A Prayer for God’s Force Shield
Sermon Series: “There’s A Prayer for That”
5. A Prayer for God’s Force Shield
A sermon based on Genesis 50:15-21, delivered on November 10 & 13, 2019,
by Pastor David Russow, Hope Lutheran Church, Andover, MN
In Jesus, our peace:
Why November 11th for Veteran’s Day? It once was called “Armistice Day” (Peace Day) marking that at the 11th hour on the 11th Day of the 11th month in 1918 World War I ended. 101 years ago the shooting stopped, the bombing ceased, the trenches emptied and it was supposed to be “…the war to end all wars…” But was it? Hardly. WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Iraq 1, Iraq 2, Afghanistan... We keep making more veterans. More reason to defend and protect. More sacrifice. More reason for our thank you’s.
“…Let no one think that we will have peace…” that’s what our Large Catechism says. But that wasn’t talking about peace between nations. There’s no armistice day, spiritually, for us who call God OUR dear Father, and posses all the riches of His holy name, written on us, and are in His Kingdom, have His Kingdom in us, and will be, finally, in the Kingdom of glory in heaven. We have enemies that want to rip those blessings away from us and us from those blessings. So, we have a fight on our hands. It’s intense, bloody. But there’s a prayer for that. The 3rd Petition, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What we’re really praying for is the protection of God’s force shield.
To help us pray for what Jesus taught us, let’s see how the account of Joseph demonstrates how effective God’s force shield is…
15When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and will pay us back in full for all of the evil that we did to him.” 16They sent the following message to Joseph: “Before he died your father commanded us, 17‘You are to tell Joseph, “Please forgive the offense of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ Now, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18His brothers also came and fell down in front of him, and they said, “See now, we are your servants.” 19Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring this to pass and to keep many people alive, as it is this day. 21Now therefore do not be afraid. I will nourish you and your little ones.” He comforted them and spoke to them in a kind way.
Forget “thy will be done” and replace it with “my will be done” and there you and I have a tough enemy, the enemy within. The enemy within is our sinful nature, our old Adam or old Eve, sometimes we call this enemy our sinful flesh. Look at Joseph’s life and victory after victory seems to be scored to the side of the enemy within, sinful flesh. Joseph’s brothers were subdued by this enemy. They were jealous of Joseph, his status with their father Jacob, his coat of many colors, his dreams that seemed to put them down. The enemy within hated Joseph, planned to murder him, then, sold him instead to Midian slave traders. The enemy within lied to their father, smeard goat’s blood on Joseph’s coat and told dad that a ferocious animal had killed Joseph. In Egypt Mrs. Potiphar’s sinful flesh scored victory after victory. She repeatedly hit on Joseph to have sex with her, when he wouldn’t, when he said that he couldn’t and wouldn’t sin against his God with such wickedness she cried, “Rape!” Joseph was then thrown in prison with the worst of them, labeled a sex offender. - With all the bombardment of sinful flesh attacking him what do you think was going on within Joseph? Thoughts of revenge, anger, and frustration with that God would have allowed all that happened to him. He had a lot of time sitting in prison thinking all that through. Or maybe Joseph prayed for God’s force shield to protect him from himself and that’s why we don’t read in the Bible of his sinful counterattacks, but of his forgiveness and of his trust that God worked all his tragedies out to be triumphs.
Our sinful natures do not like to be denied, do they? Our sinful flesh thinks it knows better what we need than God does what we need for ourselves. How old sinners inside war against God’s plan, thinks blessings are what we think we should have, and the way things work out need to be the way we think they should work out.
God didn’t will any of the evil that happened to Joseph, but he used it to carry on the saving of God’s People so he could continue the saving line of the Savior, the One who taught us this prayer. They meant harm but God meant it for good. God used all that to bring the One the One who receives our prayer, our God who dropped to his knees in his own prayer and prayed – with bloody sweat dripping from his brow, “If you are willing, Father, take this cup (of suffering) from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). When it was clear that God’s will was for him to drink the cup of suffering for us, Jesus willing drank it down to its last and fatal drop, dripping out his lifeblood on the cross. He suffered the wrath of God’s anger there for our sin so that we might taste the Father’s sweetness forgiveness, and be able to forgive. And then, when he rose as was prophesied about him, he gave absolute power, the force shield from ourselves, as we place our trust in him.
Then when the God of grace answers your prayers in ways other than what you had in mind, rejoice, give thanks. And when the God of grace, sets before you his wonderful commands to love, honor, forgive, as he did with Joseph, delight in them as the angels in heaven. And rejoice that God’s force shield is so effective against the enemy from within.
Martin Luther wrote that we can’t pray this petition without cursing evil. That means we pray for God’s force shield to smash the enemy without. The devil who wants us to slowly, ever so slowly, to walk away from our baptismal faith, not feed it, not pray, not hallow the name of our loving Father, or let his kingdom come. And there are a host of allies helping the devil. Unbelievers who are teaching jr. high age kids things like researching on the different ways of commit suicide and then write papers about which way they’d choose if they ever did consider suicide. That’s just one example. Outright frontal attacks against believers are all over the map!
Children God, we need God’s force shield. Nothing and no one can stand up against him. Nothing and no one will rob us of God’s the citizenship we in the Kingdom of God. Nothing and no one will can sneak attack away the freedoms we have from the guilt of our sin, the power of Satan, and the permanency of death. We have God’s force shield protecting us from the enemies within and without.
Force shield? Yes. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven is the ultimate defense and weapon of offense: “…this petition alone shall be our wall against which (all our enemies)shall run and dash themselves to pieces.” Amen.