Gird Up Your Loins
Rev. Lily Lim | On 11, Jan 2018
Luke 12:35-40 (RSV)
V35- “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning,
V36- and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.
V37- Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes: truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.
V38- If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!
V39- But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.
V40- You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
There is a common expression used in America – “roll up your sleeves” when hard and unhindered work is necessary to accomplish the task. This modern expression finds its counterpart in the biblical expression of “Girding up the loins.”
The word “to gird” is defined as:
• To encircle (a person or the part of the body) with a belt or band.
• To fasten or secure (clothing for example) with a belt or band.
• To surround
• To prepare oneself for action.
“Loin”, on the other hand, is the part of the body on both sides of the spine between the lowest ribs and the hipbones. It is the region of the sexual organs, especially when regarded as the source of procreative power. Therefore, in the Bible, loin symbolizes the seat of STRENGTH, VIGOR AND SOURCE OF LIFE.
This morning, I would like to share a message entitled, ‘GIRD UP YOUR LOINS’ which is the theme of our Church for year 2018.
In my message, I would like to share with you:
• Biblical Culture of “Girding Up the Loins”
• Four Implications of “Girding Up Our Loins”
(I) BIBLICAL CULTURE OF ‘GIRDING UP THE LOINS”
Back in the days of the ancient Near East, both men and women wore flowing tunics. Around the tunic, they’d wear a belt or girdle. The girdle was often made of leather or cloth and was used to hold the tunic to the waist. While tunics were comfortable and breezy, the hem of the tunic would often get in the way when a man was fighting or performing hard labor. So, when ancient Hebrew men had to battle the Philistines, the men would lift the hem of their tunic up and tuck it into their girdle or tie it in a knot to keep it off the ground. The effect basically created a pair of shorts that provided more FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.
Illustration: How to Gird Up Your Loins
(II) FOUR IMPLICATIONS OF ‘GIRDING UP OUR LOINS’
The action of “girding up the loins” in the Bible is a metaphor for PREPAREDNESS.
There are four areas where PREPAREDNESS needs to be applied in our lives:
1) PREPAREDNESS AS A TRAVELER
Exodus 12:11- In this manner you shall eat it: YOUR LOINS GIRDED, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste.
In Exodus 12:11, an interesting statement is made relative to the Passover. The Passover was to be eaten with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, their staffs in their hands, in haste, for it was the LORD’S Passover.
God’s plan for the children of Israel was a journey in the wilderness for forty years, with the Land of Canaan as the destination. That was a long and arduous journey and in order to be a good traveler, the children of Israel must put away every encumbrance; every weight and sin that would slow them down in that journey as a traveler.
“To gird their loins” after the Passover points to us a need for us today to also gird our loins for this Christian journey after we “have eaten” the Paschal Lamb- Jesus Christ. Christianity is a discipleship journey which every born-again believer must travel on with other believers. Our destination is Christ and Heaven. There will be many temptations and roadblocks along this journey. In order not to fall along the wayside and to keep on travelling in this journey, we need to gird up our loins by putting aside every encumbrance; every weight and every sin so that we could journey properly with Christ and His people.
Application: Are you prepared to travel along this discipleship journey with Christ and his people this new year 2018? Are you prepared to be a learner (disciple) of Christ in this journey? Are you prepared to travel on the King’s Highway or are you tempted to take the byway? The journey is a long and arduous one with many dangers [snakes, scorpions, thirst, hunger and battle] along the way but if you are already prepared by girding your loins, there is no temptation in this journey that would overtake you which God is not able to help you to overcome and provide a way.
2) PREPAREDNESS AS A RUNNER
1 Kings 18:46- And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he GIRDED UP HIS LOINS and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Elijah girded up his loins and outran Ahab’s chariot from Carmel to Jezreel.
If you were to read about Elijah in the Bible, you will find that Elijah was a hairy man with a LEATHER GIRDLE ABOUT HIS LOINS (2 Kings 1:8). Not only Elijah but also John the Baptist. John the Baptist had raiment of camel’s hair and a LEATHER GIRDLE ABOUT HIS LOINS (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).
Notice that men of God in the Bible always wore GIRDLES ABOUT THEIR LOINS.
What do all these symbols mean?
King Ahab is a picture of the evil rider of the chariot. He symbolizes Satan and fallen men without Christ who drives the system of the world represented by the chariots. Chariot is the means for the rider to achieve his goals and destination. The very fact that Elijah, after girding his loins, was able to outrun the chariot of evil Ahab means that we need the power and the strength of Christ to OUTRUN the evil system and values of this world.
Sadly, many Christians instead of being a runner like Elijah, are being outrun by the system and values of this fallen world. We are not that much different from the people of the world in the way we talk, dress or work.
Why did all the men of God in the Bible always wear girdles about their loins?
Girdles or the belt symbolizes TRUTH (Ephesians 6:14). They were girded with divine power to be courageous to speak out God’s truth to the world just like Elijah did- giving the truths of God to evil Ahab point blank. The lives of these men of God basically were marked by RUGGEDNESS AND A TENACIOUS STAND FOR THE TRUTH.
Application: God is looking today for runners like Elijah and John the Baptist. John the Baptist incidentally was known as the FORERUNNER of Christ. Are we too?
RUNNER FOR THE CAUSE AND THE TRUTH OF CHRIST – that is what girding up the loins means for us today. Time is running out. It is an urgent call for believers of Christ to run and not walk.
E.g. I was in Brisbane Entertainment Center during Rodney Howard Browne’s Revival and I witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the audience. Suddenly I saw Russel Evans get up from his seat and started running around for hours. The Entertainment Center was as big as a stadium. He ran and ran ceaselessly. That was in 1995 and today I understood why God girded his loins with the power of the Holy Spirit as a runner because after that encounter, Russel Evan spear-headed the Planet-Shaker and today that music and worship ministry has shaken many youths in the Church by storm for the cause of Christ.
I personally believe that for year 2018, the power of the Holy Spirit is going to fall upon the youth of this church. He will fire up their loins and the youth will then gird their loins and run for the cause of Jesus Christ, to prepare people for the second coming of Christ like John the Baptist. God is going to raise the next generation of this church who will dare to speak out the truth like Elijah and declare like John the Baptist – Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.
E.g. Last Tuesday I shared at the Bible Study about Herod that we should not emulate his fear and be swayed by the crowd. Rather we should be man and woman of conviction and to stand by our conviction and embrace the way of the Lord and not be swayed by the crowd. We should not be like that man who would never be accused of being a Christian at work because he never has the courage to talk about Jesus with his co-workers.
Application: Many of you are working in the call-center. Do your co-workers know about your God? I told Ptr Carlyn as the Head of Essential Community to start a Call Center Connect this year so that those of you who are working there can connect your co-workers to Christ.
Application: Are you prepared to be runner for the cause of Christ? Just last Wednesday, Etab sent off Mike Barcelona to Spore for a 3-month Bible School Training and from thence to Cambodia as missionary representing Etab. Mike is only 21 years old. Some may say in your heart, “Sayang! So young- gave his life to God. He should have waited many more years to gain experience before answering the call of God for missions.” Hey! I was only 22 years old when I came here without any bible school training. Ptr Toh Nee was 24 and both of us were so fired up in our loins with revival fire from Singapore that we couldn’t wait any longer to answer the call of God. We ran out of our comfort zone to Iloilo City and I dare say – God did not shortchange our lives. These lives that were poured out for God at such a young and inexperienced age, birthed the ministry and the congregation called Evangel Tabernacle today. You all are not a lost cause but the cause of Christ. So young people – stand up and run and outrun the evil system of this world in the name of Christ! You are not too young to give your lives to God.
3) PREPAREDNESS AS A WARRIOR
The Christian life demands an accurate awareness of a spiritual battle against a strong enemy, Satan. His wiles, schemes and tricks are difficult to resist. The Christian warrior must be vigilant and always prepared and ready to do battle for the Lord.
Ephesians 6:14- “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”
Paul is challenging the warrior to be well prepared and equipped to fight the good fight. The girdle is the truth. Truth is what brings all the other pieces of the armor together into usefulness and purpose.
In 1 Samuel 25:13, David tells his men, “Gird ye on every man his sword.” He is telling his men to ready themselves to combat in reference to the man Nabal.
E.g. 6 years ago when the most painful crisis hit the church, my mind was reeling with confusion. I cried, “Lord, what is going on? It seems my world which I know so well for 26 years here in the Philippines, is falling apart. What is going on?” In the midst of tears and confusion, God spoke to me from Psalms 18:31-34 – For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? – the GOD WHO GIRDED ME WITH STRENGTH, and made my way safe. He made my feet like hinds’ feet, and set me secure on the heights. HE TRAINS MY HANDS FOR WAR, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” Today as I look back to that time, I dare to testify that God kept His promise to me. He was my LORD – my Yahweh- the covenant giver and keeper. He became my rock – my protection and confidence. He did gird me with strength to fight that demonic battle. He did train my hands for war so that I was able to bend the bow of God’s rhema against the enemies. The devil almost decimated our Church but God girded this church with strength in our loins to withstand and even overcome the onslaught of our enemies. Today, I thank God for putting us in a better position than our enemies. It is possible because God girded Evangel Tabernacle to be a warrior in praise and prayer.
Application: Some of you are going to face some battles for year 2018. Are you prepared to be a warrior – to engage in the spiritual warfare against the enemy of your soul or are you going to give up and forsake Christ?
Spiritual warfare also involves “girding up the loins of your mind”
1 Peter 1:13- Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The word “gird” used by Peter would be used to depict a runner who was running a race. To run freely and without hindrance, he would reach down to gather the long, dangling ends of his garments and then tuck them under his belt. With the LOOSE ENDS out of the way, he could then run freely and without distraction.
But notice Peter is not talking about a garment made of materials. He is referring to the LOINS OF OUR MINDS. You see, Peter is telling us that if we don’t:
o Deal with the loose ends that exist in our minds and emotions
o Correct those parts of our thinking that we know are wrong;
o Grab hold of all those dangling areas in our thinking and put them out of the way;
o Remove them by the authority of the Word of God-
o Then we are choosing to permit things to exist in our lives that will hinder our steps and slow us down in our race and in our ability to successfully walk with God.
If we want to be successful for year 2018, then we must start by dealing with the “LOINS OF OUR MINDS”. In other words, we must seek to deal with all the LOOSE ENDS in our thinking that haven’t yet been submitted to the Word of God or surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we deliberately allow wrong thinking and wrong beliefs to continue in our lives, we are making the same kind of mistake the runner does who deliberately allows his garments to hang down and get caught in his legs. This is why Peter admonishes us to tighten up those areas that the devil would try to grab hold of and use against us! Our mind is really the BATTLEGROUND for the devil and God.
Application: Are there any LOOSE ENDS that you need to deal with in your life right now? If there are, I am certain you already know what those areas are! The Holy Spirit has been trying to deal with you about those areas for a long time, but have you been listening? If you continue to ignore His voice, you will pay the price of failure – of never realizing your maximum potential.
You see, God is only trying to help you when He speaks to you about the loose ends in your life. If you’re smart, you’ll stop everything you are doing to grab hold of those dangling ends and get them out of your way once and for all. Then you’ll be able to run the race set before you with no distraction!
E.g. You all knew about the health scare I got last year when the ENT doctor sent me for an X-ray of my lungs because of a very bad sore throat and terrible cough. The result of the X-ray was- “suspicious density on the upper right lung. CT scan recommended.” The ENT doctor then referred me to the pulmonary doctor who suspected I had TB or malignancy. On finding out about my family medical history, she said, malignancy means lung cancer because that was how many of my male relatives died of. Can you imagine the fearful thoughts that raged in my mind at that very moment? And it didn’t help to have the Hospital staff repeating it 6 times on my face: TB versus Malignancy when she was calling up Manila Insurers for the approval of the cost of CT scan. To cut the story short, the CT scan showed negative results for TB or malignancy. I was cleared that Tuesday of any suspicion of terminal disease for my lung on 28 Nov 2017. But on 30 Nov, which was a public holiday, I came to church to see the décor department painting selac on the decors and with Roy spraying the ornaments for the Christmas tree. Suddenly, my upper right lung hurt very badly because of the inhalation of those paints. Without bidding goodbye to anyone, I quickly left the church compound, and in the car, I told Pastor Toh Nee about the acute pain. But the battle in my mind was more terrible than the physical pain. I heard a voice telling me in my mind, “The CT scan results are inaccurate. The radiologist made a mistake. There is really something wrong with your lung. You are going to die of lung cancer like your dad and brother.” This was the battle of my mind that inhibited me from peace and joy. I had to return to my prayer closet and to re-gird my mind so that my hope in what God has promised me in His Word concerning this lung ailment would remain intact – “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD your healer” (Exodus 15:26). I cut off that loose ends of thinking in my mind by meditating on God’s Word and promise for me. Had I not, I don’t think I would be able to host the Christmas program last year with the peace of mind.
When Peter exhorted us to gird up the loins of our minds, he was exhorting us:
o To have CLEAR THINKING IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULT TIME.
o To prepare for strenuous mental activity
o To guard your minds against loose thoughts that are against what God has spoken to us.
Application: So, what are you going to do about the loose ends in your mind and thoughts today? If you will open your heart to the Holy Spirit’s help, He will assist you in identifying every area that needs your attention. Then he will help you grab hold of those loose ends and move them out of your way forever.
4) PREPAREDNESS AS A LABORER
The biblical expression “TO GIRD UP THE LOINS” also means to put on the girdle. It signifies that the person is READY FOR SERVICE.
When a man was ready to work in the Bible times, he put a loincloth around his waist, then he tucked up his robe so his legs would not be hindered. This is the meaning of GIRDED UP HIS LOINS.
Proverbs 31:17 says that a good wife “girded her loins with strength.” That means to say this virtuous woman was prepared FOR EVERY GOOD WORK AND WORD.
Luke 12:35 says, “Let your loins be girded about.” The Lord is challenging his disciples to be prepared, ready and looking for the return of the Lord.
E.g. There were so many so-called prophecies of doom sounding out for the last 5 years – the blood moon prophecy in 2015 and last year was the prediction of the beginning of end times on 23 September. I have my own qualms about so-called prophets specifying dates for the second coming of Christ. Also for the last few years, there have been much debates about the post-tribulation over the most commonly embraced pre-tribulation. Now, whatever the prophecies of the end of age are and whatever the stance of the teachers on tribulation are, I only know this one thing – “Let my loins be girded and my lamps burning.”
Girding the loins means we are to be PREPARED in every way possible to follow Christ.
Are we prepared to be:
• A traveler
• A Runner
• A Warrior
• A Laborer?
Today is the 7th day of the new year. If you want to run the race victoriously for 2018, you have to gird up your loins and be prepared to:
• Travel this journey of life with Christ.
• Run for the cause of Christ
• War against the devil, the flesh and your mind
• Labor for Christ – be ready for any good and honest work.
In Ezekiel 1:27, the four living creatures that Ezekiel saw had loins like the appearance of golden fire. When we gird up our loins, our loins will shine like a golden fire like the four living creatures in Ezekiel. To have our loins shine like a golden fire means there will be purity and glory of the Divine nature – namely the light of Christ, emanating from our lives.
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he was only wearing a loincloth because the soldiers had already removed his tunic (John 19:23). But if you read Revelation, this glorified Christ is now “clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast” (Revelation 1:13-14). Christ is now glorified as the Son of Righteousness. But before that, he came to earth with HIS LOINS GIRDED to travel on this earth as a human so that he could suffer like us; to run the redemptive cause of the Father for the fallen human race; to outrun the evil system of this world by living a sinless life while on earth; to war against the devil, defeating him in the desert three times and ultimately defeating the devil at the cross through his death; to war against the battle in his mind at Gethsamane; to labor by sharing the gospel to the crowds and to individuals and even to wash the feet of his unworthy disciples. Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me; Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Jesus girded his loins and did the work of the Father who sent Him. Now is our turn and time to gird our loins and serve the cause of Christ.
So, let us get rid of every weight and hindrance that would slow us down in our race. Let us take up the cross daily and follow close to Him.
‘LET YOUR LOINS BE GIRDED AND YOUR LAMPS BURNING’
PREACHED AT ETAB 1ST ENG SV ON 7 JAN 2018