2 Timothy 2:14-26 “The Lord Knows Whose are His”
This last Tuesday morning at Bible Study we were talking story around the prayer time as we often do. I happened to mention a particular need in regards to the phone service at the parsonage. I noted that during that big storm we had a month ago, February 19th, that had all that beautiful thunder and lightening, our phone service went out. Of course, I immediately had called the phone people to put in what they call a “ticket.”
Well, as of last Tuesday, I had not heard back from the phone people. I questioned the group as to whether or not we should pray over that. I mentioned that perhaps prayer is the only power in the universe that can still get things done! Half-jokingly, the phone company was added to our list of other prayers for healing and grace.
No kidding, the very moment I made it back to the office from Baird Hall, my cell phone rang. On the end was a phone company service technician wanting to schedule a time of repair. Thank you, Jesus! We scheduled the time for Thursday. The nice fellow could not tell me what time on Thursday. I would have to stay the whole day at home just waiting for them to come by. I said fine, but really I was upset that they could not at least narrow the time down. But, I gave it over to the Lord.
The next day, Wednesday, I was just coming back to the church after making a few calls on folks at the hospital when my cell phone rang. It was so-and-so from the phone company. He had finished another job in Waimea, was just about to have lunch, but could come by the house to answer the “ticket.” I got back in the van and headed home to meet him. Thank you, Jesus! I really did not want to spend all day Thursday waiting for the ticket to come up!
Well, the fellow hooked up his equipment. Scratched his chin a few times. Looked up at the wires overhead—and decided that he could not fix the issue. He would call in another truck to come by to go up a poll that he could not reach. Just a reminder that everything is up to God’s time. What a tremendous affirmation that God hears our prayers, but still has a plan that might not necessarily fulfill our desired timeline.
Today we are celebrating Palm Sunday, which is the day when Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem while riding on a colt. The people are yelling that He is the Messiah, the Savior, the One promised by God. What an incredible affirmation that God is doing great things. Yet, wait a minute. It was not God’s time yet. Easter is next week. The plan was not for Jesus to take the throne in the Temple in Jerusalem but rather to take the throne in Heaven. Yet, in this the prayers of a people, the nation of Israel, we indeed answered. Praise God. They wanted to see the Messiah. There He was!
Paul in his last letter to Timothy is facing his own time of passion. He knows his time is short. Perhaps he has a week. Maybe two. In all the time that Paul had been imprisoned before, in Philippi and Caesarea for instance, he had always the hope that he would be released. While in Caesarea he found his imprisonment to be a way to persuade King Agrippa and his Queen Bernice to become followers of Christ. Acts 26:28, “King Agrippa asked, ‘Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Whether quickly or not, I pray to God.. . .’’
Let us now focus more on the scripture for today. In his final moments on this earth, Paul tells his protégé in Ephesus, Timothy, “. . .avoid wrangling over words, which does no good and only ruins those who are listening.” Okay, I have not ever really thought about this, but it seems true today in our world, that not only are we listening to things that we should not be, but that those things are indeed ruining us as Christians. Is that not a fair statement to make?
I have to mention this because it fits just too well with this idea: This last week the story came to us that Attorney Sidney Powell’s current defense in the Dominion Voting Machines’ 1.3 billion dollar defamation lawsuit against her is “No reasonable person would conclude that these statements were statements of fact.” So, after spreading false election fraud claims, which inspired some to insurrection and violence at the US Capitol, costing people their lives, this lawyer is now stating that “no reasonable person should have believed her” in the first place!
I want to apply this idea to what we do in church: I stand up here and preach a sermon one Sunday. Then, the Sunday thereafter, I claim that “no reasonable person would have believed a word I said last week!” What affect would that have? Would that not simply ruin you all as listeners? We gather in the church to hear the Truth. And, we are extremely reasonable people! I know that IF I ever told you a lie or a myth, some kind of fairy tale from the pulpit, you all would reason that out right away!
If you recall this last summer, there was a prayer request going around for our Christian brothers and sisters at the New Hope Christian College in Eugene, Oregon. Supposedly they had received a threat from Black Lives Matter that protesters were going to take down the Cross at the entrance to the college. They needed prayers because the police could not station officers to stop protesters from tearing down the cross. Honestly, I just reasoned out for myself why the police would not bother. You see, the cross is a 51 foot tall piece of steal reinforced concrete based in a heavy foundation. How would BLM take that cross down? It took heavy equipment to move that cross to that site and set it up there! How were protesters going to take it down? When I asked that reasonable question, I was chided. “Pastor you should stand with New Hope ministries!” I listened as best I could, but it may no reasonable sense to me. It would be as if someone told me that protesters were going to take down the control tower at Lihue Airport. It is very much of the same construction and height. How are they going to do it? Let’s be reasonable.
My reasoning would be to invite those supposed protesters to come to the cross and hear the Word of God there! That might even win a few souls. They might not want to tear it down then. It is our job to build up the faith. Never let it be torn down. Our faith, like a cross, will stand! It is strong, with a solid foundation.
I believe that Paul is always thinking that same way. He is in prison in chains in Rome because he knew this was a way to stand before the Emperor and speak the Truth of Jesus Christ. He just wants to be useful to the ministry in the best way he can. He had his chance to speak with the Pro-Consul Felix and King Agrippa while he was under arrest. Paul is the one who appealed to Rome. He knew what he was doing. He knew it was God’s plan.
As he states: “The Lord knows who are His.” So, Saint Paul died under Emperor Nero. And, I should state that Nero never accepted the Lord. He was a treacherous and murderous man who burned Rome itself to the ground. It would not be until Emperor Constantine that there would be a Christian Emperor accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. The Lord knows who are his! Constantine and Paul are up in heaven right now. Nero, I assume, is not.
I was thinking this last week about the fact that I really know so little about other people around me. I have really been surprised so much while learning things about others. Honestly, I have been learning things about me, too, recently. Then, it just crossed my mind that we humans are really stuck learning about others and ourselves—because we do not know.
The Bible does not say that Jesus will make every effort to learn about us and our desires. There is simply no learning process, no steep curve to get over with Jesus. He does not need to scan your Facebook posts. He does not need to read your paperwork. No credit check required. Jesus simply knows whose are His.
Remember when Jesus was baptized and then led out into the wilderness? He defeats the devil because he already knows who the devil is. There was no “oops” like with Adam and Eve not realizing.
Right after that, Jesus heads out and chooses His disciples. As we can read in Matthew 4:18 and on, Jesus walks up to Galilee, sees the guys he already knows, and calls them to follow. Peter and Andrew drop everything in the fishing boat and follow. James and John are also called without hesitation. Their father Zebedee is left in the boat to mend the nets himself. Jesus simply knows who are His.
Now, excuse me for telling you that this phrase “The Lord knows who are His” has an ominous place in history. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages a battle might ensue in which a Christian commander might not only engage heathen but unwittingly attack other Christians as well. After all, when you attack an entire village you might be able to tell who is who. So, the commanders would say over the entire battlefield “The Lord knows whose are His” as an excuse for reckless slaughter. Talk about ruining the listener!
To be sure, the word here “to know” is not simply like you know someone’s social security number or nationality. This word in the Greek means that you really know that person. You know that one’s heart. You know how they think. And, that is truly how Jesus knows us—not just that we attended church, but that we have been with God in our hearts and our actions.
Yup, the Lord knows whose are His. He knows us as a Father knows His children. He knows us as a bridegroom knows his bride.