Think of the power and authority Israel would have had if they had trusted the Lord. To know that the Lord would fight their battles and always win. To know that food and water and health would be theirs as a gift. This would have made them a wonder to the people around them. The others would have run to the Lord to throw themselves on His mercy. The Jews would have been a light to the world shining the love of God for all to see.
Wow! Do you suppose this was the plan?
I believe that the section of teaching we call the Sermon on the Mount was addressed to those who were under the Law. Jesus sets some pretty high standards of morality for the people to show them their sin and their need for a Savior. But that does not mean that the teachings are not for us as well. These are things that are possible for us in Christ. Forgiveness, holiness, righteousness all are ours in Christ.
So, when Jesus talked about the city set on a hill, He spoke to Israel about what they were supposed to be and He speaks to us about the power of the Christian life.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
Imagine the power of a believer who truly believes! Imagine someone who walks in freedom from sin, in faith for provision and protection, and in the joy of knowing the Lord. Those few Christians who have understood the real message of the gospel, that Christ has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” as a gift, are people of amazing power. They don’t have to be afraid. They don’t have to strive for acceptance. They don’t have to worry about their future. They know the Lord. They follow the Lord into projects and into battle with confidence and peace. They know that He will do the work and He will provide the resources. Their life and strength and wisdom come from Him.
Listen: the only thing holding us back from that kind of life is our flesh. The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we find that kind of rest and freedom and victory in our lives. The fear that you and I feel deep inside is from the very core of our flesh. It was built into us because of sin and the world’s perspective on life. We learned it when we first learned anything. But it is false. We don’t have to be afraid.
From the Promised Land, Israel was supposed to be able to look on the rest of the world with compassion and testimony. From the Christian life, we are supposed to be able to see others through the eyes of the Lord who loves them. We offer them the truth and the life.
Tomorrow – So why doesn’t it work like that?