This Sabbath I want to speak about confidence. As those who know the Lord, it is important for us to be bold, courageous, confident men and women. Writing to the Messianic Jews who were being persecuted, who were experiencing various kinds of suffering, who were being publicly exposed to insult and persecution, who were having their property confiscated, who were being imprisoned, who were being excluded from the worship at the Temple and denied participation in the synagogues, the writer to the Messianic Jews told them they were part of God’s house, if they firmly held fast to their confidence and the boast of their hope until the end. They were to be confident, remain confident, and never let go of that confidence. They were to boast about their hope until the end of their lives. They were to proudly proclaim that they had found the meaning of life, that all who committed themselves to the Messiah were reconciled to God. They were to boldly declare that eternal life, redemption and salvation was theirs, and that they were going to Heaven. We are not confident in ourselves, in the goodness of our character, in our righteousness, in our abilities, powers, prowess, talents, skills or smarts. We are weak. We are frail. We are prone to sin. Nor are we confident in other people, or in leaders, or in anything the world, or in our circumstances. No, the source of our confidence is the faithful and true and changeless Creator of the universe. Our declaration is: “Adonai, Adonai meev-tah-chee – the Lord, the Lord is my confidence” (Psalm 71:5). That which we cling to, that which rely upon, that which we trust in, that which provides safety, that which gives real hope, that which is our source of security in this world and in the World-To-Come is the eternal God, and knowing Him, and being in a right relationship with Him. Because we have been reconciled to God due to what Messiah did for us, dying for us on the cross, making full and final atonement, because we have been accepted by God, because we are at peace with our Creator, because we are loved by the Almighty and welcomed by the Eternal One, we can be confident. When the Lord is the source of our confidence we are able to be strong, firm, resolute and unwavering.
We are willing to suffer for God, for truth, for justice. We are able stand our ground. We are able to resist evil. We are able to stand up to falsehood. We don’t fall away. We don’t give in. We don’t compromise. We don’t back down. We don’t remain silent. We don’t tone down the message. We speak up for the oppressed. We stand with the oppressed. We fight injustice. We aren’t intimidated. We boldly speak the truth. It is the righteous who are bold as a lion. It is the righteous who take the initiative. It is the righteous who go on the offensive. It is the righteous who advance the truth forward. It is the wicked who are timid, who flee when no one is pursuing, who experience uncertainty because they have no true source of confidence. When the Lord is our confidence, we don’t fear living. We can live confidently because we will not suffer if the Lord does not allow it. We can live confidently because the Lord knows our limits and won’t test us more than we are capable of handling. We can live confidently because we know that we can do all things that the Lord calls us to do. We can live confidently because His grace will always be sufficient for us. When the Lord is our confidence, we don’t fear death. We do not fear death, for all die, and for the child of God, death advances God’s purposes for us. Death brings the end of suffering. Death means advancement. Death brings a promotion. Death leads us to the entrance to Heaven, and Heaven is where the Lord is, and where our eternal inheritance awaits. We are always of good courage, knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So we are able to say: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” We can be confident because we will not die a moment before the Lord wills it. We know that we will not be touched by the terror that comes by night, or of the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon – unless the Lord wills. We know that in a great battle, a thousand may fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand, but death won’t approach us – unless it is our their time, and the Lord wills it. When the Lord is our light (the One who gives us knowledge and truth) and our salvation; whom will we fear? When the Lord is the One who defends our lives in this world, and in the World-To-Come, whom will we dread? Even though a army is ready to attack, our hearts won’t fear. Though war rise against us, in spite of this we will be confident. When the Lord is our confidence, we don’t fear man. We fear God, and not man, because we know that God is infinitely greater than man. When the Lord is for us, we will not fear; what can man do to us?
We are able to be thought a fool for the sake of Messiah. When the Lord is our confidence, we don’t fear Satan, knowing that He who is in us is greater than the evil spirits that dominate this world. Satan and his principalities and powers will soon be crushed under our feet. What does confidence look like? Confidence looks like young David, who, without armor, and armed with only a sling and stones, standing before the giant Goliath, said to him: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the Earth, that all the Earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” Confidence looks like Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who, when brought before mighty king Nebuchadnezzar, and told to worship the image of one of his gods, or be burned alive in a blazing furnace, courageously replied to the king: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Confidence looks like the Son of God, who on trial before the leaders of the nation, declared that He was the Messiah, and the Son of God, and that one day they would see Him sitting at the right hand of God, and coming on the clouds of Heaven. Confidence looks like Peter and John who were arrested for doing a good deed. When they appeared before the leaders of the nation, who were strongly opposed to them, instead of being timid in their defense before the governing council of the nation, they boldly spoke the truth. Peter said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Messiah Yeshua of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the Stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” That’s confidence my friends, to be able to boldly speak the truth to those who have the power to harm you. Then the leaders of the nation commanded them not to speak or teach at all about Yeshua. But Peter and John boldly and courageously replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we can’t help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When they were released, Peter and John reported to the believers all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. They all prayed that the Lord would consider the threats of the non-believing leaders, and enable them to speak God’s Word with great boldness. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. Confidence looks like all of the apostles, who were arrested and put in jail. During the night an angel of the Lord enabled them to escape from prison. Did they run and hide? No, they went boldly to the Temple, to the very heart of the power that opposed them, and were teaching the people about Yeshua! They were rearrested, and brought before the Sanhedrin. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” the High Priest said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” The apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Yeshua from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” What boldness! What courage! What confidence! The truth that the apostles spoke offended the Sanhedrin. They were furious and wanted to kill Messiah’s Emissaries, who were the true leaders of Israel. After listening to rabbi Gamliel, they decided not to kill the apostles but only to whip them and order them not to speak about Yeshua anymore. They tried to intimidate them. They tried to silence them. Were these holy men, sent to us from God, intimidated, frightened and sad? No, the apostles left rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for HaShem – for the Name, for God and for Messiah. They knew that it was a honor to be persecuted and suffer as those who represent God in this world. And after that, day by day, confidently, boldly, courageously, right in very courts of the temple, and going from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Yeshua is the Messiah. That’s confidence!
Confidence looks like Rosa Parks who, armed with faith in God and believing in justice, was willing to defy unrighteous laws, and not give her seat on a bus to a white man. Confidence looks like you, at work, with your family and friends, taking the initiative and speaking the truth about God, Messiah, the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures, and the issues of the day that the Word of God speaks clearly about. Confidence is you standing for creation and not evolution. When someone asks you if your religion is only one that will get you to Heaven, confidence is saying “yes.” When someone asks you if you are pro-choice, you confidently tell them that all human life is sacred, and murdering a baby in the womb is not a legitimate choice. Confidence is demonstrating in front of an abortion clinic. When someone asks you if they are going to Hell if they don’t believe in Yeshua, confidently say: “you, and everyone in the world are going to Hell unless they place their faith in Yeshua, the only true Savior.” If someone makes the statement that Jews don’t believe in Jesus, you confidently reply: “only Messianic Jews are really Jewish. They are the true Jews, the real Israel, who get their praise from God.” When someone asks you, “Is homosexuality wrong?” You don’t hem and haw, you state: “yes. It is wrong. It goes against the law of nature and the law of God.” Confidence is handing out pamphlets with us, wearing a “Jesus Made Me Kosher” t-shirt in public, going door-to-door, calling people on the phone. We must be confident about the Lord and the truth. We must not be ashamed. Messiah warned anyone who claims to be a Christian or Messianic Jew: “whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” We must not be like Peter when he denied the Lord three times, but like Peter who fearlessly spoke the truth. We can face jail, knowing that we have been set free from sin and death, and that nothing can imprison our spirits. We can lose property and wealth, knowing that we have better and lasting possessions. We can endure shame and suffering, knowing that the Lord will honor us, and our sufferings will end and be replaced by unending joy. We can stand up to man, knowing that we serve the King of kings. We can face death, knowing that we will live forever. We can draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. We can even be confident in the day of judgment, knowing that due to God and Messiah, we will pass though it safely. Set a courageous example for others. Paul, writing to the Philippians, tells them that most of the brothers, trusting in the Lord because of his imprisonment, had far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
Do you lack confidence? We need to pray for ourselves, our ask others to pray for us, like great Rabbi Paul did, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Take courage, since you know the Lord. Stand firm! Be strong and courageous! Be confident. Speak the truth boldly. Testify to the Lord’s reality. Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward! Don’t give into intimidation. Don’t be ashamed of the Lord, or the truth, or ashamed to suffer for the Lord, or suffer for being a Christian, or be rejected for being a Messianic Jew. May the good Lord do a good work in all of us, and enable us all to be men and women who are supremely confident!