“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
The book of John tells of a man named Nicodemus that was a “prominent religious leader among the Jews, part of the sect called the Pharisees and a member of the Jewish ruling council.” John 3:1-14
Nicodemus had position, authority and honor. He was well established and Jesus Himself said that he was “the respected teacher in Israel.” John 3:10 Nicodemus clearly understood who Jesus was, calling Him Master. But because of the position he held, he followed Him secretly. “One night he discreetly came to Jesus and said, “Master, we know that you are a teacher from God, for no one performs the miracle signs that you do, unless God’s power is with him.” In John 7:50 it says that Nicodemus “had secretly spent time with Jesus.”
Discreet: careful not to cause embarrassment or attract too much attention. Cambridge English Dictionary
Being seen keeping company with Jesus, Nicodemus risked not only losing his position in the Temple, he also risked ridicule, rejection and being ostracized from the other Pharisees. Losing his position may have also cost him physical comforts, such as living a comfortable life.
Nicodemus was a man that had a lot to lose.
The book Song of Songs tells of a Shulamite bride. In chapter two she expresses her understanding of the love that the Shepherd-King has for her; “I am truly His rose, the very theme of His song. I’m overshadowed by His love, growing in the valley!” Song of Songs 2:1
She clearly understands His love for her; she knows she is precious and treasured in His sight. He sings love songs about her and covers her with His love and protection. She spends the next few verses describing what He means to her and proclaiming her love for Him. She is “longing for more.” Song of Songs 2:5
In verse eight the Shepherd-King is coming, she hears His voice and He is coming to her with joy and rejoicing, “leaping with joy over mountains, skipping in love over the hills that separate them, to come to her.” She says, “He comes closer, even to the places where I hide. He gazed into my soul, peering through the portal as He blossoms within my heart. The one I love calls to me.” Song of Songs 2:8-10
She is familiar and intimate with Him enough to recognize his voice, even from afar off. This scripture is not for nonbelievers, it is written for those of us who are in Christ, for those of us who know His voice and who are being “called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27
Even though the Shepherd-King sees the deep, secret places of her heart, He loves her and comes to her with an invitation. “Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling. Come away with Me! I have come as you have asked to draw you to my heart and lead you out. For now is the time, my beautiful one.” Song of Songs 2:10 He continues in verses 13-14, “Arise, my love, my beautiful companion, and run with me to the higher place. For now is the time to arise and come away with me. For you are My dove, hidden in the split-open rock. It was I who took you and hid you up high in the secret stairway of the sky. Let me see your radiant face and hear your sweet voice. How beautiful your eyes of worship and lovely your voice in prayer.”
But she tells him no and sends him away!
“Until the day springs to life and the shifting shadows of fear disappear, turn around, my lover, and ascend to the holy mountains of separation without me. Until the new day fully dawns, run on ahead like the graceful gazelle and skip like the young stag over the mountains of separation. Go on ahead to the mountain of spices—I’ll come away another time!” Song of Songs 2:17
In both Nicodemus and the Shulamite bride we see a lack of commitment and willingness because of personal comforts and fear. When we get too comfortable or too fearful we miss amazing opportunities with the Lord.
When the Lord calls to us, to “Arise and Shine” it is an invitation from Him to participate in what He is doing. Arise means to “stand up”. Shine means to “stand out”.
We are in a time where there is no straddling the fence or wavering. It’s not a time to be silent or complacent. Because we “are hidden with Him”, Colossians 3:3 He promises that whatever He calls us to, He will empower and equip us to complete it. He will “equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you (making you complete and perfect as you ought to be), accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” Hebrews 13:21
I feel fairly certain that if Nicodemus had to do it all over again, he would have chosen Jesus and acknowledged Him in public!
The Shulamite bride’s regret compelled her to go out looking for her beloved and she found him! For true to his promises, “When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me, you’ll find Me. Yes, when you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:12-14
As we turn away from the comforts and desires of the flesh and seek not to win the approval and attention of men, but turn our hearts toward Him, He gives us the promise that He will sustain us as we put aside our personal agenda for His. “I’m obviously not trying to flatter you or water down my message to be popular with men, but my supreme passion is to please God. For if all I attempt to do is please people, I would not be the true servant of the Messiah.” Galatians 1:10
Let us “fix your eyes on Jesus”! Hebrews 12:2 And declare loud and clear “My love for You has my heart on fire! My passion consumes me for Your house! Nothing will turn me away.” Psalm 69:9 For “My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day.” Psalm 71:15
Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him.” 1 Kings 18:21 We can no longer hesitate between two opinions, we must choose this day who we will serve! But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. Psalm 51:15