The Tale of Two Storms

Sept 28,2013
Steve Boot

Recently I was put into the unnerving position of travelling in an aircraft that after a long flight across the Pacific was then put into a further holding pattern over the Sea of Japan. A torrential rainstorm was covering Tokyo and so the pilot shrewdly placed us once more out over the ocean, whilst things developed at the ground level. It being Typhoon season in the Far East was prompting this necessary and wise precaution. In fact as I found out later, a severe tropical storm had pounded the coast a few days before our arrival and a typhoon actually struck Japan”s shores soon after our departure from the mission trip.

A wise leader therefore will study the forecasts and patterns of behavior that occur at a given location, before attempting to navigate their way through. In scripture we are told preceding the return of Messiah back to the world, the disciples will undergo great “storms” of tribulation and trials. And one way the bible prepares us for such times, is to gives examples of believers who faced similar comparable circumstances. A “typology” of related events if you like.

1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

1 Cor 10:13 ” €¦God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure.” (NASB)

In Matthew chapter eight and chapter fourteen we see two accounts of Jesus and the Disciples having to deal with demonically inspired storms that are spiritually opposing them. Generally speaking when the bible describes two similar events that are very close in their nature and outcomes, it is for a particular emphasis and reasoning. And often the subtle differences between the two descriptions give indications of what scripture is contrasting and comparing. Now when an account is given to us in all four of the Gospels; it”s a very strong pointer that the Holy Spirit wants us to understand something important about these particular trials and tribulations. (Matthew 8:18-27, 14:22-36. Mark 6:45-52, Luke 8:22-25, John 6:15-25 )

Notice for example in the first account, Jesus is in the boat with the disciples when the storm hits. But in the second he is on high praying for them from a distance. In Matthew 8 the messiah is asleep but located in the ship, but in chapter 14 he has to come down from the mountain to rescue them. What struck me of particular interest was that in the first narrative the ferocious storm is directed against the Jesus/fellowship group going to a Gentile area (The Gadarenes). But in the second one we see the intended destination was a Jewish location (Gennesaret). Whilst the demonically oppressive storm in the first story was severe and frightening, the second attack seems much more fierce and oppressive. You could translate the Greek word for the damage being done to boat in Matthew 14:24 as almost torture ( βασανίζω basaniz ´ ).

I believe that the stories speak to us about the first and second coming of Jesus. In the first coming, the Messiah is present with the disciples at the cross when the forces of darkness threaten to overwhelm the believers. He seems in his death (being asleep) to not be countering the demonic turmoil and they then have to cry out to him for salvation (Matt 8:25). Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith but the resulting effects is the Gospel then being brought to the nations , the gentile cities and lands .

In the second coming, the Messiah is on high as the great intercessor, praying for his disciples after telling them to go on ahead of him (Matt 28:20). This time he rescues them from tribulation at the breaking of the dawn, Matt 8:25 ( the 4th watch being the darkest part of the night). The believers are called out of the sinking boat (i.e. a great tribulation). And then when they cross over, the Messiah bring his healing to the Jewish population (Gennesaret; “A Garden of riches” Naphatli city -Kinnereth , Joshua 19:35) [1]

If we look at the context of the two passages, we see two contrasting backgrounds. Matthew 8 preamble is to do with outsiders and those followers of Jesus coming to faith (like the Roman centurion). It deals with the cost of becoming disciples of the Messiah.

In Matthew 14, the surrounding story is one of the fellowship facing active persecution and deprivation. Herod allows the wicked woman to behead the prophet, John the Baptist. Jesus is drawing his disciples away to secluded areas from the deluded crowds (John 6:15). There is a need to give provision to the disciples, who lack bread or other means to provide. The passages adjacent to this event are much darker, like the unbelief of the Jews, even of his own home town (Matthew 13:57). But interestingly enough when they do later come to Gennesaret (unlike Nazereth) they “recognize” him and are healed by Messiah (Matthew 14:36).

I believe therefore that the second storm narrative speaks to the return of Yeshua to his own people (Israel) after a great tribulation. That before his return to this world, there will be storm forces of opposition and darkness trying to sink the faith of the believers. Yeshua in John 6 is portrayed as a second Moses and it could well be that just as in the Exodus, the children of Israel had to be led out/through/across the opposing Red sea. So the Messiah will draw the believers like Peter over the hostility of the nations (i.e. the raging waters)

And whilst there is much we could potentially draw out of the texts, in terms of teaching. Three areas struck me as being particularly relevant.

A. The Messiah Prays

It is noteworthy that whenever the disciples are about to face tribulation or shifting in their faith, the one thing that Jesus does as their great leader is repeatedly pray for them (Matt 8:23). Of all the actions that Messiah could have done to prepare his followers for these trials, it is to offer intercessory prayers. In Luke 22:32, when He reveals to Peter (and the Disciples) that satan is about to shift them like wheat, Yeshua said he prayed for them first. In the Garden of Gethsemane before the cross, Jesus is seen Praying over the affliction he”s about to face. He tells the disciples that they too will have to watch AND pray so they don”t fall into temptation (peirasmos πειρασμός ) testing, being tried, affliction, trials, calamity (Matt 26:41).

In Mark 9 when Jesus is being transfigured before some of his disciples, there was a corresponding demonic activity amongst the crowd who he”d left behind. It is interesting to note that the disciples were unable to handle this particular unclean spirit and Jesus has to take personal authority to deal with it. He says in Mark 9:29 that that kind of oppression could only be driven out by prayer (and fasting).The point being it seems to indicate that some breakthroughs against demonic opposition can only be driven out by an intense kind of developed prayful intercession.

So I believe that it will not only be necessary for a strong and preserving faith that will enable us to face this coming oppressive storm. But it will also be vital to deepen and development a ministry of intercessory prayer.

Before Daniel gained an understanding to the vision of the Messiah being cut off in chapter 9. He was having to endure in prayer and weariness over  Jerusalem, until Gabriel came to him with an understanding of  the end times.

B. The Darkest Night

When the typhoon like storm hits the boat, the scripture say that the deliverance came in the fourth watch of the night (Matthew 14:25). It is probably a reference to the Roman camp terminology of being the darkest, “longest” part of the night, from three to six in the morning. Just before dawn breaks and the cock crows, Jesus comes out to the disciples, when they were most terrified and fearful to then deliver them.

It speaks to us that the calling out of Peter is in the midst of his and the Disciples tribulation. They don”t get delivered before the storm hits but had to endure long in the breaking of the boat. As in the trials of most of the faithful in the bible, their salvation occurs whilst they are in the affliction.

Jesus, though perfectly pleasing to the Father, was persecuted and attacked when he was present upon the earth. The disciples were likewise all of them maltreated and attacked for their faith. The Early Church faced great tribulation and severe trials. In the world today where the gospel is spreading, the believers are being actively persecuted and afflicted. So how likely is it then that in these end time”s the believing church will not have to similarly face the storms of martyrdom and sever trials?

Just as Jonah in the great storm undergoes first a “baptism” of repentance in the waters. So too I believe we too will face a breaking time in our boats/ark/fellowships. In fact the Greek word for baptism (βαπτίζω)[2] is associated with the act of submerging or drowning in the waters. Paul speaks of the need for believers to undergo a process of dying to the world, so as to live. Romans 6:4″ Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. ” (NASB)

C. Lord Save Me

There is a sense in this passage that not only does Yeshua deliver the man Peter. But also as a symbolic Apostle to the Jews, Jesus delivers the faithful remnant from the penalties of the Messianic judgment. Romans 5:9 ” Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him” . In other words before the second coming of Jesus to the earth, there will be a terrible storm of judgment and oppression upon the nations of the world. And the Jewish people will be in danger of sinking, being drowned out. In their darkest hour, the time of Jacob”s trouble, a ghost, like someone back from the dead will appear to them. But they won”t truly recognize who it is. They would have tried all other means of deliverance themselves and finally the faithful in desperation will ask to come to the Lord upon the seas of trouble. It will be almost a resurrection from the dead.

But such will be the fierceness of the demonic oppression unless the Lord takes hold of them they would sink. Similar to Lot in Genesis 19:16, when the angels in compassion seize them by the hand and brought them to safety.

Notice also when that when they have crossed over to Gennesaret “A Garden of riches”, they do now recognize him, seek healing and implore him that they might touch the fringe of His cloak (Matthew 14:35). Possibly a reference to the Prayer Shawl (Tallith), that Orthodox Jewish men wear about them. Yeshua will be seen as an answer to their prayer.

In summary the story of the second Storm has much to teach us about the coming troubles that will confront us in the last Days. But we mustn”t forget it is Yeshua who extends his word and his hand to silence the enemy. It is He who is all powerful, even over the forces and works of darkness. It a revealing to us that Jesus will be the faithful one, who rescues us from all the afflictions that might assail us ( 2 Timothy 3:11,12) . And so in studying these events it should then produce in us, not so much a greater “head knowledge”, but in a deeper worship of the Son of God.

Matthew 14:33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (NIV)

If you have any comments, queries or  questions  about  this article, please email them to Steve at [email protected]. Your constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated.

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