Weekend Extra – A Storm Before The Calm

July 5, 2010 at 4:45 am Leave a comment


A few weeks back, San Antonio was struck by a bout of severe weather.  Lightning, strong winds, torrential rain, and even some hail all contributed to one of the most damaging storm systems this city has seen in a while.  When the storm rolled into the area, I was on Concordia’s campus with our youth, leading our Fusion service.  I can remember strolling onto campus early in the evening, enjoying the warm and balmy air, and feeling the hot sun beat down on me with nary a cloud in sky.  But when I left an hour and a half later, it was a completely different story.  The sky was full of clouds tinted by sinister shades of green, the smell of rain hung in the air, and everything was dead calm.  But I knew this dead calm wouldn’t last for long. “It’s the calm before the storm,” I thought to myself.  So I hopped in my truck and put the pedal the metal to try to beat the storm back to my house.  I arrived at my front door just as the rain was beginning to fall.

It is not unusual, shortly before a storm, to experience an eerie calm.  But in our reading for this weekend from Hebrews 4, we find the opposite to be true.  The preacher of Hebrews says that when it comes to our lives in this world, there is not a calm before the storm, but a storm before the calm.  As the chapter opens, we read a promise of our coming calming rest.  “The promise of entering God’s rest still stands,” the preacher muses (verse 1).  But right now, we are in the midst of a storm.  For in this world, there is trouble, torrent, tribulation, and trial.  Indeed, the apostle Paul says that we are engaged in a struggle:

Against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

We are engaged in a storm before the calm.  How are we to engage with this storm of sinfulness and fight this battle of banality?  Paul answers: “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).  Or, as the preacher of Hebrews declares, “The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (verse 12).  God’s Word is our weapon of choice to fight against the storms of this life and world.

For those who refuse to trust the sword of God’s Spirit, the preacher of Hebrews has a stark warning, drawn from the disobedience of the ancient Israelites: “For we have had the gospel preached to us, just as the Israelites did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (verse 2).  Without faith in God’s Word, God’s promise of a coming calm is of no value, for it must be believed to be received.

In this world, we fight many battles and endure many storms.  There are battles over our finances, our relationships, our politics, our nation’s security, and our cultural winds.  But none of these battles are nearly as fierce as the battle which rages for our souls.  Make no mistake about it, Satan desires to drag us away from God and dissuade and prevent us from entering God’s eternal rest.  But we cannot win this battle against Satan by the strength of our bodies, or the whit of our intellects, or the resolve of our wills.  No, Satan can only be beaten by wielding the Word of God.  And so, take up sword of Scripture so that “you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).  For Satan cannot stand against God’s Word.  As Luther reminds us:

Nothing is so powerfully effective against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts as to occupy one’s self with God’s Word, to speak about it and meditate upon it…Without doubt, you will offer up no more powerful incense or savor against the devil than to occupy yourself with God’s commandments and words and to speak, sing, or think about them…For the devil cannot bear to hear God’s Word. (LC 10-11)

Trust God’s Word!  For after this world’s brief storm of sin, you will enjoy God’s eternal calm of salvation.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Nordlie’s
message or John Kammrath’s ABC!

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