made the journey to Jesus in the midst of the storm? Could you imagine if Peter made it to the presence of Jesus and then turned to the disciples and encouraged them to make the same journey he had just made? Is it possible that while Peter was the only one to step out of the boat, he wasn’t the only one whom such a reality should have been afforded? Is it possible that Peter’s initial example of stepping out of the boat, stepping on to the waters of the sea, and making his way to Jesus was a secondary invitation to the rest of the disciples still within the boat? It is true that Jesus bid Peter to come unto Him walking upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the storm, but if what if Peter’s invitation to come had resulted in a secondary invitation, as Peter then turned to the disciples and bid them to come unto Jesus upon the waters in the midst of the sea? BEING THE CHURCH UPON THE WATERS OF THE SEA IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! FELLOWSHIPPING UPON THE WATERS OF THE SEA IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM. Jesus emphatically declares that where two or more are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst—but what if that reality could also be experienced upon the waters of the sea and in the midst of the storm? What if two or more are gathered together upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the storm as they stand before and in the presence of Jesus? Peter was the only one who had the testimony that he stepped out of the boat and attempted to make the journey to Jesus in the midst of the storm, but I would dare suggest that such a testimony should have been experienced by all twelve disciples. Could you imagine what such a sight would have looked like as Jesus stood there upon the waters of the sea with His disciples standing around Him in His presence? In the Old Testament there were three men cast into the fiery furnace in Babylon, yet when Nebuchadnezzar looked upon the furnace, he saw four men walking in the fire, with one of them having the appearance of the Son of man. FOUR MEN WALKING IN THE MIDST OF THE FIRE AND THIRTEEN MEN STANDING UPON THE FLOOD! Do you want to know the type of life Jesus has called us to live? Jesus the Christ has called us to a life of walking with Him in the midst of the fire, and standing with Him atop the flood! WALKING WITH JESUS IN THE FIRE & STANDING WITH JESUS ATOP THE FLOOD!
JESUS—THE FOURTH MAN IN THE FIRE AND THE THIRTEENTH MAN UPON THE FLOOD! I am reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah only two short chapters later in the same prophetic book. Pause and consider the wonderful words of the prophet as he speaks to Jacob—“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. WHEN THOU PASSEST THROUGH THE WATERS, I WILL BE WITH THEE; AND THROUGH THE RIVERS, THEY SHALL NOT OVERFLOW THEE: WHEN THOU WALKEST THROUGH THE FIRE, THOU SHALT NOT BE BURNED; NEITHER SHALL THE FLAME KINDLE UPON THEE. FOR I AM THE LORD THY GOD, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, THY SAVIOUR” (Isaiah 43:1-3). What absolutely incredible words these are, which the Lord of hosts speak to Jacob through His holy servant Isaiah. The Lord emphatically declared unto Jacob that when he passed through the waters, He would be with him, and when he walked through the rivers, they would not overflow him. The Lord of hosts also declared that when Jacob walked through the fire, he would not be burned, and the flame would not kindle upon him. THE FOURTH MAN IN THE FIRE, THE NINTH MAN IN THE FLOOD, THE THIRTEENTH MAN IN THE STORM! The Son of Man—the Angel of the Lord—was the fourth man in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego in the land of Babylon. The Son of Man—the Angel of the Lord—was the ninth person in the flood as Noah, his wife, Shem and his wife, Ham and his wife, and Japheth and his wife were in the ark upon the flood. The Son of Man—the Angel of the Lord—was the thirteenth man in the midst of the storm, and not just the thirteenth man in one storm, but in two storms. There were two storms the disciples encountered upon the sea—with one storm finding Jesus sleeping in the bough of the boat, while with the other storm Jesus came walking upon the waters in the midst of the storm. I am convinced there are men and women who right now are walking through the fire—men and women who need to know and understand that there is One who is willing and can walk with them in the midst of the fire. There are men and women right now who are passing through the waters and need to know that the Lord of hosts is with them. When the children of Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea with Egyptian horses, chariots and soldiers behind them, the Lord of hosts was with them. When the children of Israel crossed over the waters of the Jordan River, the Lord of hosts was with them as the enemy and adversary was no longer behind them, but was now before them. When Elisha smote the waters of the Jordan River the Lord of hosts—the God of Elijah—was with him. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were cast alive into the fiery furnace, the Son of Man was right there with them in the midst of the fire, walking with them.
FELLOWSHIP IN THE FURNACE! FELLOWSHIP IN THE FLOOD! Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego seemed to have experienced fellowship in the furnace, and I find this to be an incredibly powerful concept to consider that it is possible to have fellowship with the eternal Son of Man in the midst of the furnace as He joins us in the furnace after we have already been cast into it. What’s so interesting about the disciples in the midst of the storm and the three Hebrews in the midst of the furnace is that both groups of men entered into and experienced such realities alone without the presence of the Lord of hosts. It wasn’t until after Shadrach-Meshach and Abed-Nego were cast into the fiery furnace that the Son of Man appeared in the midst of it, loosed their bonds, and walked with them in the midst of the furnace. It wasn’t until after the disciples were in the midst of the storm that Jesus came unto them walking upon the waters of the sea. There is an incredible spiritual truth that must be known and understood here, and that truth is that there are times when we will be cast into the fire without the presence of the Lord of hosts with us from the beginning. There are times when we will enter the storm and enter the flood without the presence of the Son of Man with us. Sometimes we must enter the fire and enter the flood without the presence of Jesus in order that right there in the midst of both we might experience His presence. There are times in our lives when we feel as though the presence of the Lord is absent when we are preparing to face the fire and the flood, yet once we find ourselves thrust in the midst of it—that’s when the Lord shows up. How absolutely marvelous it is to know that there is One who is the fourth man in the fire, and there is One who is the thirteenth man in the storm. There is one who is the ninth man in the flood—this despite the fact that there is no mention of the Lord actually in the ark. The more I consider the apostle Peter stepping out of the boat, stepping on to the waters of the sea, and walking unto Jesus, the more I can’t help but wonder what could have happened had Peter actually made it to Jesus and stood next to and stood with Him upon the waters in the midst of the sea. In fact, if we want to understand the true nature of the Church in these Last Days, we must understand her as walking with the Son of man in the midst of the fire and standing with the Son of Man in the midst of the storm.
THE DAYS OF COMFORT AND EASE ARE OVER! Do you want to know what I believe is a reality we must come to terms with in this generation? I believe with everything that’s inside me that the days of the Church being comfortable within the earth are drawing to a close—if they have not already drawn to a close. I am sitting here right now finding myself asking the Lord to allow us to be the church in uncomfortable and unfamiliar places. The Lord has not called us to be the church on the shores of the seas, but has called us to be the Church upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the storm. The Lord has called us to be the Church upon the waters in the midst of the storm, and to bid others to come unto us as we stand with Jesus upon the waters in the midst of the storm. I believe that the Lord has called us to take such a stand in this generation that we are not the Church in the comfort and security of Babylon, but rather in the fires of the furnace. The Lord is speaking to and revealing unto us that He desires to take us by the right hand and walk with us through and in the midst of the fire as He speaks unto us, saying, Fear not; I am with you THE CHURCH THAT DWELLS IN THE FIRE AND WALKS UPON THE FLOOD! Gone are the days of our avoiding the fire, and gone are the days of our avoiding the flood. In fact, I would dare say that we must get comfortable and get used to dwelling in the midst of the fire, and walking upon the flood in these Last Days. We can have fellowship upon the waters in the midst of the storm because the Lord is with us. We can walk through the valley of the shadow of death because the Lord is with us. We can have fellowship in the midst of the fire because the Lord is with us. We can dwell safely in the ark high above the flood because the Lord is with us. Where are those who are willing to be cast into the fire because of their unwavering confidence in the Lord, and their refusal to compromise their convictions? Where are those among us who are willing to leave the apparent comfort and security of the boat and step out on to the waters of the sea and walk to Jesus in the midst of the storm? I believe with all my heart that the Lord of hosts is disrupting “Church” as we know it, and is calling us into His presence in the midst of the fire and in the midst of the flood. I leave you with these words which reveal the nature of those who are able to dwell with the Lord in the midst of the fire, and those who are able to dwell with the Lord in the midst of the flood. “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutters his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (Isaiah 33:14-16). I would also leave you with the words of David as set forth in the fifteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms—“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who s hall dwell in thy holy hill? HE that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is condemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (Psalm 15:1-5).