Imagine a large, gray wolf prowling restlessly, searching for a meal throughout the day with no success. At dusk, what do you think happens to that wolf? He becomes even fiercer in his quest for food at dusk than he was throughout the daylight hours. Habakkuk the prophet took note of this truth when he warned Israel that the invading Babylonians would be…
Fiercer than wolves at dusk.
The great Bible commentator Matthew Henry explained: “Wolves are observed to be the most ravenous towards the evening, after they have been kept hungry all day, waiting for that darkness under the protection of which all the beasts of the forest creep forth.”
It’s likely that Henry was consciously echoing the psalmist, who wrote:
You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
Metaphorically speaking, these wolves and beasts of the forest are the enemies of the cross: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Throughout the daylight hours we are busily engaged in the work of our Lord. But under the cover of darkness, the enemy slips in and sows the tares of doubt and fear among the wheat of our witness. The cares of this world, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life all seek to destroy our witness. To be sure, we are not immune from attack during the day, but the fiercest attacks seem to hit us when the sun has set.
We must be on our guard, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But we must especially keep watch at the end of the day when we are tired, and our doubts and fears distract us and turn our focus away from Jesus. We doubt the goodness of our God when things did not go according to our plan during the day—the job we don’t get, the deal we don’t land, the test we don’t pass. The enemy taunts us, “Where was your God?”
Then, when we find ourselves at the end of one of those “bad” days, when sin is no longer crouching at our door but has actually entered in, we fear our God and His heavy hand of judgment. We may forget the testimony of Scripture and see our God as an angry, vengeful ogre in the sky, ready to descend and exact His pound of flesh from us.
And this is why we must continually keep the cross in view!
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
God the Father did exact His pound of flesh . . . it was exacted from God the Son as He hung on the cross. Jesus paid for our sins . . . all our sins—past, present, and future. Our good Shepherd died so that we might live. And thanks to His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection, there is now no condemnation for all those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). It is the cross that keeps us from doubting the steadfast love and goodness of our God and encourages us not to fear His hand of judgment, regardless of the circumstances. Whether it is bright, sunny morning or dark, moonless midnight, living in the shadow of the cross protects us from the voracious attacks of the enemy.
To be sure, the enemy still assaults us from all sides . . . the wolves still come, seeking to steal our joy, to kill our confidence, and to destroy our witness. But the cross of Jesus Christ convinces us that the power in us is so much greater than every power that comes up against us. The cross strengthens our faithfulness; when we fail, we are assured it has secured our forgiveness. Recall Paul’s word of encouragement to young Timothy:
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
(2 Timothy 2:13)
Now that is a faithfulness witness that will overcome every fierce wolf!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!