In the last few weeks God has been showing me that the order things happen in the Bible is very important. Vitally so.
This was driven home to me tonight when I was talking with my wife. God dropped the 23rd Psalm into my mind, bringing it back to my remembrance so to speak.
Recently we’ve been through something of a battle. I won’t go into details here, but the battles we’ve been fighting have been life-threatening, literally. Our finances and health have been rocked, and we have been tempted to give up our faith as the onslaught has continued, although we haven’t given in to that temptation. It has felt like we have literally and figuratively been walking through the shadow of the valley of death.
This has taken a heavy toll on us emotionally. We’re tired and broken and some days it feels like this journey through the valley will never end.
Then Psalm 23 came to me. Specifically the order of the psalm.
In verse 4, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. God guides us with His rod, correcting us as we move forward through the valley; and protects us with His staff, the primary tool of a shepherd to keep his flock safe from predators that would try to devour them. We have seen this in a very practical way. From the way job opportunities for me opened up from nowhere, to provision to manage our financial worries by professionals whose advice and assistance we could never have hoped to afford being given to us for nothing by those professionals. Legal and medical advice from experts at the top of their fields being placed around us to guide our steps who we could not have approached, or even known of a few short months ago. God has guided our steps at every turn.
Then comes verse 5.
God prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
I used to think that was referring to Heaven. Tonight it hit me: we won’t have enemies in Heaven to prepare a table in front of. The Contemporary English Version translates the verse by saying “You treat me to a feast, while my enemies watch.” A feast. Bounty. Plenty. Abundance. In the presence of our enemies. That can only refer to this world, this life. In the life beyond this one, no matter whether you believe it’s Heaven, a re-created Earth or something in between, there will be no sin, and therefore no enemy to set the feast before.
As Christians, we need to move away from the recent concept that has been taught in some denominations that we must wait for the next world to see Victory manifest. Each of the great men of faith through the last 2000 years has held fast to the conviction that Victory comes in this world. We feast at a table God places before us in our enemy’s presence. Peter walked in a powerful anointing of God’s Spirit, and saw healings and miracles following in his wake. Recently, men like Smith Wigglesworth saw healings and miracles which have been documented by independant witnesses. A “Feast” of God’s Power working through them. Each of them had great hardship in their lives before seeing God’s power work to turn their past experiences into powerful testimonies of His Grace in their lives.
Paul writes that Faith, Hope and Love endure eternally. The promised feast gives us Hope, which allows Faith to grow, because He Loves us.
The order remains, however. Be strong, because after the Valley comes the Feast!