Stand Firm And Take Action

September 28th 2023



He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action (Dan 11:32).

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at a church conference, where this verse from a relatively obscure portion of Daniel was the theme verse. Each of our messages was geared toward encouraging God’s people to respond in faithfulness during times of tribulation and apostasy, and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts from a few of the passages I had the opportunity to teach. In doing so, my goal is to call our hearts and dispositions into conformity with the attitude of Daniel 11:32.

Though this verse happens in a fulfilled and foreign prophetic context, the axiom of truth rings throughout the ages: “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Characteristic of God’s people is the willingness and the drive to stay faithful to God, to be courageous and bold, and to act rightly, even in the face of temptation, persecution, ridicule, and relegation to the small minority of cultural ethics.

The following passages show us biblical examples of faithfulness and courageous action in the lives of Ezra and Abraham, and give us a solid foundation for finding our courage in the sufficiency of God’s character and his Word, in a letter from Peter.

Ezra Finds Courage from God

It was a dark and discouraging time in Persia. Though the Jews had been granted the royal decree to return to their land and rebuild the house of Yahweh, they had been gone for seventy years. Their lands had been infiltrated by squatters who made the return to Jerusalem very difficult. They threatened, they sued, they practiced violence, and for forty years the people struggled to rebuild.

But in Ezra chapter seven we see God move in the heart of the King of Persia. Artaxerxes meets with Ezra and grants him everything he needs, commanding all the leaders of the land east of the river (between Babylon and Jerusalem) to supply Ezra and the returning wave of exiles with gold, silver, wheat, oil, and all of their needs, far beyond measure! Indeed, God moves in such a manner as to show Ezra that nothing, indeed, nothing would stop God from fulfilling his promise to restore the people of Judah to their birthright.

In Ezra 7:27, the faithful priest blesses the name of the LORD and recognizes his sovereign hand! But importantly for us, in verse twenty-eight he recognizes that because of God’s actions on his behalf, he can take courage! Ezra, imbibed with courage, stood firm in his convictions, regardless of the persecution he would most certainly face, and he took bold action to return to Jerusalem, face the opposition, and honor the LORD by being faithful to rebuild his house.

Abram Lives Courage for Others

In one of the most epic and inspiring stories of courage in the whole Bible, we find Abram in Genesis chapter fourteen living near Hebron, watching an extraordinary scene unfold. The kings of the Jordan Valley went to battle against the kings of the region of Babylon, and from his hilltop overlooking the Jordan rift, Abraham watched as the kings from the east decimated the city states of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar.

Now, a chapter earlier, Abram and his nephew Lot went their separate ways so as to not cause strife between the clans. Lot went to the Jordan Valley, and Abram went to Hebron. So, from Hebron, Abram is watching the country of his nephew be destroyed, and in fact, we learn from Genesis fourteen that these kings hauled away Lot and his family after their resounding victory.

Now, picture this: four kings from the east come to face five kings from the Jordan Valley. On their way, the four from the east decimate every village, including the villages of the giants (Gen 14:5–6), and most likely annihilated several thousand, if not tens of thousands, of men on this campaign.

So, what is Abram’s response? What does he opt to do as he sees these events unfold? What would be the righteous thing to do?

The text tells us that Abram took three hundred eighteen of his finest trained warriors and pursued these kings to the furthest reaches of the land, up to Dan in the north. He then divided his forces and pursued them, overtook them, and defeated them, near Damascus! Now, stop and imagine this. Abram and three hundred eighteen of his warriors just defeated four kings and their armies that had just defeated five kings and their armies, and most likely defeated tens of thousands!

You see, Abram knew that Lot and his family would be unjustly sold into slavery, abused, tortured, raped, or even murdered. He also knew the principle that self-sacrificing love for others is a true measure of godliness! So Abram, in obedience to what he knew was right, stepped in and saved his nephew and all his family, standing firm and taking action as a godly example of selfless courage.

Peter Establishes Courage for Us

Now, for a more direct context, Peter shows us in 2 Peter 1:3 that God, the God of all who hold to a faith of equal standing with his own (namely, those who have repented of their sins and cling to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior), has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness. God, in his greatness and mercy, has given us his all-sufficient Word, teaching us all we need to know, including his heart, his mind, and the knowledge of his good plans and the presence of his indwelling Spirit.

Peter does this intentionally! We know this because just nine verses later Peter tells us his purpose. 2 Peter 1:12 says, “Therefore, I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” Peter intended to establish his audience in truth, and that truth is that those who are in Christ have everything we need for life and godliness, as described in the Bible.

Let the reader understand! Peter is telling his audience that they have no reason for fear, no reason for doubt, and no excuse for inaction. We are well-equipped and we are tasked with living our lives to the glory of God, through trial and affliction, and we can find our encouragement from God’s equipping to accomplish our mission.

Conclusion

What then should be our response? It is to be like Ezra, like Abram, and know that we can, should, and must take courage. Courage infused from an outside source. Courage granted to us by the character and compassion of God, who has equipped us with everything we need to accomplish his will, to stand firm in a morally decaying world, to take righteous action regardless of the cost, and to represent Jesus the King with courage as his ambassadors. May God grant you that courage today, to be those people who know their God, who stand firm in the truth, and who take righteous action for his glory.

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Author: Kyle Swanson

Kyle Swanson earned a Master of Divinity from The Master’s Seminary followed by a Doctor of Ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently serves as Pastor & Elder on staff at Redeemer Bible Church. Pastor Kyle's roles involve overseeing classroom training, missions, conferences, and various other ministry responsibilities. Kyle and his wife Jackie have one child, a daughter named Lucy. Together they enjoy good food, good movies, their dog Darby, and traveling together to new places.