Summary: The Lord sends us out like sheep among wolves,and challenges us to be wise like serpents and harmless as doves.

Sheep, Snakes, and Doves

Matthew 10:16-39

The world is on a collision course with disaster. It isn’t a massive asteroid hurling towards earth that threatens humanity, or global warming, or the AIDS epidemic. It is the clash between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God. And the clock is ticking faster and faster towards midnight.

Recent developments have demonstrated the fierceness of this battle around the world. In Indonesia hundreds of Christian Churches have been burned and thousands of believers have lost their lives. In the Sudan, Nigeria, North and West Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia more than 100 million Christians were killed in the last century simply because they professed the name of Christ.

In our country on University Campuses, in Newspapers and on Television, and in our schools Christians are increasingly becoming the target of ridicule, abuse, and hatred. Meanwhile across the world, Muslim extremists have declared a holy war against Christians with Al Queda going so far last week as to say that their aim is to forever destroy the people and the message of the cross. They will settle for nothing less that the total destruction of Christianity in this world.

There is a war going on between the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of our Lord and we are rapidly moving towards the culmination of this battle. The good news is that we know who wins in the end. Jesus will reign and every knee on heaven and on earth will bow either willingly, or by force to declare that He is Lord of All.

But we are living in the meanwhile. And in the meanwhile there is much work to be done, and there are many dangers to be faced. So how are we to live today, especially in this very volatile time? What can we do to prepare ourselves? Do we run to the hills like so many people thought of doing with the Y2K scare? Do we stockpile our homes with water and other supplies, like they were encouraging us to do after 9-11? What does Jesus tell us to do? To find out, we must look to His words to His disciples found in Matthew 10:16-39. Let’s look at this passage together.

"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves. [17] But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. [18] And you must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me—yes, to witness to the world. [19] When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say in your defense, because you will be given the right words at the right time. [20] For it won’t be you doing the talking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

[21] "Brother will betray brother to death, fathers will betray their own children, and children will rise against their parents and cause them to be killed. [22] And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved. [23] When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I assure you that I, the Son of Man, will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

[24] "A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master. [25] The student shares the teacher’s fate. The servant shares the master’s fate. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, how much more will it happen to you, the members of the household! [26] But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. [27] What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ears, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

[28] "Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [29] Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. [30] And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. [31] So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.

[32] "If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. [33] But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.

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