In crisis, it’s easy to respond in fear and panic yet God gives us the assurance that we do not have to. We need neither make hasty decisions or choose flight. He is with us – before, behind, and within. We walk in faith and peace because we are in Christ and He is in us as the eternal power and presence of God.
For you shall not go out with haste, Nor go by flight; For the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:12)
We all know those times when every possible assault seems to come at us at once. There is nothing worse than the feeling that we are forced into a hasty decision or seem to be compelled to walk away from something we’ve worked hard at. This is the place of all out of choices, where we seem to have no option but to rush headlong into the only available choice even though it seems wrong. It’s very difficult, when pushed every which way, to stop, dig in our heels, and wait on God. The very nature of the crisis seems to make waiting impossible. We must act and act now. At these times, we easily forget that we are God’s people and that, like Israel in the desert, He is constantly with us. We react rather than act, and seem far from the divine assurance we have in Christ.
Divine assurance negates fear.
The most powerful human emotion – with the exception of love – is fear. This emotion drives these crazy, desperate moments, and it can only be defeated by divine assurance. The peace of God which passes all understanding is the manifestation of this assurance. It’s not necessarily logical or even rational, but it is powerful. Today’s verse reminds us of a powerful promise – that nothing can compel us to ‘flee’ or unnecessary and foolish haste. We cannot be forced into wrong decisions or compelled to do anything outside of the will of God by circumstances. If we act rashly, it’s by our own choice. We allow fear to drive us to act or react outside of God and His promises, will, and purpose. This is what it means to live by the spirit. We aren’t controlled by our fleshly responses and emotions but by our spirit in surrender to the Spirit.
When we lower our vision to the situation, we cease to see the vast, unlimited power and love of God. We see the difficulties and the problems, and we respond on a natural level. Divine assurance is when we lift our vision to the I AM of God and see the God of endless impossibilities rather than the physical impossibilities. It’s the peace that reminds us that no matter what the circumstances, all things work together for our good. Even the worst of times, in God’s hands, is infused with supernatural resurrection power to transform and mature us and bring us to a deeper and closer walk with Him. Nothing, no matter how bad, can separate us from His eternal presence or remove us from His love and care. He will bring us through. We know this because we know Him and His faithfulness.
The foundation of divine assurance.
This is God Himself whose Word is immutable and whose power is infinite. Divine assurance isn’t defined by ourselves or our situation but by God Himself – the unshakeable, immovable, ever-faithful Rock on which we build our faith. We know, from reading His Word, that what He promises will be fulfilled. He won’t change His mind or get distracted, and He always has our best interests in mind. The problem is that we all too often try to squash God into the limited box of our own understanding. Divine assurance challenges us to look beyond us to God with whom all things are possible. It doesn’t allow for complacency or comfortable Christianity but draws us to place our absolute trust in the only one who is able to bring us through to victory. If He says no haste or flight, then He means it – in everything.
It’s horribly easy to slide into the place of ‘yes, God says, but…’ rather than ‘yes, but God says’ in difficult times. The minute we reverse the order and put God in the wrong place, panic and fear gain the upper hand. Because we’re harried and harassed, we can’t see that we need to stop and adjust our perspective. This is the first powerful message in today’s verse. No crisis is so immediate that we cannot remember today’s promise. We have divine assurance because we have God, and because He is not simply faithful to His Word but watches over it in order to perform it. A rock goes nowhere in a hurry. It’s not easily moved or shifted by bad weather or night shadows. Our rock is both eternal and all-powerful. In Him, we can step back a moment, catch our breath, and apply our faith.
Divine assurance for guidance.
The most amazing thing about our God is that He knows exactly where to go. He knows the final destination and what we will go through to get there. Nothing surprises Him, and He has already made provision for every step along the way. The first wonderful truth about divine assurance is that our all-knowing God goes ahead of us. He does this to show us the way but also to set the pace. His plans are always perfect. He doesn’t want us to rush headlong into unknown territory and expend unnecessary energy when He already has it all worked out. In His hands, we can be sure to arrive at the right time and in the right manner. All rushing does is use up our strength, our faith, and our joy. Peace comes with setting our eyes on God and following Him alone through the journey ahead.
The ’fight or flight’ response to fear is often a greater enemy than the situation. Adrenaline may kick in and seemingly endow us with unlimited strength and ability, but it’s a limited resource. It’s entirely physiological and, sooner or later, will run out – usually when we need it most. The peace of God, however, is a calm, quiet strength that draws on the presence of God Himself. He goes ahead of us but is also in us. So long as we set our focus on our guide, His inner presence will provide the divine assurance we need to let Him lead us perfectly and safely to our destination. Panic wants to hit the ground running. Fear wants to take control. The peace of divine assurance is content to look to God and listen to God and step out in quiet faith that our perfect guide knows the way.
The rearguard of divine assurance.
We have God before us and within us, but He is also behind us. I believe this is for two reasons. The first is for our protection, to keep the enemy from catching up and harrying us. With the hounds of hell nipping at our heels we’re likely to step up the pace until panic overtakes us. Divine assurance isn’t simply the peace of knowing that God goes before. It’s about knowing that God is behind. He has our backs. We don’t have to keep looking over our shoulders and hoping the problems aren’t creeping up to catch us unawares. He is there to make sure that nothing can push us into haste or flight. He sets the pace ahead of us, assures us from within us, and guards us from behind so that our journey is according to His promises. His care for us is absolute.
The second reason God brings up the rearguard is the very human propensity to keep looking back. This is especially true if the way ahead is frightening or unclear. I think it’s the reason why the Red Sea returned to normal after it swept the Egyptian army away – it prevented the Israelites from turning back. The simple truth is there is no going back. Not ever. It’s forward or nothing. To turn back means to end up where we started from, with the whole long, arduous journey still ahead. It’s a very human ‘least resistance’ response, where we choose the problem we know rather than the one we don’t know. With God as our rearguard, we can look back into the divine assurance that we are enclosed and infilled by His presence. It reminds us that He is yesterday, today, and forever – behind us, within us, and ahead.
The divine assurance of In Christ.
This always with us presence of God manifests in the person of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He’s our daily reminder of the nature, character, purposes, will, and power of God. Christ in us is Him abiding in us to work in and through us and so impact our surroundings and situations. Us in Christ speaks of today’s beautiful portrait of divine assurance. We are filled with and enclosed by Jesus. Even when there may be genuine need to hurry, it’s the kind centred in the peace of the Lord. It’s not prompted by panic or fear but be the absolute faith that our yesterday-today-and-forever God has everything under control. This isn’t to say that we will like the situation. But whatever the circumstance, our God is our guide, our protector, and within us, our Rock and very source of life. Jesus has already proved this is so.
Thank You, gracious Father, that right from the beginning You knew Your people would need the divine assurance of in Christ. Help us to abide in Him as He abides in us so that, like You, we may stand in faith in You and Your Word. Thank You that You dwell always with us, but also go before and behind to guide us and to protect us, so that the world may see what it is to belong to our sovereign God.