And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
The precepts and the promises of our Lord are inseparable. In the King James Version of the Bible, the last verse above starts ‘And lo,’ giving rise to the expression, “The ‘go’ and the ‘lo'” – every time God says ‘Go’ (the precept) he always says ‘Lo’ (the promise).
Abraham was called by God to leave all he knew and go to a new life, but God gave him some mighty promises.
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Gen 12:2)
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Heb 11:8)
God promised to make Abraham a great nation, a great name and a great blessing to the world.
God called Moses to go to Pharaoh and free the Children of Israel, and promised him he would be with him.
So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. (Ex.3:10-12)
Moses was an unwilling servant but God had an answer for all his excuses (Ex 4:1-17)
But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (Ex.4:13)
Every time he raised an objection, God promised to provide for him.
Joshua was nervous to take over from Moses the leading the Children of Israel, but when God called him, he promised to be with him.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:5,8,9)
You and Me
In the same way, God calls us, every one of us, to go and share the Gospel – as we saw in the first scripture – but he promises to be with us always.
Sometimes the Lord’s command is not what we expected. When Jesus delivered a man from demon possession, the man expected Jesus would want him to follow, but he didn’t.
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:18-19)
What is the Lord asking of you?
There are some things he asks of all of us:
- Come and follow me
- Leave your comfort zone
- Stay and tell your family and friends
As with the Bible characters, God also makes promises:
I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
[adapted from a sermon by Gaynor Maclean at Pantygwydr Baptist Church]
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk