December 28, 2017
Thy shoes shall be iron and brass
Our Text: Deuteronomy 33:24-27
“The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days” (NIV).
“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (KJV).
Notice a difference in the way the New International Version and the King James Version translate this verse.
It has to do with a Hebrew word that can be translated more than one way. Although the symbolism is different, the final meaning in either case is the same.
For this message, I am going to follow the King James Version, which speaks of “iron shoes” for a rocky road.
As we stand on the brink of a new year, we wonder what the future holds.
Most of us probably approach a milestone like this with a combination of excitement and a bit of apprehension.
This week I found myself meditating on Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”
Here is a parable for the Christian life. When we start our journey with Christ, he provides “iron shoes” because the road from earth to heaven is filled with “many dangers, toils and snares.”
In the beginning there is light enough for each step we take.
As we walk with the Lord, the light grows brighter and brighter until the light shines so brightly that we simply walk from earth to heaven. I sometimes wonder if believers even realize they have died. I think (though I can’t prove this) that death for the Christian is only an earthly event, that we simply pass through the portal into the light of God’s presence and we don’t even realize what happened until we are standing in the presence of the Lord.
On earth time wears everything away and we finally die.
Because we are mortal, time is our enemy. But in eternity time will be our friend because there we are immortal. In heaven time will only add to the luster of God’s grace. One writer says that the oldest angels look the youngest because they have been in God’s presence the longest. What a pleasant thought that is. In heaven the passing of a 1000 years will make us younger, more vigorous because we are more filled with God’s glory.
Strength for the New Year
“As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
What does this suggest for us at the start of a new year? It means that God’s strength will be there when we need it—and not before.
We will never find a day when God’s strength is lacking. We will have strength as long as our days last. Therefore, we need not look anxiously ahead.
In happy days filled with sunlight, we may not need much strength, but when hard times come, we will find that the divine reservoir is more than enough to meet our needs.
And think who it is who promises such a blessing to us. It is …
- The one who made us.
- The one who appoints our days.
- The one who loved us from eternity.
- The one whose love will never fail.
- The one whose resources are unlimited.
- The one who gave himself for us.
If such a God has made such a promise, we may be sure that he will keep his promise completely. I love to remind myself that he is the God who goes before his people. Many times we tend to limit our thinking to the fact that God’s presence goes with us as we go through life. That’s true, but it’s only part of the story. He’s not only with us now, he’s already way up the road ahead of us.
Think about it this way: While we struggle with the problems of today, God is hard at work providing solutions for the things we are going to face tomorrow. He’s already there, working creatively in situations we have yet to face, preparing them for us and us for them.
He’s Way Ahead of Us!
Or to say it another way: While we’re living in Tuesday, he’s clearing the road for us on Friday.
Or to say it yet another way: God is already at work providing solutions for problems we don’t even know we have yet!
Are you worried about next week? Forget it. He’s already there. How about June or September? Don’t sweat it. He’s already there. What about that crucial meeting next week? Sleep well. He’s already there. What about that tough decision that looms ahead of you? Fear not. He’s already there.
It would be enough if God simply walked with you through the events of life. But he does much more than that. He goes ahead of you, clearing the way, arranging the details of life, so that when you get there, you can have confidence that God has already been there before you.
That’s why this promise is true: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
While you are slogging your way through this week, God is already in February stockpiling the strength you need so that when you get there, you’ve got what you need. And plenty more besides.
Here are some practical lessons we should take from this verse:
Take each day as it comes.
Don’t try to force the future. Let God lead.
Do not be full of anxious care.
Do each day what God gives you to do.
Rejoice in the Lord always.
Run to the Cross!
I close with this thought. God will not put you in an unbearable situation in 2018. But he may put you in a situation that seems unbearable so that you will turn to Him.
Remember that God does not give his strength in advance but only when needed. Each day this year you will have what you need. We may therefore go forth into the New Year with confidence, hope, and joy.
Ray Stedman points out that the chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy. He goes on to say that the Christian is a person who is …
- Completely fearless,
- Continually cheerful, and
- Constantly in trouble.
Most of us have that last part down pat. When we are fearless and cheerful even in the midst of our daily troubles, then the world will take us seriously because the world simply cannot live this way. It is the presence of joy and the absence of fear that convinces others that we truly know the Lord.
Over a hundred years ago a preacher ended his sermon on this text with these words:
“Christ’s feet were pierced with nails that we might have iron shoes for the road. We cannot succeed this year without Christ but with him by our side we can face whatever may come with confidence and with joy.”
How true that is. And in the end we come back to the Lord Jesus and back to the cross. Let me end this first sermon of the New Year with the words I have said many times before:
- If you are tired of your sin, run to the cross.
- If you want a new start in life, run to the cross.
- If you need hope and encouragement, run to the cross.
- If you want to meet Jesus, run to the cross.
Happy New Year to everyone who reads these words. The Captain of our Salvation has called us to join his army. Brothers and sisters, it’s time to put on your iron shoes!
The day of March on has come. The cry comes from the front, “Forward by faith.” And off we go, venturing into this New Year. May God help us to press on to know the Lord is with us 2018. Amen.