Philipians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Ever since I can remember, I have always been intrigued with the plight of the Jewish people during WWII. I remember watching the documentaries on the labor camps and how they struggled to stay alive. They helped one another even though they were strangers. It was enough to know they were fellow Jews. The oppression was fierce but the unity among them was greater. Nothing could strip them of their identification as Jews even though their oppressor tried. He tried over six million times but each one of them died as being identified as one who belonged to the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
I just watched a film last night called Defiance. It is an unbelievable true story. It’s practically a modern version about Joshua and what he went through in leading the nation of Israel to Canaan.
The year is 1941, and the setting is Nazi-occupied Belarus. The Final Solution is in full effect, and the Jews of Eastern Europe are being slaughtered. Three brothers have miraculously managed to escape into the dense surrounding forest. Having played in these woods since childhood, the brothers have a distinct advantage over their adversaries, and soon decide that simply surviving is not enough. In order to make a difference, they must take action, but in order to take action they will need support. As whispers of their bravery take wind, others like them appear determined to lay their lives on the line for the cause of freedom. Tuvia has become the de facto leader of the group, but he’s still somewhat reluctant to take on such a heavy responsibility. With winter setting in, everyone works to create a functioning community that will help them endure the frigid months that lie ahead. I won’t tell you how it ends because I hope you will see the movie yourself.
If you have committed to following Christ and you are identified as being one of His, you are in a war. Tuvia wasn’t perfect and he never expected to be used of God to lead his people through the forests of Belarus. Our Pastors are the Joshua’s and Tuvia’s to lead His people. They aren’t perfect and maybe didn’t even want the job. Joshua was Moses’s assistant but after Moses died he was needed to continue the plight.
I remember in the movie Tuvia exhorted the members in the forest community that everyone needed to work without exception. Everyone was needed and they needed to work together to survive. Several times they had to flee because the enemy was approaching. They had to grab all their necessities and relocate and build once again their log cabins. What a metaphor of the Christian life. If we aren’t busy working for the Lord we are a hindrance to the work. Not everyone is called to go to the front lines like street evangelism but kid’s need to be taught, the church needs to be cleaned and the wounded need to be greeted when they walk through the door. To carry out the great commission isn’t the job of one man. If you aren’t busy serving in the Lord’s work; you or someone could become a spiritual casualty.
The journey to Canaan for the Israelites wasn’t a smooth one, that is why God consistently God told the people Be strong and very courageous. The people in the forests of Belarus were struggling daily to get to rest and freedom. We too have to understand we have enemies on every side and there is a great struggle to make it to the end. Today is a reminder to encourage your pastor and ask him how you can be used in the work; our plight to our promised land where Christ dwells and is waiting to welcome us home.
There was a scene in the movie when a member of the “forest community” reminded the leader Tuvia that yes they needed to be strong but they needed something else…community. In the midst of defending themselves each day for survival they found time to commune together, enjoy wedding celebrations, babies being born and chess games hand carved from the trees they used to build cabins. No matter where we are, we are to find joys to refresh us to keep up the good fight. But, we should always have in the forefront of our minds that we are in a battle and this is not our home.