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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 22 : Be Wise as Serpents | Day 149

Don't Gaze at the Wolves!

One day as I was looking at a famous picture, a friend pointed out an important message it contained. The picture was of Daniel in the lions' den. The lions looked ferocious, yet Daniel was not looking at them. His gaze was upward toward the Lord, Who was his Protector and Shepherd.

In this week's command, wolves are a symbol of cruel people who bite and devour with their words and actions. They could be those to whom we are sent to share the Gospel, or they could even be members of our own families.

Being "cast" into a den of lions or being "sent" into a pack of ravening wolves is a frightening prospect until we remember one important truth: we are not sent out alone! When Jesus sent out His disciples, He promised, “I am with you alway[s], even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). He has also promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

To maintain the right perspective, we must glance at the wolves but gaze on the Lord.

When God sent Jeremiah to speak for Him, He warned Jeremiah not to be overwhelmed by the faces of the "wolves" or by his own inadequacies. Rather, he was to keep his focus on the Lord. “Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD" (Jeremiah 1:6-8).

When Stephen was before the council, they turned into a mob of ravening wolves. As they rushed upon him with gnashing teeth, he turned his gaze toward the Lord. “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-55).

In contrast, the nation of Israel melted with fear when they gazed on the giants of the Promised Land. As a result of their lack of trust in the Lord, they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. (See Numbers 13-14.) Likewise, Abram, when he gazed on Pharaoh, feared for his life and lied saying that Sarai was his sister instead of his wife. His actions set a negative precedent that his son Isaac later followed. (See Genesis 12:10-20 and 26:6–11.)

God's purpose in sending us among the wolves is not to cause us to be devoured, but to cause us to focus on Him.

When wolves travel in packs, they alternate in attacking their prey. Once their victim is exhausted, the wolves devour it. The same fate will happen to us if we do not fix our gaze on the Lord, as we are instructed in Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." At this moment, are we gazing at our foes or focusing on our Shepherd?

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard