Call upon Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6)

“We are still young, and we have lots of things that we want to do. There are girls and beer and experiences. When we are older, then maybe we will think about this religious stuff.” Thus Kostya, a Russian student, explained to me his thoughts about the gospel. In so many words, he said to me what many people believe: “The offer of the gospel can be received anytime, and when I am good and ready, I will accept God’s offer.”

Indeed, the Lord’s offer of salvation through the gospel seems to be always available to the sinner, at least that is what we are led to believe. It appears that the sinner, once informed of the gospel of salvation, is free to accept God’s offer whenever they choose to accept it, either today or tomorrow or on my deathbed.

This appearance, however, is a lie from the pit of hell. It is the devil’s lie that the creature is free to ignore the Creator’s offer of salvation until the creature decides to act. Satan propagates this idea because he knows that when a person postpones their gospel response, they effectively smother their gospel response.

But consider this from the standpoint of human experience. Is there ever a situation where a serious offer can be accepted at any time? No. No serious offer is made without an expiration date. In practice, an offer is made, and if there is no acceptance of that offer, the offer is withdrawn.

Now, if it is true in our experience that offers between people for mere earthly things are either accepted or they are withdrawn, how much more true is it that the Lord’s offer to sinful man for forgiveness and for eternal salvation must be accepted or it will be withdrawn. There is an urgency that accompanies the hearing of the gospel, and if the sinner does not respond, the Lord may withdraw the offer.

How, then, are we to respond? In Isaiah 55:6, the Scripture says,

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.

            We are to seek the LORD, but it is clear from this verse that He is not always available. There is a time element to our seeking the LORD. We are to seek the LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND. And since we do not know when the LORD may be found, we are to seek Him with all our heart (Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13) THE INSTANT WE HAVE A DESIRE FOR HIM. When the gospel has kindled our desire for the LORD and has given us a hunger for cleansing and for righteousness, THEN we are to seek the Lord.

            And we must call upon Him, but again we see that He is not always near. How do I know when HE IS NEAR? If the gospel has been proclaimed and you have been convicted of your sin and have felt a longing for forgiveness, you can know that THE LORD IS NEAR. It is THEN that we are CALL UPON THE LORD. “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).”

            In Acts 17, the philosophers in Athens heard Paul declare to them the truths of the gospel and the glories of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul urged them to seek God (17:27) and to repent (17:30), but they sneered at him and said, “We shall hear you again concerning this (17:32).” But they never heard Paul speak again. Instead, “Paul went out of their midst (17:33)” and left Athens. They had heard the gospel, but they did not seek the Lord, nor did they call on His name, and the offer of salvation was withdrawn, and they perished.

            By contrast, in Matthew 13 we read two parables about seeking in 13:44 and 13:45-46. In the first parable, a man finds a treasure hidden in a field. He realizes that this is the opportunity of a lifetime and that he must act now and seize the moment. And so, “he sells all that he has and buys that field.” That is the attitude of the person who hears the gospel. “This is the moment of my life. I will seek the Lord and call upon Him until I receive His offer.”

            The second parable is similar to the first. In this parable, a pearl merchant finds a fabulous pearl of immense value. He realizes that this is the opportunity of a lifetime and that he must act now and seize the moment. And so, “he sold all that he has and bought it.” That is the attitude of the person who hears the gospel. “This is the moment of my life. I will seek the Lord and call upon Him until I receive His offer.”

            When God, in His infinite grace, chooses to bring the gospel near and to stir our heart with a desire to know Him and to be freed from our sin, then at that moment we must respond, for we do not know if God will ever do this again.

SDG                 rmb                 11/24/2020

A Strategy for fear (2 Chronicles 20)

How do you respond to the fear that comes with a genuine threat? There are times when we are afraid of things that turn out to be mere perceived threats, but there are also times in life when we detect a threat and realize that threat is real and dangerous. Then we feel fear. What is the disciple of Jesus to do in this situation? In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is confronted by a real threat and is afraid, but his response reveals for us a strategy for dealing with that fear.

Jehoshaphat is king of Judah in Jerusalem. He gets word that “a great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea (2 Chronicles 20:2).” Jehoshaphat detects a real threat that could result in serious harm. There is a great multitude coming against him and “Jehoshaphat was afraid (20:3).”

We all know well this feeling of fear. When we encounter a real danger, our unconscious response is for fear to arise and for adrenaline to flow. Fight or flight. The Bible speaks a lot about fear, because the Bible is written for people who live after Eden in a world full of threats and for people whose natural reaction to threat is to be afraid. But the Bible gives counsel and comfort to those who feel fear: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You (Psalm 56:3).” “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine (Isaiah 43:1).” “Deal courageously, and may the LORD be with the upright! (2 Chronicles 19:11)” How, then, should the disciple of Jesus respond to fear?

The first thing to do when we feel fear is to acknowledge the fear and admit that we are afraid of something. There is a threat, and we are afraid. This acknowledges our weakness and positions us for receiving help.

When Jehoshaphat heard of the threat and felt the fear, “he set his face TO SEEK THE LORD (20:3).” “Judah assembled TO SEEK HELP FROM THE LORD (20:4a).” “Judah came TO SEEK THE LORD (20:4b).” When we feel fear, the disciple of Jesus seeks the Lord. This is perhaps the most critical part of the strategy. Being fully aware of the threat, we willfully turn our eyes from the threat to our God, and we seek Him. We remember His power that He has demonstrated to us countless times. When feeling his own fear, the prophet Jeremiah said, “But the LORD is with me like a dread champion (Jeremiah 20:11).” Our Dread Champion is greater than any threat, so we need to seek Him. Seek His face – what does He think of this threat? “If God be for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?” Since God is on our side, we cannot lose. We seek the Lord and make sure that we are “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10).”

Next, Jehoshaphat prays to the LORD and cries out to Him. And what a prayer! The king declares the power of the LORD (20:6), the works of the LORD (20:7), and the promises of the LORD to rescue His people (“If disaster comes upon us, we will cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save (20:9).”). Then Jehoshaphat clearly states the threat (20:10-11) and asks the LORD to act on his behalf (“we are powerless, but our eyes are on You.”) (20:12). This is a model prayer when a threat looms large.

Then a prophet speaks out and tells Judah and King Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the battle is not yours, but God’s (20:15).” The prophet goes on to say, “Stand firm and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD will be with you (20:17).” When it is time for us to confront the threat and to act, we do so in the confidence that the Lord is with us. We are not afraid or dismayed but are assured that He will be with us and will act for us. “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides You who acts for those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4).”

Finally, as Judah and Jehoshaphat go out to meet the enemy, they choose to believe and to trust that what the Lord has promised, He will certainly perform. “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will succeed (20:20).” Jehoshaphat has cried out to the LORD is prayer and has acted with courage, and now he leads Judah into the battle, believing that the LORD will act on their behalf. Just so, having seen that the Lord is greater than any of our threats, we move forward trusting that the Lord is with us.


What we see here in Jehoshaphat is a basic strategy for responding to threats and fears:

  • Acknowledge the threat and the fear
  • Seek the Lord
  • Pray to the Lord and cry out to Him
  • Act with courage; do not be afraid or dismayed
  • Believe in the Lord and trust in the Lord

SDG                 rmb                 11/17/2020