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Faith of the Loyal One

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“Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” [Revelation 2.10 NIV 1984] (The later edition of the NIV changed “the crown of life” to “life as your victor’s crown”.)  Regardless of what the reward is, the point of that command is faithfulness to the point of death, that is, faithfulness in the face of certain death.

The man that exemplifies this the best is Shammah son of Agee who took his stand in a field of lentils when the troops of Israel fled before the Philistines, as it is written in 2 Samuel 23.11-12.  Except for his sonship, we know nothing about Shammah… nothing about what he did, what he was like as a man or as a son, and certainly nothing about how well he kept the commands of the Lord.  We only know that in the face of death he did not run but defended that which was given to him to defend.  Bravery, yes… courage, yes… but more than the first two, loyalty to Israel.

His compatriot likewise is another example of loyalty – Eleazar son of Dodai who was with king David at Pas Dammin and stood his ground as the army retreated.  We do not know if David stood with Eleazar or retreated with the army, but we know that Eleazar did not retreat but fought a rear-guard action that turned a rout into a victory, thus guaranteeing his king’s safety.

Shammah and Eleazar were men who displayed loyalty, yet we know nothing as to their beliefs and obedience prior to the battle, but they are now eternally glorified in scripture.

It is the extreme grace of God that permitted the martyrdom of the eleven despite their disbelief and disobedience so that they can now return with the Lord to reign in His millennium.

It would seem to me at this stage that loyalty can wipe out any disbelief and disobedience in our lives, but there is a price, for loyalty can only be proven when we hold firm even to the point of death and we are not speaking of natural death, but rather, the test of premature death by threat of violence.  For those of us who seek to prove the Lord’s words to be true with our lives, we will find that indeed we will be faced with the threat of premature death through the violence of others.  This then is the hope that loyalty offers.  If we have disbelief and disobedience as the Eleven had, loyalty offers for us as it did for them the redemption from our shortcomings, even when those shortcomings result in dishonour for our God.

The eleven all died to prove their loyalty in the end, and they are returning with their crowns of life, but for us who are alive, may the testing of our loyalty even to the point of death give us “life as the victor’s crown,” that is, our reward is to be among those who are left alive who will see the dead in Christ rise first, then we who are left alive shall rise to meet with Him in the clouds.

So, let Shammah and Eleazar be your inspiration to be ones who will take their stand for truth even when the church is running away, and let the imperfect ministries of the eleven be your assurance of grace, and that God, through those who are loyal, will bring about not only a great victory, but deliverance from their present problems.  In the face of overwhelming problems, it is loyalty to the Lord that will win the day.  And so it has been said, “Surely God has cloaked loyalty with royalty in His kingdom,” by one who knows the price of loyalty, but cares not for its reward.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®,
NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission of Zondervan.  All rights reserved worldwide.


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