We stand at the beginning of the year of our Lord 2000. We have taken down the calendar for 1999 and replaced it with one for the year 2000. A century, a decade is now passed, never to be retrieved. We stand on the threshold not only of a new year, but a new decade and a new century. Some year soon calendars for the year will not be put up. For the trumpet of the Lord will sound and God shall descend in Jesus Christ. He will part the heavens and He will make all things new. Are you ready? Are you ready right now? Are you ready to embark upon this year in the presence of God?
What must be our attitude at the beginning of this year? The Scriptures tell us, first of all, what that attitude must not be. It must not be one of sinful anxiety, worry, and fear. The Lord said to us in Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The great apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” No, it must not be sinful anxiety. Nor must our attitude be one of carnal confidence in which we would become enmeshed in our own planning and ambitions. The Word of God says to us in James 4:13-15: “Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
We do not enter into this year 2000 with anxiety or with carnal confidence. The Word of God tells us, positively, what our attitude must be. Our attitude must be based upon the promise that God tells us to take with us wherever we go in the coming year. That promise is recorded in Leviticus 26:12: “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” Leviticus 26 is the summary of all of the promises and warnings that God gave to Israel as they were about to enter into the land of Canaan. Repeated emphasis falls on the gracious faithfulness of God and what God will do. God reminds them of the covenant that He had made with them and their fathers. Repeated emphasis is given to the fact that the blessings of Jehovah will be enjoyed only in the way of a heart-felt obedience. The very heart of God’s promise is given in the verse that I quoted to you. God had been speaking of the fact that the tabernacle would be pitched among them, that Old Testament symbol of the presence of God with His people in Jesus Christ and the testimony that in Jesus Christ God would cleanse from sin.
Then God says to them that upon the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ, represented in that tabernacle, He would walk among them. That promise breathes out the wonder that God Himself will delight in His people. He will walk among us as His children, as a man walks in a garden, keeping up communion and fellowship with us. That is the promise we carry with us in this coming year, and in whatever days or years the Lord yet has for us as we await His sure coming.
There is something wonderfully comforting and gracious to our souls to hear God say, “I will walk among you.” That means much more than for Him to say simply, “I will accompany you. I will be in your party. Or, as you journey through the days and months ahead, I will be around.” But the word “walk, I will walk,” refers to the active care, to the constant protection of a guardian, or a shepherd among his sheep, or a mighty protector among little children. So it speaks to us of power, protection, guardianship, preservation, and care. He will walk among us as a king among His subjects.
The book of Revelation, you might recall, in chapter 2:1, pictures the Lord Jesus Christ who was described as having eyes with flames of fire and holding a two-edged sword, yet He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. He walks in the midst of His church and people. That is, He is not just there, but He is present in all of His power, that power to be exercised for our good, our protection, and our comfort. If God walks among us, what need we fear? And if God would have us bow in amazement that He walks among us, then what need we be filled with anxiety? I will walk among you and be your God.
What does the year 2000 hold for the world? What does it hold for you and your family? What does it hold for the faithful congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ in this world? The world turns to her psychics, to her soothsayers, to her learned commentators. Well, God does not tell us what will be. There is no crystal ball – the Bible is not a crystal ball. But He tells us this: He will walk among us as the mighty God. And the comfort and graciousness of this is that He is the absolutely sovereign God. The word “sovereign” means ruler over all by mighty power and eternal will. He rules over all things in order that He might glorify Himself in the salvation of His church, which He chose through Jesus Christ. That is the plain teaching of the Word of God. All that is in the year 2000 will unfold what God has purposed in His eternal decrees and what God will execute by His present providence. Taking it all into account, from the tiniest speck of dust floating a thousand light-years away in space, to the affairs of nations, to the commodities on the board of trade, to traffic accidents, to hair falling out of our heads, to cancer and death – whatever, all that comes in the year 2000 will come according to the eternal decree and will be brought to pass by the present power of the mighty God. That is the clear teaching of the Bible.
The Bible affirms it in vigorous language. Isaiah 14:24, “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” God need only think a thing and it becomes rule for His creation. He determines what will come to pass. “For the Lord of hosts,” Isaiah 14:27, “hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” Who will pull back his hand, says the prophet, and say to God, Oh, no, you cannot do that! We often say, “I will do this and I will do that.” But we can be hindered by a little micro-organism, flu, and a little bug, or cancer from doing what we planned. But God says, “Who shall prevent me?” Should all the power of the angels fade, should the forces of hell direct themselves in all their might against the living God, not one single point of God’s purpose shall be frustrated. Who shall hinder the living God?
I will walk among you. In that comfort and in that wonder we enter the year 2000, believing that it is my Father’s hands.
That promise ought to produce in you today at least two things in your heart. First, a submission to God, no matter what God brings into your life in the coming year. The experience of Job who, on a given calendar year and day, went, according to the will of God, from wealth and family, health and happiness, to poverty, death, sadness, and sickness. Job was the man who lost all that he had, including his family, in one day. You may read of it in the Bible in Job, chapter 1. He did not know why. Yet he did know that God had decreed and brought to pass His own purpose. So we read that after all these things happened, Job 1:20, then Job arose and rent his mantle and shaved his head and fell down to the ground and worshiped and said, “Naked came I into the world and naked I return. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job did not grit his teeth. Job did not say, “Well, I can’t fight it so I had better knuckle under.” Oh, no. He worshiped the Lord who gave all things. All Job knew was this promise: “I will walk among you.” He knew that nothing of God had changed, so he worshiped God.
When we cling to the truth that the mighty God walks among us, then we shall submit and we shall worship. We shall extol the name of God. And we shall believe with all of our hearts that God is too wise to be mistaken, too loving to be unkind, and too powerful that anything should prevent His purposes for us in this coming year.
The second thing it will produce in our hearts is a spirit of undisturbed rest in God. The promise, “I will walk among you,” means that we shall rest in our God. God will walk among us in the year 2000. And He will laugh in holy derision against all the stratagems of the world against Him and His people. He shall abide in peace upon His holy hill. Believing that, we, too, may abide in peace all the days that are ahead. Isaiah 26:3, 4, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” We now begin in this faith: “O Lord, I know that Thou wilt walk with me. Every single action in the universe is under Thy control. What need I have more? If Thou, O Lord, art walking with me, then all is well.”
Then we shall live in the constant awareness of the gracious presence of God. “I will walk among you. I will be your God and you shall be My people.” Because of God’s grace, that is, His mighty power to save and His unmerited favor to us, because of that, He says, I will be present. I will walk among you. I will dwell among you. I will live among you.
The Bible speaks of that so often. For instance, this reaches its apex, its fullest expression, in the new heavens and earth (read Revelation 21:1-3). There is nothing greater than this! The Bible presents this as the greatest good and blessing that a man, a woman, a boy, or girl could ever enjoy. And this is why heaven is described to us in the way that it is. We have many questions about what heaven will be like. We do not have many answers. “Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard of all those things that God hath prepared for them that love Him,” says the Word of God. But here is a definite answer: heaven will be the enjoyment of the presence of God. “I will walk among you perfectly.” And now God promises graciously that that will be the case in this coming year. So we may say the words of Psalm 46, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Why is that so critical, so important? Why is it so important for you? It is the difference between courage and cowardice, between stability and instability. Are you aware in your soul that He has promised this gracious faithfulness of His presence? This is what He gave to Joshua when Joshua was confronting nations which were experienced in battle and warfare. Now he was called to lead the people of God into the land of Canaan. What anchor of the soul did God give to Joshua? He said this to him ( Joshua 1): “As I was with Moses, so I will be with Thee. I will not fail thee or forsake thee. For the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.” Joshua, that is all you need to know. As you face the unknown, I am with you.
The Bible speaks of this repeatedly. For instance, in II Kings 6 we read of a great army of Syrians who had come to take the prophet Elisha, who had been revealing all of the king’s plans to the king of Israel. What did the prophet do? Did he tremble? His servant came to him and told him that the army of the Syrians was all around them. They were surrounded. What did he do? He prayed, “Lord, I pray Thee, open the eyes of my servant that he may see the angels of God.” Elisha did not ask God to do something which was not already there. He did not ask for some emergency provision to be made. No! He asked that his servant’s eyes be opened to see what was always the case, what is always the reality. The Lord opened his eyes, we read. And behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. “I will be with thee.”
Do you have eyes of faith to see that? Do you believe that, through Jesus Christ? Do you remember that day by day? Oh, what a difference this makes. This means stability, courage, and confidence. Then you may say that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear. He is not a potential help, a possible help. I will walk among you.
Then we can also have confidence that God will provide us with all that we need, so long as it is His will that we live on this earth.
Should the Lord delay His coming in this year and keep us alive on earth, think of all the needs that we will have: breath, food, shelter, clothing, health, spiritual needs, conscience to be cleansed from sin, strength of God to mortify our sins, wisdom in our perplexities. We have a world of need. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has many needs: to preach the Word far and near, to maintain the wonderful truth, to dwell in love and unity, to forgive one another, to live as a body of believers in one faith to the glory of God. How shall we find adequate provision for all this vast mountain of needs? Here it is: I will walk among you. And I will be your God. And ye shall be My people. There shall be a full provision.
How can we be sure? We can be sure through the logic of the cross. Through the logic of the cross we reason that if God has given our greatest need: the forgiveness of our sins in the blood of His Son. Shall He not also then give us all that we need in order that His will might be done and His name glorified in us? God has redeemed us. Therefore we may trust that He shall give to us a full provision. A provision of what? Everything that we might want or that we decide that we need? Shall He give to us that mansion over the hill? That thing that we think is so desperately needed in terms of this present life? No! He will give to us all that Christ died to accomplish in us. He shall preserve us. He shall keep us. And He shall prepare us for that heavenly home when we shall dwell with Him perfectly.
As we enter into the year 2000, we do not quake with fear. We do not stand in the foolish confidence of men. But we base all our trust and make our boast in this Word of God: He will walk among us graciously and faithfully. And therefore He shall supply whatsoever we need. We know this, not according to the predictions of Wall Street, not according to the trends of the stock exchange, not according to what men say this year will hold for us, but we know this because of God’s commitment to us through Jesus Christ – that He shall give to us all that He has stored up for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, all that we need to fight our sins, to grow in grace, to preserve unto the end, to comfort our hearts, and to lift up our heads. We need not be nervous. We need not be filled with fear. And we may not be carnally confident. But in God we shall boast all the day long.
Are you ready to embark upon this new decade? Upon this new year 2000? There is only one way to do that. In confidence of this Word of God, believing this Word of God, we go forth. No matter the fear and dangers that are ahead for you. Come death, trial, sickness, woe, heartache, loneliness – no matter what. Let us now renew ourselves. Let us take courage in our God, the sovereign One, who has pledged His presence and who has promised to supply all of our needs. This we know and in this we rest, today and always: He will walk among us in this year. Praise be to His name.
Let us pray.
Father, we stand at the beginning of this year. We look to Thee. By faith our eyes are directed unto Thee as the true and living God. We cling by faith to Thy promise that Thou wilt walk among us, not because of any worthiness that we could give to Thee, but because of Thy own love and graciousness in Jesus Christ. May this promise of God be held before the eye of our faith every hour and every day ahead, until at last we see Thee face to face and shall rejoice in Thee for ever and ever, through Jesus Christ. Amen.